A tourist avoiding jungle vines as he explores a jungle path at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad,  Trinidad & Tobago
Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago - stock photo

Marc Guitard/Getty

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Top choice in Trinidad

A former cocoa and coffee plantation transformed into an 600-hectare nature reserve, this place blows the minds of birdwatchers. Even if you can’t tell a parrot from a parakeet, it's still worthwhile as you can see a great number of colorful specimens from the veranda viewing gallery, as well as lizards and agouti. Located amid the rainforest of the Northern Range, the center has a lodge catering to birding tour groups and a series of hiking trails, open to day visitors via guided tours.

Bird species commonly seen here include tanagers, honeycreepers, oropendolas, motmots, channel-billed toucans, 14 species of hummingbird and numerous raptors. The sanctuary is also home to a natural swimming pool and a cave that holds a colony of the elusive nocturnal guacharo (oilbird). To protect the oilbirds, only in-house guests resident for three or more nights can visit the caves. Day guests can swim in the pool, however, and take a look at the trays of desiccating spiders, centipedes and butterflies, plus skeletons of local mammals and some background on the center's history, at the small Richard Ffrench Museum in the basement of the main building.

Reservations for day visits should be made at least 24 hours in advance; you won't be turned away if you just turn up, but food options may be limited. Most visitors arrange to have lunch (TT$140, Sunday TT$200) at the lodge, which consists of an excellent hot buffet; cheaper snacks like a sandwich or burger and fries are also available.

The centre is about a 1½-hour drive from Port of Spain. At Arima, 26km from Port of Spain, head north on Blanchisseuse Rd; the signposted entrance is on the left just after the 7½-mile marker sign. Public transport is not a viable option, so you'll need a car if not visiting with a tour company.

Tour companies such as Island Experiences can ferry you to Asa Wright as part of a half- or full-day tour.

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