THE MAGIC OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS IN JAMAICA…..

bluemountainby: Neo Makeba

As the longest mountain range in Jamaica, and one of the largest in the Caribbean, the Blue Mountains of Jamaica are extraordinary, spectacular and imposing. The steep gradients and varied relief produce cool surroundings amidst the tropical vegetation.

The Mountains receive more than 300 inches of rain each year, providing water for almost one half of Jamaica’s population. The land is particularly rugged and when the Spanish fled Jamaica, their freed slaves escaped to these mountains.

Jamaica’s highest point is the Blue Mountain Peak, which stands 2256m above sea level, and is nestled in the heart of the range. On a clear day hikers can see Cuba which is 210km away, from the summit.

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.

The rich, nutritious soils of the Blue Mountain slopes make for perfect agricultural conditions, which is why the mountains themselves are so green and tropical. The famous Blue Mountain Coffee Beans produce the ultimate in gourmet coffees. The sensational taste, richness and smoothness makes this locally grown product a unique culinary wonder.

There are also over 500 species of unique flowering plants and huge trees that tower over visitors below. The world’s second-largest butterfly (Homerus Swallowtail) flutters through the forests and there are plenty of other creatures sheltering from the intense sun amongst the foliage.

THE PEAKBlue Mountain Peak, Jamaica. Today, the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, which commands premium prices on world markets, is cultivated between 2,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level, while higher slopes are preserved as forest. Hagley Gap and Mavis Bank are farming communities located on Blue Mountain with Hagley Gap being closest to Blue Mountain Peak. Both towns rely upon the area’s rich soil for growing coffee.

loggerhead birdBlue Mountain Loggerhead Bird. The Blue Mountains climatic diversity has led to the growth of diverse and lush vegetation including towering trees and more than 500 species of flowering plants. The mountains are home to the world’s second largest butterfly and the largest in the Americas, the Homerus swallowtail (Papilio homerus). The Jamaican Coney (Geocapromys brownii), a type of rodent, and the Jamaican Boa (Epicrates subflavus) are also found there. More than 200 species of birds live in the Blue Mountains.

bloggerA BLOGGER WROTE: When someone suggested that I do an 18-mile bike ride in Jamaica, I figured they’d had a little too much sun. But in the spirit of adventure, I soon found myself poised at the top of the Blue Mountains, strapping on a bike helmet and getting ready to plunge down a steep road. The next three hours convinced me that cycling is the best way to explore Jamaica’s gorgeous back country.

Most ships calling on Ocho Rios or Montego Bay in Jamaica offer the downhill bike ride as a shore excursion. If not, you can contact Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours directly to arrange a day of cycling through the Jamaican countryside.

The route is almost all downhill, starting at Hardware Gap, with its hazy views of far-off Kingston, and ending near Buff Bay on the northern coast. Along the way, you see, smell, and feel many of the things that make Jamaica famous: Blue Mountain coffee growing in steep fields, ackee trees bursting with the yellow fruit that goes into the island’s national dish, jerk chicken simmering at a roadside stall, and national icons like the long-tailed Doctor Bird and the Blue Mahoe tree.

Bike-mounted guides are poised at both ends of the pack to monitor traffic and road conditions, and answer questions about the flora, fauna, history, and culture. Brunch at The Blue Mountain Restaurant and Coffee Shop is included in the price, as is the Ting grapefruit soda that quenches your thirst at the final destination — a small waterfall and swimming hole to wash the road away before driving back to your ship

bluemountainviewWonderful view of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica. This is where Newcastle is located. The town of Newcastle, located two miles below Holy well, has an interesting history. The British established it in 1841 because troops manning the lowland forts were dying of yellow fever in alarming numbers.

The buttercups that grew in great numbers following the rains were blamed for exuding some sort of effluvium that caused the deadly sickness. The troops were stationed high in the forest at Newcastle so they would be far enough away from the buttercup fields to be affected. It was much later before someone made the connection between yellow fever and the hearty, thriving mosquito population that–along with the buttercups—also mushroomed with the rains.

Black slaves were much less susceptible to yellow fever than their British owners. Slaves named the buttercups after the white people (or “backras”), calling them “kill-backras.” The saying also developed that “If backra wants to live long, he must ask nayga leave” because it appeared the less sickly slaves knew the secret to good health and long life.

coffeepickerThe  coffee is always picked by hand. Blue Mountain has partnered with Organo Gold to introduce Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee with Ganoderma. Premium Gourmet Royal Brewed Coffee. It’s the same great tasting Blue mountain coffee, now infused with one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, the most celebrated of all Chinese herbs and one of the most tested product on earth. 100% Organic Ganoderma Luciduim.

aroma-ridge-blue-mountain-coffee

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