Milton Falls / Syndicate Falls

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This past Saturday we decided that we needed an adventure! We had been doing a lot of groundwork recently, for our house, dive center & retreat, for our podcast, and the general set up of life and business which sometimes is all consuming and sometimes is just a game of hurry up and wait. I couldn’t stand another weekend of work & logistical planning so we picked a place we had never been to and set off on an adventure.
milton-falls-syndicate-falls-02The first part of this adventure is that there is no real information on how to get to Milton aka Syndicate Falls. Guidebooks talk about what you can see there, tours you can take etc but don’t actually give you directions. They all seem to assume you will have a driver or be taking a bus so they leave it to the local to get you where you are going. We on the other hand, having our own ride and hearing this was an short and easy trail that wouldn’t require a guide we took our chances. There is a sign just outside of Picard we’ve noticed on several occasions as we drive down to Mero or Roseau that says Syndicate with an arrow pointing up a narrow road that switches back from the main road. We followed that sign up into the thickening bush, the sky blotted out by large bamboo and trees arching over the road. Before long we were passing farm land cut out of the brush wondering if we passed it, or if we were close, or even going in the right direction. When we finally spotted a person along the road we asked if we were going in the right direction to get to Syndicate Falls, he said yes and pointed down the road, but he didn’t know enough English to answer our next question about if there was clear markings to the trailhead so we carried on with no more direction than we started out with. Luckily only a few more minutes down the road we saw a sign for Milton / Syndicate Falls and we parked across from a coffee farm.

We asked one of the farmers, a woman, which way we go on the trail since the road splits shortly after the entrance where the sign is posted. There is an arrow pointing, but is it for the guest house, the falls or both, it was hard to tell. We took the path marked with the arrow and wandered through more farm land. The path to the falls are divided into 3 sections, none too long, but all beautiful and totally ‘Dominica’. The first part is a path cut in between farm land, where it’s hard to tell if it is all one farm or plots owned and tended by different people. In them we spotted peppers, starfruit, avocado, grapefruit, tarot, pawpaw (papaya), and lots of squash vines. Such beautiful variety it made my mouth water and piqued my desire to do more cultivation of my own!

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Before the next part of the path you finally see a ‘gate’ and little house which takes your $5 us or $10EC donation, and continue on. After passing the final bit of ‘farm’ the path took us into thicker brush, high grasses, citrus trees dripping with moss and vines with mystery green fruit (I think most of them were grapefruits). There was also a wide variety of incredible fungus growing on trees, rotting logs and in the ground as we got closer to the water we had been listening to almost since the onset of the hike. You find yourself in the valley surrounded by high peaks and tall trees which apparently are where you can usually spot the Sisserou parrot, Dominica’s national bird. I didn’t see any but I definitely plan on going back with a real bird watcher who can spot some for me!
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Finally we met the river! Rushing, crystal clear water bounded over rocks some dusted with a copper color clay deposited from the mineral rich water. There were plenty of rocks to cross the river, and downed trees to take a seat on and enjoy the engulfing forest and deafening sounds of nature. I took my shoes off on some of the river crossings since my legs aren’t as long as Richard’s and I wouldn’t have been able to make it without getting my shoes wet. The feeling of the frigid water on my toes and the smoothed rocks beneath my soles woke me up and quickened my pace to the falls. Rich and I made our way up rocky banks, crisscrossing the river, finally spotting the waterfall through the trees. It was absolutely stunning. The water roared and crashed so loudly we could barely hear one another speaking but we were in awe and no words were necessary.
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We stripped down to our bathing suits and instead of getting in the large pool into which the waterfall was pouring we dipped into a smaller, quieter pool with less splash and took pictures and some video of our surroundings. We basked in nature, breathing in the fresh cool air, feeling the prickle of goosebumps from cold natural spring water. It felt both ‘touristy’ and local all at the same time, either way it felt right. There is nothing better than feeling the pressure and force of nature on your body while you recharge your soul and for a few hours in a jungle river we could feel it.

Do you have a favorite waterfall, river or body of water that helps you feel connected to nature? Are you searching for one? We hope you join us at SALT Dominica for a walk to Syndicate/ Milton Falls or any of the 365 rivers and some of their accompanying waterfalls, pools and streams!

Stay Salty
Kayla

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