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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

St. Lucia Week: Jungle Biking at Anse Chastanet

There’s a reason why Anse Chastanet is consistently rated one of the top resorts in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. The view of those twin volcanic peaks, the Pitons, from the balcony of my room is jaw-dropping. The way the jagged ridges rise from the sea to a height over 2,000 feet reminds me of a South Pacific isle more than the Caribbean. It’s so dramatic that I’m having a hard time focusing on this blog while peering over at this breathtaking sight. Anse Chastanet, perched on a hillside, is also known for its pristine beach and sheltered bay, one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling. But the reason I’ve come to Anse Chastanet is to mountain bike
 
Next door to Anse Chastanet is Anse Mamin, a former 18th century plantation and sugar mill. The 500-acre ruins are now home to more than 8 miles of mountain biking. I met my guide Tyson next to one of the ruins, a former storage facility for molasses that now houses Cannondales and off we went on the Riverside Trail. Within moments we were riding over fallen leaves of almond, tall African tulip, and calabash trees on a soft singletrack trail next to a river. Deep in the jungle we crossed over a bridge onto the Agua Dulce trail, which translates to “Sweet Water.” The trail was sweet as we cruised downhill sweeping over some rocks and roots to make it to the first reservoir ever built on Saint Lucia.
 
We jumped off our bikes as Tyson grabbed ripe guava from a tree, sliced it in half and we sucked it down. Who needs Gatorade when you have an island that grows 67 types of mangoes? He then picked a golden apple, a cross between a tart apple and a pear, and a succulent pink grapefruit. Then we passed more stone walls, remains of a building that used to boil down the molasses. You can still see the cast iron pots made in the UK. Within an hour we were back at the beginning covered in sweat from the 100% humidity. This is when Tyson gave me the option to tackle more of the singletracks on my own. How could I say no? I warmed up with a quick little run on the Banja Loop and then tackled the more challenging French Wall loop, which led me to the Bamboo Rocks loop. None were too technical. French Wall had some easy switchbacks and a nice downhill run. But anyone who’s mountain biked before will love the opportunity to bike on a former sugar plantation in the Caribbean. Then sit back on your porch, rum drink in hand, and soak up as much of those Pitons as possible. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/18/15 at 05:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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