Welcome to the town of Fond Saint-Denis, located in the north of the island near Montagne Pelée. An observatory (Morne des Cadets) was built there in particular to monitor volcanic activity. This remote town is connected to the towns of Fort-de-France and Saint-Pierre by the Route de la Trace which contains many treasures (hikes, river baths with the Alma reception area). or even the Jesuit Trace hike and its “water hole”). Other treasures of this territory, the Saut du Gendarme and Alma waterfalls.
The hike to the Gorges d’Alma is accessible to the whole family (children over 8 years old depending on conditions). The starting point for this hike is located at the Alma reception area (Forêt d’Alma) at the junction between the municipalities of Fort-de-France and Fonds-Saint-Denis. The path plunges you into a wild and green hygrophilous forest then directs you towards the bed of the Blanche River which you must go up along the banks to reach the waterfall. Be careful of slippery terrain (rocks, mud) and weather conditions (rainfall). From the Alma forest to the Cascade, it takes 1 to 1.5 hours of walking (one way) for a journey of around three kilometers (one way).
To access this waterfall, starting from Fort-de-France, join the A1 then the D41 to take the exit towards Balata (N3). This road, also called the Balata route, will take you to the heights of Martinique with many turns. As you go along, you will see hygrophilous vegetation which will become more and more luxuriant and dense around you. You will have to drive a good half hour to the Alma reception area. Once there, park on the side of the road and approach the information panel near Carbet. Simply take the stairs on the right to join the forest path towards the Gorges d’Alma
The Gorges of Alma
Facing this sign, do not take the staircase located next to it but the one located on the other side of the hut (photo below).
Starting hike of the point
Tips: bring good sneakers to the waterfall to avoid possible slips on the trail. For the more adventurous, ropes are recommended to cross the waterfalls but the third was impassable on our side despite our good will.
Watch out for the rainfall! do not do this hike in case of heavy rain or following a significant rain event! Choose sunny days
Climb the stairs to dive little by little into the tropical forest.
Once at the top of the stairs you must take a path on the right, a short climb which allows you a slight warm-up before continuing to the river bed.
You will cross a first slight stream to dive deeper into the forest.
You will encounter a magnificent Mahogany there.
One last climb and you go back down to the river bed. Take the opportunity to contemplate the incredible biodiversity that surrounds you. Verdant flora!
Once in the river bed, you must go up the river via the banks and the bed to access the first waterfall in the gorge.
A game of observation between banks and river beds so as not to slip on rocks or with roots. Take your time.
After around twenty to thirty minutes of going up the river, you arrive at the entrance to the gorges.
The Gorges d’Alma are a succession of waterfalls providing access to a 40 meter high waterfall. However, the passage of the waterfalls is not guaranteed because the heavy rains of the passing years make the passage easier or not (rock, cut rope, etc.). It is better to be well equipped with suitable ropes and accessories (canyoning) to climb each waterfall.
Be careful of the slippery walls and the water which becomes very cold after a while in the gorges!
Here you are in front of the first waterfall of the Alma gorges.
You observe that a rope is hanging on the right of the waterfall, it provides access to the second waterfall below.
This waterfall can also be crossed using a rope that you must bring back and cleverly place. The rocks make passage difficult.
For the more adventurous, you arrive at the third waterfall which got the better of us, the rope was cut and the walls were too slippery for our equipment.
It’s up to you to discover them now!
|In terms of advice,
Ø Traffic in Martinique: During the week, you will face traffic jams around industrial or commercial areas, particularly in the morning, in the direction of the South (Rivières Salée, N5) towards the North (Fort-de-France, A1) and from the East (Robert, N1) to the North (Fort-de-France, A1), from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and vice versa at the end of the evening from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Think about your journey in order to adapt to this traffic which can be heavy and easily cause you to waste time.
Ø Equipment: Good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes, light clothing, hiking bag (knife, flashlight, k-way, cap, sunglasses, sunscreen, mosquito repellent).
Ø Health: –
Difficulty: 5 out of 10 (8 out of 10 if crossing the waterfalls), hike accessible to the whole family (children over eight years old and depending on conditions). Short distance climbs and slippery ground. Shaded path, risk of slipping. –
Usually, always start hikes early in the morning. The heat during the day during minimal sporting activity can become quite stifling. –
Go at your own pace and plan the time it will take depending on your physical condition. –
The most important thing, always a bottle of water per person and something to snack on in your bag. With the heat, any fairly physical hikes can be dangerous with fatigue.
Miscellaneous: You can head towards the Forêt d’Alma loop to enjoy the river or hike the Trace des Jésuites, the starting point of which is located 5 minutes by car. You can also take the road towards Ajoupa Bouillon to go to the Gorges de la Falaise or towards Macouba to discover the Habitation J.M. and enjoy its rum.
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OLIVIER Damien, your humble guide