Les Chutes du Carbet are one of Guadeloupe’s most stunning — and popular — waterfalls. There are dozens of waterfalls in Guadeloupe, but the Carbet Falls are tucked away in the rainforest of the Guadeloupe National Park (Le Parc National de Guadeloupe) and invite all avid nature and outdoor lovers to immerse in its tropical flora.
Simply put, if you are on a vacation in Guadeloupe and want to hike to waterfalls while you’re here, then you won’t be disappointed with a day trip to the Chutes du Carbet on Basse Terre island.
There are three waterfalls in total here. However, it’s the second (2ème) that attracts the most visitors and tourists, thanks to its easy hiking trail that is doable within 20 minutes from the parking lot. The first and third waterfalls (1ère chute and 3ème chute), offer much more of a challenge as the trails meander up and over moderate-difficult terrain for roughly 1.5 hours one-way.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing tips for visiting both the first and second waterfalls. We didn’t have the time to hike to the third in the same day and were even told to avoid this trail for its difficulty and inaccessibility due to a landslide some years ago. At any rate, I hope you’ll enjoy this hiking guide and photos of Les Chutes du Carbet!
Hiking Guide: Les Chutes du Carbet
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Getting to the Carbet Waterfalls in Basse Terre
Firstly, getting to Les Chutes du Carbet is no easy feat. As it is for everywhere you go in Guadeloupe, you MUST have a rental car.
Unless you want to hitchhike (which we’ve had to do), you need to rent a car at the airport in Pointe-à-Pitre. Expect to pay between €50–€70 or more per day for a rental car in Guadeloupe (the earlier you snag one, the better!).
While the Kuralis bus transport is fairly reliable for getting between the coastal towns on Grande Terre, Basse Terre’s bus system is different. At any rate, there are absolutely no buses that will go up the road to reach Les Chutes du Carbet.
To reach the Chutes du Carbet Visitor’s Center, head up the backcountry road from Le Cabaña Grill. It’s 8km (5.2 mi) from the D4 Highway which takes around 15 minutes by car to reach the parking lot and visitor’s center. (Click here to open directions.)
Cost — Guadeloupe National Park
There is ample free parking once at the Visitor’s Center. But before you make the trip out there, make sure you have:
- Cash or credit card to pay the entry fee — €5 per adult
- Vaccination card or pass sanitaire
- Proper hiking shoes and clothing
- Water and a healthy snack
- Offline map and/or emergency numbers
Note: There isn’t any mobile service/4G on the hiking trails. If you need it, you can capture just enough outside the visitor’s center.
What to Pack & Wear Hiking
The National Park of Guadeloupe is wet and tropical — expect sudden showers, humidity, and lots of plant and insect life. That said, pack accordingly!
Here’s the gear I recommend wearing and bringing on your visit to the Carbet waterfalls:
- Good hiking shoes or hiking sandals — I wore my hiking Teva sandals and enjoyed being able to rinse off my muddy feet in the rivers we crossed. Closed toe shoes are recommend by the visitor’s center in order to reduce the chance of contracting Leptospiroris (disease carried by rats or cattle that can be contracted by humans via infected fresh water).
- Breathable hiking leggings/shorts and shirt — You’re bound to get wet — or, at least, sweaty — so wear breathable hiking clothes. I wore my mid-length biking shorts and a wicking crop-top. I did get a bit chilly onced it rained on us, so you may consider a light rain jacket as well.
- Plenty of water and a light snack — Bring at least 1 liter of water per person and a light, healthy snack (please pack out all trash you pack in!).
- Camera gear — a waterproof action camera is a great idea as rain showers are likely! I also brought my Sony A7II camera in its bag, but kept it protected inside my REI Ruck Sack that comes with a waterproof backpack cover.
- Biodegradable repellent — mosquitoes were luckily not a nuisance for us on our hike, but if you’re sensitive to bites then you may want to go prepared with Murphy’s biodegradable insect repellent balm.
First Waterfall — 1ère Chute du Carbet
The first waterfall of the Chutes du Carbet is not the closest. But to keep things tidy here, I will mention it first.
To reach the 1ère Chute du Carbet, you’ll have to hike for around 1 hour and 30 minutes (each way, or 3 hours round-trip from the parking lot).
The terrain is classed as “Difficult” (Difficile) and that’s because there are several sections of the hike where you need to climb up or down using the aid of secure ropes or your own hands and feet.
The trail starts out quite jungly, with lots of steps. After that, you’ll cross a river and wind up and down until you finally emerge from the forest and witness the first falls cascading down the cliff from a height of 115m (377 ft).
Rocks and tree roots can be slippery, so watch your step. (There isn’t a real danger out here, except for straining your ankle and falling!)
Note: A staff member at the center said this hike would take only 40 minutes round-trip (😆), but that is definitely not the case. It’s 1.5 hours each way.
Since crowds tend to arrive at the 1ère chute around 11 am-noon, I would recommend starting with these First Falls, and then visiting the 2nd falls closer to the parking lot.
Second Waterfall — 2ème Chute du Carbet
The second waterfall is the most visited and easiest waterfall to access.
You can reach the panorama within 20-25 minutes walking from the parking lot. The stairs can be quite slippery, so be careful. You’ll cross a bridge and then, not much further away, will be a small ‘viewing deck’ you can walk out on.
The view of the 2nd Carbet Falls will be on your right if they aren’t shrouded in a cloud of mist. The height of the 2ème chute de Carbet is 110m (360 ft).
In my opinion, it’s the hike to the 1st Carbet Falls that really makes the experience compared to the easy hike and view of the 2nd. It’s just so wild and lush!
Third Waterfall — 3ème Chute du Carbet
The third waterfall of Carbet Falls is the one we didn’t get to see with our own eyes. However, I did want to mention that, since 2008, the last 50 meters of the trail is closed and the National Park prohibits its access.
(Translated from French)
“Please note that the access to the area around the Third Chute du Carbet is forbidden by municipal decree since 2008 following a landslide next to the falls. Access to the last section of the trail is FORBIDDEN by about 50 m (165 ft).”— Guadeloupe National Park
I am not sure I would take the risk to hike for 1.5 hours only to get 50 meters away from the magnificent view. Although the third waterfall of Carbet isn’t impressive by height, it is known for having a beautiful circular pool and powerful falls by volume.
Last Tips for Visiting the Chutes du Carbet
BEFORE YOU GO, make sure to head down the road from the visitor’s center to discover little-known hot springs (bains chauds).
We found them only after we had hopped in someone’s car (hitchhiking) and were told about them by the local friends we made. Imagine relaxing in hot springs to relax sore muscles and knees after such a good hike!
Here are some more travel tips to keep in mind:
- Leave No Trace — the Guadeloupe National Park is a gorgeous and wild place full of life. Let’s respect it by not littering, disrupting flora or fauna, and being mindful of our impact. Please take out all trash you brought with you.
- No Drones Allowed — as is typical for National Parks, no drones are allowed. You can definitely take pictures with your normal camera, though.
- Restrooms — there are public restrooms at the visitor’s center. Go before your head out on your hike!
- Shop — a mini shop inside the visitor’s center is also available in case you need to buy snacks or would like to purchase local artisanal goods (i.e. locally-made honey).
- Nearby Eats — a Ti-Punch bar located along the road to Carbet used to be open and a bustling place to grab lunch after a long hike. It was closed when we passed, but check just in case for your trip!
- No Phone Service — remember, there’s no data service on the hike. Make all transport arrangements, if need be, before your hike or after.
- Check the Weather — while it rained a lot during our visit, we were still able to see both the First and Second Falls from the panoramic viewpoint (just after the visitor’s center), and see them both fairly clearly up-close. Just in case, make sure to check the weather before you head out on your hike. 🌧
I hope you enjoy your hike to the gorgeous Chutes du Carbet in Guadeloupe! Feel free to reach out with questions or comments below.
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