The Caroni Swamp is a 12,000 acre swamp located on the west coast of Trinidad. It is the 2nd largest wetlands on the island and is protected under the Ramsar Convention, an international agreement that was signed in 1971. The Caroni Swamp runs along the banks of the Caroni River and contains numerous channels, brackish and saline lagoons and marshes with intertidal mudflats. The central section of Caroni Swamp is designated as a wildlife sanctuary and is the home of Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird, the Scarlet Ibis and over 100 other avian species.
When we took a tour of the swamp we started off in a side creek and were excited to go see the Scarlet Ibis. Right off the bat though, our guide pointed out a boa constrictor balled up in a tree. Then he pointed out a caiman sunning on the bank. Next a hawk high in a tree and a piper hunting crabs at water level. I was loving everything so much I almost forgot we were here to see the national bird.
Finally, we came out of the creek and river network onto a vast marsh where I could see several flocks of wild flamingos. It does not sound like that big of deal since everyone has seen flamingos in the zoo, but seeing them in the wild is a whole other story. We zipped here and there looking at flamingos walking in the marsh and then taking flight as we approached. At last we stopped and tied to a stick in the mud and he told us to watch a grove of mangrove trees a couple hundred feet away.
So what some swamp trees! Then all of a sudden flocks of Scarlet Ibis started to return home for the night. Apparently they fly 11 miles over to Venezuela (yes it is that close) during the day and return each night. As flock after flock flew by and settled into the trees they started to resemble Christmas trees with bright red balls on them, because the Scarlet Ibis is that intensely red in color. I took photo after photo until I thought I had way to many…….and then I took more! It even started raining on us and we did not care, because it was that fascinating and powerful.
What a great experience Caroni Swamp was. Yet another place I highly recommend if you visit Trinidad!