During this trip you will be based at three different properties, all of which are located in rural areas close to the local communities. These hotels are the main source of employment for the nearby villages and local people are trained in a wide range of skills. At the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad all their resident guides are trained in conservation and wildlife and sometimes even sponsored through to University graduation. The Centre is committed to conservation education at all levels and approximately 4000 local school children visit the estate each year. The Lodge at the Asa Wright Centre is a comfortable non-profit making hotel, most of their funds come from their guest facilities and you can therefore help them develop their conservation efforts just by visiting the Centre.
At the Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel at Grande Riviere, the owner with the support of the village community, local artists and craftsman, has transformed the basic lodging into a rustic, eco-friendly hotel blending harmoniously with the surroundings. Most of the food served is grown organically on their farm, which you can visit. The furnishings here are the work of local craftsmen and artisans and are available for sale. Guests are immersed in the local community and village people are welcome to share in the hotelís facilities. This is where the endangered Leatherback Turtles lay in abundance. At night, Mt Plaisir is lit only by the dim yellow glow of low-watt bulbs masked by wicker shades; candles in the dining room and the light of the moon are the only other illuminations allowed while the turtles conduct their ancient ritual, sometimes just metres from your bedroom door.
Here, the turtles come first and this is now an important conservation area, which tourism is helping to preserve. All visitors must visit the turtle conservation centre, where they are invited to view the exhibition on turtle conservation and pay a small fee, which goes directly to the efforts to raise awareness, conduct scientific research and stop poaching. In the past locals have killed the turtles for their shells and meat and dug up their eggs. Now they are employed as wardens and help protect the turtles.
All the national parks that you will visit on this trip are protected. The Tobago Forest Reserve is the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere, with plantation owners realising as early as 1776 that they should stop cutting down the forest. Since then 14,000 acres of central Tobago were designated a protected Crown Reserve. On this tour, you will have the opportunity to walk the 5km Gilpin Trace trail through the Reserve with an experienced and knowledgeable local guide, who will ensure that a responsible code of conduct is followed so that any impact on the environment is minimised.
We run our small office, which is an extension of our home, in an energy efficient manner. We recycle everything possible, including ink cartridges and purchase recycled paper.
We choose all the accommodation that we use very carefully, for their location and their operating systems and work very closely with them. We visit every property regularly, to ensure that standards are kept, that they remain sympathetic to the environment, that whatever possible is done to be more energy sufficient and just to keep in touch.
We always recommend that guests eat out in local restaurants, try the street food from vendors and take part in the local culture, thus spreading holiday spending throughout the local community.
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