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10-Day Jamaican Birdwatching Tour

  • Our ‘Birding Jamaica Celebration’ goal is to see all 28 of the island’s endemic bird species, including the Jamaican Owl, Jamaican Mango, Jamaican Becard, Jamaican Tody, the Hummingbirds and more. At less than 2.5 inches long, and weighing around three grams, the Vervain Hummingbird is the second smallest bird in the world (the even tinier bee hummingbird lives in Cuba). They look more like large flying insects than birds, and buzz around from flower to flower like a bumblebee, sipping nectar as they go.

    In addition to time on the Caribbean coast, we explore a variety of habitats, including montane and rainforest, quiet rivers and lush valleys. Many of the endemics are among the island’s commonest species, including the White-chinned Thrush, the Jamaican Woodpecker and the delightful Jamaican Tody.  The Tody, from a unique Caribbean family, looks like a hummingbird on steroids, and goes by the local name of ‘robin redbreast’.

    Alongside the island’s unique bird species, discover Jamaica’s flora including a variety of ferns, butterflies, orchids (66 endemic species) bromeliads and other unusual flora. Enjoy walks on mountain trails, local culture and time to relax on the beach or go snorkeling.

    This journey is a great opportunity to combine the tropical pleasures of a Caribbean vacation with the exploration of an exceptional island.

    View our 28 endemic photo gallery

  • Day 1: Arrival in Montego Bay & transfer to Sussex Estate, Jamaica

    Your journey begins in Montego Bay, where you will be met and transferred in an air-conditioned min-van with plenty of space for you and your luggage to the parish of St Anne’s, known as Jamaica’s ‘Garden Parish’ and Sussex Estate, Jamaica.

    The short 1.5 hour long drive is a scenic one passing the historic St Anne’s Bay and if you wish to stop for photos or need to pick up some supplies please feel free to ask the driver.   Don’t worry there will be plenty of time to settle in and relax after your travels.

    Your birding base for the first three and last night in Jamaica, the 18th century plantation style Sussex Estate has a long history of hospitality.  The property has stunning panoramic views of Jamaica’s northern shores as it is perched at an elevation of 600 ft above sea level.  It spreads over 130 acres, part of which is a spice farm.

    During your 4-night full-board stay here, a packed breakfast will be prepared on early birding departures and lunch will be enjoyed at a highly recommended local roadside eatery as well as a 3-course meal each evening. Your stay will be in a Superior Room with King or Queen-Sized bed.

  • Day 2: Estate Birding

    Leisurely paced birding perfect for your arrival day

     

    Enjoy a delicious Blue Mountain coffee before heading off on an early 6.30/7.00 am birding adventure exploring the rich variety of ornithology available at the estate itself accompanied by a local guide with rustic style breakfast picnic on route.

    The combination of delightful private gardens and dirt roads that wind through the property’s woodlands and pastures offers  opportunities to see the Jamaican Oriole, Jamaican Spindalis, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, Jamaican Euphonia, Orangequit, Caribbean Dove, Jamaican Tody, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Vervain Hummingbird, Greater Antillean Bullfinch and the striking Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo.

    Return to Sussex Estate where a fantastic lunch will be served on the veranda and where you can enjoy spectacular views of the coast.

    Dinner and overnight at Sussex Estate, Jamaica.

  • Day 3: Birding in Cockpit County

     

    After an early breakfast look forward to a highly-rewarding full birding day accompanied by a local guide.

    Stewart Town is a scenic village set on the eastern edge of Jamaica’s largest wilderness, Cockpit Country.  Enjoy the rural drive inland from the coast as you pass cane fields, pastures and sleepy villages.  Your first walk will be along a rural road in this rugged, hilly terrain with a wide variety of birds to spot.

    A mid-level limestone forest it makes excellent spotting, expect to see both species of Jamaican parrots, the endemic Yellow-billed Parrot and Black-billed Parrot, the Ring-tailed Pigeon, Jamaican Parakeet, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Becard, Jamaica Crow, Jamaican Woodpecker, Jamaican Euphonia, Jamaican Pewee, Jamaica Spindalis, Orangequit, Jamaican Vireo, White-Chinned Thrush, Yellow-shouldered Grass Quit, Sad Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, and Stolid Flycatcher.

    With a little luck you may have a chance to see the rare and elusive Crested Quail-Dove or the Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo. Migrants are also plentiful during the winter months.

    Dinner and overnight at Sussex Estate, Jamaica.

  • Day 4: Birding at Islington. St Mary & Mockingbird Hill Gardens

    Today you’ll have an early departure with a packed breakfast in order to reach a new birding site that has been researched and established by our local bird guides as you transfer from St. Anns Bay to Port Antonio.

    The journey time is about 2.5 hours but you’ll break one hour into the journey and make a short detour off the main road for your first birding of the day accompanied by your bird guide.

    Similarly to Jamaica’s most famous birding spot ‘Ecclesdown’, you’ll be walking along a flat rural road between intermediary and secondary forest laid out one-side with banana plantations on the other which are the key attraction for the Jamaican Mango.

    You can opt to stop for a jerk lunch at a local eatery (optional).

    Upon your afternoon arrival at Hotel Mockingbird Hill, winner of Responsible Tourism’s Best Hotel for the Environment, you’ll enjoy a welcome afternoon tea followed by the chance to bird in its organic 7acre gardens as recommended by ‘Birds of West Indies‘.

    Dinner on the terrace of the hotel’s organic restaurant, Mille Fleurs and overnight in a Garden view room at Mockingbird Hill

     

  • Day 5: Birding at Ecclesdown Road

    Back to a day of serious birding!  You should plan for an early morning departure, you will have a quick meet and greet with our local bird  guide and be presented with a freshly made packed breakfast for the trip to Ecclesdown Road at the foothills of the John Crow Mountains.  The drive takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    You’ll spend the morning walking along a forested road where a number of endemic birds can be seen including Black-billed and Yellow-billed Parrots, Jamaican Becard, Jamaican Oriole, and Jamaican Crow.

    There is an optional trip to the secluded Reich Falls which is surrounded by lush forest for a cooling refreshing dip in a natural pool if you wish.  Local guides can for a modest fee escort you upstream towards the source of the river where you can take a swim to cool off if you like.

    Dinner on the terrace of the hotel’s organic restaurant, Mille Fleurs and overnight in a Garden view room at Mockingbird Hill

     

  • Day 6: Birding on the Rio Grande

    Following a superb Mocking Bird Hill breakfast you will take off for some relaxing picturesque rafting adventure on the Rio Grande. Originally these flat-bottomed rafts were used to transport bananas; then Port Antonio’s most famous resident, the movie star Errol Flynn made raft rides popular by challenging visitors to race down the Rio Grande.

    Your ‘Captain’ will guide your raft as you drift with the current downstream as you enjoy close-up views of the water and shore birds in their natural habitat.

    Expect to spot Snowy and Little Blue Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers and possibly some shorebirds. There will be Belted Kingfishers, Spotted and other sandpipers along the river, while Turkey Vultures drift overhead on stiffly-held wings sometimes accompanied by other raptors.

    Enjoy a hearty traditional lunch served alongside the river at Miss Betty’s, famous for her authentic Jamaican food.  Bring some cash if you want to pair this with a nice cold beer which you can buy earlier on the river from a floating raft bar.

    If you would like to add a hike to a lovely waterfall nearby, for a swim and scenic inspiration, this can be selected on arrival for an additional $15.00 per person.

    After 3-4 hours on the river travel back to Mockingbird Hill with a stop to see the market in Port Antonio if you wish.  Spend the rest of the afternoon  relaxing with time for birding on the hotel’s perch or gardens with the opportunity to see any of the endemics you might have missed in the mountains.

    Dinner on the terrace of the hotel’s organic restaurant, Mille Fleurs and overnight in a Garden view room at Mockingbird Hill

  • Day 7: Relaxation at Frenchman’s Cove

    Enjoy the beautiful white sand beach at Frenchman’s Cove which is also host to good birding. For those who prefer to spend the morning at the hotel this is possible and lunch will be served on the terrace after which you can be taken to Frenchman’s Cove for an afternoon at Jamaica’s prettiest beach, or simply relax and enjoy the Streamertails from your balcony.

    The hotel can help make arrangements for any trips you would like to do, but you can equally just relax by the pool, have a massage or treatment in our Garden of Wellness or gazebo; or simply continue enjoying the endemics in our garden or from our purpose built perch.

    Alternatively, return to Ecclesdown for a small additional charge.

    Dinner on the terrace of the hotel’s organic restaurant, Mille Fleurs and overnight in a Garden view room at Mockingbird Hill

  • Day 8: Birding at Hardware Gap

    You’ll have an early start this morning with a packed breakfast ready to accompany you to one of Jamaica’s best birding sites while you are transferring between your hotels.

    This is a guided birding day in Jamaica’s famed Blue Mountains.   In its  lush forests you’ll get to listen to the beautiful dawn chorus, especially the flute-like call of the elusive Rufous-Throated Solitaire. This is one of the best places to find the elusive and endangered Jamaican Blackbird, which feeds on insects associated with bromeliads.

    The lush vegetation also affords looks at higher-elevation species such as Arrowhead Warbler, White-eyed Thrush, Jamaican Becard, Blue Mountain Vireo, Jamaican Pewee, and more.  The bright Jamaican Tody can also often to be found, quiet and close by as if posing for photos.

    Transfer to Kingston (approximately 1.5 hour drive) to Neita’s Nest. Dinner and overnight at Neita’s Nest.

     

  • Day 9: Kingston

    Today you will explore Kingston via the Pressing Tunes music tour. Together with Backayard Magazine, Hotel Mockingbird Hill  created a superb new music tour of Kingston that explores the history of Jamaica’s most acclaimed musicians & producers across ska reggae, rock steady and dance hall. Amilcar Lewis the magazine’s editor plays guide, giving an insightful and colourful story of the musical trends Jamaica created around the world.

    You will start by exploring the fascinating Jamaican Music Museum who have archived, researched and exhibit Jamaica’s music forms, highlighting the social, historic & musical values and aesthetics.

    Lunch is upon request, depending on what you like to eat, Amilcar will recommend a restaurant, street food or even going to the local thriving Jubilee Market with its diverse set of pushcarts and stalls, selling anything you’d ever need, and a people-watching window into the real Jamaica from where the music started.

    After lunch the tour continues to weave along the small record labels of Orange Street including that  owned by legendary musician Winston Riley, founder of the best-selling cutting edge Techniques Label, behind the most sampled reggae song Stalag Ridim, and creator of the UK’s 1971 first No.1 reggae hit Double Barrel.

    After the tour you will have a 1-hour short drive back to Sussex Estate in St Anne’s.

    Dinner and overnight at Sussex Estate, Jamaica.

  • Day 10:

    Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and relax whilst making the most of your last dip in the pool and birding in the grounds before you transfer to Montego Bay for check-in.


 

Tour Notes

Tour Duration 10 days with 9 nights including accommodation and meals as outlined in the itinerary, guides, transportation, rafting.

Entrance prices to attractions such as Reich Falls, beverages and private incidentals  such as items of a personal nature such as beverages from the bar, porterage, phone calls, or gift items are not included. We also recommend a gratuity for our local drivers and guides, which is left to your discretion. 

 

Booking & Price

Prices for the 10 day/9 night programme are as follows:

Summer 2017 (till 19. December)
US$ 2,960.00 per person based on double occupancy

Winter 2017/2018 (19. December 2017 – 14. April  2018)
US$ 3,060.00 per person based on double occupancy

Summer 2018 (15. April – 19. December)
US$ 2,960.00 per person based on double occupancy

Email us today to book this tour.

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