Includes a trip to the Blue Mountain on sample of the world’s finest coffee.
The Blue Mountains form the longest mountain range in Jamaica. Shrouded almost perpetually by mists that give Jamaica’s highest mountains their bluish color, the Blue Mountain range sprawls across the eastern portion of the island for a length of 28 miles and an average width of about 12 miles. They rise steeply in an area so compact that it is possible to drive from the coastal plains to an elevation of over 7,000 feet in less than an hour. Want to where the world’s best coffee comes from?
See more: The true atmosphere of the Blue Mountains is found in the hundreds of paths that connect villages with planting grounds and other villages. These are not recreational trails but utilitarian tracks used by people who live and work in the mountains. There are some nice walks around Newcastle on the Kingston to Buff Bay Road where trails lead to Catherine’s Peak and Mt. Horeb. Beyond Newcastle, the Holywell forest reserve at Hardwar Gap is noted for its tree ferns and birdlife.
Today, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is considered to be among the best of the gourmet coffees in the world. To ensure the quality, the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board set standards for the coffee beans and the processing in order to carry the ‘Blue Mountain Coffee’ label. 90% of the island’s production is exported to Japan. The mountain slopes were cleared to establish coffee plantations and by the first quarter of the 19th century, Jamaica was the leading coffee producer in the world. The industry fell into decline after Emancipation when Jamaica could no longer compete with slave owning countries like Brazil and Cuba.
It is safer to hike in the Blue Mountains during the dry period from December to April because its numerous, rapidly flowing rivers create floods and landslides during heavy rains. It is also the time when the rest of the island is most comfortable. Comfortable clothing and walking shoes, a warm jacket and pants, rain gear, a hat with brim, suntan lotion, insect repellent, flashlight, and a water bottle are most importantly what you need for your trip.
A day trip to the Blue Mountains is easily arranged through the travel desk of any hotel. However, some planning is required for those wanting to spend more than a day as arrangements must be made in advance. Bird watchers and botanists favor the forested areas of the Hardwar Gap and the Rio Grande Valley. There are campsites and inexpensive but very rustic cabins at Holywell forest reserve.
The Blue Mountains are much more humid and cooler than the rest of Jamaica, so you find a quite different climate. Because of this more than 500 flowering plant species can be found in this area, about 240 of which are indigenous to the island, including 65 species of orchids.
Here you can see the high tree fern, eucalyptus, rhododendron, azalea, etc. Often you can see the doctor bird, a species of humming bird, the Jamaican national bird.