Basse-Terre is the name of the western ‘wing’ of the butterfly shape constituted by the two principal islands of Guadeloupe, Grande Terre is the other. The Basse-Terre side of the butterfly is higher, cooler and rainier than Grande-Terre. Basse-Terre is also the name of Guadeloupe’s administrative capital, located on the southern tip of the island.
From the town of Basse-Terre, explore the national park with its many hiking trails. Visit the Chutes du Carbet, the island’s famous 350 ft Carbet Waterfalls that plunge down a sheer mountain face. It’s a two hour hike up to the highest waterfall. For a tougher adventure, hike through fabulous scenery to the active 4,800 ft (1,467 meter) volcano of La Soufriere that looms above the southern half of the island. It’s about three hours away. Alternatively, you can drive over on the Route Traversee, checking out the Chute de Galion, a scenic 130 feet (40 meter) waterfall on the Galion River along the way, taking a dip in its pools and perhaps stopping for a picnic.
From La Savane a Mulet there is a clear view straight up la Soufriere (when it’s not obscured by clouds or mist). The adventurous will want to go further and take the one and a half hour hike to La Soufriere’s moonscape-like summit via a well-established trail, which starts off on a gravel river bed and continues steeply up the mountain through a cover of low shrubs and thick ferns. The town of Basse-Terre itself is a colonial port with unique, old buildings including the Fort Louis Delgres dating from 1643.