This trip is being conducted for the North Carolina Zoo Society and was specially designed for North Carolina teachers, but spaces may also be open to the public. If you are interested in this trip, or in Trinidad and Tobago as a destination, please contact us. SPACES ARE AVAILABLE.

Trinidad and Tobago

Natural History

9 Days from June 27 through July 5, 2014

EcoQuest Travel is proud to partner with the North Carolina Zoo Society to offer a special journey to the Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This adventure has been thoughtfully designed for North Carolina teachers who can, if they choose to, work with Zoo Society staff to earn continuing education credits while they are abroad on this trip. Trinidad and Tobago are the southernmost islands of the Caribbean archipelago – Trinidad lies only 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela. They contain a rich tapestry of biodiversity which, in Trinidad, is closely associated with South America and in Tobago is closely associated with the Caribbean. In Trinidad, we will investigate several terrestrial habitats, including tropical rainforests, dense mangroves and grasslands, while searching for wildlife. In Tobago we will visit the highland forest reserve, but our main focus will be on marine ecosystems – especially the incredible patch reefs and fringing reefs that dot the shallows. Trinidad and Tobago are blessed with both cultural and natural diversity and the beautiful beaches, lush forests, friendly people, unique wildlife and lilting rhythms of steel drum and calypso will both welcome us and beckon our return. We invite you to join us as we explore these remarkable islands in search of fantastic wildlife!

Day 1 – Friday, June 27: Raleigh/Durham to Miami and on to Port of Spain, Trinidad and the Giant Leatherback Sea Turtles of Grand Riviere

Our journey begins early this morning at Raleigh/Durham International Airport with our flight to Miami, Florida. Please arrive at RDU no later than two hours prior to our scheduled departure time. Once we arrive in Miami we will transfer to our departure gate for Port of Spain, Trinidad. We should arrive in Trinidad in the early afternoon and, after we clear customs and immigration, we will meet our driver and transfer into the Northern Mountain Range. Today we travel all the way to the secluded far northeast of the island and Grand Riviere. We will arrive in the late afternoon and, time permitting, could have some time to enjoy the beach, before dinner. We will stay at Mt. Plasier, a cozy guesthouse located in the quiet seaside village of Grand Riviere. The rooms are comfortable and the restaurant serves fantastic seafood. After dinner we will go to the beach directly in front of our guesthouse to await the evening arrival of the largest turtle in the world – the leatherback! Between March and August these ancient giants come ashore to excavate their nests and deposit their eggs, and Grand Riviere is one of the best beaches in the world to witness this spectacular event. Because we will be visiting late in the season we could also be fortunate enough to witness a nest hatch. Having the chance to watch baby turtles scuttle across the beach to the embrace of the ocean is magic! It will be truly a privilege to spend time with these gentle giants and when coupled with a moonlit night, bioluminescent surf and warm trade winds, this night can become an unforgettable experience. (D)

Day 2 – Saturday, June 28: Grand Riviere and on to Asa Wright Nature Center

This morning we will be up early to search for one of Trinidad’s rarest birds – the Trinidad piping-guan. This spectacular bird is most often seen in this remote area of the island and the best time to see it is early morning as they feed among the nutmeg trees. After hopefully finding the piping-guan we will travel to Asa Wright Nature Center and Lodge, our accommodation for the remainder of our time on Trinidad. We will arrive at Asa Wright in the afternoon in time for lunch and will have a full afternoon to explore. Asa Wright is located at an elevation of 1,200 feet in the heart of Trinidad’s Northern Range. Overlooking a lush valley, the Center originated as a coffee, cocoa and citrus plantation and many of these plants are still maintained by the Center. Today the Center is a Sanctuary dedicated to preserving and studying tropical wildlife and is an important breeding area for the rare, fruit-eating, nocturnal oilbird. The Center is surrounded by an impressive rainforest that is ribboned with trails beckoning both amateur and professional naturalists to explore. Of course the diversity of birds is what Asa Wright is most famous for and some of the birds we could see this afternoon include: channel-billed toucan, violaceous trogon, great antshrike, tufted coquette, rufous-browed peppershrike, chestnut woodpecker and both turquoise and bay-headed tanagers. After a full day we will enjoy a great dinner, and we will take a night hike to look for reptiles, amphibians and insects before retiring for the night. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Sunday, June 29: Asa Wright and Matura Beach

We will awaken this morning to the raucous noise of crested oropendolas displaying and a cacophony of other exotic sounds. We will meet on Asa Wright’s world-renowned veranda at dawn. The magic of the veranda is the birds that are drawn to the feeders and first-time visitors will be dazzled by the close proximity of these living jewels. The hummingbird feeders are alive with activity as white-necked jacobin, blue-chinned sapphire, white-chested emerald and copper-rumped hummingbirds all compete for feeding space. The fruit feeders are also full of birds including blue-crowned motmot, bananaquits, bare-eyed thrush, white-lined and silver-beaked tanagers and all three spectacular species of honeycreeper – purple, green and red-legged. The surrounding canopy could produce lilac-tailed parrotlets, black-tailed tityra, orange-winged parrots and if we are really lucky an ornate hawk-eagle. After breakfast we will begin our exploration of Asa Wright’s trails and while birds took center stage early we will concentrate the rest of the morning on biodiversity. We should see leaf-cutter ants at work and we could spy tent-making bats sleeping inside their leafy roosts. Red-rumped agoutis and tegu lizards are also plentiful in the forests surrounding the Center. There is a white-bearded manakin lek along the main trail and seeing these little birds do their wing-snapping displays will be a highlight! At some point today the Center staff will talk to us about bats. After a full morning we will have lunch and a little down time. In the late afternoon we will travel to Matura Beach on the east coast for another enchanting evening observing leatherback sea turtles nesting. Matura is a much larger beach than Grand Riviere and, as such, is host to incredible numbers of nesting leatherbacks and greater chances for finding hatchlings. We will take dinner with us and after observing the turtles we will return to Asa Wright arriving quite late at night. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Monday, June 30: Nariva Swamp and Bush Bush Forest

After breakfast we will wind our way out of the Northern Range to Trinidad’s East Coast and the Nariva Swamp. Nariva is the largest freshwater swamp in Trinidad with Moriche palms and mangroves dominating the plant community. On our way to Nariva we will stop at an agricultural research station to look for open-country bird species like pinnated bittern, savannah hawk, southern lapwing, wattled jacana, white-headed marsh tyrant, red-breasted blackbird and many more. We will have a picnic lunch on a nice stretch of beach before continuing our explorations of Nariva. In the late afternoon we will board our boat for a three-hour cruise into the heart of Nariva – Bush Bush Forest. Bush Bush is a swamp forest and is home to both weeper capuchin and red howler monkeys. These primates live in Nariva and nowhere else on the island and we will spend considerable time locating and observing them. Our boat trip could also produce some great bird sightings like red-bellied macaw, yellow-crowned parrot, crimson-crested woodpecker, pygmy kingfisher, black-crested antshrike and silvered antbird. This part of Nariva is also the site of a blue-and-yellow macaw reintroduction program. At dusk, against the backdrop of a tropical sunset, we will hopefully see the red-bellied macaws as they return to their nighttime roosting areas. After a full day we will return to Asa Wright for dinner and overnight. Before we go to bed we may travel up the road above Asa Wright to a tower where the lights attract an incredible variety of tropical insects including some huge and impressive beetles like the harlequin long-horned beetle. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Tuesday, July 1: Dunston Cave and Caroni Marsh

After breakfast we will hike to Dunston Cave, a beautiful riparian grotto located on the Center grounds. The objective of the visit is to view the breeding colony of oilbirds. These large endangered birds are rare, nocturnal and use echolocation to find fruit. Viewing these unique birds will be one of the highlights of the trip! We will also look for nesting chestnut-collared swifts along the cave walls. After lunch we will travel from the highlands east to Caroni Marsh for our boat trip into the extensive mangrove forests. Caroni is a wondrous place full of wildlife and we will make a special effort to find the rare and diminutive silky anteater. This tiny fuzzy orange anteater lives exclusively in the trees (see the photo at the bottom of this document). We will also be on the lookout for tree boas, and an incredible variety of birds. We will be looking for waterbirds and mangrove specialties like anhinga, striated heron, gray-necked wood-rail, greater ani, straight-billed woodcreeper, masked cardinal and bicolored conebill. With luck we will find the unusual common potoo which, when roosting, looks like a stump. Our day will end as we witness the spectacular flocks of the scarlet ibis returning to roost in the mangroves after a day of foraging – a very dramatic moment to be sure! (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Wednesday, July 2: Depart for Tobago, Blue Waters Inn and the Patch Reefs of Batteaux Bay

This morning we will depart 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. Tobago’s climate and rainfall more closely resembles that of the Lesser Antilles than of Trinidad; being drier and windier. Another difference between Trinidad and Tobago is found in the surrounding ocean. Tobago, like much of the Caribbean, is blessed with clear waters and extensive reef formations. The waters off Trinidad are bathed by the Orinoco River and the sediment prevents the growth of coral. Upon arrival we will travel east across the entire island to Speyside and our lovely beachfront accommodations while in Tobago, the Blue Waters Inn. Once we reach the hotel we will have a late lunch before donning our snorkeling gear for our first look at the coral reef communities. Blue Waters Inn sits in its own sheltered bay and just off the dock there are extensive patch reefs which are full of fish and marine invertebrates. Blue tang, parrotfish, angelfish, and many other species dart among the coral heads. After snorkeling we will have some relaxation time before dinner. The food at Blue Waters is outstanding – particularly the seafood, and the sounds of calypso and steel drums will provide a most authentic island experience while dining. After dinner, rum punch, the trade winds off the ocean and a sky full of stars makes for a most relaxing evening! (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Thursday, July 3: The Rainforest Preserve and Gilpin Trace Trail

After breakfast we will travel to Tobago’s interior Rainforest Preserve to hike the Gilpin Trace Trail. Located at around 2,000 feet these forested mountains are home to many bird species found only on Tobago like the rare white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird and blue-backed manakin. Some of the other species we hope to see include collared trogon, red-rumped and golden-olive woodpeckers, stripe-breasted spinetail, white-throated spadebill, Venezuelan flycatcher and yellow-legged thrush. The trail is also home to several species of reptiles and amphibians and insects are also abundant. Our pace will be slow and deliberate as we search for wildlife. After a full morning we will have a picnic lunch overlooking Blood Bay before we return to the Blue Waters Inn. We should have some more time for snorkeling this afternoon and the hotel grounds, and surrounding area, are great for birds including many of Tobago’s specialties such as rufous-vented chachalaca, barred antshrike, white-fringed antwren, brown-crested flycatcher, scrub greenlet and black-faced grassquit. After a full day we will have another great dinner at Blue Waters. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Friday, July 4: Little Tobago Island Wildlife Sanctuary and Snorkeling Goat Island

This morning we will depart by boat for Little Tobago Island, one of T & T’s most important wildlife sanctuaries. As we cross over to the island we will watch for sea turtles and enjoy fantastic views of the coral formations from the comfort of our glass-bottom boat. Once we land we will explore the nesting colonies of seabirds including red-billed tropicbirds, brown and red-footed boobies, sooty terns and brown noddy terns. Blue-crowned motmots are also common on the island as are other terrestrial species. After a full morning of exploring the island we will return to Blue Waters for lunch. After lunch we will take a boat out to snorkel the reefs off of Goat Island. The fauna found among this fringing reef is diverse and abundant, with numerous species of coral and over 65 species of fish including barracuda, angelfish, wrasse, grunts, damselfish and moray eels. Green sea turtles are common and sometimes hawksbills are seen. Invertebrates are also abundant on the reef and spiny lobster, sea urchins, brittle starfish, reef squid and even an octopus may be seen. After a full day we will return to Blue Waters for our farewell dinner and perhaps some dancing to the sounds of a steel-drum band. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Saturday, July 5: Departure for the US

This morning we will depart early for our flight from Tobago back to Trinidad where you will connect to your flight to Miami. After clearing immigration and customs in Miami, you will transfer to your departure gates for your flights home. (B)

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.

Cost:

$3,246.00/person all-inclusive tour package
$ 712.00/person estimated international airfare*
$3,958.00/person all-inclusive*

*Note: It is our philosophy to provide an all-inclusive price, but due to the volatile nature of the airline industry, EQT is only able to provide an estimated airfare at this time. The actual date of ticketing will determine the price. Typically, we are accurate in our estimates, but please note that there may be a slight difference in pricing at the time of ticketing. If ticket prices at the time of booking are lower than our estimates the savings will be passed on to you. If they are higher you will be invoiced the difference.

What’s Included:

  • Round-trip airfare from your home city to Port of Spain, Trinidad (see above conditions)

  • All ground and boat transportation within Trinidad and Tobago and the flights between Trinidad and Tobago
  • All accommodations – based upon double occupancy (single supplement is available for an additional cost)
  • All tours within the scheduled itinerary
  • Meals are included throughout the trip, but not in transit
  • Permits, entrance fees and guides
  • The leadership services and natural history expertise of EcoQuest Travel, and local, professionals

What’s Not Included:

  • Gifts and items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities (for our local guides)
  • Fees associated with obtaining a passport
  • Travel insurance (please see the Travel Insurance Section below)
  • Costs associated with pre-trip medical planning (such as vaccines)

Travel Documents:

A passport valid for at least 6 months after our arrival is required for travel in Trinidad and Tobago. No visa for US citizens is required.

Group Size:

The trip cost is based on a minimum number of participants – 10 people. Although 10 people are required in order to make this trip a reality, we are able to accommodate up to a maximum of 14 people.

Health Requirements:

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago does not require any vaccinations, however, there are several vaccines that would be prudent to consider prior to traveling to the tropical Caribbean. These include: Yellow Fever; Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; and Typhoid. One should also check to make sure that vaccines against Tetanus/Diphtheria and Polio are up to date. Malaria is not present in Trinidad and Tobago. Information on travel- related diseases and vaccines to prevent them can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at: www.cdc.gov/travel

We highly recommend discussing all medical issues related to travel with your doctor well in advance of the proposed travel date (at least 6 months prior to departure).

Payments and Reservations:

A deposit of $1,000.00 per person is required along with your reservation form in order to reserve space on the trip. This will help insure airline seating space and necessary early deposits. The reservation form is available on our website here and can be filled out online and submitted via email, or downloaded and mailed. We encourage you to send the deposit well in advance of the date the first payment is due, as paying the deposit is the only way to secure your spot. Personal checks, money orders and credit cards are accepted. If paying by personal check it should be made payable to EcoQuest Travel, Inc. and on the memo line please indicate: For T&T Trip 2014. If paying by credit card please phone your credit card information in to EcoQuest Travel at: (919) 963-3038. EcoQuest Travel accepts Visa, MasterCard and most bank debit cards. After your initial deposit the remaining balance will be invoiced in two payments according to the schedule below.

  • A payment of at least $1,479.00 is required no later than March 28, 2014
  • The remainder of the trip expense ($1,479.00) will be due on or before June 6, 2014

Cancellation:

The initial deposit, as well as subsequent payments, will be used to purchase airline tickets and pay deposits for accommodations, travel arrangements, etc. in Trinidad and Tobago. Therefore, if you must withdraw from the trip, irrespective of reason, a refund will not be possible. We strongly suggest that you protect yourself with the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. We will try to retain a wait list for this trip and it is possible that if you end up not being able to participate we will attempt to find a replacement for you; however, it is your responsibility to find a replacement or to have insurance.

Please note that in the event EcoQuest Travel, Inc. cancels this trip, due to circumstances beyond our control or low trip participant numbers, a refund of the initial deposit and any payments made will be issued.

Travel Insurance

EcoQuest Travel, Inc. partners with Allianz Global Assistance (formerly – Access America) to provide the best possible travel insurance for our clients.  They offer trip cancellation and worldwide emergency services (such as emergency evacuation and emergency medical services) as well as a host of other benefits.  You can find more information on EcoQuest Travel’s website (www.ecoquesttravel.net) including how to get quotes and sign up. You do not have to use Allianz Global Assistance and may choose to use another company. In either case, EcoQuest Travel, Inc. strongly suggests the purchase of trip cancellation/medical insurance. If you do decide to purchase travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance please give them the following EcoQuest Travel vendor (or ACCAM) number: F031120. This number identifies that you are working with an Allianz Global Assistance partner.

Note:  Pre-existing conditions will be waived by Allianz Global Assistance if you purchase travel insurance within 14 calendar days of your initial trip deposit.  For more information please see our website. To locate the travel insurance section of our website look on the destination page in the “click to go to” section on the right hand side of the screen under “purchase insurance.”

General Information

Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form you will be sent an information packet containing flight information, baggage requirements, trip cancellation insurance information, hints on what to bring and other useful information. The climate will vary from hot and humid during the day to humid, but cooler at night. We are visiting Trinidad and Tobago during the wet season so rain should be expected and prepared for. You will want to bring a camera, film and binoculars. Again, a more exhaustive list will be provided after you are registered for the trip.

Trip Leaders:

Dave Davenport: Zoologist and President of EcoQuest Travel, Inc.
Mike Dunn: EcoQuest Travel Naturalist and Education Specialist

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