St. Lucia’s rainforest tempted us away from our usual quest for the perfect beach. Instead of a sand and surf excursion, we booked the “tranopy” tour or aerial tram. How surprising it was to experience a deep serenity and relaxation here. The air was unlike any other place we have ever been. They say the extra oxygen from the plants, or the coolness from the altitude, makes the air feel special. To us, however, it felt primordial. Life and nature enveloped us, washed over us, and soothed us.
We soon learned that the tram was actually like a ski lift. A nine-person gondola, or “gon-DOE-la” in native parlance, lifts you up the top of the forest and gently glides you back down again. In between, you feel the temperature change, feel the sensation of the air brushing past you, feel exhilarated from the inside out, and learn about this unusual habitat. Our knowledgable tour guide, Kizzy (pronounced Kee-zy) stood in the back and narrated. She pointed out plants, wildlife, and vegetation. She also strategically inserted silence into our trip up the mountain. This allowed the small sounds of the forest to rise up. The tweet of the birds, the gurgle of a stream, the rustle of leaves became audible.
Ferns grow into trees here. The ones in the picture are at least twelve feet tall. Vines dangle like in an old Tarzan movie. Orchids grow in unlikely places, like the enormous one growing up the tree (see picture). Trees bloom and palms form forests of their own. Waterfalls cascade and streams rush.
My only complaint about the experience was that this area is also used by zipliners. Their noise definitely disturbs the wildlife. You can zipline anywhere. Perhaps the serenity of the forest should be experienced and the adrenaline rush of the zipline saved for another, less sacred, location.
After the aerial portion of the tour, an optional 20-minute trek through the forest was offered. Only half of the tour participants came along on this little hike, but I highly recommend it. Being on the ground gives you an entirely different perspective of the rainforest. You can see things from the ground up and appreciate the small plants on the forest floor, the tiny animals scurrying about, as well as the height of the trees. Plus, there’s free rum punch waiting at the gift shops.
This tour is a wonderful way for less mobile, less adventurous, less motivated travelers to experience the wonders of a rainforest. If more people experienced the intangible, peaceful feeling we enjoyed, perhaps worldwide efforts to preserve the remaining rainforests would be more successful.
FYI: If you are cruising, the tour is only a 30-minute drive from the dock at Pointe Seraphine, near Castries. It arrives back in plenty of time for you to peruse the shops at Pointe Seraphine, get back onboard, and enjoy the scenic cruising to Soufriere.