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Preserving the Peaks: A Wilderness Service Challenge

 After viewing the rustic landscape of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, it’s no question why it has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The majestic slopes span across four parishes and from its remarkable summit, one can see both the north and south coasts of the island. Your senses will also detect the aroma of the famous Blue Mountain coffee which is one of the most sought after coffees in the world. The many species of plants and animals you will come in contact with are an example of biodiversity at its finest. It’s clear why conservation and reforestation of this impressive landscape would be the focal point of this program.

    • Visit the Charles Town Maroons: Live, swim and eat like a Maroon
    • Discover about the many indigenous plant species that inhabit the Blue Mountains
    • Hear from conservation experts about ways to mitigate climate change and protect the rainforest’s biodiversity
    • Hike to the Cinchona Botanical Gardens
    • Swim in the Turquoise blue waters and eat world famous Jerk chicken
    • Assist in conservation efforts by reforesting eroded areas
    • Learn wilderness survival skills

  • To preserve the overwhelming beauty and the many endemic plant and animal species in this exquisite ecosystem, it’s critical to create and implement solutions that will target conservation, reforestation, and influences of climate change. Through a partnership with the Jamaican Conservation and Development Trust, students will be aiding in these preservation efforts through a variety of service projects. As some of the villages of the Blue Mountains arise as the most poor and isolated in all of Jamaica, there is a great need for construction and infrastructure projects to aid in the development in these communities. You will be instrumental in executing this vision. In this time, you will not only learn wilderness survival skills, you will develop critical leadership skills that will prove to be invaluable over the course of your life.

  • You will gain a wide scope of knowledge in workshops and in your fieldwork with the Jamaican Conservation and Development Trust, a local NGO and charity that manages Blue & John Crow mountain National Park. In addition to learning about the ecosystem of the Blue Mountains and many endemic species that are contained in this natural habitat, you will also learn about challenges with invasive species and climate change that pose a threat this environment. Another captivating learning experience comes when you will have the unique opportunity to be immersed with an indigenous tribe, the Charles Town Maroons. This resilient group of individuals carries on a very historical significance as they are descendants of Africans who fought the British and escaped slavery by fleeting and hiding in the mountainous region now known as the Blue Mountains. In being invited to live with them for a day, you will be exposed to this history and some cultural traditions, such as their belief in living solely of the land and using the plants for medicinal purposes.

  •  Adventure awaits you around every corner of this program. You will have the opportunity to hike the rugged mountainous slopes and take in views from different altitudes and perspective along the way. Students are sure to stumble upon some hidden waterfalls such as, Fish Dunn Falls, in their trek. These beautiful, cascading falls are an excellent way to cool off after a long hike.  Participants on this program will be enchanted in their tour of Cinchona, a rare high elevation botanical garden that features many stunning, tropical plants. Another amazing adventure lies in meeting the Charles Town Maroons. This extraordinary experience offers historical and cultural significance and is surely something to write home about.

  • Nestled in Blue Mountain paradise, Silver Hill eco-lodge will be your home base and home away from home on this project. The estate is a chalet style home and a true wellness retreat for students returning from after a day of hiking or working on a project all day. It boasts many stunning panoramic views of the Mountains and over 122 species of flowers that are contained on the property alone. The property includes both a coffee farm and organic vegetable farm that will give you a farm to table experience in many of your meals. Silver Hill offers gender-segregated, dorm style rooms and many comfortable areas to take in the unspoiled scenery.