The island's highest peak? And the longest mountain range in Jamaica? Sign us up! I was so excited about the Blue Mountains that I did the hike twice. At 2256 m. from the summit, it towers above our likkle but tallawah country and both the north and south coasts of the island can be seen. Accessible via a walking track, the Blue Mountain Hike was worth the exhausting but exhilarating trek. We're going to kick off this piece with some general info about the Mountains then we'll give you some tips, pointers and so.
Here are some things to note about the Blue Mountains (other than this being the highest peak in Jamaica):
- Exclusive to this area are indigenous flora and fauna. Over 500 species of flowering plants can be found here!
- Home of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee (You can even visit a coffee farm when doing the Blue Mountain Tour).
- At Newcastle, soldiers often do their drills there.
- The Mountains border Eastern Parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, St.Mart and St.Andrew to the south.
- Providing the day is clear, the outline of Cuba can be seen (at 130 miles away).
- Part of the Blue Mountains is contained in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. This was established in 1992, which is maintained by the Jamaican government.
-The Blue Mountains go up to its elevations from the coastal plain in the space of about 16 KM (9.9 mi), producing one of the steepest general gradients in the world.
- The temperature decreases from around 27 °C (80 °F) at sea level to 5 °C (40 °F) at the Blue Mountain Peak, just 16 km (9.9 mi) inland.
-The mountains are home to the world's second-largest butterfly and the largest in the Americas known as the Homerus Swallowtail. This is the most well-studied remaining population of the endangered butterfly. You can also the Jamaican Coney (Geocapromys brownii) which is a type of hutia (this is a Caribbean rodent) and the well-known yellow snake, the Jamaican Boa(Chilabothrus subflavus).
- When slavery existed in Jamaica, some slaves escaped to the mountains to live independently, known as the Jamaican Maroons.
- Hagley Gap and Mavis Bank are farming communities located on Blue Mountain with Hagley Gap being closest to the peak. These towns depend on the area's rich soil for growing coffee.
- There are waterfalls and restaurants in the area.
There are various ways to hike the Blue Mountains, some even do biking there. Do you have to be extremely fit to do it? No, you can also explore the various trails if you believe you can't manage the hike to the peak. The hike to the peak can get pretty intense and that is relatively speaking. It might be 4 hours up to the peak or more. I would recommend doing some exercises for a week or 2 before going especially if you haven't done any in a while. Just to get your body ready for the hike. We hiked from Jah B's guesthouse from Penlyne Castle. There are several similar guesthouses in that area. You can also camp outside.
We took several buses all the way to Mavis Bank and from there, we had Jah B's driver pick us up in a 4 wheel drive. We were advised that nothing less than that can work in that part of the mountains due to the narrow and often rough terrain. I recommend you bring some snacks with you (raisins, nuts, bottled water and so that you might need if you are busing it from Kingston or further. You'll definitely need snacks for the hike. Some even bring whole meals. We did the sunrise tour. But, you can do the tour at various times of the day. I heard there is a sunset tour. You can book a tour guide. Jah B's has one or you can do the hike yourself. Some people have but note you'll essentially be on your own once you uop in those mountains. Emergency services won't get to anyone that easily. So do in a group if you are going without a tour guide. Have your cell phone fully charged, whatever supplies you may need , credit on your phone to make calls. Get the necessary info from the locals or guesthouse before taking the trek. Pay attention to the trail. It can be very narrow with parts falling off into the abyss. Don't be on your phone or be distracted but you can take pics, have your music on. Just be alert.
We did the sunrise tour which means we got up at 1 am. Started hiking about 1:30 or by 2 am. They offered us coffee that early. Experiencing the night's sky and air in the mountains is magical. Vivid stars, a cliff overlooking sleeping and brightly lit Kingston, night's unique sounds and more was an experience. Your legs really feel the werk! Whew. Be prepared to pee in the bushes. You'll stop at certain points to rest your legs but not for too long especially if you want to catch the sunrise. Jacob's ladder was the most intense climb of the tour. It got pretty rough. I put my earphones in as you know music helps you endure while keeping my eyes on the track. It'll feel longer than 4 hours but when you get to the peak, you'll be amazed especially if you see the actual sunrise. It is not a guarantee you'll see it. If it's cloudy, it'll miss you but worth it nonetheless. Take it all in. You did it!
We stayed at the peak for about 15 mins or more, resting, taking pictures, feeling elated, connecting with others then down we went. Well, actually started limping at this point cause mon those legs were overworked. The hike down was slower and easier. We were greeted by some beautiful scenery, flora as we walked back. Seeing things in the daylight was a nice contrast to when we hiked up. The guide stopped at a spring to get some fresh water. I was like - this is how the Maroons lived. Natural and nice, made me want to paint or write a story. But, we walked on. You get this awesome feeling as if you could do anything once you climbed to the top of Blue Mountains' Peak. That feeling and the pain in our legs lasted after our trip was completed. Haha, so some of you might experience that and probably can't really walk for a couple days. But, it was sooooo worth it. Jamaica is of course gorgeous and every time I visit somewhere else a yard, it's an experience I hardly forget and a natural gem I'll always appreciate. Give thanks fi wi likkle and tallawah country!
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