Designed as the perfect follow-on to our award-winning Birding Guyana itinerary, this post-tour extension explores the Asa Wright Nature Center on the island of Trinidad. The Centre was established in 1967 to “protect part of the Arima Valley in a natural state and to create a conservation and study area for the protection of wildlife and for the enjoyment of all.” It was one of the first nature centres to be established in the Caribbean.
Transfer to the International Airport for departing flight to Port-of-Spain. Arrival at Piarco International Airport. Transfer to Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge. The Nature Centre is situated in a typical valley of Trinidad’s Northern Range, where traditionally coffee, cocoa and citrus plantations were located and today many of these plants are maintained at the Nature Centre. Natural secondary growth has taken over and festooned the abandoned plantation vegetation with vines and epiphytes to produce an effect of being deep in a tropical rainforest.
Awaken this morning to the raucous noise of the Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. A first-time visitor may see 20-30 life birds before breakfast. Our day will begin with a guided tour of the several trails which traverse this rich and diverse wildlife sanctuary. On our introductory walk we may see such species such as Violaceous Trogon, Channel-billed toucan, Chestnut Woodpecker, White-bearded Manakin, Bearded Bellbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Turquoise and Bay-headed Tanager. After breakfast we will visit Dunston Cave, home of the most accessible colony of Oilbirds in the World. Oilbirds are the only nocturnal, fruit-eating birds in the World. After lunch we will depart for the famous Caroni Marsh and its spectacular highlights. Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Osprey, Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Yellow-crowned Night Geron, Bicolored Conebill and Red-capped Cardinal could be among the new species seen here. The Caroni Swamp is a specialised mangrove forest that contains several genera and species of mangroves, showing classic examples of plant adaptation in this unique brackish water environment. Our day will end with the spectacular flight of Scarlet Ibises returning to their mangrove roosts at dusk, truly one of the World’s most dramatic natural moments. Returning to the boat dock we will search the mangrove-lined channels for the mysterious sounding Common Potoo.
This morning we will wind our way out of the Northern Range to Trinidad’s east coast and the Nariva Swamp. This is the largest freshwater herbaceous swamp in Trinidad. Along its edges are found “palm islands” where the tall Moriche Palm is common. Here too, we will see a unique mangrove community, made up primarily of the stilt-rooted rhizophora mangrove, which often attains a height of 80 feet. Along the way we will look first in the lowland habitats for such species as Savannah Hawk, Red-breasted Blackbird, Southern Lapwing, White-headed Marsh Tyrant and Green-rumped Parrotlet. Arriving in the coastal area we will have an opportunity to look for Pearl Kite, Pinnated Bittern, Asure Gallinule, Wattled Jacana and possibly Red Howler Monkey. Again another swimming opportunity, this time on the Atlantic and keep a lookout for the fascinating four-eyed anableps. We will end our day at dusk, as we hopefully wait to see flocks of Red-bellied Macaws return to their nighttime roosting areas
This morning transfer to Piarco International Airport for your departing flight.
Why Travel with Wilderness Explorers?
For more than 20 years, we’ve been working at the crossroads of adventure travel and community tourism. Not from the sidelines or behind a desk, but on the ground. In the jungle. On the boats. Getting our feet dirty and seeing everything first-hand. Tourism isn’t our business – it’s our life. Our handcrafted itineraries prove it.
Our partners in the field aren’t just suppliers in the traditional sense: we are deeply involved with the development of the lodges, tours, training programs, and attractions that draw adventurous souls to this part of the world. Back in 1999 Wilderness Explorers was one of the first tour operators to embrace the now-fashionable idea of community tourism, partnering with the Amerindian Makushi village of Surama in Guyana to provide marketing and administrative support for that country’s first indigenously-operated ecolodge. These days we continue to work with lodges and regional consortiums with tourism development aspirations. Hand-in-hand we are building opportunities for economic growth that don’t rely on resource extraction or the mass-market.
We know that tour companies are increasingly looked upon as unnecessary middlemen in a world where the internet connects everyone with marvelous ease. And, no doubt, someone with ample time and patience could organize their journey independently. But we know that sometimes you want to spend less time researching and more time travelling. If that’s you, we can vastly simplify your trip planning, get you into the best (and often least-known) lodges, prioritize your activity list, and set you up for an unforgettable getaway. Having the time of your life once you get there? Well, that part is entirely up to you!