Experience Trinidad and Tobago, the best introduction to tropical birding on the planet, with our 10-Day, 2-Island Classic Tour. Trinidad, with its proximity to Venezuela, offers a variety of birds not usually seen on an island (Caroni Marsh, with its daily Scarlet Ibis Spectacular, is an iconic destination in itself), while Tobago feels entirely different—classic Caribbean. Combined, these islands provide a variety of habitats that yield dramatic diversity.
Spend time with toucans, trogons, manakins, colorful tanagers, elegant seabirds and more, based out of three locations—Pax Guest House and the waterfront Hyatt Regency on Trinidad, and the delightful Cuffie River Nature Retreat on Tobago. Caligo Ventures has over thirty-five years’ experience setting up Guided Group Tours, using expert local guides?this is a great way for you to save and to support local communities and local expert guides.
- Arrive to a frenzy at Cuffie River Resort’s feeders, perfect for observation and photography. Enjoy creative tropical architecture; let the breeze be your ventilation in this peaceful mountain retreat.
- Take a swim—from the pool watch Trinidad Motmot, Rufous-vented Chachalaca and Orange-winged Parrots!
- Enjoy creative tropical architecture; let the breeze be your ventilation in this peaceful mountain retreat.
- Marvel at dinner guests that may include a White-tailed Nightjar or the Common Potoo.
- Visit Tobago’s historic Main Forest Ridge Preserve and Little Tobago Island with experienced, local guides, followed by a boat ride to land and observe seabirds on Little Tobago Island.
- Experience outstanding comfort at the Hyatt Regency, our base for also exploring the mountains, savanna and mangroves of Central Trinidad.
- Enjoy big vistas and hummingbirds at Pax Guest House—a quiet oasis just a short ride from coastal birding and the cultural hub of Port of Spain.
- Bird in varied habitats from savanna to mangrove, lowland forest to mountain terrain.
- Dine in a local village known for making quality chocolates and local cuisine.
- Discover intimate views and potential photos of birds at gardens in selected lunch stops, with brilliantly colored hummingbirds, honeycreepers, tanagers, toucans, and more.
- Witness skies turned crimson with thousands of Scarlet Ibis coming in to roost in Caroni National Park.
Day 1: Arrive & transfer to Hyatt Regency Hotel for Introductory Dinner
Welcome to Trinidad! Upon arrival at Piarco International Airport, you are met by a local Caligo Ventures representative who drives you a short 25 minutes to your perch for the next three days. Start your stay at the ultra-comfortable, full-service Hyatt Regency Trinidad, with ocean views from your room overlooking the Gulf of Paria.
Day 2: Birding Trinidad's Northern Range
Today’s scenic, day-long excursion takes us high into the Northern Range on the Blanchisseuse Road. We make frequent birding stops and then enjoy a local lunch and cacao demonstration in picturesque Brasso Seco (with groups of less than four, we have a picnic lunch). We then continue through the mountains to the village of Morne la Croix for afternoon tea and cakes (yum!) as you enjoy watching parrots head in to roost.
Today also offers the opportunity to examine the strange world of leaf-cutter and army ants, as well as the chance to photograph butterflies, orchids and other tropical flora.
Day 3: Coastal Birding & Night Birds
The best area for finding shorebirds in Trinidad is the extensive area of tidal mudflats along the west coast—an area generically locally known as “Waterloo”. We plan our departure time with tides in mind. Of significant interest are birds arriving from mainland South America. From February through to November large numbers of both Yellow-billed and the striking Large-billed Terns are present whilst from mid-April through to October breeding Collared Plovers can be found. Many of the shorebirds found in Trinidad are passage migrants. During the appropriate seasons, resident birds are augmented in varying numbers by Wilson’s Plover; Spotted, Solitary, Pectoral, White-rumped and Stilt Sandpipers; American Golden Plover and occasionally Hudsonian Godwit. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Paria provide a safe haven from inclement weather and the list of rarities in this area is substantial. It includes the only Maguari Stork, Terek Sandpiper, Audouin’s, Kelp and Greater Black-backed Gulls to be found in the islands. In some years near Carli Bay we can find rare resident Rufous Crab-Hawk.
Also of significant interest is the beautiful Hindu Temple of the Sea, in view from our birding areas and well worth a visit. Additional cultural sites can be added to this day as time allows. We return to the Hyatt for lunch, something quick at the patisserie or perhaps try the always-fresh sushi bar. Take a well-deserved break or a dip in the pool
The group leaves the hotel between 3:30 and 4:00 PM for an optional night bird excursion, complete with your rum punch and hot dinner in tow. A disused airfield is the first birding stop (pre-sunset), then to a grove of palms that attract Red-bellied Macaw and Moriche Oriole. Next, set out on a slow drive for spotting night birds.
Day 4: Aripo Savannah | El Suzanne | Flight to Tobago | Cuffie River
Today is an early start, pick up your bagged breakfast early or bring it with you in the van. Be sure to double-check departure times with your guide.
A remnant of a once major lowland habitat, the seasonally-wet Aripo Savannah is surrounded by sugar cane fields. Today we explore the tropical birds unique to this habitat, as well as the distinctive flora that has adapted to the savannah’s harsh conditions—alternating from wet to dry.
We then embark on a short drive to the hospitable El Suzanne Rainforest Lodge. Enjoy a locally catered lunch and spend time with more key birds up close and personal. Nestled in the Tamana Rainforest, bounded by the Cumuto River (a tributary of the Caroni), this hidden gem features forest birding alongside a large, comfortable terrace and dining area. Depart in plenty of time to make your short 20-minute flight to Tobago.
Once you land in Tobago, your birding guide greets you in his air-conditioned bus. Welcome to the distinctly Caribbean and laid-back Tobago. You make a few stops for birding, so keep your sunscreen, hat, and binoculars at hand. We travel through vibrantly-colored hillside villages to the Cuffie River Nature Retreat. Once you arrive, enjoy the late afternoon to stroll the grounds, take a dip in the pool, or just relax.
Cuffie River Nature Retreat is a small inn; please ask the staff for any needs, such as tea, beer, or wine, a pool towel, etc. Dinner is announced daily, usually at 7:30 PM. Food is local and specially prepared, so relax and enjoy this wonderful dining experience! Perhaps you’ll see and hear a Common Potoo right outside the dining area as you linger over dessert.
Aripo Birding Highlights, Trinidad: Plumbeous Kite; Gray-headed Kite; Shiny Cowbird; Giant Cowbird; Yellow-rumped Cacique; Blue-black Grassquit; Grassland Yellow-Finch; Moriche Oriole (extremely rare); Fork-tailed Palm-Swift; Sulphury Flycatcher; Savannah Hawk; both Striped and Little Cuckoos; Ruby Topaz Hummingbird; White-tailed Goldenthroat; Green-rumped Parrotlet; both Crimson-crested and Lineated Woodpeckers; White-throated Spadebill; Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant.
Common at Cuffie’s Feeders: White-tailed Saberwing; Ruby Topaz Hummingbird; White-necked Jacobin; Bananaquit; Spectacled Thrush; Barred Antshrike; and sometimes at night, Common Potoo!
Cuffie River Nature Retreat was recognized as the 2011 “Sustainable Property of the Year” by the Tobago House of Assembly. That tradition continues today. Bird-viewing platforms on the property have been recently expanded.
Day 5: Birding on Cuffie River Trails & Adventure Farm
In keeping with Tobago’s laid-back vibe, today is easy-going. In the morning you explore a nature trail close to the lodge, walking from the entry with the lodge’s expert guide, Desmond. While you never move faster than a birder’s pace, the trail is up and down small hills, so a walking stick may be handy.
Return to the lodge for a delicious lunch and brief rest before traveling off site to Adventure Farm, a delight for birders and the culinary-inclined. The farm is a mix of varietal fruit trees, set rimmed by natural forest. Enjoy a winding trail through the property and time at fruit and hummingbird feeders. Tropical Mockingbirds provide a serenade.
Returning to Cuffie River Nature Retreat in time for a swim or a break before dinner, be sure to be at a good viewpoint for sunset, as hordes of parrots, parrotlets, and noisy chachalacas fly in to roost—quite a spectacle! After dark, check the driveway’s street light for night birds.
Day 6: Tobago's Forest Ridge Preserve | Birding on Little Tobago Island
Today is a very full, but rewarding day! After breakfast, drive along scenic bays and waterfront villages to Tobago’s Main Forest Reserve, which you explore via a streamside trail at Gilpin Trace. This is the world’s oldest legally protected forest, put aside in 1776. The hike can be muddy, so you may want to rent some rubber boots from locals at the trailhead, and bring your walking sticks. This is a narrow trail so be prepared to help each other with both footing and bird sightings.
Dropping down to the coast to Speyside, take the opportunity to try local food! Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Birder’s Restaurant, owned by the family of our boat company. Again, it is fresh and takes some time, so enjoy watching the water, or step out to browse the small shops of Speyside as you wait.
After lunch, board a boat for a pleasant jaunt to Little Tobago Island. The island, one of the country’s most significant wildlife sanctuaries, offers incredible views of plentiful and rare seabirds, both from the boat and by walking a trail up to cliffs and a lookout point on the island where Tropical Dry Forest occurs. This trail is not long but rather steep.
Leaving the island (if sea conditions are right), the captain pauses to look for colorful fish and possible Hawksbill Sea Turtle as we pass a former coral garden off Goat Island. The Atlantic side of the island has experienced extensive coral bleaching and while still excellent for divers, snorkeling is not what it once was. Reaching the dock, get your land legs before returning to the van and making your way back to Cuffie River for a relaxed evening.
Day 7: Wetland Birding | Return to Port of Spain | Pax Guest House
After a filling breakfast, bid farewell to Cuffie River Nature Retreat. On your way to the airport, keep your binoculars handy for some wetland birding stops. Walk around well-placed ponds that attract wintering ducks, wading birds, and in one, Spectacled Caiman. We always add a number of species as we explore and dragonfly enthusiasts will like this day!
Today you return to Port of Spain in Trinidad and the historic Pax Guest House, well loved by visiting birders and overlooking the Caroni plains. Enjoy the spectacular view of adjacent forest, and across the city to the Gulf. Stick by the verandah feeders for hummingbirds and perching species.
Day 8: Nariva Swamp | Atlantic Coast
This morning you depart for the lowlands of the Aripo Agricultural Station where the open countryside and semi-wild pastures offer new bird species. Once you thoroughly explore the Station, depart for Nariva Swamp On your way, stop for a picnic lunch and possible seabird sightings on the beach at Manzanilla. Driving on, “Coconut Alley” leads you through beachside habitats before you enter Nariva Swamp. Here, the Nariva River reaches the sea; freshwater environments of herbaceous swamp and mangrove swamp forest make for spectacular birding.
This is a very full day with many stops and discovery of species found nowhere else on the island.
Day 9: Yerettê Hummingbirds | Scarlet Ibis of Caroni National Park
After breakfast, start the day with a special treat—visit the hummingbird retreat called. Yerettê, “Home of the Hummingbird.” Located in the Maracas Valley, this private home and lush garden attracts up to fourteen of the eighteen species of hummingbirds found in Trinidad and Tobago. A photographer’s delight, hummingbirds gather at the feeders and native vegetation by the tens to hundreds depending on the time of year.
After lunch back at your hotel, depart for Caroni Swamp, birding along the way, then arrive to a dock at Caroni National Park. There is a Visitor Center and restrooms, and the mangroves are good to check for new species. From here, bird by boat (watch for Ruschenberger’s Tree Boa and Silky Anteater, too), then moor up at a quiet spot in the mangroves to let the sunset show begin. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Scarlet Ibis cloud the sky as they come in to roost. Tonight’s experience is one you won’t soon forget. Return to Pax Guest House for your celebratory final dinner together.
Day 10: Departures
Today depart from Trinidad at your convenience. Your departure time from the Hyatt will be confirmed the night before with the Front Desk to arrange your return transfer. Late check-out may be available for you for an additional fee, to be arranged with the Front Desk at the time of your visit. Luggage can be stored if you plan activities ahead of later flights.
Itinerary is subject to change due to weather, road condition, access and other real-world factors. The order of the trips may also change. Should a location or region become unavailable, we will make every effort to visit an equivalent location or region.
Cost of the Journey
$3290 DBL / $3950 SGL
Photo credits: Banners: Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Mike Boyce; Scarlet Ibis, Hugh Simmons Photography; Blue-chinned Sapphire, Sandy Sorkin; Blue-gray Tanager, Glenn Chambliss; Little Tobago, Hugh Simmons Photography; Tufted Coquette, Glenn Chambliss; Turquoise Tanager, Glenn Chambliss; Violaceous Euphonia Glenn Chambliss; Wattled Jacana, Mike Boyce; Barred Antshrike, Doug Greenberg; Bay-headed Tanager, Glenn Chambliss; White-necked Jacobin, Mike Boyce; Yellow Oriole, Mukesh Ramdass; Collared Trogon, Doug Greenberg; Tufted Coquette, Doug Greenberg; Channel-billed Toucan, Steve Wolfe; Orange-winged Parrot, Doug Greenberg; Cuffie River, Bud Ferguson; Lineated Woodpecker, Dave Ramlal; Ruby Topaz, Dave Ramlal; White-necked Jacobin, Steve Wolfe; Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Tom Dove; Birding Cuffie Road, Dave Ramlal; Yellow-headed Caracara, Mukesh Ramdass; Anhinga, Peg Abbott; Nariva scenic, Janet Metzger; Hyatt Hotel photos, courtesy of Hyatt Hotel, Trinidad; Blue-headed Parrot, Hugh Simmons Photography; Brown Booby, Hugh Simmons Photography; Frank Little Tobago, Hugh Simmons; Group in Trinidad, Hugh Simmons; Masked Cardinal, Hugh Simmons Photography; Ruby Topaz, Hugh Simmons Photography; Black-throated Mango, Glenn Chambliss; Purple Honeycreeper, Peg Abbott; Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Mike Boyce.