Going anywhere off the beaten trail in Trinidad can be a risky proposition. Hiking through the forest is definitely one of those recreations in the riskier categories, especially when you read of the holdups, group robberies while on the hiking trail, or hearing of trapguns shot at people who venture off the marked trails because the lost hiker stumbled into a marijuana field.
That being said, for those who are willing to hike through Trinidad, there are a number of different trails that lead to waterfalls and gorgeous vistas throughout Trinidad. Today’s hiking experience was done through Caribbean Hiking Adventures. This was my first time hiking with this company vs hiking with Island Hikers. I would highly recommend doing a group hiking expedition, if you going to do any hiking in Trinidad.
I struggled in writing this post, since I didn’t know whether to blog about the hike itself or the company – so instead I’ll describe the experience. In Trinidad, the phrase used to describe any inefficiency, laziness or lack of sophistication is
“Wat yuh expect, iz Trinidad nah”
This is the same phrase I will use to describe my perception of the organization of the hike. According to the email sent from them, we were all told to meet just off the highway in Arima for a 7am sign up (see screenshot below). Note that on their website, you can register online and pay online also.
Of course, in true Trinidadian/West Indian style, they were nowhere to be found at 7am, in fact we had to call a couple times to find out if the hike was still on, due to inclement weather. Eventually, the organizers showed up at 7:35am at the roundabout. This was annoying, since to be on time, I woke up at 5:30am … yes, this is a foreign concept that’s been bashed into my Trinidadian brain. So how do you think, this lack of communication worked out for the sign up process …
The whole sign up fiasco was more annoying, since we got there on time but didn’t leave till 8:30am to start driving to Aripo.
Suggestions for improvement
- Multiple meetup spots – one at Arima and one at the final location in Aripo. (Late comers can come directly to the final location) – this can be applied to any hike where the initial meetup spot is not the location of the hike
- Online registration for all. By pushing this, they don’t punish the people who follow the rules. If they can get email, they can surely reply via email or form
- Proper expectation management – this is not the first time you’re doing a hike … set the proper expectation via the website about times and distance.
- Map handouts for hikers
Once we all got to the final jumpoff point, it was yet another series of confused communications, resulting in … guess what??
Finally by 9:30am, we finally started hiking.
As for the hiking itself … as I grow older, I’m seeing a lot more of Trinidad than I ever saw growing up there. The ironic thing is that if I had done all of this while growing up, there would have been little elements of risk, that there are now … ah well c’est la vie.
It’s definitely an easy, family friendly hike in the sun, however as it rained the night before, the trail was slushy and those without proper hiking footware found the going rough. Better communication would have solved this frustration – had the organizers explained on the website that there would be some walking through pools and river water.
Even with a simple hike plan … there are many levels to the river and multiple shallow ponds as you hike higher and higher
Finally, on ending the hike, there was no proper checkdown of the people that came down from the hike. They assumed that as long as all the cars left, then there was no one lost and the organizers left before all the hikers left.
Overall : Great hiking expedition, but lack of organizational skills, communication and direction … makes it one of those “your mileage may vary” experiences.