Day 1: Arrival in Kingston & Coffee Farm.
Our journey begins in Kingston, where we will arrange transfers for you upon arrival to Forres Park which will be 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 and acquired taste!
Day 2: Blue Mountains & Cinchona
Enjoy a wonderful breakfast with delicious Blue Mountain coffee, before venturing off to the higher reaches of the mountains. Here, we walk through small farm lands, forests with tree-ferns, Caribbean pine, bromeliads, and a wide variety of orchids;of Jamaica‚Äôs 820 endemic flowering plant species, 66 are orchids! Bromeliades are extraordinary plants, which grow on virtually every tree, wall and telegraph wire, have no roots. So they collect water by growing specially shaped leaves which create a store of liquid in the base of the plant, a technique that has earned them the nickname ‚Äėponds in the sky‚Äô. As a result bromeliads play host to all sorts of creatures, including tree frogs, and even a crab that raises its young many metres off the ground.
You can enjoy the views overlooking the Mountain range and landscaped gardens with a range of lilies, roses and old man‚Äôs beard
trailing from the trees. Afterwards back to Forres Park for lunch and a leisurely afternoon birding independently before dinner.
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 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 Old Mine Trail
An easily walked trail with the potential for good bird watching both in the morning and afternoon. You will be accompanied by 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 transfer to Greencastle Estate.
Day 5: Greencastle Estate
Early morning exploring the Estate‚Äôs 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 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, which feeds on insects associated with the abundant bromeliads. And with luck, we may encounter the striking Crested Quail-Dove.
Amid this lush vegetation we will continue to look for high-elevation bird species such as Arrowhead Warbler, White-eyed Thrush, Jamaican Becard, Blue Mountain Vireo, Jamaican Pewee, and more. The bright green jewel of the diminutive Jamaican Tody is also to be found here, typically sitting quietly on a low hanging branch.
Transfer to Hotel Mocking Bird Hill.
Day 7: Rio Grande Rafting / Mock ing 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‚Äôs most famous resident, the movie star Errol Flynn, made raft rides popular by challenging visitors to race down the Rio Grande.
This ‚Äúpi√®ce de r√©sistance‚ÄĚ sounds decidedly dangerous – but it is not. You just drift down the river on two-person rafts enjoying closeup 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 Betty‚Äôs, another chance for authentic Jamaican food. Return to Mocking Bird Hill for the afternoon and a relaxed time birding on the hotel‚Äôs 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 Yellowbilled 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 will 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‚Äôs lushly vegetated grounds. At day‚Äôs end, enjoy another engaging evening of dinner and conversation at this beautifully situated hotel, with your hosts.
Day 9: Relaxation
Enjoy Frenchman‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Cove for an afternoon
at Jamaica‚Äôs 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 or enjoy spotting the endemics in our garden or from our purpose built terrace.
Day 11: Transfer to Kingston
Following a farewell breakfast, you are driven via a scenic route to Kingston‚Äôs Norman Manley Airport to meet your flight home.
Depending upon your schedule, a sidetrip to the Portland Ridge for Bahama Mockingbird is possible. A packed lunch can be provided for evening departures.