Visiting the Kido
Ecological Research Station
|Host: Dario Sandrini|
When: Visitors come throughout the year. The Grenadines are below the hurricane belt. The Dry season is from December to May and the not as wet Rainy season from June to November.
Length of tour: Three to ten days. We can modify, extend or shorten tours according to your interests, time and our possibilities.
Languages: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish
Fee charged: for 8 days all included (board and lodging at Kido and guided tours):
8% of Gov. taxes must be added to the above prices.
Reservation: 20% of the total price is required in order to book for the tours and 80% at arrival.
Accommodation at the Sanctuary:
Kido Ecological Research Station offers three lodges for eco-tourists with ocean and sunset view, situated in a seclude oasis on 8 acres of forested ridge on the northwest coast of Carriacou.
The base has private access to beach and reef and it is directly adjacent to High North Nature Park and the secluded Anse LaRoche beach.
Each lodge has independent bathroom/hot shower, refrigerator/freezer, mosquito screens or nets and ceiling or standing fans. Kido Kitchen restaurant, the white building shown below, offers Italian/West Indian vegetarian cuisine. Meals and beverages are prepared with fresh, local and mainly organic vegetables and fruits. We have an extensive library on environment for consultation and internet/email access."
We have rainwater collection and conservation systems and we use only natural soaps and detergents.
On site composting.
The Sanctuary area is smoking free.
Carriacou is part of the three Islands State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, but geologically it is part of the Grenadines Archipelago. Arawak tribes first and then Caribs inhabited the area prior to the arrival of French and English colons. The Caribs were decimated and European colons introduced an enslaved population of different West African Nations. Some Scottish sailors (also often forced to migrate to avoid jail sentences for debts incurred in Great Britain) established themselves in the Windward area maintaining their working traditions as boatbuilders, fishermen and traders.
In 1973 the State became independent from England and a decade of troubled political instability followed. In 1983 USA military forces stopped the process and since then multiparty general elections every five years opened up the Country to some degree of development, tourism and progressive interaction with other Island States in the Caribbean
The smaller islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique went through those difficult years without many changes and have traditionally remained friendly and quiet.
Carriacou Island is part of the Grenadines Archipelago, Windward Islands, Southern Caribbean Sea, out of the hurricane belt.
With its 13 square miles and a population of approx. 5.000 it is considered the most pristine island of the Grenadines, retaining the richest eco-system of the region.
Although small in size Carriacou offers hills, forests, beaches, lagoons, mangroves and many uninhabited islets surrounded by beautiful coral reefs.
Trade winds keep the island at an enjoyable 24 Celsius degree most of the time. The seawater is warm and usually calm and sailing carries on all year round.
Summer clothes and a light sweater for the night (especially if waiting on the beach for nesting turtles!). Light long pants and shirts may be useful for excursions, as well as hiking shoes and plastic shoes for walking on stony beaches.
How to arrive:
TIA flights from Barbados daily (1 h). Cost return ticket US$253 (tax included)
S.V.G. Airlines from Grenada daily (20 min.) Cost return ticket US$67
Osprey Ferry from Grenada twice daily except on Saturday afternoon (1h and 30min). Cost return ticket US$28
We can reserve your seats on the two above-mentioned airlines. No reservation is needed for the ferry.
DAY 1: Reef Snorkeling at Sanctuary Bay and Anse LaRoche
Carriacou maintains a wealth of reef systems and marine life, rated among the most pristine in the region.
The name Carriacou (Kayryouacou) is derived from a Carib word for "land of many reefs".
Sanctuary Bay, directly below Kido Eco Station and the adjacent Anse LaRoche, with its beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water, are situated in the North/West of the island: the bays offer coral formations, underwater caves, tropical fish, and marine birds. Here a lucky snorkeler heard a humpback whale singing underwater for more than an hour!
During the fieldtrips Dario illustrates the marine and coastal eco-systems and trains beginners to enjoy snorkeling in safety both for the visitor and the environment.
Have the intimate experience of discovering the tropical sea world, swimming among a large school of Surgeonfish or having a close encounter with a Hawksbill Turtle feeding in the reef ledges. Meet the elegant Stingray and the playful Octopus, enjoy the multicolored Parrot, Trigger and Angel fish, spot the shy Porcupine fish and Spiny Lobster, the unusual Flying Gurnard fish, with its blue wings, the Trunk and Trumpet fish and many more.
Several times a year, thousands of inch long silvery anchovies pack the bay like a mercurial cloud. Pelagic fishes such as mackerels, ocean gars, kingfish, crevally and huge tarpons rush in to feed on the sprats. Numerous sea birds, brown pelicans, boobies, seagulls, frigate birds and terns follow the underwater action from above ready to dive in with dexterity to pick up remnants of the chase. The entire phenomenon is highly orchestrated, winners dont win all and losers dont lose all quite unlike human carousels. Swimming in the bay during this food chain session is an exciting learning experience.
Bring your own dive mask, snorkeling tube and flippers or rent it from the local shop in town. We have life jackets for those who are not too confident with the sea.
Day 2: High North Forest Hiking Trails
High North Nature Park, 1500 acres of private and government owned forested hills, is the most bio diverse area of the entire Grenadines archipelago. It comprises a dry deciduous forest with parts of evergreen cover, gullies, reefs, beaches, remarkable volcanic and sedimentary rock formations and a mangrove swamp.
The forest biota includes tropical medicinal plants and a multitude of intriguing birds and reptiles; from the noble looking Iguana (Iguana iguana) to the splendid non-poisonous Tree Boa (Corallus enydris cookii).
You may encounter a "Morocoy," Red-legged Tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) in a hole under a tree root and, on almost every tree, several colorful lizards (Anolis richardi, Geckos, etc).
The forest is also home to the clever "Manicou" (Opossum Didelphis marsupialis), whose nocturnal habit make them start wandering for food at dusk. It is not infrequent to spot them in our back yard near a veranda on a fruit tree.
High North hiking trails offer, at the top (1000 ft.), spectacular views of the Grenadines and Caribbean / Atlantic Ocean. There one may taste the well-earned bliss of the unhindered trade winds blowing refreshingly from Africa to the Caribbean.
Up there one may peacefully reflect about what lies beyond human thought, planetary wholeness and realize why, in this frantically expanding human world, it is of vital importance to preserve even the tiniest ecosystem: Small is indeed Beautiful, this experience will prove how true this is.
Bush medicine plants, still used by older Carriacouans, can be found along the trails (Kido compiled a comprehensive list in 1994). Dario will also illustrate why certain species of trees were traditionally chosen by the local boatbuilders of Scottish ancestry.
On the way back to the Station a swim at Anse LaRoche beach will end the tour.
Kido is officially entrusted with developing a Community based Conservation and Ecotourism Project for the Park, which has recently been granted funding by the EU.
Day 3 & 4: Whale and Dolphin Watching
Skipper Dario Sandrini and crew will sail you around the Grenadines in our 57ft catamaran Hokulea (Polynesian for Arcturus, the main star used by Polynesians to navigate the Pacific, thousands of years ago).
We will be searching for dolphins and whales, listening with hydrophones to underwater sound trails, to locate these intelligent and highly endangered marine mammals.
Several species of dolphins are present in our waters all year round, as well as pilot, killer, sperm, melon-head whales.
Humpbacks may be seen from December to April, they too shun the northern winter and reach the Southern Caribbean to breed and raise their offspring.
Extensive literature on whales is available at the Station.
A Whale watching tour with Kido is NOT just using marine mammals as an added attraction for tourists, rather, the aim is a deep soul-searching trip in a most extraordinary environment.
We always ensure that these marine creatures are not disturbed by our operation, but it is not uncommon that they choose to come alongside the vessel, if they are curious or willing to make contact. We like to think that they enjoy listening to our skipper, performing a Bach cantata for them, on his flute, standing on deck
A participatory introduction to Sailing is also offered to those interested.
The overnight cruise comprises a visit to several islands North of Carriacou: Union, the Tobago Keys Marine Park and Mayreau island.
A two days sailing trip is recommended to appreciate the Grenadines and its marine mammal, as well as the unforgettable experience of an evening on the catamaran, under the bright starry Caribbean sky.
Day 5: Trail to Petite Carenage Mangroves
" I will never forget getting covered in mud and the fun we had " (from Kido visitors Book. July 2, 1999)
A very unusual field trip to Petit Carenage Mangroves swamp will introduce you to the intertidal world, where trees grow in salt water, developing the earliest natural desalination system!
The Mangrove forest, evolving throughout millions of years, developed into a highly productive ecosystem, home to a myriad of different micro-organisms, nursery to crustaceans, fish, insects and birds, who find shelter and food in the swamp, protected by the intricate barrier of the mangrove roots and its thick evergreen foliage.
Petit Carenage is the site of our Experimental Mangrove Restoration project, led by G.E. Moore, Boston University biologist and wetland researcher. Hundreds of selected seedlings, obtained from nearby trees, were planted and are being currently monitored with the goal to restore the wealth of mangroves in other crucially depleted coastal areas as well.
Local support for the project stems from heightened environmental awareness in Carriacou, recognizing the ecological and economic value of mangroves, as well as their irreplaceable role in the protection of coastal areas from storm damage and erosion of land.
Learning about Mangroves hand&foot in the mud trail will reveal to you how delicate the balance of our beautiful planet is and how close we are to the danger of altering its ancient and proven ways forever.
It is The Sacred Balance, as stated in the latest book written by renowned geneticist and leading environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki, who visited Kido Project in 1999.
Day 6: Around the Island, Culture, History and Archaeology
The tour begins with a stop over at the Museum of the Historical Society of Carriacou, in Hillsborough. Arawak and Carib artifacts are on display.
Follows a visit to local naive painter Calliste Canute at Lesterre, internationally celebrated artist.
After a picnic lunch at Paradise beach we drive along a scenic road to enjoy the surprising landscapes from the hilltop, then down to Windward for a visit to traditional boat building: wooden schooners up to 60 ft long are built without a single written plan! All measurements lie in the mind and in the expert eyes of these very proud and industrious boat builders/sailors/fishermen/traders: the Scottish/African/Caribbean shipwrights. During the trip, we share fascinating tales and anecdotes which dot the rich history and customs of Kayaks (Carriacouans).
Visit to local sculptor Bonga, who carves soap stone objects and jewelry and visit to the traditional Cassava Factory in Meldrum, where organic farmer S. Cudjoe produces cassava farine using traditional tools. An introduction to local organic farming in his nearby orchard is also part of the visit.
Day 7: Night/early morning Turtle Nesting Monitoring
After a leisurely day, be ready for a night out monitoring sea turtle nesting along the parks beaches (this exercise is part of Kido Turtle conservation project).
The nesting period of the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is from April to December, with peaks of activity between June and August (average of 140 eggs 3 or 4 times per season).
The largest species, the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) between March and June (80 / 90 eggs, 5 or 6 times per season).
Marine turtles are an endangered species, threatened by pollution, overfishing, floating dragnets and illegal harvesting of their eggs, along with relentless nesting-habitat destruction. Hence the importance of establishing and maintaining pristine nature zones where these beautiful ancient creatures can come ashore to lay their eggs undisturbed as they have done for millions of years. Sea turtles always return to nest on the same beach where they were born!
Turtle monitoring and nest watching programs also discourage the malpractice of egg-poaching on the island, helping to build the necessary awareness network among visitors and local communities alike about the vital importance of turtle conservation.
Turtle watching in some islands has successfully created a viable economic alternative to the turtle sale market for meat and turtle shell souvenirs.
The rescue and release of individual specimen is also part of our program. The Green turtle in the picture was purchased and released by our team in safer waters.
Visitors donations towards the purchase of caught turtles will save more turtles from the pot.
Day 8: Offshore Islets tours
All around Carriacou sprout several uninhabited islets of volcanic origin and coral cays, surrounded by reefs.
Each represents an interesting eco-system, with land and marine fauna, vegetation and intertidal zone action.
Sandy Island, perhaps the most visited cay, is extremely beautiful, but in dire need of protection. A project for restoration and environmental management has been submitted for funding to international donors.
Jack Adam, Sandys different twin, is rarely visited but not less intriguing a volcanic crop with resilient vegetation. Several species of marine birds nest there.
Mabouya, with its shallow reef and steep rocks, has no easy approach. Thickly forested, it offers natural sanctuary to the bays numerous avian residents, as well as to lizards and iguanas.
White and Saline Island, South of Carriacou, exhibit tall pyroclastic volcanic plugs of recorded interest to the visiting geologist and naturalist.
On Saline Island there is a mangrove with a salt pond visited by incoming scientists.
A swim among the submerged roots of the mangroves will give you a glimpse of the multitude of juvenile fish, oysters and crustaceans sheltering there.
Large and Frigate Island are home to morocoi (red legged land tortoises), iguanas, wild goats and frigate birds.
Several islets can be explored in one day by sailing and by dinghy.
The sail to Isle de Ronde, near the submarine volcano Kickdem Jenny, is for the more adventurous only.
Appendix 1: Wildlife Rehabilitation at Kido
Appendix 2: Marine Turtle Monitoring & Tagging Project
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