Trinidad Travel Information
The Asa Wright Nature Centre is worth
Where to Stay: One of the biggest problems tourists encounter is finding a place to stay in reasonable comfort where animals are also present in the immediate area.
To overnight in the heart of a bird-rich rain forest, contact the Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge (800/426-7781; fax 868/667-0493.) The Lodge can accommodate up to 50 guests in its 25 twin-bedded rooms, each with private bath and hot and cold water. This is hardly roughing it. Meals are Trinidad style featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, baked bread and pastries, home-made jams and jellies.
Port-of-Spain has several large hotels, including the Hilton, the Normandie and the Bel Air Piarco at the airport. Guesthouses are an excellent alternative. Monique's Guest House in Maravel (tel. 868/628-3334) is on the road to Maracas Bay ; the people are very friendly, the food excellent, the rooms large. The Bed and Breakfast Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Diego Martin Post Office, Box 3231 (tel. 868/637-9329; fax 627-0856) also has an office in the Trinidad airport before immigration. This is the best way to get out and see the country.
Dining Out: You could probably spend an entire lifetime in Trinidad and never get bored by the diverse cuisine. The mixture of cultures offers just about every sort of food imaginable. The Indian curries are particularly good, as are rotis, an East Indian version of a burrito with meat, potatoes and curry. You'll probably need to wash one down with large amounts of Carib, the favorite local beer that advertises "every bottle tastes different." Locals seem to think that a plus, not a problem with quality control.
A popular local drink is mauby, made from a tree bark soaked in sugar and spices. It tastes like a sweet ginger beer. Angostura bitters originated on Trinidad; a dash of it to any drink--cola or beer--dramatically changes and usually improves the taste. Be careful, as this stuff (full of unspecified secret ingredients) may be addictive; there are worse vices.
Hiking Guides/Services: The Trinidad Field Naturalists Club, 1 Errol Park Rd., Port-of-Spain, has monthly field trips which tourists are welcome to join. These include visits to caves as well as long distance walks. Tel. 868/625-3386/645-2132. Taxi drivers and other guides know the way to most of the places mentioned, which you should also be able to find on your own.
The Asa Wright Nature Centre also can arrange guides for field trips to the various birding hot spots on both Trinidad and Tobago. Contact the Lodge directly at 868/667-4655; fax 868/667-0493. Or www.asawright.org.
Health & Safety Warnings: Stray from the marked trails and marijuana farmers with their trap guns could pose a problem, particularly in the Northern Range . Due to increased crime, Port- of-Spain, including the Queen's Park Savannah, is not considered safe to walk at night. In fact, be watchful and careful anywhere after dark. The Trinidadians, who for the most part are very friendly and a joy to be around, have a manner that is sometimes a little rough and direct.
Venomous Snakes & Other Critters: Trinidad has a total of about forty-seven different snake species, of which only four are poisonous: they are the bushmaster, fer-de-lance and 2 species of coral snake. Trinidad apparently takes top prize in the Caribbean for the variety of vipers because of its one-time link to the mainland and/or its close proximity to the Orinoco River, whose seasonal flooding seems to be the source for most animal dispersion throughout the Caribbean. No island is closer to the Orinoco than Trinidad. Exercise proper caution and snakes should be no more a problem here than elsewhere.
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