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Trinidad: Hummingbirds and Motmots

Tufted Coquet

Tufted Coquet © Janice Petko

There is no better introduction to birding in the New World tropics than a trip to the two-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago. The islands contain a diversity of easily-accessible birdwatching habitats that allow unparalleled access to some of the worlds most stunningly beautiful birds.

Trinidad, only seven miles off the coast of Venezuala, contains an abundance of species found in northeastern South America. Tobago’s avifauna is more Caribbean in it’s makeup.

In Trinidad we’ll visit the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Centre, a charming lodge located in a 2,000 acre tract of rainforest high in the Arima Valley of the island’s Northern Range. Visitors usually see more than 40 species of birds before breakfast.

In Tobago, we’ll stay at the remote and intimate Cuffie River Nature Retreat, located in Tobago’s highland rainforest. From here we will also visit Blue Waters Inn, on the island’s northern coast, to enjoy a boat trip to Little Tobago Island on a glass-bottomed boat!

Incredible birds, awesome accommodations and relaxing birding will surely combine to make this a trip of a lifetime!

  • Tour Cost
  • 2017 Cost
    $3450 from Port of Spain, Trinidad
    (Includes ALL internal flights, Trinidad/Tobago, and transfers)
    Prices per person, double occupancy.


    Full payment required 120 days prior to departure date.


    Price based on double occupancy. If a single room is preferred, or roommate not available, a single supplement fee of $480 will be assessed.


    Included in the Tour Cost

    All ground transportation from Port of Spain, Trinidad, local flights Trinidad/Tobago and boat travel. All accommodations. All meals from Dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day. All entrance fees and guide fees. Tips for meal service.


    Not Included in the Tour Cost

    International air travel, passport fees, luggage fees, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages, departure taxes, phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.

  • Itinerary
  • DAY 1: Arrive/Asa Wright Nature Centre
    Arrive in Port of Spain (POS). Centre guides meet Transfer to Asa Wright Nature Centre, about an hour’s drive.
    Birding from the veranda of the Asa Wright Nature Centre is one of the world’s most invigorating ornithological experiences. Hummingbirds perch quietly at arm’s length and buzz past your face like fighter jets mid-dogfight. Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Tufted Coquette, Barred Antshrike, and both Purple and Green Honeycreeper are among the species seen at flowers, fresh fruits, and feeders below.


    DAY 2: Asa Wright Nature Centre
    Morning begins with the raucous calls of Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. Pick a spot on the verandah and spy as many as 30 life birds before breakfast! Coffee and tea are available at 6AM.
    First arrivals to the feeders often include the endemic Trinidad Motmot, Cocoa and Spectacled Thrushes, White-lined, Blue-gray and Palm Tanagers, alongside the energetic Bananaquit. Busy feeders at eye level attract dazzling White-chested Emerald, Blue-chinned Sapphire, White-necked Jacobin and Copper-rumped Hummingbird.
    Late afternoon we will explore elsewhere for Fork-tailed Palm-Swifts, Sulphury Flycatchers and Moriche Orioles.
    After a picnic dinner, a slow drive may produce White-tailed Nightjars, Common Pauraque and Tropical Screech-Owl. Barn and even Spectacled Owls have been seen in the area.


    DAY 3: Birding Trinidad’s Northern Range
    Today we take a scenic all-day excursion on the Blanchisseuse Road high into mountain areas above AWNC. We navigate through Trinidad’s Northern Range, reaching elevations of up to 2,200 ft, as we experience a broad array of habitats. We make frequent stops for birding.
    En route we look for Swallow-tailed Kite, Common Black Hawk, Bat Falcon, and Collared Trogon. Bright blooms adorn lush canopies attracting nectar feeding birds. An imposing Ornate Hawk-Eagle may ride currents overhead as Channel-billed Toucan fly between tall trees in village gardens. There is a small chance of seeing Trinidad’s most sought after endemic – the Trinidad Piping Guan.


    DAY 4: Nariva Swamp, Atlantic Coast & Monkeys at Bush Bush
    Today’s highlight is the remarkable Nariva Swamp on Trinidad’s eastern coast. Nariva is the largest freshwater herbaceous swamp in Trinidad. The Nariva River reaches the sea here, so freshwater environments are comprised swamp and swamp forest lined with mangroves.
    Below the Northern Range foothills lies the Aripo Agriculture Research Station. The countryside and rough pasture creates the opportunity to seek out a number of new species including Cocoi Heron, Savannah Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, Green-rumped Parrotlet and White-winged Swallow.
    We then drive through scenic “Coconut Alley”, where nearly a million coconut palms line the road. Spot raptors sheltering from the midday sun. We enjoy Common Black-Hawk, Yellow-headed Caracara and Savannah Hawk and have a chance of finding Pearl Kite, Gray-lined Hawk and Crested Caracara.
    Late we enter Nariva Swamp, searching for Pinnated Bittern, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and White-tailed Goldenthroat. Long-winged Harrier occasionally quarters the reeds and we may find Yellow-crowned Parrot.
    We end the day with a walk at Bush Bush Forest Sanctuary, searching for Red Howler and White-faced Capuchin Monkeys.
    DAY 5: Rare Oilbirds & the Scarlet Ibis of Caroni Marsh
    This morning we visit Dunston Cave, a beautiful riparian grotto located on the sanctuary, to view a breeding colony of the fascinating nocturnal Oilbird. On the short, but steep, hike to the Cave, you could see some of the secretive birds of the deep forest such as Black-faced Antthrushes, White-bellied Antbirds, and Gray-throated Leaftossers.
    Mid-afternoon, we depart for the famous Caroni National Park to seek out some of its more specialized denizens such as Large-billed Tern, Pied Water-tyrant, Bicolored Conebill, Masked Cardinal, and the mysterious-sounding Common Potoo. Our day ends with the spectacular flight of hundreds of Scarlet Ibis returning to their mangrove roosts at dusk, truly one of the world’s most dramatic natural moments.


    DAY 6: Yerette’s Hummingbirds/Tobago/Cuffie River
    This morning we pack up and depart AWNC, bound for our flight to Tobago, first stopping for a grand view of hummingbirds.
    This morning we visit Yerette, an idyllic private home in Trinidad’s Maracas Valley. Only recently opened to the public, the property’s feeder stations offer unparalleled, up-close views of the wide array of Trinidad’s hummingbird species. Twelve of the island’s 13 recorded species have been seen at the feeders. As many as 1,000 hummingbirds have been recorded here in a single visit!
    A brief Flight to the Tropical Island of Tobago, which is distinctly Caribbean in feel, in contrast to Trinidad’s more bustling pace of life and multi-cultural history.
    Cuffie River’s mix of rainforest and multitude of birds can be enjoyed from the private balcony of your room. The Retreat’s restaurant serves delicious local cuisine reflecting the multi-ethnic heritage of Trinidad & Tobago. Cuffie River Nature Retreat was recognized as the “Sustainable Property of the Year” in 2011 by the Tobago House of Assembly.
    In the late afternoon, savor a swim in the elevated pool surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rainforest, or take a leisurely stroll.


    DAY 7: Cuffie River Trails
    Today we enjoy a long hike along the entry road and on a trail above the lodge on the Cuffie River Trail exploring Tobago’s best mountain forests. We search for rare White-tailed Sabrewing, Black-backed Manakin, Yellow Legged Thrush, and other Tobago specialties including Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, Collared Trogon, Red-crowned Woodpecker, and White-fringed Antwren.


    DAY 8: Little Tobago Island & Glass Bottom Boat Tour
    We drive across the island, over the Main Ridge, to Speyside in the morning to board a glass-bottom boat to Little Tobago Island, one of the nation’s most significant wildlife sanctuaries. Upon landing, we explore the island looking for Chivi Vireo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, and Pale-vented Pigeon. We walk up to lookouts over steep cliffs, fabulous for viewing seabird activity. Depending on the time of year, we discover nesting colonies of Red-billed Tropicbird, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, or later in the year, Sooty and Noddy Terns.


    After lunch, we return to the Lodge, stopping for great views, and a walk through the forest at Gilpin Trace, where we look for some elusive species of the dense understory.


    DAY 9: Return to Port of Spain & Departure
    You return to Port of Spain in Trinidad to meet up with International flights; departures are timed accordingly.