Asa Wright Nature Centre
A real walk in the woods of a tropical-South American nature.
1. Mot Mot Trail
Time: 1/2-hour. Difficulty: 1-2.
An easy trail from Asa Wright's main house goes through the plantation, offering an excellent opportunity to photograph plants, butterflies and hummingbirds.
2. Chaconia Trail
Time: 1 hour . Difficulty : 2-3.
This trail passes below the main lodge. Look for butterflies in the wet sections, for woodpeckers in the forest.
3.-4. Bamboo/Heliconia Trails
Time: 2 hours each trail. Difficulty: 3-4. Steep climbing required on both.
The longer Bamboo Trail has the remains of the hydroelectric station that once supplied the power for the preserve. Both trails have stream crossings and openings in the forest canopy along the river, so many blossoming flowers are as close as eye level, not a hundred feet off the ground. Many birds are also attracted to these flowers from the canopy.
5. Adventure Trail
Time: 3 hours . Difficulty: 3-4. A vigorous walk with steep slopes.
This is the longest and most difficult trail at the nature center. Plan on a good half-day. Large ant nests and the haunting cry of the mot mot are among the features.
6. The Driveway
Time: 1/2-hour . Difficulty: 1-2.
Not the most likely place to look, but the entrance driveway is an excellent walk. Besides having good solid footing, it cuts through the rain forest and thereby provides the opportunity to see the same birds and animals normally found only on deep forest walks. Several bridges offer a grand overlook.
7. Guacharo Trail
Time: 1 hour. Difficulty: 2-3 if you don't make the descent; considerably harder (and longer) if you do.
One of the most popular forest paths, this is an old trail that burros used to pull their carts along and then over the pass. Beyond the nature center boundary the path drops sharply with no easy return. Most visitors stop before the descent. A short side trail leads to the display courts of the male white-bearded manakins.
Each male clears and defends his own court where he attempts to dazzle females by a variety of sounds with his wings: including loud snaps, buzzes and rattles which sometimes sound like firecrackers. Besides being notable for all the noise he makes, the male is colored black with a gray lower back and a wide priest's collar that encircles his neck below the beak; the female is olive green. Locals call him "Casse Noisette."
8. Oilbird Cave Trail
Time: 1 hour. Difficulty: 2-3.
This trail is open only by arrangement with the nature center. Although all other trails are self-guided, you must take an escort to the oilbird cave. This is done to keep the birds from being needlessly disturbed. The birds nest in Dunstan Cave, actually a chasm cut out of rock by a stream that still flows through the deeply shaded rock valley. Oilbirds don't appear bothered by flash photography; flash is the only way you will be able to take pictures.
9. Bellbird Trail
Time: 1 hour. Difficulty: 2-3.
The male Bearded Bellbird is another notorious showoff, best described as a ventriloquist whose "bock" sounds like a hammer striking an anvil. However, the male can also emit musical sounds that sound like bells, hence his name. Bellbird Trail follows the mountain contour to offer the unusual opportunity to see another unique South American bird living in the Caribbean.