- Fly from London to arrive Port-of-Spain, arriving in the evening, from where we head straight for the Asa Wright Nature Centre.
- Accommodation: Asa Wright Centre, 7-nights on full board basis.
- As day breaks over Trinidad's Northern Range, we will awake to the resonant calls of bearded bellbirds deep in the forest – and get our first taste of the island’s colourful birdlife as we gather to enjoy one of the prime birding sites of the area – the veranda! Tea and coffee will be waiting for us here at 6.00am and we’ll soon be enjoying our first close-ups of Caribbean birds at the fruit-laden feeders.
- After enjoying breakfast at the Centre, we will spend the rest of the day exploring some of the trails that criss-cross this wonderfully diverse estate.
- It will be a fairly relaxed day as we adjust to the heat, but a hugely productive one. After dinner there will be an evening walk to look for night creatures.
- We drive up the ridge of the Northern Range of Trinidad. En route we look for raptors, which may include common black hawk, ornate hawk-eagle, and the stunning white hawk. Some of the more secretive forest birds can also be searched for – white-tailed trogon, rufous-tailed jacamar and speckled tanager. We take one or more of the roads over the mountains towards the coast and have a picnic lunch before returning to the centre.
- We make a full day visit to the Nariva Swamp and east coast. On the way we visit an agricultural research station, with a host of lowland species including savannah hawk, white-headed marsh tyrant, southern lapwing and the delightful green-rumped parrotlet. Nariva, the largest freshwater swamp in Trinidad, also has an excellent mangrove area. Birds include pearl kite, azure gallinule, wattled jacana, and with luck, pinnated bittern. The coast should have brown pelican as well as four-eyed fish!
- We spend a whole relaxing day in the centre grounds again, starting with a visit to Dunstan Cave. Here in this beautiful riparian grotto can be found one of the world's few accessible colonies of oilbird. This strange nightjar-like bird lives in caves by day, coming out at night to pluck fruit from trees as it flies, locating the fruit by smell and, uniquely among birds, finding its way around the caves by echo-location. The rest of the day will be spent wandering the trails, with many more species of antbird, tanager and honeycreeper all to be found amidst the lush vegetation. In the evening we visit an agricultural station where we look for nightjars and the remarkable common potoo, its huge eyes gleaming in our spotlights.
- We journey to the Aripo Savannah, the only remaining savannah in Trinidad, and host to many species not yet encountered in our stay. Grey-headed kiites, shiny and giant cowbirds, Yellow-rumped cacique, blue-black grassquit and ruddy-breasted seedeater are all likely to be seen. A remnant of the lowland rainforest at Arena may also be visited for birds including squirrel cuckoo and white-bellied antbird.
- We start the day by commuting to Waterloo! This is an area of mudflats on the west coast, with a great range of waders, terns, and other shorebirds. In the afternoon we travel to the fabulous Caroni Marsh, a unique brackish water community with a wide diversity of mangroves. Here we can find anhinga, striated heron, white-cheeked pintail, pied water-tyrant, bicolored conebill and red-capped cardinal. In the late afternoon we take a boat trip, ending with arguably one of the world's finest ornithological spectacles – the sight of hundreds of scarlet ibis, egrets and herons flying in to their roosts in the evening.
- We depart this morning for Trinidad's sister island of Tobago. This island forms the final link in the chain of mountain ranges extending from the Venezuelan Coastal Range, on the very edge of the South American continental shelf. The drier and windier climate together with its location, give Tobago a different range of species to that of the larger island, along with some wonderful seabird colonies. We start by exploring the excellent Crown Point area for herons including yellow-crowned night-heron, wildfowl and waders. Afterwards, we visit the Grafton Estate, an old house with overgrown gardens, where regular feeding has led to the resident birds becoming quite tame. We continue to the north-east corner of the island.
- Accommodation: Blue Waters Inn, 4-nights on full board basis.
- After breakfast today (and weather permitting), we will take a boat trip over to Little Tobago Island. This is the place where the memorable film of spectacular red-billed tropicbirds and magnificent frigatebirds was made for Attenborough’s classic series Life on Earth. Once ashore on Little Tobago, we will climb slowly (up many concrete steps) to the lookout, to view the island's nesting seabirds. On our way back to Tobago, our glass-bottomed boat will travel slowly over Angel Reef and the Japanese Garden, revealing the splendours of the spectacular coral reef – and we can either look down on angelfish or a chance of coming across a hawksbill turtle, or up at the seabirds overhead!
- Returning to Blue Waters Inn this afternoon, we can spend the rest of the day exploring the hotel grounds and surrounding area. For anyone wishing to take a break from birding, Blue Waters offers an ideal opportunity to take time out – perhaps swimming in the sea, snorkelling amongst the rocky shores of the bay (snorkelling equipment and boat trips are available for hire locally) or simply lazing on the beach.
- We spend the morning walking the delightful King’s Bay trail, with an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the beach by the hotel, and more local exploration, perhaps up to the old cannon and the trail cut into the hillside above the hotel, where dazzling ruby-topaz hummingbirds glint from the bushes in the sunshine.
- We travel to the mountains, to visit Tobago's best rainforests today. These areas, at over 700m, harbour white-tailed sabrewing, blue-backed manakin, rufous-tailed jacamar and other Tobago specialities.
- After a final morning's birdwatching we travel back across Tobago international airport for our overnight flight to London.
Day 13 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
Our tour begins on Trinidad, with a weekat the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Dotted around the centre’s grounds, rooms are chalet-style rooms, with private bathrooms and ceiling fans (three of the single rooms have air-conditioning, not fans). Most rooms have a balcony.
We spend our final four nights on Tobago, at Blue Waters Inn, near Speyside. A comfortable beachside hotel set within nineteen hectares of wooded ground, Blue Waters has been recently refurbished and facilities comprise a central building, restaurant, swimming pool and beach bar. All rooms have private facilities, air-conditioning and a balcony.
All main meals are included.
Amongst the avian treats awaiting us on this tour, we should see many neotropical species, including the white-bearded manakin, several hummingbirds we also visit Dunstan Cave, home to the mysterious oilbird.
- White-necked jacobin
- Channel-billed toucan
- Speckled tanager
- Yellow crowned night heron
Our tour is set in tropical island scenery – from rainforests and swamps through to palm fringed beaches and coral reefs.
Mainly easy, most of the walks take place along well used trails and roadsides. Expect some hill trails, taken slowly. The walk to the Oilbird cave is around one kilometre, with some fairly steep sections down through the forest; the trail is uneven, but well maintained, with a handrail.
Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grips are recommended.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Port of Spain / Tobago – London, and domestic flight Port of Spain – Tobago.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.