Nature Reserves, Gardens and Zoos
Until about 11,000 years ago, Tobago was joined to the South
American mainland, and its plants and animals were part of the
rich natural life of the continent. Since then , it has
developed many of the island species as well. This has produced
the richness and diversity quite out of proportion to the
island's small size.
There are 210 different bird species, 123 different butterflies including the spectacular Blue Emperor, 16 types of lizard including the large green iguana and the Tegu, 14 different frogs, 17 bats including one that fishes the sea at night, 24 snakes (all non-poisonous), plus about a dozen different mammals.
There are a dozen good birding sites within a few minutes drive of the main hotel, and many of the birds are surprisingly tame and approachable. Among the prime bird-watching sites are Arnos Vale Hotel near Plymouth which feeds birds at teatime, the Bon Accord lagoon next to Pigeon Point, and the Grafton Caledonia Wildlife Sanctuary between Mount Irvine and Black Rock. The Offshore seabird sanctuaries of Little Tobago and the Giles Islands are home to pelicans, noddies, brown boobies, the Rufous-vented Chacalaca or Crico (Tobago national bird), and other tropical birds.
Much of Tobago's original coastal woodland and deciduous forest was stripped by the colonial sugar plantations, but the evergreen rain forest of the Main Ridge - rising to 580 metres, over 1,900 feet - has been protected since 1176, making it the oldest protected forest reserve in the western hemisphere.
The steep volcanic hills of the central and northern Tobago run rich with rivers and streams, several of them producing dramatic waterfalls.
Five species of endangered sea turtle, including the giant Leatherback, regularly nest on Tobago's coasts. The nesting season (turtle watching season) lasts from March to July.
Places to visit within Tobago:
Arnos Vale Waterwheel and Nature Park - A park established on the grounds of an old sugar plantation to preserve Tobago's wildlife.
Tobago Forest Reserve
Trinidad's ancient link with continental South America has left mainland as well as island life forms crowded into a small geographical area. Mountainous rain forest, mangrove swamp and rivers, seashore and tropical savannah all lie in close proximity to each other.
Near half of Trinidad is still under forest, which is the home of a surprising number of wildanimals
Wildlife sanctuaries range from the Caroni Swamp and El Tucuche to the offshore Soldado Rock and Saut d'Eau, Trinidad's only pelican breeding ground.
Other prime destinations include the Nirva Swamp, the Botanic Gardens and Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain, and the La Vega Garden Centre at Gran Couva. The Aripo Savannahs support ancient species like bladderwort and sundrew as well as unique ground orchids.
Places to visit within Trinidad:
Nariva Swamp - Several different species of birds inhabit this swamp, one of the largest wetlands in the Caribbean. The swamp supports red howler monkeys, alligators and anacondas, four-eyed fish, parrots and macaws, manatee, and the rare Suriname toad and paradox frog.
Piparo Mud Volcano - One of Trinidad's several mud volcanoes which usually sit dormant, but occasionally spew mud hundreds of feet into the air.
Emperor Valley Zoo -
Devil's Woodyard - One of Trinidad's most well-known mud volcanoes, Devil's Woodyard erupts infrequently but dramatically.
La Vega Garden Centre - Nature reserve
Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary