Trinidad and St Lucia
NEW! WONDERFUL BIRDLIFE ON TWO VERY DIFFERENT CARIBBEAN ISLANDS.
Join Heatherlea's Mike Coleman and expert local guides on a Caribbean holiday with a difference! As a change from the traditional combination of Trinidad and Tobago, this year we focus on beautiful St Lucia, where five endemics and around a dozen other Antillean specialities make for a valuable birding experience. Our carefully designed and well-planned itinerary offers a great way to enjoy the birdlife of these islands. Not too much exertion, yet a rewarding and exciting birding experience as we seek all the hard-to-find neotropical species. On St Lucia we stay in a comfortable hotel, and in Trinidad we again use the world-renowned Asa Wright Centre as our base, a superb and very comfortable place to stay. We use British Airways international services all the way, and this brand new, unique itinerary offers an ideal way to visit the Caribbean!
Heatherlea in St Lucia
As your transatlantic flight approaches the island, it is the enormous 'Pitons' which catch the eye. Two huge, heavily-forested mountains, these dominate the western side of St Lucia, and form an exotic backdrop to the first part of our holiday. We spend four nights here, based at a comfortable hotel in the north of the island, as we go birding for the five island endemics and a range of Antillean specialities and near-endemics. Birdlife here is notably different from Trinidad. We also find time to look for large Leatherback Turtles egg-laying, an unforgettable experience.
Heatherlea in Trinidad at the world-famous Asa Wright Centre
In this relaxing environment we can take it easy, with comfortable open-air wildlife viewing, early morning coffee, evening rum punch (not too strong!) and a good choice of appetising food at breakfast and dinner. This exceptional place is well worth a full week of our holiday time, and our good relationship with the Centre helps us offer you a great holiday at a very reasonable price.
However this is only the beginning! We make carefully planned excursions to see the special birdlife of Trinidad, including a visit to the famous Oilbird caves and an evening watching thousands of Scarlet Ibis coming into roost. Nariva Swamp, the primary forest on the road to Blanchisseusse, and other key sites around the island are all included. We spend time looking for the rarest of the island’s impressive birdlife including skulking and secretive Scaled Antpitta and Little Tinamou, and the enigmatic and highly elusive Trinidad Piping-Guan - the only endemic bird on the islands.
This is a relaxed holiday. Each day on Trinidad begins with birding from the famous balcony, and we usually depart on excursions around 8.30 — 9.00 am. Birding in the immediate vicinity of Asa Wright is superb, and many days we will be blissfully happy with ‘lifers’ before breakfast! Some days we will birdwatch in the forest close to the Centre, and there will be free time to explore the trails in safety under your own steam. Optional early morning walking can be rewarding, and with dawn just after 6am, and nightfall at 6pm, expect to establish a rhythm around these times. Classic Caribbean birdwatching!
Day 1 Thursday 11 April
We take the scheduled morning flight with BA from Gatwick to St Lucia, and transfer to our comfortable hotel in the north of the island. Our local guide will join us for three full days activity on the island.
Days 2 - 4 Friday 12 - Sunday 14 April
We travel to key places including Millet Bird Sanctuary, Quilesse Forest Reserve, the View Fort wetlands and more, searching for the five island endemics. The most famous of these is St Lucia Parrot, but the Oriole, Black Finch, Warbler, and Antillean Pewee all carry the island's name too. Other Antillean specialities/near endemics include St. Lucia Nightjar, Antillean Bullfinch, Purple-throated Carib, Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, White-breasted Thrasher, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Gray Trembler, Antillean Euphonia, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher and Lesser Antillean Saltator. None of these birds is found in Trinidad or Tobago, so St Lucia is a valuable birding destination even if you have already been to this part of the world before.
Day 5 Monday 15 April
Enjoy some final birding on St Lucia as we make our way across the island to the airport. All flights are with British Airways, and we board the international flight from London for the short hop across to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and transfer to the fabulous Asa Wright Nature Centre high in the rain forest. The Centre is in a typical valley of Trinidad’s Northern Range, where coffee, cocoa and squash plantations are still maintained, and where natural secondary growth has festooned the abandoned plantation areas with vines and a host of epiphytes. The resultant effect is of being deep in a tropical rainforest, with the comforts of our well-appointed lodge around us – a great feeling.
Above all you will experience the overwhelming presence of the tropical rain forest; a kaleidoscope of bird life, butterflies and wild flowers, all set against the impenetrable tangle of the forest.
Days 6 - 11 Tuesday 16 - Sunday 21 April
We awake each day to the raucous noise of Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. One of the world’s most enjoyable birding experiences awaits each morning on the verandah, and on the first morning here you may see 20 -30 new species before breakfast. We will soon be used to Bananaquit, White-necked Jacobin, Great Kiskadee, Tufted Coquette, Barred Antshrike and Green Honeycreeper, to name just a few. Hummingbirds are inches away on the feeders, tanagers and bellbirds, toucans, manakins and trogons are seen most days. The sheer delight of so many stunning new birds, and the riot of noise and colour is truly unforgettable – one of the world’s most impressive birding spectacles.
Because we are here for a long time, our first full day will be gentle, as we explore some of the trails which criss-cross this wildlife sanctuary in the company of our very capable local guide. We might see Violaceous Trogon, Channel-billed Toucan, Chestnut Woodpecker, White-bearded Manakin darting and displaying, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Bay Tanager, Golden-headed Manakin, Bearded Bellbird and many more. We visit the famous Oilbird colony in Dunstan Cave, using torches to see these fascinating nocturnal birds roosting. This strange bird lives and breeds in dark caves during the day, coming out at night to feed on fruit, which it plucks from trees while in flight.
For the rest of our holiday we make trips away from the centre, for a stunning programme of exceptional birding. Crossing the Northern range to the seaside village of Blanchisseuse we look for Turquoise, Swallow and Speckled Tanagers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-tailed Trogon, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Black, Grey and White Hawks and Bat Falcon, and at the coast we may see our first Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Osprey and Green Kingfisher as we enjoy lunch on a palm-shaded Caribbean shore.
Another highlight is our visit to Caroni Swamp, an extensive mangrove holding rare wildlife in its interior. Here our day ends with the spectacular flight of flocks of bright red Scarlet Ibis coming to roost, surely one of the natural world’s most dramatic moments. Birds may also include Anhinga, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Striated and Tricolored Herons, Bicoloured Conebill, Red-capped Cardinal, Black-necked Stilts, Greater Flamingo, Laughing Gull, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Clapper Rail, American Pygmy and Ringed Kingfishers and Common Potoo, but there’s more: Spectacled Cayman, Cook’s Tree Boa, Silky Anteater, this is an exceptional experience! We also visit the Waterloo mudflats, where our lists may be boosted by a range of waterbirds.
Our day at Nariva Swamp on the east coast is very different. On the way we might see Savannah Hawk, Red-breasted and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Southern Lapwing, White-headed Marsh Tyrant and Green-rumped Parrotlet. This is the largest area of freshwater herbaceous swamp in Trinidad, where mangrove trees grow to over 80 feet, and holds Pearl Kite, Silvered Antbird, American Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana and we might see Red Howler Monkey and Tree Iguana. We stay until dusk, waiting for flocks of Red-bellied Macaw returning to roost as we sip rum punch alfresco.
The journey to lowland Aripo Savannah and Arena Forest will provide yet more birds. In the savannah, Shiny and Giant Cowbird, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Yellow-headed Caracara, various spinetails and cuckoos, Blue-black Grassquit and Pied Water Tyrant are likely. In the Arena Forest, we could see cuckoos, trogons, woodpeckers and parrots. We should have time as we travel to round-up anything we may have missed, and might find Sulphury Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and rare Moriche Oriole as we enjoy good birding in a number of locations.
Days 11 - 12 Monday 22 - Tuesday 23 April
After a last relaxing morning around the grounds of the hotel, we take an early-evening flight from Port of Spain back to Gatwick, arriving early on Tuesday morning.
The world famous Asa Wright Centre in Trinidad (six nights), and Coco Palm Resort in St Lucia (four nights). All rooms en suite.
Scheduled return flights from London Gatwick – St Lucia - Piarco International Airport, Port of Spain. Airport taxes, land airport transfers airports, ten nights full-board accommodation as above, meals including breakfast, dinner and picnic lunches, field trips as specified, boat trip through Caroni Swamp, departure tax from Trinidad, hotel tips, and the services of Heatherlea Leader Mike Coleman and experienced local guides. Max twelve clients.
Holiday insurance, optional tips to local guides/other staff, drinks, and other personal expenses.
Please note: all itineraries in this brochure are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).