Greetings From Paradise—Nature Travel with Mass Audubon

Trinidad coast © Scott Santino
Trinidad coast © Scott Santino

Once the holiday season has passed and the long, cold winter stretches out ahead, many folks find themselves in a bit of a “winter funk”—dreaming of warm sunshine, the bright colors of tropical birds and flowers, and the balmy weather of faraway places. You may be surprised to find that Mass Audubon has the perfect antidote.

Consider, for instance, Trinidad. This March, you can be one of a dozen travelers guided by a Mass Audubon naturalist headed to this stunning Caribbean island of lush rainforests, soaring mountains, and pristine beaches just off the coast of Venezuela.

Since all of Mass Audubon’s Natural History Tours combine world-class birding with broader immersive natural and cultural education, you’ll stay in a cottage on the grounds of the renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC)—a leading conservation organization in the Caribbean. The AWNC protects more than 1,500 acres of mainly forested land in the Arima and Aripo Valleys, including key waterways and critically important wildlife habitat for both resident and migrating birds.

Purple honeycreeper © Scott Santino
Purple honeycreeper © Scott Santino
 
Channel billed toucan © Scott Santino
Channel billed toucan © Scott Santino
 
Tufted coquette © Scott Santino
Tufted coquette © Scott Santino
         

Mornings at the AWNC are filled with birdsong, punctuated by the animated chatter of capuchin monkeys. From the Centre’s verandah, surrounded by vibrant orchids and bromeliads, you can see for miles down the forested valley filled with the gems of neotropical birding, such as Guyana trogon, channel-billed toucan, white-bearded manakin, and turquoise and bay-headed tanager. Meanwhile in the gardens, brilliantly colored hummingbirds make their nectar rounds.

You’ll learn about the many exciting conservation initiatives of the AWNC, including monitoring local populations of ocelot (a small wild cat) and rare, nocturnal oilbirds. Numerous day trips throughout the island include a boat ride on the Caroni Marsh, a diverse mangrove forest where the day ends with the spectacular flight of hundreds of brilliant scarlet ibis returning to their roosts at dusk—one of nature’s most dramatic and colorful events.

Trinidad is just one of dozens of destinations you can explore. Also on tap for this year: Siberia, Japan, Tuscany, the Galapagos, and Kenya, as well as a riverboat cruise on the Amazon and expedition-ship travel to Chiloe Island, Melanesia, and more.

If jet-setting nature travel isn’t in the cards for you right now, Mass Audubon also offers shorter trips close to home.

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