Saturday, April 5, 2008

Easter Weekend

UWI was closed on Good Friday so Rich and I took the opportunity to go out and explore Trinidad’s north east peninsula. There were high seas and waves large enough to flood some of the buildings along the coast so we didn’t do any swimming in the ocean or snorkeling on this trip but we did see some beautiful beaches and got in two lovely hikes in the rain forest. As with most hiking and camping tales, this one is best told in pictures so take a good look at the slide show. To see a bigger version, double click on the slides or go to

We got up early friday morning and packed up the car with food, clothes and hiking gear and head in the direction of Matura where we’d seen the turtles Tuesday night. Our first stop was at Salybia, a few miles north of Matura. There is a resort on the beach there where I am planning to hold a small conference so we took the opportunity to tour the resort. It is indeed a lovely secluded spot. We also walked along the coast for a bit. There is public beach with lifeguards neighboring the resort at the mouth of the Rio Seco river. As expected, the spot was fairly popular on a holiday weekend but because of the high seas the lifeguards had shut down swimming on the beach and people had to content themselves with swimming in the Rio Seco river.

Across the road were trails into the Matura National park which promised lush tropical forest. We took a short trail (~ 2 mile each way) to the Rio Seco water fall. The trail was easy to find and wound through thick tropical forest. There are supposed to be howler monkeys in this area, but they were all hiding from us. The water fall itself (see pictures) is about 20 feet high and plunges into a perfect swimming hole. As expect, this was a popular spot on a holiday weekend. When we arrived there were maybe 2 dozen people at the pool swimming, eating lunch and trying to catch crawfish in the stream below the pool. It seems that most of them belonged to one big group so when they left it was much less crowded. We enjoyed a dip in the pool and lunch in view of the falls while listening to birds and other unidentified forest creatures.

That night we camped by the lighthouse at Galleria Point, the eastern most tip of Trinidad. From the point we could see Tobago in the distance. We enjoyed watching the pelicans fish as the waves rolled in and the sunset. There is a very interesting sea spout at Galeria Point. When big waves come in, water sprays up from a dozen or so small holes in the rocky point. Because of the high seas we enjoyed frequent bursts from the spouts. For dinner we had a green coconut we found along the way along with the cornbread, cheese, bananas and mangos.

Saturday we drove out to Matelot where the coastal road ends. From that point there is a roughly 25 mile trail connecting to the road from the west. We estimate that we hiked rough 7 miles in along this trail (14 round trip) where we saw lush forest, beautiful flowers, rivers and streams and an occasional glimpse of the coast line through the trees. Along the trail we came across several of the trees we’d learned to identify on Monos Island even though this was a much wetter region. Cocoa was once raised in the area and so we saw quite a few Cocoa trees. Cocoa is commonly grown with oranges which provide needed shade for the smaller cocoa plants. We passed several orange trees, one of which had just dropped a perfectly ripe and beautiful orange in our way (yum).

Since I want you all to come and visit, I’m not going to tell you about bad roads, getting the car stuck in the mud, the deadly poisonous snake, the stinging ants, or the chiggers. Come any way. Its beautiful. We had fun and so will you.

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