Heights of Papaye
|An easy though long well-blazed trail.
Time: 2 hours; Bains Chauds (Hot Baths), 1.5 hours, round trip. Difficulty: 2-3. A blazed trail, rather easy. Trailhead: Depart from the Clinique des Eaux-Vives of Papaye. Arrive at the Forest House of Matouba, altitude 667m.
At the foot of the northern slope of Nez Casse are 90-degree C sulphur springs. Their therapeutic properties are used by the Clinique des Eaux-Vives on the Papaye Plateau above Matouba.
This "Clinic of Living Waters" draws some of the wealthiest people of Guadeloupe. It is also the starting point for your hike. Park in the lot.
The first 200-300 meters go along the road in a northeasterly direction, then pass vegetable gardens and fields of grazing cattle.
After crossing a muddy section, the trail becomes wide and rather gentle because you are following roughly the curves of the northwest side of Nez Casse.
About 1,500 meters after leaving the fields, the trail curves left to the Chaude Ravine, a green opening composed of giant trees, tree ferns, heliconias and raspberries.
The trail leads you 300 meters farther to a fork. The path to the right, which will take you to the hot baths, meanders through a stunted forest, a growth pattern that precedes the high-altitude savannahs.
After visiting the hot baths, you can either return to your departure point by taking the path described above, or continuing on the well-maintained trail for another hour to the ranger station of Matouba.
From there, you can get back to the Plateau Papaye parking area by following the road going through Matouba village, with its pretty wooden houses and colorful gardens.