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Dominica with Antigua and Barbuda


NSY
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Dominica the wild island of the Caribbean

With Antigua & Barbuda Feb/March 2017

 

Day 1: Fly Man to Barbados with Thomas Cook A330

Day 2: Fly Barbados to Dominica

Day: 3-11 Dominica   

Day 12: Fly to Antigua

Day 13: Antigua

Day 14: Barbuda

Day 15: Antigua & fly home evening

 

It is hard to do a retrospective trip report 4 years later, especially as no plan to write one at the time of the trip. It will be good one day, to do an up to date report and not one from a distant memory.  So I hope this is of some interest.  May be of extra interest for Dominica is a wild island, 94% covered in woodland and rainforest. Today the island shows on UK green list for travel but in the future who knows?

 

Day 1: Fly to Barbados for 1st time with Thomas Cook on A330. In Barbados we have 1/2hour taxi ride to the hotel - Butterfly Beach, it is dark so we don’t see a lot & arrive just in time for dinner.

 

Day2: After breakfast there is time for an early morning walk along a beautiful sandy beach before our transfer back to the airport and a flight with Liat Airlines to Dominica.

 

Once on the island we have a taxi transfer to our hotel. On the drive we see the damage still to be repaired from hurricane Erika in 2015, with bridges down and temporary bridges still in place. 

Roads, bridges and whole communities were wiped out in the storm. Dominica has a population of about 71k with one of the lowest population density of the Caribbean islands.

Manicou River Hotel is our home for the next few days.  It stands on a hillside above Portsmouth.

The room is amazing with an open front looking down over the forest to the sea. Evening meal is excellent in an open sided restaurant. 

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This is our hotel room with a view the bird photos below taken from room. Some without leaving the bed!IMG_4538.JPG.8d2c3da2223eccb770261bdbe1c8a20c.JPG

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Antilllean Crested Hummingbird

 

 

 

Green Throated Carib 

 

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Purple Throated Carib

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Lesser Antillean Bullfinch on kitchen worktop in room 

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~ @NSY: This is a lovely surprise.

 

Photos of Caribbean hummingbirds have my full attention.

 

Dominica has long interested me.

 

Thank you for preparing this trip report several years after the event.

 

        Tom K.

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Day 3: Next day our hire car is delivered to the hotel and our first drive is down the very steep rough track to the seafront and then to Cabrits national park.

 

The Park is on a peninsula, just north of Portsmouth.  The aim is to protect the tropical forest, coral reefs and wetlands in the area.

There is an old British Fort on the hilltop – Fort Shirley – along with a gun battery.  There are walking trails throughout the park.

We have lunch in small outdoor café and then do some shopping in the village for snacks etc. Later in day we drive north along the coast and are met with very heavy rain.

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Sunset from the room 

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I'm very interested in this, we spent a Christmas about fifteen years ago in Dominica, it was definitely a beautiful island but we spent most of our time relaxing so it will be fun to see the areas we missed. 

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Day 4: Today we have a morning out with Bertrand Jno Baptiste –aka Dr Birdy - an excellent and knowledgeable guide.

This was the first time we have ever hired a bird guide & well worth it.

 Dr Birdy is amazing!  His enthusiasm is catching and he is much in demand.

 

We look & find Jaco (Imperial Amazon) & Sisserou (Red-necked amazon) parrots up on hillside in syndicate forest, as well as humming birds. 

A wonderful morning out in the syndicate forrest.

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Flycatcher Lesser Antilean

 

Back in our room at Manicou lodge birds fly in through the open side.  It is odd to wake up in bed and see bird’s fliting around the room, although we loved it!  

 

This is an incredible hotel for anyone interested in birds to stay at.

 

 

 

 

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Day 5: We have a drive to the south of the island today, down the coast towards the capital Roseau.

We stop on seafront spotting birds and then drive along the Layou River – the longest and deepest river in Dominica. 

Part way along the road is closed due to another bridge out with the hurricane having washed it away.

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road only just passable due to hurricane damage 

 

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Day 6: We continue our exploration of Dominica with a walk to Boiling Lake in the Morne Trois Pitons national park.

The walk starts in rainforest and then moves into elfin/dwarf forest. It passes through the Valley of Desolation where the streams are hot enough to boil an egg in,

with lots of volcanic activities such as fumaroles and sulphur pits.

 It’s another world and we take great care with our foot placement! The lake is said to be the biggest boiling lake in the world at about 200ft in diameter and inside a crater.

 

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view looking down into woodlands below hotel room 

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Day 7:  A complete change today as we go whale watching on a catamaran sailing boat looking for sperm whales and humpback, none are seen but the sail out is scenic and exciting.  

We do hear the sound of humpbacks calling and the trip is worth it just for that.

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Looking back towards Roseau from the boat

 

Day 8: So far all our time has been on the west side of the island overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Today we drive over to the Atlantic east side of the island and the Citrus Creek Plantation Hotel at La Plaine.  

We drive via the capital, Roseau and over the backbone of the island. The east coast is a lot more rugged big waves break and crash on the shore.

Our accommodation is Mango cottage.  The hotel is a collection of private villas in extensive grounds and by a river. 

There is a French restaurant within the grounds and the food is excellent as is the wine! 

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Mango cottage

Edited by NSY
missed photo
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Day 9:  We decide to walk part of the Waitukubuli National Trail. 

The trail is the longest trekking trail in the Caribbean and stretches south to north over mountains and through rainforest. 

  We only walk a tiny bit of the 115 miles but it’s a great experience.

 

Day 10: Boetica today and walking the Glasse Trail, which is a relatively short walk along a fisherman’s pathway down through the forest to the rocky shore of the Atlantic Ocean,

with views to a seabird colony on some offshore islands. 

It was rather ‘interesting’ at some points but we did see a lot of forest dwelling birds on the way down.

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Day 11: It’s our last day and we spend it by the river close to our cottage, drinking wine and looking back on some amazing days on this wonderful island.

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river next to cottage

 

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unusual gardeners transport 

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Day 9: Fly Dominica to Antigua with Liat – our original flight is cancelled & we are move forward to earlier flight without the airline telling us. 

It is only with incredible luck that our taxi driver has an earlier drop off at the airport and sees the flight changes. 

He rings the hotel who quickly tells us to finish lunch and get ready to leave. 

The owner has arranged for another taxi to take us to the airport. 

We didn’t realise the replacement taxi driver had ambitions of becoming a formula one driver and to say the drive to the airport was exhilarating, hair-raising and unforgettable would be an understatement!! 

However, all credit to the guy, he got us there and then seeing a queue to get through the entrance gate, just drives through the exit gate – we catch our flight with minutes to spare.  Antigua here we come!

Antigua airport is a large, spacious, modern building and we are soon in the taxi to our next hotel - The Admiral’s Inn at Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour.

The dockyard was completed in 1765 and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The dockyard has been completely renovated and the old buildings now house shops and hotels. 

There are hiking trails there too and the dock and surrounding area is really quite beautiful.

We are shown to our room - in the attic! This is about the size of a broom cupboard with very low ceilings.  

It feels very claustrophobic after the lovely, spacious places on Dominica. 

At dinner the staff seem pressurised, not the happiest bunch.  The meal was a bit of a let-down but maybe it’s just not our kind of hotel.

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The Admirals Inn Hotel

 

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In the garden of Admirals Inn a old ship repair dock from Nelsons Time

 

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Nearby fortifications 

 

Day 10: Cricket today and we go to The Viv Richards Stadium to watch the West Indies play England, in a one day international.

The atmosphere is fantastic, with steel bands and lots of food stalls. 

In the ground everything is very friendly and of course the English Barmy Army!  Its great fun and England even win by 4 wickets!

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Sir Viv Richards statue

 

 

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drums outside the cricket ground 

 

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great atmosphere inside

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Day 11: Fly to Barbuda

We take a very early flight to Barbuda on the Britten Norman Islander a small yellow plane.

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I was sat just behind the pilot and could see the fuel gauge reading nearly empty, so I was relieved when we landed!

We had booked a guided birding trip round the island and a boat trip to Frigate bird sanctuary, the largest breeding colony in the western hemisphere.

The boat trip was amazing seeing so many birds and so close up.

Setting off from Codrington Jetty and sailed out to see the frigate birds in the mangroves, and some brown boobies joining them too.

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Do I know you?

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Next a walk and a drink on empty white sand beaches, looking out onto beautiful blue sea – paradise found. 

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Then we are then driven to an area on other side of the island looking for Barbuda Warblers. We go into a local café for a basic but delicious lunch.

We catch the flight back to Antigua.

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 Day 12: We have a free morning and go for breakfast at a café by the docking point for transatlantic rowers one of which has just come in.

Then we explore the old Nelson’s dockyard area, very interesting site.

Fly Antigua to Barbados spending a couple of hours at the deserted airport around midnight before flight continues to Manchester.

 

Conclusion

Dominica is a wild forested island with lots of birdlife. Both hotels we stayed in were excellent in particular the room at Manicou – out of this world.

Antigua is a lot more built-up with but with some interesting historical features

Barbuda is a spectacular place with lots of empty beaches and birdlife but not sure how much things have recovered after the hurricane.

As you will know the area has been hit by hurricane Irma cat 5 since this trip and Dominica and Barbuda has been hit hard.  I hope everyone and everything is recovering.

There are reports of parrots being seen in various places on Dominica. On Barbuda the Frigate birds are returning at the last count 7451 of them,

also there seem to be Barbuda Warblers in most of their old spots.

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Wonderful trip report. I have had Dominica on my target list but a few years ago we have switched from the Caribbeans to Southern Africa for our winter escape. But the colours of the Caribbeans are calling us back!

For future reference, from whom did you rent your car on Dominica?

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A fascinating report with great photos.

I knew nothing of these islands.

They are really beautiful and with some wonderful birds.

Thank you for posting 

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@Xelas   We booked the car via MotMot travel that sadly have now closed down due to Covid lockdowns. Very sad has they had arranged a couple of great Caribbean trips for us.  The car was delivered direct to hotel & collected from hotel. I think it was from a small local company.

The company’s we travel with have not done well since our trips MotMot travel closed, Thomas cook airlines gone bankrupt. The brilliant Manicou river hotel was destroyed in hurricane but now rebuilt & open again. Citrus creek plantation lodges badly damaged in hurricane but now up and running again

Neil

 

@TonyQ

Yes the islands of Dominica & Barbuda are still wild and not heavily developed. There is still a lot of woodland on Dominica & open space on Barbuda.

Neil

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  • 5 weeks later...

@NSY really enjoyed this trip report - Dominica has been on my travel list for a long time, hoping to visit soon. 

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