Spend a long week­end in Tobago

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

Un­tamed rain­for­est, clear blue seas and a strong dose of au­then­tic Caribbean cul­ture de­fine Tobago, a small is­land that of­fers a sur­pris­ing ar­ray of sights and ac­tiv­i­ties.

The jun­gle and ocean pro­vide play­grounds for lovers of na­ture and water­sports, while the soft sands form­ing a bor­der be­tween the two are fre­quented by nest­ing tur­tles as well as sun­bathers. Smart, breeze-cooled restau­rants vie for trade with shacks Hook up with a lo­cal nat­u­ral­ist for a foray into the rain­for­est. Tobago’s Main Ridge For­est Re­serve cov­ers al­most 10,000 acres across the cen­tral spine of the is­land and there is barely a square inch with­out some­thing grow­ing from the fer­tile soil.

Ho­tels and the tourist of­fice can pro­vide a list of cer­ti­fied guides. They will pick you up in their mini­van and take you to the lush, ver­ti­cal scenery at the eastern end of the is­land. Twist­ing past ravines, you will ar­rive at the begin­ning of one of the well­marked trails that dis­ap­pear en­tic­ingly into the jun­gle. Slowly mak­ing your way along the trail – the three-mile (4.8km) Gilpin Trace is the most pop­u­lar – you’ll quickly un­der­stand why this for­est, legally pro­tected since 1776, is listed by Unesco. Your guide will ex­plain the ecosys­tem and point out the var­i­ous plants – trees that soar up to 160ft over­head, thick bam­boo, pretty bromeli­ads and tan­gled lianas. With luck, you’ll see bright flashes among the dense green fo­liage, as more than 100 types of bird in­habit the rain­for­est. You are un­likely to see the noc­tur­nal ar­madil­los, but look out for geckos and stream-dwelling crabs. Pop along to Spey­side, a pho­to­genic vil­lage on Tyrrell’s Bay, with views across to Goat and Lit­tle Tobago

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