Guadeloupe is a Caribbean island and politically part of France, even though it is more than 4600 mile away in the Caribbean Sea. It is a French "departement", with a political organization similar to all the "départements" of the motherland. Guadeloupe Island is shaped like butterfly wings. One wing is Basse Terre, dominated by La Soufriere, a 4813 ft high volcano, and the other wing is Grande Terre with the capital Pointe a Pitre. Smaller islands form the nearby archipelago of La Guadeloupe: Marie Galante, La Désirade, and Les Saintes.

Basse Terre and Grande Terre

The island is covered almost entirely by a tropical forest and National parks, and visitors will find miles of trails among immense trees, gigantic foliage, tentacular lianes, tree ferns and colorful orchids. The “Parc des Mamelles” and the botanical Gardens stand as great guardians of Mother Nature. Climbing “La Soufriere” through the Chemin des Dames is not so difficult and arriving to the top is like landing on the moon, But you may wish to descend quickly, passing the three Chutes du Carbet, to avoid the rotten egg smell of the sulfurous fumes. Separating both wings of the butterfly is the Natural Reserve of Grand Cul de Sac Marin, where coralian reefs, mangrove, and sea turtles are routinely explored by snorkelers and fishermen alike. All along the high cliffs over the coast there are panoramic views of the white sand beaches lined with coconut trees.

Two main cities developed on Grande Terre, the capital Pointe a Pitre and le Moule, and both are proud of the Creole architecture of their buildings. In the countryside, quaint villages are usually comprised of small houses, called “case”, clustered around the village church. Everywhere le local cuisine smells so good. Fruits and vegetables have strange names, fresh fish and large prawns, les “ouassous” are prepared with spices or smoked in a wood fire. Bananas, coffee, and chocolate, muscade, cinnamon, vanilla grow locally and Rum, made in local distilleries, is the base of the “ti punch” when mixed with sugarcane and lime.

Les Saintes and Marie Galante

Les Saintes islands are only 10 miles away from Basse Terre. Few slaves came to these small islands and the locals are mostly descendants of Bretons and Normans. Beaches and sceneries are beautiful because of their incredible pastel colors of blue and green, and it is always possible to encounter turtles and iguanas there.
Marie Galante island is about 30 miles away. It is an agriculturally based community, with large fields of sugarcane and several rum distilleries