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If you live in the Caribbean, you might often find yourself climbing uphill—and, of course, down again. While many who visit the region think only of beaches, the inland scenery is often rugged, with many spectacular mountains and hilly ranges to be enjoyed and explored. For added excitement, there are even a few volcanoes!

The theme for International Mountain Day 2021, which falls on December 11, is “Sustainable Mountain Tourism”, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations noting that mountain tourism accounts for around 15 to 20 per cent of global tourism:

Sustainable tourism in mountains can contribute to creating additional and alternative livelihood options and promoting poverty alleviation, social inclusion, as well as landscape and biodiversity conservation. It is a way to preserve the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, to promote local crafts and high value products, and celebrate many traditional practices such as local festivals.

Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that manages the Blue and John Crow Mountains World Heritage Site and National Park, will celebrate with online updates about several activities reflecting this theme, including Maroon Community Tourism, Indigenous Knowledge and Protected Areas (a joint research project with South Africa), and a Threatened Tree Project.

If you’re ready for a climb—or even a hike—we’ll take a quick tour of the region’s mountains, starting with the region’s tallest peak, on one of the largest islands, Hispaniola.

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