Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bassin Zim Haiti

I took my ecology class on a field trip to Bassin Zim in Haiti’s Central Plateau.  The road to it is in Hinche off of National Route #3.  At the last big bridge as you are heading out of town toward Pignon, on the Pignon side of the bridge look for the road that goes to the east (marked 308 in google earth).  Take this road until you come to a fork with a large sign for a peasant organization, it has the word LAKAY on it.  Take the road to the left and keep going through Papaye.  You’ll eventually see a green sign for the falls, and the road gets rocky and steeper going downhill, until it ends at the parking lot for Bassin Zim.  It might be ½ hour from the highway, but we kept making stops so I lost track (see this post for the stops).  You can see the basin in aerial maps, in google earth search Bassin Zim, Centre, Haiti.

We paid 25 goudes each to enter, and as soon as we started walking a bunch of kids came and 2 latched on to me as my guides (even though I was with 12 university students).  They helped me on some of the rockier parts of the trail and across the stream up to the cave.  I gave them each $1US at the end.

The basin at the base of the falls isn't ideal for swimming since the force of the water creates a whirlpool with debris swirling in it.  Downstream where it becomes a stream might have been ok, but there were women washing clothes at the edge of the pool.  A bunch of UN soldiers from Uruguay were having a party there and had inflatable tubes, so they must have been swimming.

The walk up to the cave is relatively easy, up steps and across a small stream.  Wear shoes you can get wet.  At the first landing you can see the basin from above and several pools leading down to it.  There is also a small alcove with stalagmites and stalactites and what looks like voudou activity.  Get back on the steps and keep going up to the main cave.  There the small stream starts from a pool that has little fish.  There are wasp nests all over the wall of the cave, as well as swallow nests.  Shine a flashlight into the cavern that is farther in and you’ll see bats.  We didn’t climb up into the cavern, so I don’t know where it leads.  The child guides knew where to spot boas in the trees.

I would like to visit Bassin Zim again with fewer people, no “guides,” and spend some time birding and exploring the streams!

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