Trinidad & Tobago
The Caribbean’s Best Kept SecretTiny Trinidad and Tobago, just seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, shares the mainland’s tropical flora, fauna, and rumpled topography. Its Indian-European-African-Carib-Amerindian culture, however, is one of a kind. Native Trinidadian Courtenay Rooks, managing director of outfitter Paria Springs, is an adventure pioneer, having spent years exploring the country by mountain bike and working with locals to locate, clear, and rebuild trails that date to the 1700s. Under his watch, ecotourism has caught on. Local farmers and shamans have become Paria Springs guides. "I really wanted to create a trip that combined culture and conservation, with the involvement of the locals," Rooks says. Paria Springs’ new cultural multisport trip does just that, as clients crisscross the islands by foot, mountain bike, sea kayak, and fin. During the ten-day journey, they summit the nation’s second highest peak (3,077-foot El Tucuche), paddle among caimans and scarlet ibis, jump off a 32-foot waterfall, and snorkel with damselfish and eels. Meals are sit-down affairs in the homes of locals ("a genuine cultural encounter, not a show," says Rooks) and usually involve curry (roti is a favorite, with curried goat, potatoes, chickpeas, and mangoes). Accommodations include rustic guesthouses and a modest new beach hotel on the sea turtle–inhabited north shore of Trinidad, where—even in seeming isolation—the sounds of calypso and steel drums fill the night air.
Outfitter: Paria Springs; pariasprings.com
Length: 10 days
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