Thursday, December 1: Welcome to Trinidad!
Upon arrival at Piarco International Airport, you are met at the airport. Drive to your lodgings for the next six days at the delightful Hacienda Jacana. Tropical air greets you as well, and the adventure begins.
Nestled into nature, Hacienda Jacana’s two-room casitas with kitchen and living room surround a small pond. Even from your porch the birding is terrific! This nature oasis has just four casitas and the main estate house, so our groups stay small (7 – 10). Meals are catered and feature local, delicious Caribbean and “Trini” cuisine. The Hacienda is in an ideal location for our field trips and away from the bustle of Port of Spain.
Note: If your flight arrives late, consider arriving a day early (additional cost), and enjoy an unscheduled morning. While our guides meet all flights, many travelers prefer to start the group tour well-rested.
Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (D)
Birds at Hacienda Jacana: Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Gray-cowled Wood-rail, White Hawk, Green-backed Trogon, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Streaked Flycatcher, Violaceous Euphonia, Crested Oropendola, Yellow Oriole
Friday, December 2: Birding Trinidad’s Northern Range
Today’s scenic, day-long excursion takes us high into the Northern Range on the Blanchisseuse Road. Stately trees arch over the shaded road and views from overlook points are grand. We make frequent birding stops and enjoy a local lunch in the picturesque village of Brasso Seco (with four or fewer participants a picnic lunch is provided). We then continue through the mountains to the village of Morne la Croix to enjoy watching parrots fly in to roost.
Today also offers the opportunity to examine other species, perhaps the strange world of leafcutter and army ants or brightly colored land crabs catch your eye. The abundance of tropical life surrounds you—observe or photograph butterflies, orchids, and other tropical flora.
Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (B,L,D)
Bird Highlights: Swallow-tailed Kite, Common Black Hawk, Bat Falcon, Collared Trogon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Channel-billed Toucan, Trinidad Piping Guan, Short-tailed Hawk, Streaked and Euler’s Flycatchers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Blue-headed Parrot, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Orange-winged Parrot, Collared Trogon, Golden-olive, Red-rumped, and Chestnut Woodpeckers, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Cocoa and Plain-Brown Woodcreepers, Dusky-capped and Slaty-capped Flycatchers, Rufous-breasted Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Speckled and Hepatic Tanagers, Yellow-rumped Cacique
Saturday, December 3: Coastal Birding | Waterloo | Cultural Sites
The best area for finding shorebirds in Trinidad is the extensive area of tidal mudflats along the west coast—an area generically locally known as Waterloo. We plan our departure time with tides in mind. Of significant interest are birds arriving from mainland South America. From February to November large numbers of both Yellow-billed and the striking Large-billed Terns are present while from mid-April to October breeding Collared Plover can be found. Many of the shorebirds found in Trinidad are passing migrants. During the appropriate seasons, resident birds are augmented in varying numbers by Wilson’s Plover, Spotted, Solitary, Pectoral, White-rumped, and Stilt Sandpipers, American Golden Plover, and occasionally Hudsonian Godwit. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Paria provide a haven from inclement weather and the list of rarities in this area is substantial. It includes the islands’ only Maguari Stork, Terek Sandpiper, and both Kelp and Greater Black-backed Gulls. In some years near Carli Bay, we can find the rare resident Rufous Crab-Hawk.
Also of significant interest, is the beautiful Hindu Temple of the Sea, in view from our birding areas and well worth a visit. Additional cultural sites can be added to this day as time allows.
Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (B,L,D)
Waterloo and Coastal Bird Highlights: Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Great and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Willet, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, and Black Skimmer

Sunday, December 4: Nariva Swamp | Trinidad’s Atlantic Coast
After an early breakfast, we depart for Nariva Swamp. There are some fascinating mangrove habitats to scan from the road and we make several stops along the way. Driving down “Coconut Alley” leads us through beachside habitats before we enter Nariva Swamp. Here, the Nariva River reaches the sea; freshwater environments of herbaceous swamp and mangrove swamp forest make for spectacular birding.
As the day warms up, we stop for a picnic lunch and seabird sightings on the beach at Manzanilla. Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Pelican are the most likely species.
Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (B,L,D)
Gazing out to Sea: Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Leach’s Petrel (rare)

East Towards Nariva: Common Black-Hawk, Yellow-headed and Crested Caracaras, Savannah Hawk, Pearl Kite, Gray-lined Hawk, Plumbeous Kite, Green and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Black-crested Antshrike, Silvered Antbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Pinnated Bittern, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Purple Gallinule, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Long-winged Harrier, Yellow-crowned Parrot, Red-bellied and Blue-and-yellow Macaws

Monday, December 5: Aripo Agricultural Station | Night Birds
This morning we depart for the lowlands of the Aripo Agricultural Station where the open countryside and semi-wild pastures offer new bird species. Then this evening, we depart about 4:00 PM for an exciting night bird excursion, complete with your rum punch and hot dinner in tow. An unused airfield is the first birding stop (pre-sunset), then to a grove of palms that attract Red-bellied Macaw and Moriche Oriole. Next, we set out on a slow drive with lights for spotting nightbirds.
Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (B,L,D)
Bird Highlights at the Aripo Ag Station: Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Carib Grackle, Short-tailed Swift, Cocoi Heron, Savannah Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, White-winged Swallow, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Pied Water-Tyrant, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Red-breasted Meadowlark, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Night Bird Outing Highlights: Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Sulphury Flycatcher, Moriche Oriole (rare), White-tailed Nightjar, Common Pauraque, Common Potoo, Tropical Screech-Owl, Barn Owl, Spectacled Owl (if we’re lucky!)
Tuesday, December 6: Yerettê Hummingbirds | Scarlet Ibis of Caroni National Park
Enjoy some optional early morning birding on our lodge grounds. After breakfast, start the day with a special treat—visit the hummingbird retreat called Yerettê, “Home of the Hummingbird.” Located in the Maracas Valley, this private home’s feeders and lush garden attract up to 14 of the 18 species of hummingbirds found in Trinidad and Tobago. A photographer’s delight, hummingbirds gather at the feeders and native vegetation by the tens to hundreds depending on the time of year. Our visit includes a lunch featuring local foods—enjoyed with the birds!

From here, we depart for Caroni Swamp, birding along the way and training our scopes on some agricultural fields. To see Caroni National Park, we bird by boat through mangrove forest (watch for Ruschenberger’s Tree Boa and Silky Anteater, too) then moor up at a quiet spot to let the sunset show begin. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Scarlet Ibis cloud the sky as they fly into islands to roost. Tonight’s experience is one you won’t soon forget, often rated among the world’s top birding spectacles.

Accommodations at Hacienda Jacana (B,L,D)
Birds of Yerettê: Copper-rumped Hummingbird, White-chested Emerald, Blue-chinned Sapphire, White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango, Long-billed Starthroat, Ruby Topaz, Tufted Coquette, Green Hermit, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Little Hermit, Brown Violetear, Rufous-shafted Woodstar, White-tailed Sabrewing

Bird Highlights on the Caroni Outing: Long-winged Harrier, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Bicolored Conebill, Masked (Red-capped) Cardinal, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Green-throated Mango, Northern Waterthrush, Anhinga, Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Large-billed Tern, Pied Water-Tyrant, Black-crested Antshrike, Common Potoo, Scarlet Ibis
Wednesday, December 7: Aripo Savannah | El Suzanne Rainforest Lodge | Mt. Plaisir at Grand Riviere
Today is an early start as we bird the lower elevations and we need to time this with bird activity. Pick up your bagged breakfast early or take it with you in the van. Be sure to double-check departure times with your guide.
A remnant of a once major lowland habitat, the seasonally wet Aripo Savannah is surrounded by sugar cane fields. Today we explore the tropical birds unique to this habitat, as well as the distinctive flora that has adapted to the savannah’s harsh conditions—alternating from wet to dry. We then embark on a short drive to the hospitable El Suzanne Rainforest Lodge. Enjoy a locally-sourced lunch and search out more key birds. Nestled in the Tamana Rainforest and bounded by the Cumuto River (a tributary of the Caroni), this hidden gem features forest birding alongside a large, comfortable terrace and dining area. From here we depart for Grand Riviere, making scenic stops on the rugged coastline. Endemic Trinidad Piping-Guan, known locally as Pawi, lures us to this side of the island. In Grande Riviere, we uncover this critically endangered bird’s final stronghold. Experts estimate there may be fewer than 300 left on Earth.
For part of the year, Grande Riviere’s beaches are home to the world’s densest congregation of nesting Leatherback Sea Turtles. On some nights, hundreds of these gigantic turtles populate the beach. Most nest between April and July, however, they are also likely to be seen from March through August, and occasionally they are spotted at other times of the year.
As we arrive, walk out to the beach, relax, and then gather to enjoy gourmet local cuisine while dining alfresco at the eccentric and relaxing Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel. Our rooms overlook the beach, so you enjoy a perfect view of nesting turtles if they’re in the right season. Leave your balcony door open at night and drift off to sleep as waves crash on the beach below.
Accommodations at Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel (B,L,D)
Thursday, December 8: Morning in Search of Piping Guan | Flight to Tobago | Cuffie
River Nature Retreat
Once hunted to near extinction, the Trinidad Piping Guan has been the focus of considerable local conservation efforts. The bird has responded well, slowly increasing in numbers and visibility. This morning we scrutinize the wild nutmeg trees that are their preferred feeding habitat. The birding is excellent in Grande Riviere and the morning may reveal 60 or more species. Much of the birding is done from a wide forested track, where you can easily enjoy superb viewing areas. Having hopefully found the Pawi, we continue driving down a steeply wooded slope into riverine forest where we bird until mid-morning.

Return to Mt. Plaisir in time to pick up your luggage and depart for the two-hour+ drive to Piarco Airport and your flight to Tobago. Lunch is en route. Check-in at the airport is quick, and so is the 25-minute afternoon flight! Once you land in Tobago, local expert birding guide, Jason Radix, greets you in his air-conditioned bus.
Welcome to the distinctly Caribbean and laid-back Tobago. You make a few stops for birding, so keep your sunscreen, hat, and binoculars at hand. We then travel through vibrantly colored hillside villages to the Cuffie River Nature Retreat. Once you arrive, enjoy the late afternoon to stroll the grounds, take a dip in the pool, or just relax. Cuffie River Nature Retreat is a small inn; please ask the staff for any needs such as tea, beer, or wine, a pool towel, etc. Dinner is announced daily, usually at 7:30 PM. Food is local and specially prepared, so relax and enjoy this wonderful dining experience! Perhaps we see and hear a Common Potoo right outside the dining area as you linger over dessert.
Accommodations at Cuffie River Nature Retreat (B,L,D)
Bird Highlights at Grand Riviere: Trinidad Piping-Guan, Southern Lapwing, Lilac-tailed Parakeet, Gray-headed and Plumbeous Kites (in season), White Hawk, Bat Falcon, Lineated and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, Grayish Saltator, Silvered and White-bellied Antbirds, Black-tailed Tityra, Trinidad Euphonia, mixed flocks of colorful tanagers

Common at Cuffie’s feeders: White-tailed Sabrewing, Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Bananaquit, Spectacled Thrush, Barred Antshrike, Common Potoo
Friday, December 9: Cuffie River Trails & Adventure Farm | Wetland Birding
In keeping with Tobago’s laid-back vibe, today is easy-going. In the morning we explore a nature trail close to the lodge, walking from the entry with the lodge’s expert guide, Desmond Wright. While we never move faster than a birder’s pace, the trail is up and down small hills, so a walking stick may be handy.
Return to the lodge for a delicious lunch and brief rest before traveling off-site to Adventure Farm, a delight for birders and the culinary-inclined. The farm is a mix of varietal fruit trees rimmed by natural forest. Enjoy a winding trail through the property spending time at fruit and hummingbird feeders. Tropical Mockingbirds provide a serenade. This location is a favorite for photographers. Keep your binoculars handy as we may have time for some wetland birding stops. Walk around well-placed ponds that attract ducks, wading birds, and possibly Spectacled Caiman. We always add several species as we explore.
Be sure to be at a good viewpoint for sunset, as hordes of parrots, parrotlets, and noisy chachalacas fly here to roost—quite a spectacle! After dark, check the driveway’s streetlight for night birds.

Accommodations at Cuffie River Nature Retreat (B,L,D)
Cuffie River Bird Highlights: Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-tailed Sabrewing, Blue-backed Manakin, Yellow-legged Thrush, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, Collared Trogon, Red-crowned Woodpecker, White-fringed Antwren, Orange-winged Parrot, Fuscous, Yellow-breasted, and Venezuelan Flycatchers, Caribbean Martin, Scrub Greenlet, Common Potoo, White-tailed Nightjar
Wetland Bird Highlights: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Green and Tricolored Herons, White-cheeked Pintail, Least Grebe, Southern Lapwing, Eared Dove
Saturday, December 10: Gilpin Trace on Tobago’s Main Ridge Preserve | Little Tobago Island from Blue Waters Inn
We have an early breakfast and head out for our drive high into the mountains in the historic Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve, the world’s oldest legally protected forest. Scientific American magazine once said that “the protection of Tobago’s Forest was the first act in the modern environmental movement.” Tobago’s montane forests are home to 210 species of birds. On a trail into the forested interior, we look for several elusive species, including White-tailed Sabrewing, a large hummingbird once thought to be locally extinct. Sabrewings were rediscovered after hurricanes caused extensive forest damage in the 1960s. We also seek out Blue-backed Manakin, Yellow-legged Thrush, and other Tobago specialties, including Red-crowned Woodpecker and White-fringed Antwren. After a satisfying walk, we then travel through vibrantly colored hillside villages to the dock at Blue Waters Inn, where we board a glass-bottom boat for a pleasant cruise to Little Tobago Island. The island, one of the country’s most significant wildlife sanctuaries, offers incredible views of plentiful and rare seabirds, both from the boat and by walking a trail up to a lookout point on the island, where Tropical Dry Forest occurs.

Leaving the island (if sea conditions are right), the captain takes time to look for colorful fish and possible Hawksbill Sea Turtle as we pass a former coral garden off Goat Island. The Atlantic side of the island has experienced extensive coral bleaching and while it’s still excellent for divers, snorkeling is not what it once was.

After a long but fulfilling day, we head back to our delightful digs and another delicious meal at Cuffie River Nature Retreat. Tonight is our farewell dinner and we share highlights, favorite birds, and favorite moments of the journey.

Accommodations at Cuffie River Nature Retreat (B,L,D)
Main Ridge Forest Reserve Bird Highlights: Trinidad Motmot, Collared Trogon, White-tailed Sabrewing, Blue-backed Manakin, Yellow-legged Thrush, Red-crowned Woodpecker, White-fringed Antwren, Plain Antvireo, White-throated Spadebill, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Rufous-breasted Wren

Around Little Tobago Island: Brown Noddy, Red-billed Tropicbird, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Sooty Tern, Chivi Vireo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Pale-vented Pigeon, Roseate and Bridled Terns, Scaly-naped Pigeon, Audubon’s Shearwater sitting in its burrow (if we’re lucky).
Sunday, December 11: Departures
After a filling breakfast, bid farewell to Tobago. We arrange drivers for you to connect to the flight you schedule.

International flights MUST be booked out today AFTER 10:00 AM. You need to leave time for the inter-island flight back to Port of Spain. Book the flight from Tobago to coordinate with your outbound international flight as soon as possible; the first flight out is typically 7:00 AM and they usually run about every hour. If you see an early morning international flight that you want, you can enjoy the day at our nature lodge, go back to an airport hotel (additional cost) in Port of Spain, and fly out the next day. Regardless of when you go, you need time in Port of Spain to collect luggage and check in with your international carrier. The 10:00 AM rule is firm.
Your departure time is confirmed the night before with the front desk to arrange your return transfer. Late check-out may be available for you for an additional fee, to be arranged with the front desk at the time of your visit. Luggage can be stored if you plan activities ahead of later flights. (B)

For additional information or to reserve tour space, contact:

Naturalist Journeys, LLC PO Box 16545 Portal, AZ 85632 |
866.900.1146 | 520.558.1146