Cool jungle walking & “flying”

May 3, 2012 in TRINIDAD & TOBAGO | Comments (0)

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Coastal drive from Trinidad North coast

Trinidad for jungle adventure

Trinidad is only 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela.  The bigger of the two islands it has extensive areas of jungle in difficult and rugged terrain. On Trinidad there are three mountain chains. Here you find many species of South American birds and mammals, even vampire bats.  (Actually hidden away in caves.) There are many species of bats, even fish eating bats.

In this jungle Courtnay Rooks gave us a taste of soft adventure  T&T style. But first,  direct after arrival in Trinidad with BA we were whipped off on a mangrove swamp tour. Caroni Swamp is a nature reserve much enjoyed by local Trinidadians. Crossing an industrial area we reached a canal long used for draining the swamps and entered a big wooden boat. Then we glided through the swamps between the  otherworldly fingers of mangrove roots,  tangled and reaching for air. There is no air in the soggy mud of the swamp – and roots need air as well as water. Hence these strange species of plants.

In these waters and among the mangroves there are caimans, fiddler crabs, boa constrictors, multitudes of birds too floating and flying. We saw a boa twirled round a trunk. Waiting for prey – birds I guess.

Birds are the main reason people visit the swamp. Beautiful birds fly in multitudes with a whirr of scarlet and crowd along the edge of the mangroves lining a wide inlet from the sea . Scarlet ibis they are called – the national bird.

We got “home” to the Hilton Trinidad, set up on a hill with views over the lights of Port of Spain.  It was 2am our biological time and I had not slept on the plane despite the wonderful flat beds on BA business class, nor the night before at Gatwick Sofitel, notwithstanding the comfortable beds and quiet room.

Now we were to change into city clothes to go out on the town of Trinidad and eat street food and play with steelpans till 6am Swedish time…

Dizzy after 36 hours of wakefulness, I enjoyed instead my nice room and my nice bed, nice bath, nice amenities and in the early morning refreshed, luxuriated in my view of the swimming pool surrounded by tropical vegetation.  Breakfast too had a view into the tropical garden. The others in my party had an exciting evening learning to play steelpans and tasting street food and looked very tired at breakfast while I radiated the good life.

 Then a jungle tour. This soft adventure was a walk up the Marianne River in 30 deg heat. Actually a perfect way to walk at that temperature, under the shade of rainforest trees, crisscrossing a river. We were given sandwiches for lunch and bottles of water which we carried ourselves. I had bought a backpack especially for that – but put down my foot at buying shoes just for one walk. That turned out tricky. The banks were muddy and my un-useful gladiator sandals slippery, so I had the kind advantage of the large ebony guide to hold my hand in some very tricky places.

Once at the waterfall  – some 45 minutes – we swam in the pool and others climbed the 20m waterfall to abseil down, with a fair amount of drama as one girl seemed to be hanging upside down because her legs had gone weak from fear. It is a grade 6 slope. I didn’t take any photos of her as it seemed too callous in case she fell. Our 3 intrepid adventurers did not see the other girl’s unwelcome drama fortunately and so came down as if they had done it all their lives, even sailing or seiling through the spray of the fall. I took some pix. Very nice day. Only question mark was changing for lunch and the flight to Tobago in a simple home where there were no hooks to hang your clothes in the toilet shack.

The ride back over the northern range was a little hair raising as the road had been partially washed away – which did not however perturb Courtnay Rooks, and we walked over the tricky part. Our lunch was at a wonderful spot – Asa Wright Nature Centre. There is a lodge there where birdlovers get great food and traditional  or Colonial mahogany beds, as well as bird watching hikes and endless hours lounging on the verandah with camera and telescope. The birdlife is a fluttering mass of brilliant colours and delicate shapes – humming birds and the like. We did no more than stand there and the sense of voluptuous nature enfolded us. A big monitor lizard and a strange large rodent were among other habitués.