Grand Etang, Grenada

On April 4th, 2019, Becky (my wife) and I visited the Island of Grenada, while on a Caribbean Cruise during Spring Break.  We were with our friends and trekking buddies, the Stevens.  Grenada’s port and Capital is called Saint George’s.  I can’t explain the reason for the apostrophe “s”.

Our cruise of 2019

     The St. George’s is surrounded by a hillside of an old volcano crater and is on a horseshoe-shaped harbour.   It has a moderate tropical climate that ensures the success of spice production. Nutmegs are a key crop, followed by spices such as cocoa, mace, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.

Map of Grenada

     While on Grenada, we took a shore excursion visiting the Grand Etang and Mount Carmel Waterfall. 

Taken from a sign at Grand Etang, Ecological Zones

     Located high up in the mountain of the interior of Grenada, the Grand Etang National park is the island’s most popular area of hiking and trekking. 

I’m posing at a viewpoint, looking north down on Grand Etang

     Grand Etang Lake is the focal point of the reserve, and fills the crater of Mount St. Catherine, one of the island’s extinct volcanoes.

Looking North-West from a viewing platform built on the Grand Etang Lake

     The Grand Etang National Park is located in the center of Grenada, 13 km from capital, St. George’s.   The famous Grand Etang Crater Lake is a key feature of this area and was formed by volcanic activity that took place some 15,000-25,000 years ago.  The lake is 580 m above sea level and measures 36 acres.  Water is extracted from the lake during the dry season to supplement the supply to St. George’s.

Looking North across the Grand Etang Lake from the viewing platform while Becky views local animal

     The rainforest around the lake holds a rich diversity of plants and animals.  The rain forest around the lake holds a rich diversity of flora that includes towering mahogany and giant gommier trees as well as a multitude of ferns, tropical flowers, rare orchids and other indigenous plants.

Looking North-East across the Grand Etang from a viewing platform

     Evidence suggests that the lake is connected to Kick ’em Jenny, an active submarine volcano to the north. This is because when Kick Em Jenny was observed bubbling, so too were the waters in Grand Etang Lake.

Looking East across the Grand Etang Lake from a viewing platform

     The dip between the 1800 contour line and the outer crater of the caldera (sunken volcano) is made up of andesitic lava flows and domes.  The inner cone of the caldera is characterized as Scoria and Ash.  The eastern outer finge of the Grand Etang caldera is also made up of andesitic lava flows and domes.    

Trinitario Cocoa trees with their Cocoa fruit, picture taken on the east-side of Grenada

     The soil on the outer slopes of the Grand Etang crater are known as Concord Clay Loam which is fine textured, imperfectly to moderately well drained, black to dark brown and very deep.  Basalt lava flows underlay the solid from Vendome up to the 1800 contour line.  In the areas around the 1800 contour line the slopes are 20-30 degrees.  The Capital Clay Loam which is the type of soil that characterizes the area is a very steep to shallow phase soil. 

     Grenada grows almost entirely  the Trinitario cocoa with a few Forasteros cocoa. It is somewhat mysterious how the same varieties of cocoa come out so different in different places. Grenada has clearly one of the strongest, richest cocoas in the world partially due to the super-rich volcanic soil here and the hot sun. Single origin cocoa bean chocolate is rare, especially when it is one of the best cocoas in the world! Along with careful, small-batch processing, Grenada’s cocoa provides our chocolate with a powerful, delicious and intriguing flavour.

Nutmeg fruit that had fallen from the tree on the east side of Grenada

     The nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans) is a tropical evergreen that can grows up to 20 m in height. It takes up to 8 years for the nutmeg tree to fully mature at which point fruit product increases year after year. Pictured above, when the fruit is fully ripened it splits open and falls to the ground. Inside, the split fruit reveals the dark brown shell containing what we know as the nutmeg. The nut is sold whole or ground. As a whole nut, people grate it to use with cooking and baking. When ground it can more conveniently be used without having to grate it.  The outer, fruit portion is fleshy like a nectarine and is used to manufacture other products such as jams, jellies, and syrups.       

The Mount Carmel Waterfall found on the Eastern side of Grenada 2019

     The (Royal) Mount Carmel Waterfall is the highest of Grenada’s many waterfalls.  Situated 3 km south of Grenville, it’s twin waterfalls cascade 21 m to the waters below.  Here you can marvel at the beauty of the magical Royal Mount Carmel Waterfalls!

The Mount Carmel Waterfall on Grenada 2019

     Just off to the left of the main cascade, sits nature’s perfect swimming pool that is simply too inviting to refuse. So Becky & I took refreshing dip (not pictured).

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