A Night at Asa Wright

Asa Wright was an eco-activist and dedicated her adult life to preserving and maintaining the delicate balance between man and nature in Trinidad. Upon her death, her estate was placed in trust and the Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) lives on. Trinidad, once part of South America, has an outstanding abundance and variety of flora and fauna . Located on 270 acres, there's a main house with an inn and restaurant and several comfortable cabins for overnight stays. We stayed overnight when we visited in 2002 and it was magical. We were hoping we'd experience the magic again this time … and we did. asa wright

We arrived mid-afternoon and after checking in, schlepping our luggage to our room, up several sets of stairs and the furthest possible point from the main house, we donned bathing suits, grabbed towels and headed up the easy Motmot Trail and down to the fresh water pond for a swim.

motmot trail at asa wright nature center

The fresh water pond is a delight, especially for weary travelers after a hot, hot day. After the initial shock of the cool water, it was a pleasure splashing in the shoulder-deep water and cavorting under the waterfall.

in the waterfall at the asa wright nature center

Cooled off and refreshed, we headed back to the cabin to dress for afternoon tea … served in the main house on the veranda ... almost promptly in Trinidadian style at 4 o'clock (or maybe closer to 4:10). As we sipped our tea, several guides were available to provide information about the nature center and the local flora and fauna.

chatting with guides at the asa wright nature center

The birds stole the show though. Hummingbirds, honeycreepers, oropendolas and tanagers flitted about the veranda, some as close as our noses. Fruit and sugar water feeders attracted them in an age-old afternoon ritual not unlike our afternoon tea.

purple honeycreepers at asa wright nature center

Agouti wandered about the grounds, sharing some of the afternoon snacks. We could barely make out parrots in the far distance, but we could certainly hear them squawking.

agouti at asa wright nature center

Tea was followed by a round or two of rum punch drinks (excellent!). As darkness fell, the birds retired and the bats swooped in like wraiths, whizzing back and forth across the veranda and diving at the feeders.

Dinner was a social affair with lots of twitcher chat. We barely had time after dinner to trudge back up the hill to our room to change into long pants, douse ourselves in bug spray and join a nighttime walk. Torches (flashlights) in hand, we joined about a dozen other guests and our guide, Barry, and headed down the driveway. Once the lights of the main house were out of sight, it was pitch black. Barry swept his light back and forth on the road and up into the trees, looking for night critters. He was particularly excellent at spotting spiders, stick insects and snakes. This colorful false coral snake slithered into view and then as quickly disappeared into the night.

false coral snake at asa wright nature center

A land crab, looking alarmingly like a tarantula, posed for us and I reluctantly took its picture.

land crab at asa wright nature center

And then our guide spotted a harlequin beetle. Another pic, though it was easier getting closer to the beetle than the arachnid-looking crab.

harlequin beetle at asa wright nature center

We could hear rustling in the bush. Tree frogs peeped. A pygmy owl hooted. Bamboo rustled and clacked in the light breeze. We headed back to the lodge and to our cabin, exhilarated and looking forward to the morning.