By the time we “surfaced” we were soaked from the humidity and exertion and excited about our rain forest experience.

Overall Impression An early morning departure (we met our guide and three other visitors at 5:30 a.m.) and hour long drive did nothing to dampen our spirits. Scheduling conflicts had forced us to choose between a rain forest tour and a day long sail and the time had arrived to find out if it was a good decision. We had even had to make an impromptu shopping trip to Scarborough to buy long pants for the excursion (we had only brought warm weather casual clothes with us to the island and long pants were necessary to visit the forest). We picked up borrowed rain boots courtesy of our tour company at a roadside spot on our way to the rain forest trail entrance.

Suddenly we parked on the grass and got out of the van we had all piled in. We sprayed on liberal doses of insect repellent and set off into the green forest behind our guide. We began our walk following a brief introduction to the history of the reserve and some basic information about the flora and fauna (birds) we might see.

The Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve, as it known officially, was first established in 1776. A lofty green canopy, soaring more than 100 feet above our heads, enveloped us. Although some sunlight reached the ground, it was dark within the forest. We had to watch carefully where we walked while swatting unrelenting insects away. Penetrating the dense foliage and slippery ground required agility; we had to be steady on our feet to keep from falling. Two in our group, including me, required a walking stick to remain upright during the walk.

With the help of our guide we learned about climbers, flowers, ephiphytes (bromeliads and orchids), ferns, and palms that populated the corner of the forest we visited. Some trees, hundreds of years old, and plants had survived the devastation of Hurricane Flora which ravaged 75 percent of the forest in 1963. Many new plants had grown and thrived giving the forest a mixture of existing and new plant growth.

Spotting birds was tricky. Although we could hear the squawking of parrots above us, the flutter of wings and the birdsong of smaller feathered beings around us it took a trained eye to find and identify the birds. Our guide could identify the birds by their shape, song and call. During the walk he shared tidbits about their habits and habitat. With his aid we saw varied plants and trees, squirrels, and an armadillo burrow and photographed 10 kinds of birds during our two-hour 2.5 km excursion. By the time we “surfaced” we were soaked from the humidity and exertion and excited about our rain forest experience.

Average Duration Of Visit Our early morning walk lasted just over two hours plus the drive time and from the forest to our accommodations.

Established The area was set aside as a reserve in 1776   

Handicapped Access Trails were slippery from the rain and hard to negotiate even for visitors in good physical shape.

Location On the northeastern side of Tobago in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago in the Southern Caribbean

Open Year round                      

Owned-Managed The Reserve was public and managed by the government

Size Although the reserve occupied 14,000 acres of mostly impenetrable and hilly rain forest, only a few areas had visitor trails. During our walk we covered about 2.5 kilometers.

Transportation Our tour included hotel pick up. We chose to self drive in order to visit nearby attractions following the tour.

Restaurant There were no facilities in the area of the forest we visited. Our guide brought packaged fruit juices, bottled water and pre-made sandwiches which we enjoyed at the end of the walk.

Souvenir Shop There were no souvenir shops or vendors in the area we visited.

Tours We went on the Rainforest and Birdwatching Walk with Harris Jungle Tours. Our native born Tobago guide (and lifeguard) with 10 year of experience led us through a medium difficulty trail. ,  + 839 639 0513

Other Walking with the loaner rain boots was a mixed blessing. Although they kept our feet dry, they were not ideal walking shoes and offered little traction against the slippery terrain over which we tread. At the same time, the trail, when there was one, was so muddy that by the end of the tour our clothes were splashed liberally with dirt, especially the pant legs; and our boots became stuck in the muck many times. The ground was so slick I nearly fell several times. We spent a good part of the walk struggling to catch up with the guide. The next time we visit a rain forest we will make sure we have hiking boots, long pants we don’t mind getting dirty, fog resistant glasses and a walking stick before setting out.

To say the humidity in the rain forest was extremely high is an understatement. Between the humidity and my own breath my prescription sunglasses became so fogged I had to walk without wearing them. Half way through the walk for no discernable reason our digital camera stopped working. We believe it was the high humidity because a short while later it started working again.

Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle

Photos by Gary Cox

Would You Visit This Attraction Again? Yes