An Afternoon at the Caroni Swamp

Scarlet IbisImage via Wikipedia

Located on the western coast of Trinidad the Caroni Swamp is found where the Caroni River meets the Gulf of Paria. The swamp is a huge attraction for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Even though it was a Tuesday afternoon our boat was almost full, and a few other boatloads of people were touring the swamp as well. Tours leave from the dock at 4pm daily (though some operators like T&T Sightseeing Tours leave at any time of the day) and you spend about two and half hours out on the swamp with a guide.

Motoring through the mangrove-lined waterways was peaceful and scenic. The swamp is home to three types of mangrove and many species of animals including caiman, anteaters and a multitude of birds. On our trip we saw a few blue herons; an iguana camouflaged among brown brush; a boa constrictor curled tightly around a branch; fast moving crabs; oysters; egrets; the four-eyed fish, which have two eyes that see above water and two eyes that see below water at the same time; and of course the red majestic scarlet ibis.

The scarlet ibisis the national bird of Trinidad and gets its brilliant fiery red colour from its rich diet of red crabs. Every evening at dusk, flocks of ibis fly into the swamp to roost. Excitement filled the boat as we saw the first few flying overhead, their vibrantly scarlet plumage colouring the sky. In order not to scare the birds away, the tour guide stopped the boat’s motor and everyone sat in silence watching and listening as they made their way to nest in the tops of trees.

The route back to the dock afforded us a beautiful view of the Northern Range and with the sun setting; the journey was stunningly beautiful. I am sure it was this ambiance that inspired a man from the spirited group that sat at the back of the boat to begin to loudly serenade a woman with popular Hindi songs.
Relaxing, fun and educational, a visit to the swamp is a great way to spend an afternoon! Below are some images from my visit.
Fast Facts:
  • Visitor centre open daily 7am–7pm
  • $60TT for adults, discounted local price is $50TT for adults
  • $25TT for children (ages 12 and under); children under the age of 5 are free
  • Bathroom facilities available
  • Make sure to wear insect repellent
  • Bring your own refreshments
  • A pair of binoculars is a bonus
  • T: (868) 645-1305

Tour boats waiting to be filled

A couple on the tour enjoying the scenery

Motoring through the waterways of the swamp

The swamp is lush and vibrant

The tour guide speaks to the group


A group of Scarlet Ibis in the distance


Their vibrantly scarlet plumage colour the sky


The guide tells us more about the Scarlet Ibis


Another tour group watching the magnificent birds fly in


A beautiful sunset accompanies us on our way back to the dock

All images are Copyright 2010 MEP Publishers/Ariann M Thompson

Ariann is ready to reacquaint herself with and in some cases ‘meet’ Trinidad and Tobago. Follow as she travels to different places and interacts with a multitude of faces while ‘Discovering T&T’.

Ariann Thompson

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