Trinidad’s Eco Adventure Tours

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Courtenay Rooks on Trinidad’s eco adventures | Q&A

Discover T&T talked to Courtenay Rooks — a tour operator, naturalist, and conservationist with decades of experience — about what makes Trinidad such a compelling destination for eco lovers and those looking for unique, immersive vacations

About Courtenay Rooks

Photo courtesy Courtenay Rooks

Photo courtesy Courtenay Rooks

Courtenay “Bush Man” Rooks has over a quarter century of eco adventure tourism experience and a lifetime of adventuring and studying the natural history of Trinidad & Tobago, as he has dedicated his life to conservation. He founded Paria Springs Tours in 1993, and runs Bush Mountain, a wildlife sanctuary located in the hills of St Ann’s at the back of the Cascadia Hotel. It is an eco-project that brings health to Trinidad through active participation in nature and its conservation. Immerse yourself in nature and achieve your health and wellness goals through trail walking, running, yoga, boot camp, forest bathing, rappelling at a conservation sanctuary. One mountain, two paths, for rejuvenating your optimal mind, body and spirit.MORE LIKE THIS:Welcome to Port of Spain

Posted by Caroline Taylor

writer & editor • actor, singer, producer & director • egalitarian • animal & nature lover • island girl • water baby • perennial discoverer All Posts Website Leave a comment

Caroline Taylor on 3 January, 2019 (last updated 17 January, 2019)

The Nariva river meets the Atlantic Ocean near Manzanilla. Photo by Jason Audain

The Nariva River meets the Atlantic Ocean near Manzanilla. Photo by Jason AudainShare320Tweet15PinShareWhatsApp335SHARES

CAROLINE TAYLOR: What makes the island special as a destination for eco and adventure lovers?

COURTENAY ROOKS: What you’re essentially getting is a South American destination on a Caribbean island. But compared to the rest of the Caribbean, we were connected to South America which means you’re really getting South American flora and fauna… When I hike in Suriname or Brazil or go birdwatching, it is more familiar to me than if I do that in Dominica or Barbados. There is a greater level of familiarity in South America.

And then culturally, pretty much any movie that wants to tell you that you’re in the Caribbean, they throw on some steelpan. The swagger and all of that is basically Trinidad’s culture, so you’re truly getting a South American eco adventure destination on a Caribbean island that gave the Caribbean a lot of its culture. From an eco-tourism point of view, you can’t get better than that.

Rare and protected birds – the Trinidad piping guan. Photo by Rapso Imaging

Rare and protected birds – the Trinidad piping guan. Photo by Rapso Imaging

CT: For those who love nature and the outdoors, what are the sites you think locals and visitors should absolutely visit?

CR: It depends on what you’re looking it. If you’re doing birdwatching, then the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Yerette — Home of the Hummingbird, and Caroni Bird Sanctuary are a must. You can build your itinerary around those three, and then you start to bring in Nariva Swamp and so on. If you’re a general naturalist, and loving nature, then I’d time the visit around the nesting of the leatherback turtles (March–September), because that really is an opportunity of a lifetime.

There’s also a supporting cast with things like the Tamana Caves with the tens of thousands of bats, if you like that sort of thing that really is amazing. Then you can see the red howler monkeys in places like Nariva Swamp, where the atmosphere is pretty awesome. Then there are several hikes you can do — places like Guanapo Gorge, going up El Tucuche, a trip down Chaguaramas for the Gasparee Caves are some of the best eco adventure things.

And for me, within eco-tourism, no trip to Trinidad or Tobago, whatever you’re doing, is complete without a genuine cultural interaction…really getting some true Tobago blue food, a proper buss-up-shut or roti, sitting down with Trinidadians and having a real interaction. Because you can get other places that are amazing — other amazing birding lodges, other Guanapo Gorges, caves with millions of bats… So there are other places that are as nice, or nicer. The real thing that separates Trinidad is getting all of them in such a compact area, and tying it in with the culture makes it a really special experience.

The Gasparee Caves, off Chaguaramas. Photo by Tarun Jagessar

The Gasparee Caves, off Chaguaramas. Photo by Tarun Jagessar

CT: Hiking is a popular and rewarding activity. What are some of your favourite treks, from easy to advanced?

CR: Real easy waterfall would be Avocat waterfall, Rio Seco waterfall — those are lovely. Guanapo Gorge is one of my favourites, and of course the Tamana Bat Caves, which is a moderate sort of hike with big adventure. And for me, depending on how you’re doing it like with camping, the Matelot to Blanchisseuse trek is a big adventure. And of course, the El Tucuche is a tough, done-in-a-day hike.

The Rio Seco waterfall. Photograph by Anu Lakhan

The Rio Seco waterfall is one of many deliciously cool watering holes in the country. The height from the top of the waterfall to the pool is about 20 feet. Photograph by Anu Lakhan

CT: What are your favourite beaches, coast to coast, and why?

CR: There is something about Las Cuevas that I have always loved. It’s a combination of ease of access with still very rugged scenery — and that’s from my personal point of view, like going surfing and things like that. It’s not necessarily only a tourism point of view. I think our best beach for eco-tourism is really Grande Rivière — it’s combination of nature hiking with the piping guan, the birds, the turtles… It truly is a multi-dimensional destination that’s hard to beat.

A leatherback makes its way to the sea at Grande Riviere. Photo: Stephen Jay Photography

A leatherback makes its way to the sea at Grande Riviere. Photo: Stephen Jay Photography

CT: Any tips and advice for eco adventurers as far as health and safety?

CR: Always make sure that your backpack is properly equipped — knife, cutlass, first aid, extra water and food, a working flashlight. Those sort of standard safety things. Something Victor Quesnel taught me many years ago is that if you’re not too sure where you are or what you’re doing and 2pm catches you, then it’s time to go home!

The long crescent bay at Las Cuevas, Trinidad's Blue Flag Beach, and our favourite for 2017. Courtesy the Tourism Development Company

The long crescent bay at Las Cuevas, Trinidad’s Blue Flag Beach, and our favourite for 2017. Courtesy the Tourism Development Company

CT: If people only had one day — or even just a half day — to get a taste of Trinidad, what day/half-day trips or tours would you recommend?

CR: An easy day if you’re just popping in to Trinidad is Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Depending on what you’re looking at, if you’re looking for adventure, I do mountain biking down in Chaguaramas combined with the Covigne River, so you get the biking, hiking, and river swimming. Even though the river is small, it’s very pretty and it’s lots and lots of fun where you can climb some little waterfalls and so on. A bigger adventure is really a long day, so you head out early and do Guanapo Gorge and then run to Tamana after. That’s leaving at 5am or 6am and then flying out at 9pm or 10pm — so first flight in and last flight out, that sort of thing.

Scarlet ibis fly home to roost in the Caroni Swamp & Bird Sanctuary. Photo by Rapso Imaging

Scarlet ibis fly home to roost in the Caroni Swamp & Bird Sanctuary. Photo by Rapso Imaging

CT: If you have a particular place or experience that’s your absolute favourite in Trinidad, what is it, and why?

CR: After travelling the world, what I love about Trinidad is the multiplicity of things and experiences you can have on any given day. You can have a mountain biking adventure then go have some curry and then go lime on the Avenue or something like that. When people ask me what my favourite bird is, the answer is that what I love is the variety of birds we have here. And it’s the variety of experiences that I really enjoy, and that’s what I do with Bush Mountain. It’s not just trails, it’s not just boot camp, it’s not just yoga… It’s those things and so much more.

Rare and protected birds – blue and gold macaw. Photo by Rapso Imaging

Rare and protected birds – blue and gold macaw. Photo by Rapso Imaging



More about Trinidad’s eco adventures and natural history…

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Posted by Caroline Taylor

Courtenay Rooks on Trinidad’s eco adventures | Q&A | Discover Trinidad & Tobagohttps://www.discovertnt.com/courtenay-rooks-on-trinidads-eco-adventures-qa/#ixzz5mqR6rS38

Avocat Waterfall Day Trip: ….book now

Posted Posted in Layovers
A Day at the Falls..

Many Slaves have said to runaway to this Fall for it’s rejuvenation to the mind and Body..on reaching the fall the sudden up draft of air from it’s crushing feet just halts and calm any Soul…

Hiking up rivers, climbing through uncharted rain forests where your leader follows only his knowledge of the forests. While walking you will see, experience and learn of the natural history of this magnificent rainforest. The walk ends at the seventy-foot waterfall, where swimming in the small pool at the base of the falls is our objective. Relax while getting a natural massage as you sit at the foot of the falls. 

On Reaching the Falls this is your moment to press the reset button..Giant Blue Butterflies layover as to seem to want to drop of a message to you..a feeling of lightheadedness slants your brain but don’t worry it’s just the rush of the abundance of chlorophyll attributes in the air..no one can deny the oneness felt at this Fall..it’s your turn now…

Requirements: Yoga Pants or Leggings plus swim wear & Water Shoes (eg. Crocks).

Maracas Beach & City Tour Package :…..book now

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

This popular spot is the ideal Caribbean beach, but is just as famous for the scenic drive through the Rainforest it takes to reach it, but not without a proper introduction to our City of Port of Spain for those who wish to see it…

Unlike many of the northern beaches of Trinidad, Maracas Bay is protected by a deep bay. It is one of the most well known beaches in the island of Trinidad as it is considered by some to be the most beautiful beach of its size located relatively close to the capital city.


Best Maracas Beach Tour Option in Port-of-Spain

Enjoy the Trinidadian Beach way of life..from sunbathing, dancing to sweet soca music or just enjoying a Bake n Shark Sandwich is worth the adventurous drive through the Rainforest. A must try this Bake n Shark Sandwich..never eaten Shark meat before don’t worry it’s not a killer Shark but rather the imported sharks off the Taiwan coast, their white tasty meat makes it a worldwide delicacy anywhere it is served or sign up for the City Tour Option and grab a Roti complimentary before heading up to the Bay.

Requirements: Casual wear plus swim wear & Sunscreen.

Asa Wright Nature Center Tour :……book now

Posted Posted in Layovers

So you have a connecting flight from let’s say..Guyana..Grenada and are wondering what to do with a layover of 9 hours or less? or Here on a Short Stay..Then this Nature Tour is for you.

A layover at Piarco International Airport (POS/TTPP) provides passengers the opportunity to do a lot of things both around the airport area and well into the City of Port-of-Spain. Piarco International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, serving as a hub for the Caribbean. The airport is situated about (27 km/17 miles ) from downtown Port-of-Spain, thus making the city easily accessible for tourists who have long layovers

             Tour Option in Port-of-Spain

Take a two-hour guided tour through the well maintained nature trails and have your cameras ready on the chance that you are greeted by some of the 108 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles, 25 species of amphibians and 617 species of butterflies. Entrance fee is included in the cost… lunch is on your own you can choose from a Basic lunch or a Buffet lunch.

Requirements needed for this Trip : Sneakers and long sleeves…

Best Carry-On Luggage: 10 Affordable Bags Under $150*USD

Posted Posted in Gears

 

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A sturdy, well-designed carry-on bag is one of the most important products any traveler can buy—especially if you’re looking to pack light and avoid checking a suitcase. But while there are plenty of pricey carry-ons on the market $2,595Gucci, anyone?, you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a solid carry-on that can serve you well all over the globe.

In our search for the best affordable carry-on luggage, we looked for bags that cost less than $150 and fit within the major U.S. airlines’ current size restrictions, which are smaller than they used to be at 22 x 14 x 9 inches. (Southwest is one exception, with a more roomy 24 x 16 x 10 maximum size.) We also scoped out a variety of bag types, from hardside spinners to rolling duffels. Finally, we chose only bags that were well reviewed by customers on Amazon. Check out our roundup of the best carry-on luggage.

Hardside Spinner Suitcases

Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Hardside Spinner 20″: We love the brushed look on the exterior of this suitcase, which appears stylish but also helps hide scuff marks. Inside is a main compartment with compression straps, with a zippered section and two mesh pockets on the other side. There’s a built-in TSA combination lock, but unfortunately no side handle. The bag measures 21.5 x 13.5 x 9.64 inches, according to the Samsonite website, and weighs 6.7 pounds. Price: $80 and up.

Rockland Melbourne 20-Inch Expandable Abs Carry On Luggage: This affordable Amazon bestseller comes in nearly two dozen different colors including lime, turquoise and magenta (of course, basic black is an option too). Inside are a main compartment with compression straps and a zippered section, and there are handles on both the top and the side. Its size when expanded is a smidge over most U.S. airlines’ limits (22.1 x 14.4 x 9.2 inches), but it’s close enough that most travelers shouldn’t have an issue. Price: $50 and up.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4-Wheel, 20-Inch Upright Suitcase: This seven-pound carry-on is sleek and attractive, available in nearly a dozen colors. With the wheels it comes in right around the airline size limit for carry-ons (21.75 x 15.25 x 9 inches), and it includes handles on the top and side for easy hoisting. There’s a large zippered compartment inside, as well as a smaller zippered pocket for odds and ends, and a main compartment with compression straps. Price: $50 and up.

Softside Spinner Suitcases

Travelpro Maxlite 4 21-Inch Expandable Spinner: If you’re looking for a lightweight bag from a reputable brand, consider this Travelpro offering, which weighs just 5.9 pounds. Nice touches include a water-repellent coating and a telescoping handle that locks at two different lengths. The bag is expandable, but the tapered design helps the weight stay balanced. There’s a large pocket on the exterior of the bag, as well as a mesh compartment inside, plus a zippered pouch for incidentals. Price: $100 and up.

Samsonite Mightlight 2 19-Inch SpinnerSamsonite offers a slightly larger version of this bag, but that one might run afoul of your airline’s carry-on size restrictions. Err on the side of caution with this 19-inch spinner, which weighs a mere 5.8 pounds and measures 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 inches with wheels, according to the Samsonite website. This bag is handy for travelers who like to stay organized, with multiple pockets inside and out. Alas, it only comes in one color (black). Price: $95 on sale.

Underseat Bags

Lucas Wheeled Under-the-Seat Cabin Bag: If you want a bag small enough to go under the seat in front of you on the plane, consider this compact offering, which measures 15.7 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches. The bag includes multiple interior and exterior pockets, as well as some fun extras: a hanging cosmetic satchel, travel slippers and a document holder. It comes in red, black or blue. Price: $55 on sale.

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater Despite its small size, it’s stuffed with handy zippered pockets for easy organization, including side pockets that can hold water bottles and a removable pouch for travel-size liquids and gels. This bag is currently available only in black. Price: $69.99

Travelon 18-Inch Wheeled Underseat Bag: At 18 x 14 x 9 inches, this bag is right on the line between an under-seat bag and a full-size rolling carry-on. It’s got a padded pouch inside the main compartment for a laptop, along with a single exterior pocket that will hold a tablet, book and/or clear bag of liquids and gels. The roomy main compartment has a couple of compression straps to keep clothes in place. Price: $65.

Rolling Duffel Bags

World Traveler Black White Damask Rolling Wheeled Duffel Bag: This pretty black and white bag can be carried over your shoulder, held by the hand straps or rolled along behind you. Exterior and interior pockets help keep travelers organized, and the bag packs mostly flat when it’s empty for easy storage at home or hotel. The bag measures 21 x 11 x 11 inches, so you won’t have to worry about fitting it into an overhead bin. Price: $45 on sale.

Kattee Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag Leather Trim Canvas Wheeled Travel Bag: This attractive bag features leather trim, a roomy main compartment, and plenty of pockets inside and out. There’s a retractable trolley handle, as well as shoulder and hand straps, so you can carry it three different ways. We saw conflicting reports on this bag’s size (the Kattee official site confusingly lists it at both 20.87 x 16.53 x 9.05 inches and 21.7 x 14.8 x 10.2 inches), but the fact that it’s a duffel means that you can squish it into most overhead bins and airport bag sizers. Price: $75 on sale.

What type of carry-on bag do you use? Share your pick in the comments.

Foodie Nation

Posted Posted in Places

Our food is out there…

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If it’s one thing that i myself have thanked God for , is the many dishes that our island can call our very own..with influences from India to as far as Spain, you can taste the spirit of the world in our meals.

With so many takes and articles on the vast goldmine of Cuisine documented to date and since you are only on a stopover i will try to highlight our street foods, one being a special Roti made on the streets before your very eyes. Come with me on a journey to the town of the St James at night to dig into this minimalist style of the Roti.

(Roti is a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent made from flour, traditionally known as atta, and water that is combined into a dough to create a satin,smooth sometimes busted up bread …its side kicks are ,pumkin,string beans,curried potatoes and chick peas…a curried meat of choice tops it and oh yes the pepper sauce to make you cry…
Main ingredientsAtta flour
well the above description sounds like a Roti grown up in the richest parts of Trinidad , well educated and well groomed just to be eaten but the Roti we are talking about as they say in Trinidad ” He make jail already” meaning it bad ……but in a good way…!

Dosti Roti

Combine flour, salt and baking powder thoroughly. 2. Add water gradually, working the dough to a soft, silky texture Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. 3. Knead once or twice and Divide dough into 8 even pieces and shape into round balls (loyahs).

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To be con’t….

 

Will I have enough time if i Leave the Airport and be back in Time for my Flight?

Posted Posted in Layovers

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Now the real aesthetics into the Trinidad Layover.

GOT 5 HOURS OR MORE..THEN YES YOU CAN LEAVE THE AIRPORT But Don’t forget to leave yourself time for boarding the second flight. Boarding usually starts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes before the actual flight time.The Airport Authority asks for 2 hour arrival before flight but you are in transit so an hour and a half should be enough just in case you have not gotten your boarding pass for the next flight.You will still have to go through their passport check LINE so be prepared.  Here you also have to claim your luggage upon arrival even if you’re on a layover in the middle of an international flight. Remember to have your luggage kept at the Airport or if you have Booked with a Tour Guide, ask if they have room for your luggage in their car. HERE IS WHERE ,,WHAT EVER YOU DO WITH YOUR TIME  IS UP TO YOU Before you can go to your second flight. Remember you still have to bring your luggage to another line to be rechecked, and then you go through security again. So be prepared.

A copy of the type of emails we get ..its always about… will i have enough time..

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Do you often get stuck with long layovers but not long enough to leave the airport? Try a Priority Pass membership to get access to airport lounges around the world, no matter what airline you fly with. You’ll get access to food and drinks, showers and wifi, and much more. Click here to get 10% off your first annual membership.

06 Important Travel Safety Tips Everyone Should Know when travelling to Trinidad and Tobago.

Posted Posted in Layovers

cropped-20180605_193125.jpgNothing ruins an adventure quicker than getting scammed or robbed!

Deceitful taxi drivers, two-faced tour guides, insincere offers of help, and the occasional robbery or scam.For the most part, the world is a pretty safe place for travelers and not because France has some crime zones you should stay out of France. I don’t want to scare you too much! However it’s wise to be prepared for the worst.With that in mind, here are my best travel safety tips to help minimize your chances of something bad happening to you or your belongings during your travels ANYWHERE in the world.

1. Don’t allow anyone to put anything on your body, and be extremely wary of accepting anything for free unless there is a good reason for it. Especially in very touristy areas. Ignore them and keep walking, you will be asked to pay for it ..

2. Negotiate your Taxi fare before hand, to avoid overcharge on your destination arrival.There is a rate billboard at the arrival area in the Airport and you can confirm rates at the lobby of Hotels and Guest Houses.

3. Avoid lonely ventures..Yes if it feels dangerous it usually is…Taking long night walks and strolls back to Hotels especially if close by should not be attempted unless if you are in the company of four or more..Groups have been known to ward off suspecting attackers.Yes its close but a $15 or $20*USD Taxi fare is better to part with than anything else.

4. Don’t walk about crowded areas with your Phone exposed. It is common now to have your Phone snatched right out of your hands sometimes even in the middle of a phone call. On receiving a call get to a location with your back against a wall or edged area so as to see on coming perpetrators.

5.  ATM’S..Avoid card slots with adhesives and help from persons . Recently a wave of Card identity theft is on the streets resulting in Thousands being stolen in 2017 from both locals and visitors alike. One scam is a sticky substance is placed in the slots of the machines, when your card gets stuck you are approached by persons offering help.If your card gets stuck try your best and yank it out by yourself, if not call in and cancel the card.

6. Avoid hand purses or wallets. Planing a sightseeing Tour, it’s best to purchase a waist pouch or small light weight Back Pack..its hard to be snatched and passports can be carried safely.

THESE ARE MY TIPS TO YOU..WELCOME TO MY ISLAND, YOU CAN PIN IT IF YOU LIKE.