Asa Wright Nature Centre & Caroni Swamps

Trinidad, the beautiful, mountainous green island off South America's northeast coast, is widely celebrated among birdwatchers, for which it has an enduring and particular appeal. Nowhere, it seems, are tropical birds more accessible and easily studied, and nowhere is there a place more ideally suited than the Asa Wright Nature Centre for seeing them in an intense yet relaxed way.

At an elevation of 1200 feet in Trinidad's Northern Range, surrounded (one might almost say invaded) by rainforest, with a cool climate and a broad prospect of the Arima Valley, this former coffee plantation offers comfortable lodging and truly excellent cuisine. A number of elements combine to make this trip especially attractive. It is conducted at an easy pace, first of all, and while providing a good introduction to tropical birds--an introduction facilitated by an excellent field guide--it also has much to interest even the experienced birdwatcher. The trip list includes a number of birds difficult to find elsewhere, among them the Oilbird and such hummingbirds as White-tailed Sabrewing and Tufted Coquette.

And finally, the trip includes another marvellous avian spectacle: the Scarlet Ibises in the Caroni Mangrove Swamps. Upon arrival at Trinidad's Piarco Airport, we'll transfer at once to Asa Wright Nature Centre, where we'll spend the next 4-5 hrs. The hummingbirds, honeycreepers and tanagers are fearless around the feeders and their brilliant colours and breathtaking closeness create an engrossing spectacle. Well-maintained trails below the guesthouse allow us to visit Mother Nature in its best state.

We'll take a late afternoon boat trip in Caroni Swamp to explore narrow watercourses through the mangroves in search of Straight-billed Woodcreepers, Silvered Antbirds, Black-crested Antshrike or Clapper Rail. Non-avian species could include Cook's Tree Boa and the astonishing Anableps or Four-eyed Fish as well as numerous crabs. Groups - sometimes hundreds of Scarlet Ibises - gathering to roost, provide the world-famous and intensely colourful “Grande Finale”. The brilliant colour against the darkening sky is an unforgettable experience for any visitor.

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