NEW! Saint Lucia

Relaxed birding featuring Antillean endemics and more

Destinations
Focus
2023 Dates
  • 07 Jan - 15 Jan 2023
Duration9 Days
2023 Price
£3295 pp
£695 single supplement. Deposit £300

pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are inc.

More Info

Heatherlea Guide: plus experienced local guides.
Max group size 12 clients.
Departures from London Gatwick
Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are FREE.

THIS PAGE IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

This holiday is just what's needed for many British enthusiasts, a leisurely and very enjoyable Caribbean location featuring absorbing birding. We travel in January for warm, sunny days, and seek out the endemic and speciality birds of the island, making time also for you to relax and enjoy the sun and scenery. 

The beautiful island of Saint Lucia is one of the Lesser Antilles, a string of small islands which form a boundary between the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Largely unspoilt, St Lucia is characterised by dense, unbroken stretches of rainforest, which cover its volcanic and mountainous interior. The highest point is Mount Gimmie, at 3,120 ft above sea level, though it is two other mountains, the Pitons, which form the island's most famous landmark.

Saint Lucia is just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, and with an international-standard airport and good roads, travel is straightforward, though some of the best birding sites are hidden in the interior. One of the most important of the Lesser Antilles in birding terms, St Lucia hosts six endemic species, with the prospect of a seventh yet to be separated. St Lucia is also home to around a dozen more Caribbean and Antillean specialities, and migration can produce North/South American birds to complement an already exciting list.

The six endemic species are Saint Lucia Parrot, Saint Lucia Oriole, Saint Lucia Warbler, Saint Lucia Pewee, Saint Lucia House Wren and Saint Lucia Black Finch. Endangered White-Breasted Thrasher can be considered a near-endemic, as its only other location is the island of Martinique, where the birds bear markedly different characteristics. Birding will generally be run at a gentle pace.

In January warm, sunny days, gentle birding for around 50 species including the endemics, and a friendly feel to the island make this a first-rate destination for those who would like a relaxed Caribbean birding holiday.

 

 

 

DAY 1: Saturday 7 January 2023
After relaxing in our airport lounge, we take a scheduled morning flight from Gatwick to St Lucia, and transfer to our comfortable hotel. Located in the capital Castries, our hotel is ideally placed for daily activities around the island. We may have time for a short introductory walk, and might find Black-faced Grassquit, Antillean Bullfinch, Antillean Crested Hummingbird and Saint Lucia Warbler, our first endemic, before dinnertime.
 

DAY 2: Sunday 8 January                            Pigeon Island and local birding
We begin by watching out for many local species, perhaps including Grey Trembler, Bare-eyed Thrush, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, Lesser Antillean Saltator and endemic St Lucia Pewee, as well as the more common Carib Grackle, American Kestrel and Grey Kingbird. Ubiquitous Bananaquits are noisy and confiding, and Tropical Mockingbird and Broad-winged Hawk are regular. We leave after breakfast for a gentle day of acclimatisation, and begin with a birding tour to Pigeon Island. A small island located in Gros Islet in the northern region of Saint Lucia, and once isolated from the country in the Caribbean Sea, Pigeon Island was artificially joined to the western coast of Saint Lucia by a man-made causeway. Composed of two peaks the island was named a national park in 1979, and in 1992 became a national landmark under the control of the Saint Lucia National Trust.

This is home to many different native species including Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy and Caribbean Martin.  After lunch we enjoy some more leisurely birding with our expert local guide on the north of the island in the Rodney Bay area, and may enjoy our first views of Saint Lucia Oriole, Saint Lucia Black Finch, Saint Lucia House Wren and White-breasted Thrasher.
 

DAY 3: Monday 9 January 
The East Coast Dry Forest and Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail.
Today begins with an interesting drive to the Atlantic coast, and we devote some time to getting good views of White-breasted Thrasher, a range-restricted near-endemic. We enjoy panoramic views of the colourful fishing village of Dennery, and have an opportunity to find Saint Lucia Warbler, Saint Lucia Pewee and if lucky Saint Lucia Black Finch. Other specialist birds to look for in this habitat are Grey Trembler, Lesser Antillean Saltator, Green Throated Carib and Lesser Antillean Hummingbird. We take lunch at Ti Kwizn Restaurant and Bar, located in the Fishing village of Micoud on the East coast of Saint Lucia.

Our second destination today is the beautiful and lush Des Cartier Rainforest trail for a major highlight; the opportunity to see spectacular Saint Lucia Parrot, which is the national bird, and the most colorful parrot of the Amazona. This will involve a leisurely walk up a gently sloping track from the entrance, stopping along the way searching for endemics Saint Lucia Oriole, Black Finch, Saint Lucia Pewee and Saint Lucia Warbler. Other specialties may be seen, including Rufus-throated Solitare, Grey Trembler, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Antillean Euphonia, Purple-throated Carib, Lesser Antillean Swift and other rainforest dwelling birds. If luck permits, we may see Bridled Quail Dove or Ruddy Quail Dove.

As we return through Dennery, we may see the fishermen bringing in their catch, and perhaps Magnificent Frigatebirds scavenging for scraps.
 

DAY 4: Tuesday 10 January                                    The Pitons and Soufriere
Today we travel due south along the western edge of Saint Lucia, where the enormous 'Pitons' dominate, and form an exotic backdrop. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are huge and heavily-forested giant volcanic plugs which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Our first Stop will be at Desbott. This lovely location gives us the opportunity to see many endemics, lesser Antillian species and regional species, with a backdrop of breathtaking piton views that is absolutely spectacular.

We trek the Northern mountain range above the town of Soufriere along a beautifully paved road in a small community called Bouton. We bird on the edge of a tropical rainforest and by an orchard, with other fruit trees including mangoes, golden apples, cocoa, coffee and nutmeg and lovely flowering plants both native and exotic. The perfect setting for birds!

Lunch is at the Becon Restaurant, with a wonderful backdrop view of the pitons and town of Soufriere.

After lunch we travel into Soufriere, the original capital of the island, founded by the French. Here were large estates run by plantation owners of French origin and their descendants still live in the area. Located within the caldera of the Qualibou volcano, the area is geothermally active and the town is renowned for its Sulphur Springs. A tour of its bubbly, steamy sulphur springs offers a direct and fascinating lesson in the violent geology of the Caribbean Rim. Now dormant, this is the world's only drive-in volcano!


DAY 5: Wednesday 11 January         
We drive through the beautiful and ever green agricultural community of Babonneau, before enjoying another day birding a virtually unspoilt and enchanted part of the island, where both Purple-throated and Green-throated Carib can be found; these beautiful hummingbirds are likely to provide an avian highlight of the holiday.

Other birds of note might include Pearly-eyed Thrasher and Lesser Antillean Flycatcher as we continue to seek good views of all speciality species. We embark on a bumpy journey downhill to Grand Anse beach, and many of the island’s sought-after birds including Rufus Nightjar and elusive Bridled Quail Dove find refuge in this very remote habitat.


DAY 6: Thursday 12 January                                                      Round-up day
Our final full day's birding will seek to plug any gaps in our list, concentrating on the south and west of the island. Later we may also visit local wetlands, where ducks, grebes, waders and terns might be found. Several North American species might include Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and Blue-winged Teal. We also enjoy a little seawatching for Red-billed Tropicbird, and hope to collect Yellow Grass-finch as we travel to the south of the island. 

By the end of today you should have visited Des Cartiers in the Central Rain Forest, Grand Anse in the north-east, Desbott in Soufriere and Aupicon Wet Lands in the south. You should have a comprehensive knowledge of the resident birdlife of Saint Lucia!

DAY 7: Friday 13 January          Pelagic birding and Whale Watching Trip
To date, in excess of 25 whale species have been spotted in St. Lucian waters. The most frequently sighted Sperm Whale, Pilot Whales and Humpback Whale. Occasionally Orcas have been viewed here too. You are almost guaranteed sightings of dolphins, sometimes as many as 150 at a time. They dazzle and hypnotize with their spectacular and lively antics. The most frequently sighted are Spotted, Common, Fraser and Striped and Spinner Dolphins.

Day 8: Saturday 14 January                                                         Departure
A relaxed morning before our airport transfer and afternoon flight home to the UK. Arrive the following morning Sunday 15 January.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

More Holiday Information:

Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel in St Lucia  with all rooms en suite.
Food You can expect fresh local produce including meat, poultry and fish. Fresh local fruit and vegetables are usually available and very tasty. Picnic lunches will be provided, and include a variety of local produce plus soft drinks. Water is included with your evening meal. Vegetarian and other diets are welcome.
Walking The holiday is not strenuous, but the atmosphere is often very humid and it can be hot! Leisurely walking, sometimes up slopes which can be steep, is the only physical requirement. Most of the time birding will be close to our transport, or within a short walk.
Weather Average temperatures in January will be around 80 degrees. The temperature will decline by early evening, to approximately 72 degrees. Sunshine should be plentiful, but wind, cloud and rain are possible.
Insects There are biting insects, insect repellent is recommended.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London Gatwick. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.

Your Leaders:

 

 

What's included in your holiday price:

* scheduled return flights from London Gatwick - St Lucia. Airport taxes and transfers.
* ground transportation as outlined.
* seven nights full-board accommodation, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
* the services of your leaders.
* field trips as specified.
* The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more....


What's not included in your holiday price:

* personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, optional tips to  local guides/other staff, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.
 

WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for 25 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
* All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
* Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in the Americas?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248

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