Day 3 |
Oct 11, 2013

 Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist


Co-ordinates: 10°39´N, 61°31´W
Weather: Sunny with scattered showers
Air Temperature: 29°C, 84°F

It was beautiful tropical morning Silver Explorer arrived in the harbor of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. After visiting Tobago yesterday, this is our second day in the country with its beautiful beaches and forests. Today, however, no beach activities were on the itinerary. The first tour offered to our guests was a visit of the Lopinot village, a tour which gives an insight into the history and life on plantations in former Trinidad.

The second tour, on which I was accompanying our guests with my colleagues, was a visit to the Asa Wright Nature Center, a nature lodge and scientific research center in the Arima Valley in the Northern Range of Trinidad. It is most known by bird watchers for its unbelievable richness of bird species, but not only birds can be observed here. There are also reptiles, amphibians and a great variety of butterflies.

After a 90-minute bus drive up small roads up the Arima Valley, our tour reached its final destination, the Asa Wright Nature Center.
The guests were welcomed by professional guides who lead small groups through the nature sanctuary. The first impressive view from the lodge’s veranda overlooked the tropical forest surrounding the house. The second view was of hummingbirds flying around and sitting nearby on the feeders, drinking syrup out of them. But not only hummingbirds were swirling around also honeycreepers and Tanagers - sometimes you even could see an Agouti running through the garden.

The first part of the walk was through a secondary forest and you could clearly see that it was a former coffee and cacao plantation. Common tropical plants like Powderpuff, Torch Ginger, Common Bamboo and Bougainvillea were growing along the path. After a short distance, a huge earth mound appeared just next to the path. It was the nest of leaf cutter ants. Our local guide explained all about the very interesting biology of this ant species. He explained how their social system works, how they grow fungus in their underground gardens and also how the caste system which they have in their social organization functions.

As we entered the primary forest, our guests could observe a lek of White-bearded Manakin, but unfortunately the males were not showing their dance display today. Then, in the distance, a Bell bird was singing and the group was trying to get closer and see this magnificent bird. Suddenly, it started to rain heavily and the bird stopped its call. The group waited a little bit longer but saw no signs of the bird, so we all started to make our way back to the lodge, this time along a different path from the one we came on.

Excellent information from our local guide and some sunshine rounded up the excursion in the Asa Wright Nature Reserve. Back in the lodge, lunch was served to our guests and included chicken, rice and salad with a delicious grapefruit juice. Before the group left the stunning scenery of the Northern Range, and because the forest was now stained with sunlight and the birds were amazingly active around the feeders, the enigmatic Bell Bird showed up to sing like a little reward for the missed sighting on the walk.

After another 90-minute drive the tour arrived back at the ship at 2.30 pm so our guests still had time enough to enjoy the colorful town of Port of Spain. The first recap of this voyage and a delicious dinner in the Restaurant concluded the second day in the paradise of the Caribbean.