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On most holidays you get a hotel. You also get a bathroom and you get a McDonald’s within about eight feet of the hotel’s front door. You get driven to a whole host of places on a tour bus, often by a non-native tour guide and all-in-all you get a slightly lob-sided view of the country you’re visiting.  Sure, you’ve been to the place but have you really experienced it?

So, next time you go on holiday how about trying to do things a little differently. Thing one: explore the natural beauty of your location – rather than the nearest restaurant which serves a full-English  – and secondly, mix with the locals. This is the goal of website Blue Mountains.net which promote tours and trails through the wonderful mountain range in the always tourist friendly and exquisitely furnished island of Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains tower over the rest of the island and stand proud and tree-lined some 7,402 feet high.  It is not your average mountain range either. A lot of mountains come with all sorts of inhospitable issues, they can be snow-capped, wind-strewn or rock-filled and often an uncomfortable combination of all three. Not the Blue Mountains. An undulating, resplendent, green-soaked trail filled landscape that not only manages to squeeze in some spectacular scenery, it is also filled with local history and the wonderful Jamaican spirits. To explore the Blue Mountains is to see Jamaica as it truly is.

So, what can you expect to find on your trail through the twisting turbulent turns of the foliate mounts?  Well, the first thing is the fauna. An odd thing about mountains is they tend to get a touch more rain than lower lying regions, thus, with average rainfall being higher, mountain fauna tends to be more diverse and a touch on the gigantic side. On the northern slopes of the Blue Mountains  where rainfall is highest, trees average 30 – 40m (100 – 120 feet).  In the Blue Mountains this leads to trees tower over some 500 species of flowering plants, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet. Not that it’s all about enormous trees, on the trail up to the Blue Mountain Peak you will pass through an “elfin woodland” where the exposed nature of the mountains causes another curious thing to happen, the trees appear stunted.

Oh and while you’re there you can always try and spot the Climbing Bamboo, Chusquea abietifolia that only flowers once every 33 years. If you’re going soon you might have to hang around for a bit, though. It’s not due for another good flowering until 2017.

Do you love butterflies? Of course you do. Well, the mountains are also home to the one of the world’s largest butterflies – and definitely the largest in the Western Hemisphere –  the wonderfully named homerous swallowtail.  The homerous is endemic to Jamaica and found nowhere else in the world. For birders out there, you can also try to catalogue, binocular or simply spot as many of the 200 species native to the mountain as possible.

So, if you’re going to properly explore the mountains you’re going to want to know what the best walks are. There are plenty of trails all over the region,  including the Peak trail from Mavis Bank and another from the Rio Grande valley to Bath Fountain in St Thomas which boasts a host of hot mineral springs. However, if you really want to know more about the splendid winding trails of the Blue Mountains, you should really check out Blue Mountains.net, for all your trail related needs.

Much of the forest is protected within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which you can visit for more information on the area.

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