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Climbing Mt Liamuiga in St Kitts

Regardless of where you are in St. Kitts - from the beaches to rainforests - one majestic mountain will always be in view. Mt. Liamuiga, the island's famed dormant volcano, is almost impossible to miss. However, the picturesque peak and its surrounding forests are often overlooked by tourists. As a flawlessly shaped conical peak in the midst of a vibrant rainforest, it is hard to imagine a better emblem for the exotic Caribbean. If you visit St. Kitts, make sure you visit this 3,800 foot peak up close.

The government of St. Kitts has always been committed to the preservation of its unique Caribbean ecosystems. Many of St. Kitts' beaches remain undeveloped, while the rainforests of the island's interior are in pristine condition. At the heart of this unspoiled beauty rests the island's most treasured landmark - Mt. Liamuiga. When you visit the volcano and its surrounding rainforests, the results of the island's ecological diligence will be apparent immediately. Within a few minutes of hiking, you will see towering trees covered in vines, numerous species of tropical flowers, colorful birds, butterflies and - with a little luck - some playful green vervet monkeys.

While experienced climbers and eco-tourists can probably navigate the jungle trails of Liamuiga, most tourists visit the mountain with a guide. Besides offering assistance and security for hikers, a tour guide can also provide of wealth of knowledge regarding the plant and animal life of St. Kitts - from the strange history of the mongoose to the identity of exotic birds. To find a reputable tour guide, simply consult the concierge at your resort. The concierge will be able to provide you with everything you need to know about the island's tour companies - from rates to the types of hiking and climbing equipment available - and can even reserve your spot on the tour of your choice.

Most tours begin at an elevation of 1,000 feet, meaning the hike will ascend over 2,000 feet into the sky. On average, an ascent of the northwest side of the mountain will take 2.5 to 3 hours roundtrip. To prepare for your hike, it is advised to wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks.

At the rim, you will find yourself amidst the clouds and might even have the pleasure of seeing a cloud sucked into the volcano's crater. Though visitors might notice the smell of sulphur in and around the peak's crater, the volcano has been dormant for over 150 years (the last major eruption was thought to have taken place nearly 1,600 years ago).

Adventurous travelers will definitely want to make the 400 foot descent into Liamuiga's crater. From inside, you will feel like you are surrounded by a mysterious mountain range. During the rainy season, the crater usually holds a small lake on part of the stone floor - generally 1-2 feet deep. If you visit the mountain with a tour, your guide will provide the necessary safety equipment and help navigate the steep crater walls.

After you've conquered the volcano, you will find much more to explore in St. Kitts. The island has plenty of undeveloped beaches, perfect for any type of recreation. On the Caribbean side of the island, the calm waters are great for swimming while wide stretches of white sand provide amazing spots to relax. The Atlantic side of the island is known for its rocky shores, crashing waves and unbeatable views. There are also plenty of opportunities to go boating, fishing or diving amongst coral reefs and ship wrecks.

When you visit St. Kitts, try starting at the center. Walk amongst the rainforests, climb the peak of Mt. Liamuiga and remain inspired for the rest of your vacation.

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