Home of reggae music, the Rastafari religion, jerk spice, and strong ginger beer, Jamaica is a small island nation in the Caribbean Sea about 90 miles south of Cuba and 120 miles west of Haiti. Together with Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands, it forms part of the Greater Antilles. An Anglophone country whose economy heavily depends on tourism, Jamaica is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which includes ten Caribbean Islands that were former territories of the British Empire with Queen Elizabeth II as the current Head of State. Climate is tropical (i.e., hot and humid), with some cooler weather in the moist montane forests inland. Jamaica is famously home to one of the most expensive and sought-after coffee in the world, Blue Mountain Coffee, noted for its mild flavor and lack of bitterness. Our tour will traverse right through the heart of Blue Mountain Coffee country, giving us ample opportunity to sample this local specialty!
Jamaica is a relatively large island (ranked third in size in the Caribbean) with a diverse range of ecosystems, including lush coastal thickets, tropical wetlands, sandy shorelines, and montane forests. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Jamaica supports a wealth of birdlife. Of particular interest from a birding perspective is the 28 Jamaican endemic species. On our trip, we have a very good chance of recording all 28 endemics, which include the striking Red-billed Streamertail (Jamaica's national bird, locally known as the doctor bird), the shy Crested Quail-Dove, two globally Endangered species (Black-billed Amazon and Jamaican Blackbird), and the dainty, but fierce Jamaican Tody.
Our tour starts in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, from where we'll visit Hellshire Hills to search for Stolid Flycatcher, the local subspecies of the Bahama Mockingbird, and Yellow (Golden) Warbler. From here we'll venture north in search of other island endemics at sites such as the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park, as well as Ecclesdown Road. With most of Jamaica’s endemics relatively easy to locate, we’ll almost certainty have time to sample Blue Mountain Coffee, traditional jerk cuisine, and perhaps even a sandy beach for a quick dip in the crystal-clear tropical waters.