With tropical savannah, rainforest, woodland and mangrove swamp, Trinidad is a paradise for birders - more than 430 species include the elusive speckled tanager and the spectacular scarlet ibis.
Virtually anywhere in Tobago also offers a good vantage point for spotting birds, so keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars or camera ready for the treats that await in Main Ridge Forest Reserve. Yet it’s not all about birds… both Trinidad and Tobago have a surprising variety of other wildlife – from leatherback turtles to freshwater manatees, and from fruit bats to howler monkeys and white-fronted capuchins.
Day1: Fly to Trinidad; transfer to Asa Wright Nature Centre
Fly to Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad where you will be met on arrival and driven just under an hour to Asa Wright Nature Centre, in the hills of the Northern Range. On arrival you can enjoy watching birdlife from the pleasant verandah as you sip your welcome drink.
Accommodation: Asa Wright Nature Centre, 3-nights on full board basis.
Days2-3: Excursions from Asa Wright Nature Centre
Over the next couple of days, you can try a series of excursions for some of the best birding that Trinidad has to offer. These include a visit to Dunston Caves, which are home to a breeding colony of oilbirds, and a morning sortie to the Aripo Savannah and Arena Forest for a chance to spot plumbeous kite, orange-winged parrot and lineated woodpecker.
Day4: Drive to Talparo and visit Tamana Bat Caves
A final morning at Asa Wright Nature Centre is followed by a short drive south to Talparo, near Rio Claro. After lunch, visit the nearby Tamana Caves which are home to tens – if not hundreds - of thousands of bats. You can venture inside and explore this subterranean environment while bats fly above and around you. Back outside, wait by the cave mouth as sun sets to see the spectacle of bats flooding out into the forest to feed overnight.
Day5: Birding at Nariva Swamp and turtles at Matura Beach
Following breakfast, head over towards the east coast of Trinidad and Nariva Swamp, the island’s largest freshwater wetland, to go birding and keep an eye out for red howler monkeys and white-fronted capuchin monkeys. After spending much of the day at Nariva Swamp, make an evening stop at the beach at Matura, which is an important nesting site for leatherback turtles. The females come ashore between mid-March and May, and hatchlings can be seen up until August.
Day6: Fly to Tobago and overnight in Coconut Bay
Transfer back to Port of Spain airport in time to check in for a short international flight to neighbouring Tobago. On arrival you are met and driven to Coco Reef Resort to spend the night. With its own private sheltered beach and good dining, this resort is the perfect place to relax. You may want to visit the world-famous Pigeon Point Heritage Park which is a short distance further along the coast.
Morning drive across Tobago to the village of Speyside. Tobago is one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the Caribbean, with excellent birding in the protected rainforest of Main Ridge Forest Reserve and excellent snorkelling along the northeast coast and around Little Tobago. Spend two days exploring.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 daysfrom £2,795 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £2,145 pp
Single supplement: From £540
When to go: Sep-Apr
Located at approximately 400 metres altitude in the mountains of the Northern Range, north of the town of Arima, the Asa Wright Nature Centre was established in 1967. It is a world-class birding destination as well as a being a centre for conservation and research into tropical ecology.
Situated on the west coast of Trinidad, this so-called swamp is the second largest mangrove wetland area on the island. Covering an area of more than 5,000 hectares, where the Caroni River enters the Gulf of Paria, it is renowned for the birdlife in its large, pristine mangrove forests.
Where: West coast
Ideal for viewing: little blue heron, scarlet ibis, great black hawk, Cook’s tree boa, fiddler crab
Excellent for: River safaris, Birdwatching
This cave system is situated on the northern slope of Mount Tamana in the foothills of eastern Trinidad’s Central Range. The caves are home to an extremely large population of various types of bats – estimates of the exact number range from 500,000 individuals to as many as three million.
Ideal for viewing: greater spear-nosed bat, lesser spear-nosed bat, Trinidadian funnel-eared bat, Gonatodes gecko, long-nosed bat
Lying on the east coast of Trinidad close to Manzanilla Bay, the largest freshwater wetland on the island, covers more than 6,000 hectares can only be accessed by boat. It is the principal habitat of the rare West Indian manatee, and one of the most diverse ecosystems in the entire Caribbean.
Where: East coast of Trinidad
Ideal for viewing: prehensile-tailed porcupine, red howler monkey, white-fronted capuchin monkey, blue and yellow macaw, orange-winged parrot
Excellent for: River safaris, Birdwatching
The small island of Little Tobago lies off the northeast coast of its larger counterpart and it is only accessible by boat. A variety of the region's seabirds nest on the cliffs and the island is surrounded by coral reefs – which means there is plenty to see both on land and underwater.
Established in 1776, Tobago’s Main Ridge Forest Reserve is considered to be the oldest area of protected forest in the western hemisphere. As a result, this swathe of lush rainforest has remained untouched by development for over 200 years, allowing its native flora and fauna to flourish.
Ideal for viewing: collared trogon, blue-backed manakin, white-tailed sabrewing, blue-crowned motmot, blackback land crab
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Birdwatching
This stretch of beach, which is famed as one of the largest turtle nesting sites in the Caribbean, lies less than a kilometre from the village of Matura, on Trinidad’s quiet east coast, It is estimated that more than 5,000 female leatherback turtles come to this beach to lay their eggs.
Ideal for viewing: leatherback turtle, brown pelican, magnificent frigatebird, black vulture, red howler monkey
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Tucked away in a secluded bay on the northeast coast of Tobago, this friendly hotel is set in lush tropical grounds with views of Little Tobago. The hotel has a fully-equipped dive centre; accommodation ranges from standard rooms to private bungalows, all with en suite bathrooms, air-conditioning and sea views.
Located in the south of Tobago overlooking Coconut Beach, this classically designed resort offers spectacular views in a relaxed Caribbean environment. Facilities include an on-site dive centre, spa, swimming pool, tennis and golf. Tours can be arranged to see the turtles, bird life and cultural festivals around the island.
This small lodge is situated in the tranquil foothills of Trinidad’s Central Range, within easy driving distance of the Tamana Bat Caves. It has four fully-furnished wooden cottages set in 22 acres of private grounds, where you can enjoy birdwatching, kayaking on the lake, or simply relax around the swimming pool.