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Trip Leader Aimee Lowe shares her Notes from the Field with our Trinidad & Tobago rainforest-Reef + Leatherback Sea Turtles Adventure. Join us on this day in the life journey.

 

• Day 2 •
Paddleboarding, Snorkeling & Bioluminescence!

Today on our first day of Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure we flew from Trinidad to Tobago and checked into our beautiful hotel. We loaded up into our Maxi (what the locals call our large passenger van), drove to the beach and had a delicious lunch at a seaside restaurant.

Women's Trinidad & Tobago Adventure

Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure in Tobago

After lunch, we had fun in the sunshine while practicing paddle boarding and snorkeling.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner back at our hotel.

 

At night. . .in the dark. . . we went paddle boarding (or kayaking) in a large lagoon known for its bioluminescence!! Any motion – paddle stroke, swim strokes and kicks, fish swimming through – disturbs the teeny tiny plankton called dinoflagellates. Their defense mechanism causes them to momentarily light up (think microscopic firefly).

 

The tiny ‘lights’ appeared on our swimsuits and rash guards. Dragging your hand through and up out of the water had them dripping off your skin and sleeve.

It looked like pixie dust!!  So magical and mystical!!

 

 • Day 3 •
Little Tobago Hike & Snorkeling + Gilpinl Trace Hike

We started our day on the Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure with a delicious breakfast buffet (and omelette station!) at the gorgeous Mt. Irvine Bay Resort before boarding our maxi and leaving the hotel at 8:30am for Speyside – on the eastern coast of Tobago. After changing into our bathing suits at the Blue Waters Inn, we hopped on a glass bottom boat for the short ride over to Little Tobago island.

Women's Trinidad & Tobago Adventure

Hiking on Little Tobago on Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure

We hiked across Little Tobago to admire the view from the other side. Along the trail, we saw brown boobies, red footed boobies, laughing gulls, red-billed tropicbirds nesting and flying over the cliffs, and a red-billed tropicbird chick in a nest. The beautiful baby looked close to fledgling size!

We watched a Zandolee lizard scramble through the dry leave underbrush in search of a tasty morsel. Also on the ground, we spotted a couple of leaf cutter ants carrying their bright green load back to their nest.

 

Next, we snorkeled off of the beach on Little Tobago on our Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure!

Among the myriad of fish, we were able to identify bluehead wrasse males with their harem of females, black durgons, 3 spot damselfish, banded and spotfin butterfly fish, at least 6 species of parrotfish, and at least a gazillion more!

 

After changing back into dry clothes, we ate lunch at Gemma’s Treehouse while ogling at the gorgeous view of the ocean and trying to figure out how we could move to Tobago while we gorged on stuffed eggplant, cucumber salad in ginger, breadfruit casserole, peas and rice, and a carrot/ cabbage slaw. And…those were just the starters! We also enjoyed fish and chicken which, like the sides, were served family style.

Next stop — Gilpin Trace to hike in a virgin montane rainforest. This forest area has been protected since 1776 under British rule. The original goal of the preserve was to protect the rain, not the rainforest, but even in the 18th century, they realized that you have to protect the forests to maintain a healthy water cycle. It is one of our favorite nature walks on our Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure.

With binoculars in hand, we set off on our hike just before sunset and were greeted by the sounds of blue-crowned motmots, doves, orange wing parrots, woodpeckers, and jacamars. Some of us were blessed to see white-tail sabrewing hummingbirds! These beautiful birds can only be found on Tobago, and in two locations in Venezuela, since they have been extirpated from the rest of the world due to habitat degradation. As we quieted our lips and our minds, the calls of blueback mannequins travelled through the trees.

We learned about the Parrot apple tree and photographed their seed pods in several different stages of germination. Sticky substances cause the little seeds inside pod to stick to the parrots and other birds when they feed on them. When the birds land in other trees, the germinated seeds take hold, and the tree grows downward.

While our days are often filled with go-go-go activities we also often take the time to stop, listen and simply breathe. Ahhhhh, there…All around us…As the rainforest quietly transitioned from day to night.

 

• Day 4 •
Snorkeling Mt. Irvine Bay & Buccoo Reef in Tobago

We started our day on our Trinidad & Tobago rainforest-Reef + Leatherback Sea Turtles Adventure by simply walking across street from our hotel…to the beach! We were able to walk out into the water and enjoy our morning snorkel in Mt. Irvine Bay.

 

The weather was perfect and the underwater show did not disappoint!

We saw large schools of juvenile Caribbean reef squid, French angelfish, trumpetfish, a coronet fish and a lizard fish, along with tons of Diadema (black long-spined sea urchins) and several fire worms feeding on the coral.

Next, we drove to Pigeon Point and took a glass bottom boat out to Buccoo Reef, donned our snorkel gear, and jumped into the crystal blue water.

We saw juvenile and adult French angelfish, schools of blue tang and ocean surgeonfish, yellow tailed damselfish, a.k.a. the “disco fish”, an adorable juvenile yellow tang, and more large schools of Caribbean reef squid!

 

 

On our way back to shore, we cruised past a gorgeous beach that look like it could be featured as a screensaver or on a postcard.

 

Next stop – local cuisine for lunch in a cute market/craft area.

After swinging by the hotel to grab some essentials, we drove to a farm/ conservation area called Adventure Park that is open to visitors. The porch around the house is surrounded by gardens and bird feeders.

While the main attraction is the variety of hummingbirds, it was equally enjoyable to catch sight of many others. We saw a bananaquit, blue-gray-tanagers, several species of flycatchers, ruddy doves, red rump woodpeckers, and at least 10 of the 19 species of hummingbirds found in TNT. It was mesmerizing to sit and watch so many birds!

We had a delicious snack of fresh pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon and fresh slices of mango.

Next, we took a guided tour of the gorgeous garden/ forest area. We saw many native plants and trees. Many flowering plants were in bloom, including a beautiful torch lily and a shrimp plant. We spied a tiny hummingbird nest high above us and passed a small water feature pond filled with tilapia fish.

Spending time in a garden is always relaxing and rewarding! Relaxed and rejuvenated, we returned to our hotel to freshen up, and then we walked back to Mt. Irvine beach to catch the sunset over the ocean! The spectacular view was right on the way to dinner at the Anchor Bar & Grill where cocktails and fun were had by all.

We walked back to our hotel to “lime” together for a while at the Sugarmill bar before collapsing in bed after another amazing day in Tobago.

 

• Day 5 • 
Back to Trinidad & Turtles!

Women's Trinidad & Tobago Adventure

Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure Getting Ready to See Turtles!!!

On our Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure everyone was excited to start the day with high hopes of seeing leatherback sea turtles this evening!

After another scrumptious breakfast at our hotel (Mt. Irvine Bay Resort), we took off in our maxi and made a quick stop at a local market to stock up on snacks and water for our journey to Grand Rivere.

We made a second stop at Nature Seekers in Matura. Susan, the owner and founder of the organization, took us under her wing and into her classroom. Founded in 1990, Nature Seekers is a conservation organization that works to protect the turtles of Trinidad and Tobago through community-based education, volunteerism, and eco-tourism. Prior to the group’s formation, sea turtle poaching was wildly common in TNT. With the help of a few dedicated volunteers, Susan was able to create solutions to save these ancient creatures by teaching locals about the importance turtles play in the ecosystem. The locals themselves were able to stop poaching and still put food on their table by building a strong eco-tourism industry. They have since saved the natural habitats of leatherback, hawksbill, and green turtles!

One of Nature Seekers main forms of fundraising comes from creating jewelry made from glass trash found during their community beach cleanups. We were all happy to support this inventive effort by buying these crafty souvenirs. We are now all “turtle warriors”!

After our quick lesson and shopping spree, we were back on the maxi for our final drive to the Almendier Hotel in Grand Rivere.

We arrived an hour before sunset, and everyone was anxious to get to the beach to look for baby sea turtles emerging from their nests. We decided that checking into our rooms could wait, so we left our bags in the lobby and quickly walked the whole 10 feet to the beach. One of THE most prolific leatherback nesting beaches in the world was mere steps from our hotel! So cool!

Of course, the positive energy of our Green Edventures group was on our side, and we were able to find 3 nests with emerging sea turtle hatchlings.

 

Because it was still light out, hungry turkey vultures were on the lookout for a hatchling snack. We were instructed to help put any emerging babies in a large bucket for their protection once they crawled out of the sand. We all had the chance to hold a baby sea turtle as we placed them in the bucket.

 

We walked further down the beach as the sun began to set, and to our delight, we came upon a clutch of hatchlings emerging from their nest and heading down the beach. Since the daylight was waning, we didn’t need to intervene in order to protect them from land predators. We could just “be in the moment” and watch the babies complete their journey to the sea on their own.

Words cannot describe what it’s like to watch sea turtle hatchlings scramble down the beach as the sun is setting over the ocean. Breathtaking. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Emotional.

Tears of joy were shed by Emily and Trish, and it was impossible not to feel a spiritual connection to these little dinosaur babies as we watched them make their way into the sea.

 

After witnessing the miracle of life, it was hard to sit still long enough to eat dinner, but we managed to enjoy our delicious meal while we anticipated being able to see adult female leatherbacks in the process of nesting.

Finally, it was time to go back to the beach to search for momma sea turtles coming in from the ocean. Once again, our positive vibes, and our red lights, guided us directly to a momma leatherback turtle who had just begun digging her nest.

Everyone was mesmerized as we watched her painstakingly dig her nest with her rear flippers, lay her 100+ eggs, and then bury her eggs with her front flippers. We each had a chance to get super close to this beautiful living dinosaur while she was laying her eggs.

After spending about 45 minutes with our momma turtle, we gave her some privacy so she could take her time disguising her nest by zigzagging down the beach before going back to the sea.

We continued down the beach and came upon turtle after turtle in some stage of nesting. Within the 2 and 1/2 hours that we were on the beach, we saw 23 momma leatherback sea turtles! As a special treat, our guide David found a green sea turtle starting to dig her nest very high up on the shore. We were so lucky to be able to witness a nesting green sea turtle, since they only see about 2 greens a year nesting in Grand Rivere!

Tired, but beyond happy, we headed back to our rooms around 11:45pm and went to bed dreaming of sea turtles and tropical sunsets.


If you would like to experience what it’s like to watch sea turtle hatchlings scramble down the beach as the sun sets, then this trip is for you! View the full itinerary for our Trinidad & Tobago rainforest-Reef + Leatherback Sea Turtles Adventure.


• Day 6 • 
More Turtles! And Caroni Swamp

We all decided to wake up at 5:00am to take a walk on the beach at sunrise, hoping to see a leatherback sea turtle that was still working on her nest at daybreak.

Luck was still on our side, and as soon as we walked onto the beach, we spotted a huge momma in the process of burying her nest!

As the sun was rising over the ocean during our Trinidad & Tobago Women’s Adventure we were all able to get amazing pictures next to this female dinosaur, as she was finishing her nest and preparing to head back to her home in the sea.

On our way back up the beach, we found a large cast net with 4 baby sea turtles completely entangled in the monofilament. We were able to untangle them from the net and carry them towards the shore, so that we could release them closer to the water. Thankfully, they were still rearing to go, and they scurried the rest of the way down the beach and into the water!

Sadly, it was time to leave Grand Rivere, but we packed up the maxi with our hearts full of joy and with memories to last a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

We travelled along the lush mountainous coast, and into the rainforest, to reach our eco-cottages at the Hacienda Jacana.

After a brief respite at our Hacienda, we got back on our maxi and headed to the Caroni Swamp for a boat ride tour through this biodiverse wetland. Courtaney, our guide/ walking encyclopedia, shared his wealth of knowledge about the cultural and geological history of TNT along the way.

For example, due to plate tectonics, the lush mountain range in Trinidad is actually the northern most part of the Andes mountains! You will just have to go to TNT with Green Edventures to learn more about this one country made up of two completely different islands.

The long ride went quickly, and before long we reached the Caroni wetland on the west coast of Trinidad. This swamp is located where the Caroni River meets the Gulf of Paria. It is an extensive estuarine system comprising over 1,500 hectares of mudflats, marshes, and mangrove forest and has been protected since 1948.

Once we arrived at Caroni, we boarded an open boat to begin our tour through the mangrove swamp.

Many of the ladies in our group were familiar with mangroves from previous GE trips to Roatán and Baja, but none of us had ever seen red mangroves that were over 4 stories tall! The prop roots and aerial roots were MASSIVE! It was absolutely breathtaking!

Within the dense, and seemingly endless forest understory, we found tree boas, a spectacled caiman, huge termite nests on the mangrove branches, and an overwhelming amount of winged species.

We saw so many birds including a yellow headed cara cara, red rumped woodpecker, yellow oriel, smooth-bill anis, green kingfisher, pygmy kingfisher, yellow breasted fly catcher, striated heron, masked cardinal, golden olive woodpecker, anhinga, cowtail egrets, cuckoo bird, tropical screech owls, yellow crown night heron, little blue heron, snowy egret, tricolor heron, cormorant, northern rough-wing swallow, flocks of flamingos feeding in the shallows, and several small flocks of SCARLET IBIS flying in from the coast to their nests.

The scarlet ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago. These stunning birds have been protected in TNT since 1962, and the fine for poaching, or even disturbing one, is $100,000 TTs.

Unfortunately, more patrols are needed to properly protect the species. Watching these bright scarlet birds flying over the swamp as the sun was setting was spectacular!

 

• Day 7 • 
Avocat Hike & Swimming in the Maryanne River

We woke up bright and early in order to drive to the Avocat waterfall in Blanchisseuse for a rainforest hike along the Maryanne River.

 

On the way to Avocat, we made a stop along “the Savannah” in Port of Spain. Our amazing guide, Courtaney, educated us on the history and transformation of this huge park. The Savannah was created around 1817 so that residents could bring their livestock to graze and literally get the ‘shit’ out of the city. Over the past two centuries, the city has grown up around the Savannah, and it now serves as a type of ‘Central Park’ where the locals gather for picnics, cricket games, and “liming”.

We walked down the sidewalk along the Savannah roundabout to view the “Magnificent Seven”, a row of beautiful historical homes. We stopped at a street stand where Courtaney treated each of us to a whole, fresh coconut, so that we could drink the coconut water straight from the fruit and then eat the tender flesh.

We hopped back in the maxi and drove to our next stop – an overlook where we purchased some Trinidad souvenirs and sweets. Baileys fudge! Tamarind balls!! Khurma treats!!! Oh my!!!!

We continued along the coast while the meandering road cut through a pristine countryside full of beautiful views of the ocean, forested mountain range, and homes.

Our second stop was at Maracas Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Trinidad, to eat lunch at a Bake and Shark. As “green” adventures, we did not partake in shark, but we filled our bellies with fried shrimp, chicken, fish, etc.

Our journey continued to Avocat to hike in the untamed wildness of the Trinidad rainforest. Our hike followed the Maryanne River, and we took the opportunity for an invigorating swim!

Courtaney brought along a guest tour guide, Cristo, who is a “payi”. A payi is what we would refer to as a ‘medicine man’. Cristo shared some of his indigenous secrets with us and pointed out several plants with medicinal properties.

On the way back to our Hacienda, we made another visit to the Savannah; this time to eat dinner. Every weekend, food vendors set up tents in the park that offer all kinds of delicious “street food”. The vibe is similar to a food festival, and it is a very popular place for local Trinis to hang out on a Friday and Saturday night.

As our last full day on our Trinidad & Tobago rainforest-Reef + Leatherback Sea Turtles Adventure came to an end, we headed back to our Hacienda reminiscing on our amazing trip full of colorful tropical fishes, bioluminescence, sea turtles, hummingbirds, rainforest hikes, and new friends.

 

• Day 8 • 
Sadly Said Our Goodbyes

Sadly, all great trips must come to an end. . .

Trish and Kathy had an early flight and were picked up from the Hacienda at 6:15am. The rest of us were able to sleep in, eat a leisurely breakfast, and still have time to meander around the paths and pond on the hotel grounds while listening to the sounds of the rainforest all around us.

Too soon we had to head to the airport where we sadly said goodbye to Trinidad and each other – knowing that we will all stay in touch, since we have become adventure buddies for life!

Our Edventure to Trinidad and Tobago will live on in our hearts and in our minds now that “Turtle Warriors” Nina, Barbara, Gail, Emily B., Emily R., April, Darlynne, Carrie, Samantha, Melanie, Stephanie, Trish, Kathy, Deborah, Allison, Lori, and Aimee have become travel sisters in adventure and beyond!

Women’s Trinidad & Tobago Adventure 2023


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