One of the joys of sailing in the Caribbean is dropping anchor and exploring the island. I love to get off the boat and explore the natural world, and Trinidad provides excellent opportunities for hiking and exploring. The diverse fauna and flora reflect the island’s historic connection (about 10,000 years ago) to the mainland of South America. There are several places to hike around Chaguaramas for daily exercise, which provide a much needed break from boat chores. There are also some spectacular hikes to waterfalls and hikes along the coastline.
My favorite hike from Chaguaramas starts behind the fire station. The road ascends five miles to the Coast Guard Radio Post and a radar dome. The vegetation is lush and supports many birds and butterflies. If you take this walk early in the morning you will mostly be in the shade and might get lucky and hear howler monkeys. To get there you walk from the marina area in Chaguaramas towards Port of Spain and stay on the main road until just past the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association. There will be a road that makes a Y; follow the left fork. Walk about a quarter mile to the fire station. Take the next left after the fire station and follow the paved road uphill. This road is open to bikes, pedestrians and vehicles associated with the radio tower on top of the hill. You can also take a maxi taxi to the fire station; just tell the driver where you want to go. This road is very popular with local walkers and bicyclists.
My favorite inland hike is to the Guanapo Gorges. We have done this trip twice and would go back again. We joined a trip organized by Jesse James, Member’s Only Maxi Taxi service. Jesse provides transportation and hires a professional hiking guide to lead us through the woods and into the gorge. We met Jesse at 6 a.m. and, in keeping with Trini culinary traditions, we stopped at a doubles stand for a second breakfast and additional fortification for the day. At the doubles stand we met up with Snake, our hiking guide. Snake is a gregarious man who has worked for the Trinidad Army as a Survival Expert. He now makes his living leading guided hikes—he knows his stuff.
One of the consistent features of a hike with Snake is that he stops often to pull out his cutlass (machete) and lop off a fruit or vegetable for us to try. We nibbled our way to the river and changed into our swim suits. We took only items that could take a swim with us, donned our life jackets and jumped into a pool in the river. For the next hour and a half we swam and waded thorough the gorge. The lush tropical vegetation hangs over the river and provides dappled shade and sunlight and the cool air smells like moss. It is heavenly to be submerged in cool, fresh water. What a great way to spend a day!
Another great way to see the country side and meet people is to join the Hash House Harriers on their fortnightly hike. Hashing is an organized run or walk. Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia, in 1938. A group of British colonial officials and expatriates would meet after work on Monday evenings to run, following a paper trail, through the environs of Kuala Lumpur to get rid of the excesses of the previous weekend. Hashing in Trinidad takes you through fields, across streams up and down hills through terrain that you would never see on your own. At the end there is a bit of eating and drinking.
Devi Sharp is a retired wildlife biologist and is exploring the Caribbean with her husband, Hunter on their sailboat Arctic Tern
Jesse James Members Only Maxi Taxi: www.membersonlymaxitaxi.com/,[email protected] or 868.683 5202. Members Only is just a name; there is no membership.
Hike Seekers- Laurence Pierre (aka Snake) www.hikeseekers.com/, or 868 632.9746 or 868.784.3296
Sacketeers Hiking Club: www.trinoutdoors.com/pages/hiking.htm or 868.675.1742
Port of Spain Hash House Harriers:
For those who prefer to hike on their own, a very good source of hiking route information is "The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalist Club Trail Guide", or "Nature Trails of Trinidad" by French and Bacon.