| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, made up by two larger islands and some small ones. It is found north of Venezuela, and it covers only 5.131 square kilometres. It is the home of 1.349.667 citizens, of which 55% are Christians, 18% Hindi and 5% Muslims.
The currency is Trinidadian Dollar, worth 0,89 DKK and €0,12. The GDP is US$21.748 billion. Number three in the Americas after the US and Canada.
The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 until Spanish governor Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1797.The good thing about that is; the official languish is English by now. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers more times than any other island in the Caribbean. I guess they learned to store away the old flags.
Trinidad and Tobago were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens as separate states and unified in 1889.Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.
Trinidad and Tobago is known as the birthplace of steelpan drums, the limbo, and music styles such as calypso, soca, parang and chutney.
The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Range at El Cerro del Aripo, which is 940 metres above sea level. Trinidad is made up of a variety of soil types, the majority being fine sands and heavy clays.
The climate is tropical, with two seasons annually: the dry season for the first five months of the year, and the rainy season in the remaining seven of the year.
The main ecosystems are: coastal and marine (coral reefs, mangrove swamps, open ocean and seagrass beds), forest, freshwater (rivers and streams), karst; man-made ecosystems (agricultural land, freshwater dams, secondary forest), and savannah.
Despite their size, they have quite some biodiversity: 98 species of mammals, 470 birds, 30 amphibians, 90 reptilians and around 2.500 species of vascular plants. And then there are the marine-life with around 500 fish and loads of corals.
Among the more interesting land-mammals are the Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), Silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), Southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), White-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons), Tufted capuchin (Cebus apella), Guyanan red howler (Alouatta macconnelli), Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis), Lowland paca (Cuniculus paca), lots of bats, Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Small Asian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), Neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis), Collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), Red brocket (Mazama americana) and some opossums.
I fail to find any plants I in particular want to see, but here must be some interesting cacti.
I head straight out on the island. Here turned out to be way more to see, than I had expected for a small island like this, and I only have three and a quarter of a day! It is Sunday, and as expected, the beaches are a bit crammed. Not that I mind the people, but the generators they need to drive their amplifiers! And they need that music to deafen the generators, I guess? Anyway, the beaches are perfect, but nothing to find.
On the area behind the beach, some huge trees are flowering orange. I find a single closer to the beach, but no idea for ID. In other places, it look like flame trees, filled with bright red flowers and no leaves. And it is not only ones with bright colours; many of the houses have it too: Orange, purple, blue, green, yellow and everything in-between. Some are old wood houses, most are more modern concrete buildings.
I head up the road, and kind of crosses over the island. I set the GPS for a small fishing village; Castara, and it take me some time to figure: It consider any route on Tobago to be straight. No heads up for sharp left or rights. Just straight ahead. Well, it did annoyed me, it said "turn right", just because there were a tiny goats trail turning slightly left. And here are no straight roads at all. It is a narrow but high island, and the roads twists like snakes in ant nests. And here are quite some side-roads, so I have to have one eye on the GPS.
I follow the Arnos Vale Road, which leads right over the
ridge in the middle of the island.
Here are small stretches without houses,
and they get bigger and bigger, the further east I get.
I cross a few creeks, and they are perfect clear. Here
don't seem to be much farming at all, but I do meet a few sheep at one at
It is a tiny town with a perfect beach and some tourists.
I try to capture the idyllic scenery, but the lack of sun make it a bit
hard. I guess I have to come back. I head back towards the hotel, hoping I
can find it.
19. I start the day in the Scarborough Botanical Garden. It is large and well maintained, but it kind of lack collections and name tags; I don't find a single. Gardeners, on the other hand, are everywhere, and they are working. I get seven in one frame, not even trying. I see it all, but find nothing interesting.
I head on to Fort George, which is located in a memorial park. It have some huge trees, some of them are covered in huge Bromeliads. The fort dates back to 1770, but the buildings are well preserved, although they don't look that old. I find some bats in the gunpowder storage, and some lizards on the lanes. A single gecko find a crack in the wall.
Here are some great views to Scarborough and along the coast. I follow the southern coast, and have to make a lot of stops. Not only are each cove fantastic, the small rivers and creeks that meet the sea have great lagoons. I find quite some interesting plants in-between the road and the beach.
I see a few cows, but besides from around 15 sheep in total, and a lot of hens, I see no domestic animals at all. Birds, on the other hand, are numerous. Here are frigatebirds, starlings, parrots, flycatchers, sparrows, hummingbirds, tangares, water fowls, finches, pelicans, falcons, swallows, wrens and many more.
As I get further northeast, the less houses here are. After so many small stops - and several longer - I finally reach Argyle Nature Park. I had hoped for several tracks, but they only have one to the Argyle Waterfalls. But the nature along the trail is so interesting. I see some fluffy peapods-like fruits, which are from a lianas. It is not hairs, but irritating needles, and the pods should not be touched. But I want a seed!
Her are giant bamboo and huge trees. Not that many Bromeliads species, but those who are here, are numerous. Some leaf-cacti are also sitting in the trees along with Queen of the Night-cacti and the tiny Ripsalis. Here are also a few orchid species, but no flowers.
Besides from the natural plants, here are the remains of
an old cacao plantation.
I find some new flowers and ripe fruits. Nearby the
locals grow a vide array of fruits for their own consumption.
The trail follow the river, which look a bit small, and I don't expect much of the Argyle Waterfalls. But it is actually real beautiful. It is three major sections, forming a total of 54 meter of waterfall. The water is crystal clear, and I see a lot of fish. I spend a lot of time climbing the huge boulders and the narrow trail leading from one section to another. Her are so many interesting plants too.
I find a Shaw's Black-backed Snake; Erythrolamprus melanotus nesos (endemic subspecies), but is does not really cooperate about the photo. I have not much more luck with the huge, black ants, but at least, I don't get bitten by either. Some huge lizards are even better to avoid the camera, and I remember, why I go for plants! Then I see the flowering orchid - way up a tree...
I head further up the coastal road, and pass a few settlements. A few dinghies on the beach, but nothing serious fishing at all. I think here are more bars than boats. The houses are small, but many well maintained. They are scatted around the foothills, and some must have great views over the blue water.
I stop in Sprayside, which is almost a town. It have a wall along the beach, and the waves spay, when the reach it. I find a cup of tea, but are eager to continue. I walk along the beach, and reach yet another creek, forming a great looking lagoon.
A bit further on, an old sugar mill is now only barren walls and the huge wheel, which was in the river. A small hill overlooks the bay, and here I find some cacti and a flycatcher, bathing in the bromeliads leave-pools.
The road continues, and so do I. It leads a bit inland, through forest covered small mountains, offering great views to the sea. The first road end at some huge masts, and a park-like area. I walk the area and find some new plants. Then I try to find the road that leads most east.
It end at a gate, but a set of wheel-tracks continues, and due to my huge car, I have to walk. But; here are plenty of interesting nature, and I see a lot. Unfortunately, the sun disappears at four, and the motives are not as good as they could have been. But the plants are interesting enough to lour me further in.
start to drizzle a but, and then I reach the north-eastern coast. I hurry
back to the car, and start the time consuming ride back home. On the way, I
find a camouflage coloured cow - as long as it stick to the black and
with road sides.
20. In an effort to reach the high altitude mountain road, crossing the island, I once again head up the southern coast. At first, I thought this was the countryside road, but it is actually the major! Despite I drown here twice yesterday, I just have to stop a few times, to enjoy the views.
The scenery where the creeks meet the sea, the
"Bounty-land" beaches, the huge trees and the rich greenery have to be
appreciated. Despite that, I do try to limit the amount of photos.
I find some flowering orchids in a dead tree, leaving them exposed to the sun. I find a few trails - or driveways I didn't try yesterday, but they do not reveal much new. I find some great views on the other side of the road, where I stopped for the beach yesterday. Here, like so many other places, grass and herbs are cut real short with weed-eaters.
reach Tobago Forest Reserve road in Roxborough. It leads across the island,
over the main ridge to Bloody Bay. I think the highest I get is 510 metres,
but the nature is fantastic, as most in completely undisturbed forest.
But, before I reach that, I do some real hikes on the
trails. The first; the Hummingbird Trail, is unfortunately just been
maintained: It is cut back to almost the roots, ten metres to
side. I rather have nature a bit closer, please!
Here are several orchids in the trees, along with a few
Bromeliad species. The groomed trail finally end, and here, dazzling
hummingbird are stationed. I continues on the narrow and rough trail, but it
end up in bamboo on a steep slope.
I find a few other trails, which at least is not widen that much. They have not been maintained for years, and some are real old, to judge from the roots. Here are quite some interesting plants - and way too little light. Here, the forest floor is made up by dry leaves. From time to time, I get small glimpses of the blue sea at the northern shore.
I meet a hummingbird, that totally ignores me. That give
some rather good photos, although I have to use flash. Then I reach
the office and the spoons cake, but the trail is a bit to wide here as well.
Then I reach the tiny settlement of Bloody Bay and the perfect beach. Brown pelicans are fishing right out of the beach, but the lagoon lures me in. On the boulders protecting it, I see some large Anolis. Some short tailed eagles sit on the other side of the river, and a whole bunch of white herons are sitting in the bushes.
It start to rain, and I stop waiting for a glimpse of the sun. Further up the coast, the little village of Charlotteville is found. A perfect bay, filled with blue water, surrounded by dark forest. Here are a few newer houses, and more might come. But the main part is still old, paint-hungering wooden houses.
seagulls are fishing in the bay, and frigatebirds harassing them. I try real
patient to get a picture of the city from the pier WITH sun, but is only
appears when I go shopping for teabags.
But the view from her is fantastic, and the trail continues into the forest to meet Pirates Bay. There are a place to turn and park - if you go nerves of stainless steel and a smaller car - and I walk from there. When I get back, one of the almost black finches is fighting its own reflection in a mirror. Some finches are completely black.
I realises; if I'm going to see Scarborough before I
leave, I better do it today. Despite it is only 45 kilometres home, but the
"good" southern road, and I races, it take well over a hour.
Home to make supper and do the usual work. Day 3: Central Ridge, Bloody Bay, Charlotteville.
21. It is my last day on Tobago, and I have to see the northern coast and what it holds of sights. I start finding a gas station, but they hide them well. I then make a slight detour back to Plymounth, and this little village actually have one - among really few other things. But their view down on the cliffs are great.
A bit further up the coast, I get loured into several gravel roads, following the small creeks. It is pretty much the same plants as on the south side, but here seems to be a bit dryer. Further up the coast, the coastal hills are covered in grass and giant bamboo. I try to find a way into them, but they are apparently private.
Somehow (due to the useless GPS), I end up crossing the island on the southern mountain road; Arnos Vale. I have driven it before, but it is a great chance to revisit the enormous Silk Tree on the ridge. This time, I do a proper investigation and even a selfie! The stem is not that thick, but the board-supporting-roots make it truly amassing. I thing it reaches ten metres, counting the colossal root, heading downhill with.
I find my way back to the northern coast, and the views down to the deep blue water are astonishing. Here are more houses that I had expected, but scattered in the hills. I can't imagine how people are making a living here? Well, some drive the few cruise ship guests that actually leave the ship, around in minibuses and SUVs. One try to sell some rather good woodcarvings to them, and here are plenty of open cafes, when a ship come in.
I find a few new plants, but I find it hard to tell, if they are native, or just gone awol from someone's garden, like the Sansevierias and some of the Morning Glory? Around Black Rock, I visit yet another perfect bay. They are so lovely, but the pictures tend to look alike, I know.
do numerous stops along the road, and besides from the plants, I see quite some
animals like the Green Iguana. Her are incredible green, and I tend to take
photos of just green! And they look alike...
I see and especially hear a lot of birds. Parrots are
crossing the clearings constantly, and they are noisy. Small birds are
patrolling the bushes for insects, and despite I know I can't, I try to get
pictures. They are so colourful!
The river leading into the bay is lined with giant bamboo, and it make great motives. But it also limit the amount of other plants, as the ground ten to be barren under the giants. Although really tempting to sit on the top floor, overlooking the bay and colourful scarfs for sale, I drive on with my tea.
The next bay is Parlatuvier, and it is just as dazzling as the others. It have a rather big concrete pier, and that offers both a great angle to the coast, but also the the marine life. I see some huge black spots on the seafloor. And yes, they do move around. I hoped for sea turtles, but it are huge stingrays.
A fisherman is starting to clean some small garfish, and he say: "Watch my aquarium!". And he sure have not only many but beautiful fish. He want to swap with me; I can live in his house on the beach, and he want to live in Denmark. I suggest him to take a good book and sit in a deep-freezer for some hours. If he still want to swap after a day; fine with me. Still haven't heard from him...
A huge lagoon is surrounded by grass and sheep,
and I get
soaked, trying to find new plants. How they grow in this new sand, getting
salt water from time to time, I can't figure. It must be washed out as soon as
it get here?
I make it to Bloody Bay, where I was yesterday. It is still as perfect, but I spend the time in the lagoon. Then it start to rain, and despite I seek further up the coast, where I was yesterday, it pretty much continues. Only one thing to do: Find the other side of the island. And here are the great mountain road, leading straight through Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve.
I do the last trails I skipped yesterday, and actually succeed to find some new plants, among them several orchids. The Niplig Trail is rather muddy, and the rain almost get to me. I get out running. But that won't stop me from doing the Blue Copper Trail - still without rain protection. Here are some strange epiphytic plants I can't place at all, and several orchids.
Again, the rain catch up, and I head on through the green forest. Some short stops reveal an insect-eating hummingbird, some new epiphytes and lazy ants. They don't carry the diggings long, and end up with a pipe - which protect them from flooding?
I head home slowly, enjoying the ride. I follow the main road all the way into the centre of Scarborough , but I don't pass a singe gas station! But at the harbour, a cruise ship have arrived, and here are more activity. I just head on, and I expect I will have quite some work to do to night, and surely a new flight in the morning. Day 4: The North Coast and Central Ridge and Plants of Tobago
The adventure continues on the other part of the country; Trinidad.