Wednesday, June 1st
Field Trip 1: Blue and John Crow Mountains
Field Trip 2: Port Royal & Palisadoes
Field Trip 3: Charles Town Maroon Community & Castleton Botanical Garden
Field Trip 4: University of the West Indies guided tour and visits to Hope Botanical Gardens and the Bob Marley Museum - CANCELLED
Our drive into the UNESCO World Heritage Site will take us on a breath-taking journey. The Mountains are a rugged and extensively forested region, which provided refuge for the indigenous Taíno and the Afro-descendant Maroons, fleeing Spanish slavery. The Mountains enabled them to successfully resist European colonial rule in this isolated region. They developed strong spiritual connections with the environment, which continue to manifest through the intangible cultural legacy of music, dance, language, religious rites and traditional medicine. The mountains are also a biodiversity hotspot with a high number of endemic lichens, mosses and flowering plant species, the latter showing a 50% endemism at elevations higher than 1000 meters above sea level (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1356/). On reaching our destination, we will visit a small certified organic coffee farm (http://www.rowansroyale.com/our-farm/). Here, we will spend time with the farm owner to learn about the processes and challenges of growing organic coffee in this region and of course to taste some real Blue Mountain coffee. This will be followed by a visit to Hollywell National Park, a short drive away, where we will be introduced to the BJCM park and its history by our knowledgeable park rangers. Delegates will be given a choice of guided trails with differing levels of difficulty and duration. For those who simply want to kick back, drink a cup of Blue Mountain coffee, and take in the views, there is plenty of sheltered seating and areas to relax (www.blueandjohncrowmountains.org/do/walks-and-hikes/holywell-nature-walks). Lunch will take place in the park’s picnic area, with magnificent panoramic views overlooking Kingston and the southern coastline.
A relatively short drive out of Kingston (approx 1 hour depending on traffic) will take us to Port Royal, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean, being the only authentic sunken city in the Western Hemisphere (https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5430/). Port Royal was founded in 1518 by the Spanish, and it was once the largest city in the Caribbean. In its heyday, pirates from all over the world congregated here. Port Royal is designated as Protected National Heritage and recognised by UNESCO as unique among global cultural heritage sites (www.jnht.com/site_port_royal.php). Our day in Port Royal will involve several activities, including a welcome tour of The UWI Marine lab facilities, which includes the Biodiversity Centre, opened in 2010 by The UWI and the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, and spearheaded by UWI Professor Mona Webber. This will be followed by a 45 minute wetland boat tour (round trip) through the Port Royal Mangroves, looking at the wetland ecosystem and the associated flora and fauna. Historical highlights of the town of Port Royal observable by sea will also be pointed out. The tour will include a stop at “Goodbody’s Channel”, where we will observe numerous mangrove root community flora and fauna and a stop at Refuge Cay to do some bird watching. At some point in the day, we will take a short bus ride to the Mangrove Forest and Sand Dune Area to observe the typical flora and fauna in these areas, including endemic cacti. Delegates will also have free time to wander through the laidback Port Royal Town itself to experience its vibe and identify and explore sites of historical significance. Lunch will be provided at Jamaica’s most famous fish restaurant – Gloria’s (meat and vegetarian options will be available) (https://www.visitjamaica.com/listing/glorias-seafood-port-royal/3077/). This is the family place to be where locals come together to eat some delicious fish and drink a cold Jamaican drink or beer.
Field trip price: US$85*
The drive to Charles Town will take you on one of the most beautiful drives in Jamaica along winding roads dominated by ravines and tall mountain ranges. You will experience the meaning of the Amerindian word Xaymaca, “Land of Wood and Water.” On reaching Charles Town, the morning will be spent getting to know members of this tight knit Maroon community with a deep and rich history (www.nlj.gov.jm/history-notes/The%20Maroons%20edited%20final.htm). At the centre of the community is the Asafu Yard, where Maroons meet for festivals, and the Charles Town Maroon Museum, which contains a variety of cultural artefacts and information about Maroon history and traditions. Members of the community will share their extensive knowledge of local medicinal plants and prepare various ‘bush’ teas for you to try. There will also be an opportunity to relax and swim in the river that runs close by. Relaxing in the river is something you can see people do all across Jamaica, so don’t hesitate to join in. A traditionally prepared lunch will then be served in the Asafu Yard, with vegetarian, fish and meat options.
After lunch, we will drive back towards Kingston, stopping at Castleton Botanical Gardens located on 15 acres and bordered by a main road on one side and the Wag Water river on the other. Its flora includes exotic and indigenous ferns and palms. The gardens were established in 1862 to facilitate the relocation of the Bath Botanical Gardens, making it one of the oldest public botanical gardens in the western hemisphere. Many of the trees and plants introduced to Jamaica were first planted here (http://castletongarden.com).
Field trip price: US$80*
Minimum number of people for this fieldtrip: 20
Maximum number of people for this fieldtrip: 100
Loading time: from 7.00am
Departure time: 7.30am
Journey time to Charles Town: approx. 2.5 hrs
Return to UWI campus: by 7.00pm
Level of physical fitness required: moderate
Recommended clothing: for those wishing to swim, remember to bring your swimwear. Don’t forget mosquito repellent.
*This price includes: transport, entry fees, guides, tea tasting, traditionally prepared lunch (Charles Town), hot chocolate (Castleton Botanical Gardens), water station.