Good news: there is a new tourist attraction in Saint Lucia;
The Bon Nouvel eco- and agri-tourism heritage site at Esperance, north of the village of Choiseul and near Gros Piton. It’s a place for those who love to be close to nature and who enjoy walking and hiking.
The estate is open to the public although it is a work in progress, evolving as fast as nature permits
Esperance Estate used to be a sugar cane plantation with 74 slaves. Now it is one of the last working estates in the Choiseul region. An early owner was Hubert Raveneau after whom the local area is named. It was in the hands of the Glace family for over 100 years and is now the property of former politician Emma Hippolyte who has worked closely with the authorities and conservationists to transform it into an eco- and agriculturist heritage site.
The estate is open to the public although it is a work in progress, evolving as fast as nature permits. The project manager, Emanuel Alexander, lives and breathes Esperance; he is in tune with the entire property, aware of what is living and growing in every one of the 56 acres. He and seven staff, with their knowledge of the estate’s history, flora and fauna, will be your guides as you walk and hike the trails.
The Glace Trail
This is an easy and pretty trail to follow with ubiquitous signs naming the trees, flowers and herbs. The estate produces cocoa, coffee, coconut (for its oil), cassava, bananas, mangoes and other fruit, flowers and lumber. The mainstay is the flower collection and you will see beautiful anthuriums, ginger lilies and heliconia, even a rose garden. Take a look at the nurseries for the seedlings and orchids, the dehydration house where coconut shells are dried for fuel, the charcoal pit, and the traditional-style thatched cottages which are being developed as a Carib museum.
The Carib Trail
This follows a track used by Carib Indians. There are a lot of steps to climb but take your time and marvel at the lush foliage around you, especially the abundance of bay leaf trees.
Records show that a dry stone wall was once a slaves’ cottage. The rope barriers were originally ship ropes. Towards the top of the trail you will see the apiary.
The Rainforest Trail
The name says it all! The dense canopy creates a cool environment that is home to endemic birds: St. Lucian warbler, oriole and St. Lucian black finch. The Gwi-Gwi tree is a known habitat of the St. Lucian parrot, amazona versicolor; perhaps you will be lucky enough to spot one! If not, the petroglyph will interest you.
The River-Ridge Trail
This is where you can feed the goats and sheep, and learn about cultivation of the hybrid anthurium lily using green technology. Have fun on the “Tarzan swing” then pause at the viewpoint and listen
to the soothing sounds of water.
Palm to Table
By prior arrangement, Emanuel and his team can prepare you a delicious cooked meal using produce grown on the estate.
Tel. (758) 487 0154
See advertisement on page 49.
Emanuel Alexander writes about the medicinal benefits of herbs and plants on page 48.