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Last week, I finally got to welcome my mom to Barbados! I inherited my love of the Caribbean from her, and we’ve taken many mother/daughter trips to different islands together. This time, I got to host and show her around, taking her on a curated 6-day itinerary full of beaches and adventure. When my dad was here last year, we visited the Barbados Wildlife Reserve to see monkeys. For mom, we decided to switch things up and check out somewhere I’d never been before either: Welchman Hall Gully.
While many know of Barbados for tourism and beautiful beaches, most probably don’t realize that it is one of the most densely populated islands in the world. As a result, it has been largely developed and leaves Welchman Hall Gully as one of only a few remaining forested areas on the island.
Welchman Hall Gully is located in one of Barbados’ most central parishes, St. Thomas. There are a couple bus routes from Bridgetown, but it wouldn’t have been very easy to get there without a taxi or rental car (which we had). And even with a rental car… it was still an adventure to get there!
We had spent the morning in Holetown, and on a map it looked like a pretty easy drive up Highway C. Unfortunately, maps don’t show road closures in real time! We went as far as we could go on White Hall/Mount Hall road, but cemented barricades prevented us from reaching the main road, H2. Ultimately, we had to back track and come up H2 from the Warrens area.
So, a note to future travelers: stick to the main highways! Once we were actually on H2, there were plenty of road signs that pointed us directly to the Gully. The signage in this area was undoubtedly some of the best on the island, likely due to the close proximity of other nearby tourist attractions.
There is a small parking lot right near a welcome building where you can purchase admission tickets, snacks and souvenirs.
As per usual, I’m an adventurer on a budget, so the $14 USD per person rate for a self-guided tour was pleasantly affordable enough for me. After purchasing tickets, we were given a guide book and then set off to explore!
Note: The gully is CASH ONLY! They accept both USD and BBD.
Walking beyond the entry gate immerses you in a different kind of island beauty. The tropical rainforest surrounds you in lush, vibrant green ferns and foliage, with tall palms creating a natural canopy overhead.
A set of stairs near the entrance leads up to a lookout point. Most people probably leave this part for last, but we decided to get the steps out of the way first! While on the stairs, you could make out the remnants of the collapsed cave, which the gully grew inside of.
The view from the top was spectacular, overlooking Mount Hillaby (the highest point in Barbados) and Cattlewash Beach. There was also a pavilion, which would’ve been the perfect spot for a picnic or moment of peace.
Ambling back down the stairs, we headed for a paved path that winds through the rest of the gully. We noticed some trees were numbered and realized they correlated to information in the guide book. One of the first trees we encountered was the Bearded Fig Tree, which some say Barbados (“the bearded ones”) was named after.
It turned into a mini-scavenger hunt as we tried to find and learn about every tree in the book. No easy feat, given that the gully is home to over 150 species of plants and trees!
There was something new to admire around every bend of the ¾ mile walk. One portion hosted a nutmeg grove, another a gallery of palm trees, and toward the end was a carved out cave with stalagmites and stalactites.
Additionally, there were a couple of decorative plaques. These included Colin Hudson’s memorial, who was heavily involved in Barbados National Trust and environmental movement, and another commemorating the visit of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. The Prince Philip in 1975.
We spent over an hour meandering around and enjoying the enchanted forest. Those less interested in the flora could’ve been in and out in less time than that, though.
One of the reasons we went to Welchman Hall Gully was to see the Barbados green monkeys. A large troop lives in the gully, though they’re typically easy to find anywhere across the island (they’re so populous they’re considered pests here!). But it was mom’s fifth day and they were apparently all hiding from her.
There is a platform in the gully where monkeys are fed daily around 10:30 AM. We arrived just before noon, which meant we were a bit too late for feeding time. We didn’t see any monkeys on the way in, and only one lone monkey crossed the path and quickly disappear into the trees on our walk.
Luck was with us on the way out, though, as we found the troop lounging on the forest floor. At first I was “awwing” at two that looked like they were sharing a kiss…
Until we realized they were actually sharing a snack. A lizard snack… which was still alive and writhing for freedom as they mercilessly pulled its tail off! Jeez, nature can be brutal!
The monkeys in the gully are wild and come and go as they please. Shortly after they finished torturing the poor lizard, they sauntered off back into the trees.
Aside from monkeys, the forest is also home to many of Barbados’ avian species. I was so focused on the scenery and plants (and monkeys) that I forgot to take photos of the birds! I did snap two shots of roosters with especially striking plumage on the way out, though. I’m also pretty sure I saw (and heard) a Rose-Ringed Parakeet (aka “Green Parrot”). They’re stunning birds that I’ve only seen here one other time, but they make an unforgettable racket!
The majority of the gully has a well-kept, paved concrete path through it. Even the stairs up to the lookout point were maintained with a sturdy handrail. The rest of the terrain is almost entirely level, which made for easy walking and would even be wheelchair and stroller friendly.
We absolutely loved this beautiful and peaceful place. The entire forest appeared vibrant and healthy, and we were delighted to encounter the monkeys in their natural habitat.
There was almost no one else around and there was no time limit on admission. It would be a perfect place for anyone wanting a quick adventure (maybe pair it up with the nearby Harrison’s Cave) or even those looking to spend a day away from the crowds. I definitely hope to return before my time in Barbados comes to an end!
If you enjoyed my photos of Barbados, many are available for sale as fine art photo prints in my shop!
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