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.
Day 1: Arrival in Kingston & Coffee Farm
Our journey begins in Kingston, where we will either pick you up or arrange transfers for you to Forres Park, your birding base for the first 3 nights in Jamaica. This is a nature resort/spa set within a 60-acre coffee plantation in the Blue Mountains.
During your 3-night full board stay here, a packed breakfast and picnic lunch is included as well as a 3-course meal each evening. Your stay will be in a Superior Room with King or Queen Sized bed, jacuzzi and an uninterrupted view of the Blue Mountains, where they grow the finest coffee in the world. This is appropriate, for watching wildlife in Jamaica is rather like drinking Blue Mountain coffee – a refined & acquired taste!
Day 2: Forres Park & Old Mine Trail
Enjoy a wonderful breakfast with delicious Blue Mountain coffee, before venturing off for a birding adventure on the Old Mine Trail, an easily walked trail with the potential for good bird watching both in the morning and afternoon. Accompany a local Bird Guide to the trail that starts approximately 10mins from Forres Park. The drive takes you up a gentle slope but the birding trail is fairly flat. The area is dominated by good forest cover and species include Blue Mahoe, Soapwood and Fig tree. Lunch at Forres Park, followed by an exploration of the rich variety of ornithology available at the estate itself.
Day 3: Birding at Abbey Green
Early morning (5.30 am) departure — picnic breakfast & lunch in tow – to drive to another fabled birding and hiking spot at Abbey Green. Here, with our local Bird Guide, we should encounter Jamaican Woodpecker, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher and Ring-tailed Pigeon – all endemic species. Then back to Forres Park for dinner.
Day 4: Birding at Hardwar Gap
Early morning transfer to Cascade and Hardwar Gap, the renowned birding and hiking spot 5,000 feet in the Blue Mountains. In this lush forested area, listen to the beautiful dawn chorus – especially the flute-like call of the elusive Rufous-throated Solitaire. This is the scenic realm of the endangered Jamaican Blackbird – with luck, we may even encounter the striking Crested Quail-Dove, as well as the Arrowhead Warbler, White-eyed Thrush, Jamaican Becard, Blue Mountain Vireo, Jamaican Pewee, and more. Transfer onto Greencastle.
Day 5: Greencastle Estate
Early morning exploring the Estate’s grounds at your leisure for more sightings of Jamaican endemics. The 1600-acre Green Castle Estate hosts a plethora of birds: almost 130 species including 21 endemics.
If you wish, take an early morning walk down the Waterfall Trail to experience some of these forest birds. After breakfast we can visit the working fruit and coconut plantation aspects of the estate. See how the coconuts are processed and what a wealth of products can be derived from the coconut.
At night after dinner you may hear the breathy calls of the Jamaican Owl from the nearby Guango trees.
Day 6: Birding at New Eden
From Greencastle you will set off early in the morning and will stop at a new birding site located on a private property en route to Mocking Bird Hill. You can enjoy lovely views of the mountains from here and have another opportunity to see the any endemics you might have missed in the Mountains. Transfer to Hotel Mockingbird Hill.
Day 7: Rio Grande Rafting / Mocking Bird Hill
After a delightful Mocking Bird Hill breakfast, take off for a scenic rafting adventure on the Rio Grande. Originally these 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.
This “pièce de résistance” sounds decidedly dangerous – but it is not. You just drift down the river on two-person rafts enjoying close-up views of some of the herons. There will be Kingfishers and sandpipers along the river, while Turkey Vultures drift overhead on stiffly-held wings …just great. Take a relaxing trip on these two-seater bamboo rafts, lazily floating down this mostly quiet, scenic river to get close looks at herons, egrets, kingfishers and possibly some shorebirds.
Not only is this a very pleasant experience in terms of enjoying the landscape, but this also offers a good opportunity to see some of the water birds. Stop on the river for lunch at Miss Belinda’s, another chance for authentic Jamaican food. Return to Mocking Bird Hill for the afternoon and a relaxed time birding on the hotel’s terrace or gardens.
Day 8: Birding at Ecclesdown
Begin with an early start. You are driven to Ecclesdown at the foothills of the John Crow Mountains with a packed breakfast.
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.
Refresh yourself with a dip at Reich Falls, some lovely secluded falls surrounded by lush forest. Take pleasure in discovering this virtually unspoilt waterfall.
There are numerous pools upstream where you can enjoy a river dip. 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 before having lunch on the beach, a lovely stop to experience the Caribbean Sea and take a dip in the waves.
You can also walk along the longest beach in this area. Back at the hotel in the afternoon your guide will lead you around the hotel’s lushly vegetated grounds. At day’s end, enjoy another engaging evening of dinner and conversation at this beautifully situated hotel, with your hosts.
Day 9: Relaxation
Enjoy Frenchman’s Cove Beach, where there is also good birding available. For those who prefer to spend the morning at the hotel, this is possible and lunch will be served at the hotel after which you can be taken to Frenchman’s Cove for an afternoon at Jamaica’s prettiest white sand beach; or simply relax and enjoy the streamertails from your balcony. Alternatively, return to Ecclesdown for a small additional charge.
Relax in the evening with a candlelit dinner at the Mille Fleurs restaurant.
Day 10: Mocking Bird Hill
Chill and relax; 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 terrace.
Day 11: Transfer to Kingston
Following breakfast, spend a leisurely morning at the hotel. After lunch you will be driven via a scenic route to Kingston’s Norman Manley Airport to meet your flight home. Depending upon your schedule, a sidetrip to the Portland Ridge for Bahama Mockingbird is possible for a surcharge.
Tour Duration 11 days with 10 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.
US$ 3,265.00 per person
US$ 2,978.00 per person
In a Garden View room
Optional upgrade to Superior room:
US$ 275.00/US$ 250.00 (high/low season) per couple
Email us today with the dates you’d like to book so we can confirm with our guides availability