The Blue mountains are calling – and you must come!
The Blue and John Crow Mountains was recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the longest mountain range in Jamaica, peaking at 2256 metres above sea level (7402 feet). No visit to the area should neglect a predawn hike to the summit for a sunrise view, where both the north and south coasts of the island are visible. And on a clear day the island of Cuba can be seen from 210 kilometres away!
The is directly associated with events that led to the liberation, and continuing freedom and survival, of groups of fugitive enslaved Africans known as “maroons”. They used the rugged topography and the impenetrable vegetation for refuge in the Blue and John Crow Mountains. Today their cultural heritage remains alive by the Nanny Town Heritage Route and associated remains, i.e. secret trails, settlements, archaeological remains, look-outs, hiding places etc.
The UNESCO World Heritage site climatic diversity has led to the growth of diverse and lush vegetation including towering trees and more than 500 species of flowering plants. The trees and plants of the forest helps to reduce global warming and mitigates the effects of climate change.The mountains are home to the world’s second largest butterfly and the largest in the Americas, the Homerus swallowtail (Papilio homerus)
There are a number of guided hikes and trails, bird watching, mountain biking, camping areas, or hot mineral springs to visit and explore. You are likely to hear the call of the Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis) and see the Mountain Witch (Geotrygon versicolor). There’s a chance you may catch a glimpse of the Jamaican Tody or Robin Redbreast (Todus todus).
And for coffee connoisseurs, it’s where you can sample a variety of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, considered to be one of the best gourmet coffees in the world.
But the true atmosphere of the Blue and John Crow Mountains is found in the hundreds of paths that connect villages, used by local Jamaicans who are struggling to live and work in the Blue Mountains.
The saying “life is like a mountain – hard to climb, but once you get to the top the view is beautiful” sums up the Blue Mountains experience. We couldn’t script it any better ourselves! Make sure you include the Blue and John Crow Mountains as part of your volunteer in Jamaica itinerary or your biochemistry, forestry or climate change study abroad program to Jamaica.