Varied landscapes, beaches, music and the highest number of endemic birds of any one island in the Caribbean
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Comments on our holiday to Jamaica, 26 February- 9 March 2018 This was our first trip to Jamaica and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The accom..
Comments on our holiday to Jamaica, 26 February- 9 March 2018
This was our first trip to Jamaica and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The accommodation and meals at the three main centres (Limetree, Greencastle and Mockingbird) were excellent. On the days we had early starts the packed breakfasts were more than adequate. The chef at Mockingbird cooked some of the best vegetarian food I have ever had.
Staff at our accommodation were very helpful and personable at all times, including the birding guides who were knowledgeable and patient and made sure that we did not miss anything. Local people were always friendly. At Greencastle we were the only guests after the first night and we enjoyed being pampered. Richard took me out one evening to look for owls – we heard plenty and saw one, but the Northern Potoos were more obliging. At Limetree Rodger took us on a couple of short walks that gave a broader perspective of the landscape and coffee industry. At Mockingbird one of the gardeners quickly invited us to see the “special” bird – the Potoo – and he followed this by taking us to see the local roosting owl.
Transfers between hotels and to and from the airport was well co-ordinated. The condition of the roads is very poor in places – the last three miles to Limetree took half an hour – and this could be highlighted more. In your advice you mention the effect of heavy rain, but in most areas the damage has been longer-lasting and attempts to patch things up are piecemeal.
The birding experiences were excellent and we got off to a good start at Limetree as dawn rose and the hummingbirds buzzed around the bottlebrush plant outside our room. However, I would take issue with some of the information provided. Hardwar Gap was definitely the best place to be close to the birds though I would be careful with a phrase like “Osprey soar overhead”. They did not. Greencastle has more variety because of the lake, access to the coast and the variety of trails, but it would be wrong to say that 27 of the 28 endemics are seen regularly. You need much patience in the forest and you have to work hard for the birds.
After Ecclesdown we arrived at Reach Falls but it was closed on a Monday. The raft ride was excellent and added new species though you have a better chance of seeing Caribbean Coot at Greencastle than on the Rio Grande.
We did get to Hellshire, but not to Hermitage Dam, though we did stop en route at some lagoons and at Hector’s River for White-tailed Tropicbirds. The latter is worth wider publicity since the birds can come very close. In retrospect the extra time taken to reach Hellshire was perhaps indulgent considering the heat of the afternoon and reduced chance of seeing the Bahama Mockingbird. Hellshire is a fascinating, arid environment but better explored in the early morning. We did see one, luckily.
We had very enjoyable and informative tours of the Bob Marley Museum and Devon House but there was not time to reach Hope Gardens. However, the campus at Mona Lodge has Yellow-billed Parrots and proved to be the easiest place to see them. Incidentally, in wandering around the university we chanced upon a student refectory and the staff were very happy to feed us. I did venture up to Mona Dam on our last morning and the lady at the gate allowed me in despite my not having a permit.
As for the birds, I saw 105 species during our stay, including all the endemics. I have mentioned the tropicbirds already, but you might wish to highlight the lake at Greencastle with its ducks, waders, and grebes, the Cave Swallows near to the entrance there, and the frequency of encountering wintering, North American warblers, now acquiring their colourful summer plumage. Lastly, we did see Ospreys – one over Limetree and another at Greencastle.
All in all, a very enjoyable holiday with an excellent itinerary. I am sure we shall use MotMot again. Alan Payne
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We had a wonderful time in Jamaica thank you. More specifically: Lime Tree Farm we thought most enjoyable. We were made very welcome by Rodger who too..
We had a wonderful time in Jamaica thank you. More specifically:
Lime Tree Farm we thought most enjoyable. We were made very welcome by Rodger who took us on a great expedition to the Cinchona gardens – really interesting but rough 2 hours each way, but a simply wonderful spot once we got there. On another day – Colin was also an excellent Birder. The girls looked after us very well.
Sussex Great House was very comfortable and once again we were made very welcome by David & Ellie. Our stay was a little spoilt by the dreadful weather we had there. Simply not possible to venture out onto the Estate due to the amount of rain. Wendy Lee however took us Birding on the road and the next day to Cockpit Country – where it was drier.
Mocking Bird Hill was a lovely hotel. The situation and the garden were very special. Again our visit was a little spoilt by the horrid weather. Warm but very grey and again lots of rain. We had a good Birding trip (between the showers) with Roger (not the same Roger as Lime Tree Roger!)
We think we are fated by weather in the West Indies – managed 3 holidays in all and torrential rain has spoilt each of them. Every time we are told it is “extremely unusual for the time of year”!
Only other comment would be that we really liked the island of Jamaica and would have wished for some time in Kingston – with the benefit of hindsight – we would have liked to stop the first night in Kingston. Then visited Bob Marley’s house, the Hope Botanic gardens and Devon House for an “i-scream” and then travelled up to the Blue Mountains in the daylight – not in the dark after a 10 hour flight.
Thanks again for making all the arrangements – Susie Jerman – Feb 2018
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We definitely enjoyed our trip to Jamaica! We had a lovely time. I’m happy to reflect on some of our experiences with you. First of all, we loved Su..
We definitely enjoyed our trip to Jamaica! We had a lovely time. I’m happy to reflect on some of our experiences with you.
First of all, we loved Sussex Great House. These are the places that we love very much. The environment, and the area were very nice. Also the people of the house were very lovely. Very nice, flexible and the food was very good. We enjoyed our stay there very much.
Also Wendy Lee as a birding guide, so nice. This lady is a very friendly, animal loving women. She is good for birders like us. We are birders, but definitely no twitchers. She understood our needs, and is also very knowlegdeable about all nature. Nice days we spend with her.
Than, the Mockingbird Hotel was also very nice. The people are very flexible and give good advise. They are much more adjusted to tourist than the Sussex house, which is more a Bed and Breakfast. The downside of the Mockingbird I found the price of the drinks. It was quite expensive (i.e.U$6.50 for a fresh juice).
It was good that you refunded the Rio Grande, we didn’t do it. The river was very high (we saw it was rough), and the water was brown instead of clear. We did’nt dare to go on the raft with our expensive equipment. The birding sites were very nice. Nature is beautiful, and the guides very knowledgeable. Unfortunately there was a lot of wind which birds don’t like. But birding is always unpredictable.
So, over all: we had a lovely time! The weather was good, not a lot of sun and quite some wind. But there had been a lot of rain the last weeks, so we were lucky to have had almost all dry days.
Thanks again for arranging evrything. All was arranged very well. We enjoyed it very much. And we definitely keep you in mind whenever we want to go to the Carribean again. You offer really nice holidays that fits our needs completely.
Cindy & Arno - Nov 2016READ FULL REPORT
We were very happy with our holiday and had a really great time, seeing all of the endemics and most of the other birds that we wanted to see. The g..
We were very happy with our holiday and had a really great time, seeing all of the endemics and most of the other birds that we wanted to see. The ground arrangements were generally delivered to a high standard. We would certainly recommend Motmot Travel.
David Cohen – Apr 2016READ FULL REPORT
We had a wonderful time and really appreciate all the arrangements made on our behalf. Everybody we met in Jamaica was extremely kind and helpful and ..
We had a wonderful time and really appreciate all the arrangements made on our behalf. Everybody we met in Jamaica was extremely kind and helpful and we feel lucky to have been able to be with three such knowledgeable guides. We saw at least the 40 species and I think nearly all the endemics, but we certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere near had we not had the guides! The hotels were all very good as was the food, not to mention the wonderful Blue Mountain Coffee. The trip was perfect for us as although the focus was obviously the bird watching, we really did enjoy the other ‘tourist’ trips especially the river rafting on the Rio Grande and a dip at Reach Falls.
Thank you again for making all the arrangements. We feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful holiday and would certainly come back to you if we would like to visit another Caribbean country.
Rosamond Howard – Jan 2016READ FULL REPORT
We have wonderful memories of our trip to Jamaica. We were most impressed with the friendliness and service at all the hotels but Greencastle E..
We have wonderful memories of our trip to Jamaica.
We were most impressed with the friendliness and service at all the hotels but Greencastle Estate was an amazing experience and we had to leave feeling there was so much more we would like to see and do. (The weather was a bit unkind so we were not able to get about as much as we would have liked during our stay). Then on to Mockingbird which was first class. We wanted for nothing and Shireen and her staff made sure of that.
The bird guiding was of a very good standard and we achieved 26/28 Jamaican endemics plus a good many more of the other birds on the Island. The Rafting on the Rio Grande was most enjoyable as was a boat trip from Winnifred Beach to Dragon Island and the Blue Lagoon suggested by Shireen.
The transport links at Mockingbird and indeed throughout the entire holiday worked splendidly.
Thank you once again for yet another successful birding experience in the Caribbean.
Sandy and Jim Elder – Feb 2015READ FULL REPORT
We had a fantastic time in Jamaica. The itinerary was extremely good and the quality of the accommodation was superb. We were made welcome where..
We had a fantastic time in Jamaica. The itinerary was extremely good and the quality of the accommodation was superb. We were made welcome wherever we went and are certainly doing our bit to dispel the myth that a trip to Jamaica is only a beach destination to be enjoyed within the confines of a resort that you do not leave!
Mocking Bird Hill was the second place we stayed at on our travels through Jamaica. Sherri, the owner of this lovely place, exudes love and comfort and a welcoming space as do the rest of her team. She gave this place a feeling of being home and though again there are a lot of places you can go to and bird watch (the indigenous Jamaican owl is said to be findable in this area), which we did not- there are a lot of other things you can do. Mocking Bird Hill will organise a massage for you as well if you like and if this is something you like- then you should do it! One hour of complete bliss! This is done in an outdoor covered area but there is still a small area where you can look out of and really soak in the beauty of this place. Port Antonio is the closest town and there is a marina there where you can find Devon I-Scream house:-) The food is exquisite with each night having a 6 course option! But it’s all so moreish that you cannot help yourself but eat all of it! It is again home cooked fresh meals served by charming team who really you really couldn’t help but fall in love with:-) We got a day pass to Frenchmans Cove- a beautiful cove with the trademark clear waters of the Caribbean and white sands where there are men who catch fish freshly (with a harpoon) and sell for you to eat. the nearby restaurant will cook this for you if you ask:-) There are also the Reach River Falls close by (go with the person Sherri organises for you as you get to go the path most tourists do not) and this is an experience you will never forget! The guide was a lovely lady with amazing knowledge of the plants and animals and herbs in the area. I highly recommend this place to anyone who loves food, luxury, being pampered, beaches and adventure. There is also a swimming pool and the other guests are very friendly. We stayed here three nights and we could have easily stayed much much longer!
When we arrived at High Hope Estate, we were greeted by Ritchie- our lovely waiter for the night and next morning. Dennis then showed us around his lovely home and gave us freedom to do as we chose with his record collection or any other part of his home that we chose to rest in till we were ready for bed. There was a meditation area outside as well as a large backyard complete with swimming pool. A lot of famous people have stayed in those rooms and I am sure many more will. It is the kind of place that makes you want to go back and visit Jamaica and stay again. The food is amazing cooked by their in house cook (whose name I forget) who has worked there just over 15 years. We met Ludo- Dennis’ wife- later on as well as his 2 lovely dogs and the beautiful cat. It was a relaxing place and with the hosts/owners/staff being so welcoming it was impossible not to feel calm, peaceful and at home.
Thank you very much! We had a fantastic time in Jamaica. The itinerary was extremely good and the quality of the accommodation was superb. We will definitely look to return to the island again and will certainly wish to visit Sherrie at Mockingbird Hill and Dennis at High Hope.
Mika and Andrew - Apr 2014READ FULL REPORT
We have been on birdwatching holidays in Cuba, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica was certainly better than them all! Our first hotel, Forres P..
We have been on birdwatching holidays in Cuba, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica was certainly better than them all!
Our first hotel, Forres Park had such amazing views of the Blue Mountains, and we saw many birds in the hotel grounds and trails through the coffee bushes. We were very glad to have a bird guide with us at Cinchona Gardens as we saw several more endemic birds on the track approaching the gardens and in the gardens themselves. The trip to the Old Mine Trail was also very productive.
We arrived at Green Castle and could hardly believe it was the right place, it was so luxurious! Our room had views over the gardens, pool, forest then the blue sea of Annotto Bay. We were once again the only guests so were really well looked after. The area had been badly affected by Hurricane Sandy in November 2012 but almost all the excellent trails had been cleared. It was amazing to see the new growth on the trees, all the leaves had been stripped off by the wind.
Hotel Mockingbird Hill was different again, with the gardens, gourmet food and eco-friendly approach to tourism. As well as visiting Eccleston Road and rafting down the Rio Grande we made a couple of visits to Frenchman’s Cove, using the complimentary shuttle and beach passes. We enjoyed the beach, but the grounds also made it worth a visit as we saw many birds here.
Jamaica does get a bad press with reports of high crime rates. However in the Eastern part of the island, which we visited, we never felt threatened. In fact all the staff and people we met were really friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble. The three places at which we stayed were so different but all excellent. The local foods were well prepared and very tasty, and varied. All the transfer arrangements were efficient, on time and with comfortable vehicles – an essential for the narrow twisting roads in the mountains, with the enormous pot holes! We had four Bird Guides, at different sites. Linden, Dwayne, Ricardo and Roger were able to find us all but two of Jamaica’s 28 endemic birds. Our outstanding memory of Jamaica is of the many people who were so welcoming and hospitable.
We would certainly recommend a visit to Jamaica to anyone wanting to move on from the other Caribbean Islands and add more endemic birds to their personal list on a comfortable, relaxing and scenic tour.
Mike and Marilyn Burge - Feb 2013READ FULL REPORT