No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Argyle Falls

June 23, 2015

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Argyle Falls

One of the nearby natural wonders of Tobago to our hotel is the Main Ridge reserve which is home to the beautiful Argyle Falls. The falls are several waterfalls connected by small pools, each suitable for swimming. The hike up was fairly easy, yet beautiful and the water was cool and refreshing as Kathy and I both jumped in for a swim in the fish filled small pool at the foot of the falls.

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Argyle Waterfall is a scenic 25 km. drive from Scarborough, the capital of Tobago, and about 15 km. to Speyside where we were staying. The falls are on the Argyle River, just west of Roxborough Village. The trail begins 300 meters from the Windward Main Road, a short one minute drive or six minute walk. The river and falls are a part of the Main Ridge reserve, the oldest protected rainforest reserve in the western hemisphere.

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The trail abounds with a breathtaking variety of butterflies, spiders, lizards and snakes. The sound of exotic birds such as cocricos and parrots create a cacophonic orchestra of chirps as if to serenade the unspoiled beauty of this paradise. In a small marsh, miniature caimans play hide and seek between the floating water lilies. The vegetation reflects an incredible diversity and the land is a loosely knit tapestry of trees including the poui, mango, cocoa, wild pines, bois cano, silk cotton, cedar and pawpaw among others. Adding to the richness and color are bursts of wild blossoms such as orchids, mimosa and heliconia.

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We saw all sorts of cool birds and beautiful fauna on the hike to and from the falls and the birds here seemed much less afraid of humans and allowed us to get much closer than in some other locations we visited in Trinidad and Tobago. It was really a top notch experience all around and we had a great afternoon at the falls.

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When we returned to the hotel, we opted for yet another nearshore snorkel excursion and the visibility was as good as it had been during our entire time there. We decided to tackle the opposite side of the bay and the coral growth and sealife was even more abundant in this location. We spotted more sea turtles, a cool little eel and all manner of fish and coral including a fair number that are not found in the Keys.

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It was pretty much a perfect way to spend our last full day in Tobago, though I am sure we will be returning, perhaps as soon as this fall if Kathy has anything to say about it. We had a wonderful trip complete with incredible wildlife experiences, beautiful nature hikes, fun excursions and topped off with great food and accommodations. Even the Roti booth at the airport was exceedingly good.

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The incredible natural beauty, the kindness of the Trini people and the delightful food and beverages all in a tropical Caribbean experience is definitely a trip worth taking. We look forward to returning again, hopefully soon to take in even more of this beautiful country. In the meantime it is back to “normal” life in the Florida Keys.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Little Tobago

June 21, 2015

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Little Tobago

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Just a short 2 mile boat ride across Tyrell’s Bay from our hotel in Speyside, lies the small island called Little Tobago Island or Bird of Paradise Island. As part of our time at Blue Water’s Inn, we took a glass-bottom boat ride over to Little Tobago, which is an important federally-protected bird sanctuary that is home to literally thousands of birds.

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This small offshore island is one of the most important seabird sanctuaries in the Caribbean. The island, which is star-shaped and mountainous, is one of the most important sea-bird sanctuaries in the West Indies. More than 50 species of birds make the island their home, including Audubon's shearwater, brown boobies, laughing gulls,red-billed tropic-birds, and a variety of terns. Of these, approximately 30 species nest on the island.

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Little Tobago is also a good site from which to see birds which breed on the other nearby small islands, including red-footed booby and magnificent frigatebird. The latter species is frequently seen harassing the tropicbirds, boobies and terns.

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Little Tobago Island was a cotton plantation of some significance in the latter half of the 18th century, outdoing the rest of Tobago in its yield per acre. Sugar cane cultivation was attempted around the turn of the century when the cotton industry collapsed, but the island was eventually abandoned as it proved unsuitable.

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In 1909 the island was purchased by Sir William Ingram who introduced a colony of Birds of Paradise. These birds were imported from New Guinea where a thriving plume trade threatened them with extinction. The island was presented to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1924 after Sir William's death by his heirs on the condition that it be maintained as a bird sanctuary.

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A number of factors, including the hurricane of 1963, caused the Birds of Paradise to become extinct on the island. However, it remains a sanctuary for numerous other species. We rode the glass-bottomed boat over, viewing the spectacular reef and numerous tropical fishes on the way over and back. Once landing on the island, we hiked the trails up to a fantastic overlook where we could see the spectacle of the birds including the beautiful and rare red-billed tropic birds as they flew in and out of their nesting sites. We were even able to get a close look at a nest that had a baby topic-bird waiting to be fed.

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Once we returned from Little Tobago, there was still time for us to snorkel near the beach, which was pretty good, with lots of fish and coral. We even spotted a sea turtle and a spotted eagle ray, which made for a great snorkel. Kathy took out one of the resorts kayaks as well and tooled around the bay while I lounged on the beach catching some rays and reading and relaxing.

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