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Dominica without guides?

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There is a lot of discussion on the forum of hiring guides to tour or hike in Dominica.

Can most of Dominica be explored or hiked without a guide? We like to venture out on our own and need to know before we book if this is possible.


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    I'm sure you can do this by yourselves but I would highly recommend hiring a guide for at least one day. Levi Baron with Bumpiing Tours is fantastic and such a nice guy. Here is a full review of our day spent with Levi. One other thing I want to mention. You might want to check into buying a waterproof camera. It's a rainforest so you'll be wet most of the time.

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    Are you stopping for the day from a cruise or going for a week? I think this matters. If you just have a day, a guide who knows the island will help you see the most.

    If you rent a car, driving on the narrow mountain roads can be a heart-stopping adventure, but once you get used to honking at every curve, pulling in your side mirrors on narrow passes, feeling that you are just not going to fit by another car, etc, you are rewarded with gorgeous scenery. I get extremely carsick unless I'm in the front seat, so in our 4 trips to Dominica, we prefer to drive ourselves. On the downside, my hubby the driver says that he has to concentrate so hard on the curvy, narrow roads that he can't really look at the views unless we stop.

    We spend most of our time diving in Soufriere Bay with Nature Island Dive, a great operation that also has snorkel, kayak, and mountain bike tours. They are just great people- friendly, competent, and just delightful.

    We have hiked and visited the falls and hot springs without a guide, but be aware that at the parking areas for some hikes there may be "guides" hovering who can be a little pesky about convincing you to hire them. If I wanted a guide, I would choose someone reputable before setting out.

    One question is how advanced are you at hiking- the hiking is often on fairly steep trails that can be challenging. Maybe a guide would give a feeling of safety, or know some shortcuts. We hike in the mountains often, carry a compass, and are fairly good at navigation so we had no problems (except being very winded on some of the steeper climbs!)

    Dominica is a truly the "nature island." We love it and have returned many times. If you are staying, not just dropping in for the day, do visit the produce market down by the waterfront. It is quite a sight, and this fertile island grows some of the most delicious fruits and vegetables, and most gorgeous flowers, you can imagine. I am obsessed with their carrots, which are the best I've ever had. We make a carrot, ginger, lime salad that we eat every day when we are there. Yum.

    Be aware that there is lots of poverty in Dominica and you may need time to get acclimated to look past the tumble-down surroundings to the sweet and kind people you will meet. I personally get a little intimidated by the Rasta men who walk down the roads swinging their machetes, which looks sort of threatening, but apparently they are going to cut mangoes in the woods (or another crop that is illegal!) The only warnings we got from our divemasters is not to buy fish or fruit from them because often they are poaching on other people's land or taking fish illegally and it encourages them to keep doing it.

    If you get a chance to try a fried chicken leg (served all over the island at the spice shacks) and you like fried chicken, give one a try. I have no idea what they do with the rest of the chickens to end up with so many legs, but we call it the national snack and they are deliciously spiced and fried. You can also enjoy the "spice", local rum that they infuse with different herbs that grow on the island. Enjoy!

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