Cutting inland from the EMR at St Joseph, Abercromby Street becomes Maracas Royal Road less than a kilometre from the EMR, crossing the grand First River Bridge and winding north into the lush MARACAS–ST JOSEPH VALLEY. Maracas itself is a tiny place with a post office and the steepled church of St Michael, the houses separated by clumps of fluffy bamboo and neat provision grounds. A few kilometres further on, the Maracas Royal Road ends at Loango Village, at a T-junction with the bumpy tarmac of San Pedro Road. There is easy access to bathing pools along the Maracas River here, the deepest usually filled with swimmers from the village. The riverbed is scattered with sparkling bronze sedimentary rocks, which fed rumours of gold deposits in the early twentieth century.
Set in a private home overlooking the Maracas valley, Yerette is one of the island’s prime visitor attractions, allowing you to get a magical, close-up view of the many hummingbirds found in Trinidad. Some thirteen species are regular visitors, drinking delicately from the hundreds of sugar-water feeders dotted around the terrace and flowered gardens, and making acrobatic dives and swoops through the air as they perform complicated courtship rituals or defend their territory with surprising aggression. Most common are the metallic emerald-and magenta-tailed copper-rumped hummingbirds, but (depending upon the season) you may also see the spectacular flame-tailed ruby-topaz and the equally colourful tufted coquette, the second-smallest bird in the world. Visits are chaperoned by Yerette’s charismatic owner, Theo Ferguson, who provides some background on these fascinating little birds as well as taking you through a slide show that details each of the seventeen hummingbird species found in Trinidad. You’re also able to browse a gallery of exquisitely detailed photographs (all of which are available to buy) as well as hummingbird-themed craft items, and the visit includes a delicious breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
Note that all visits must be booked in advance, usually a week ahead at least, as Yerette is very oversubscribed and does not operate regular hours.
Maracas Valley Waterfall
It’s well worth heading deep into Maracas–St Joseph Valley to see the Maracas Valley Waterfall, which crashes magnificently down 90m of sheer rock. At the end of Waterfall Road you can park and, if needed, locate a guide at the neighbouring house; the route is simple and easy to follow independently, but guides can impart some interesting background on the trees and flowers en route. After twenty minutes of uphill walking along a wide track lined by groves of tall balata trees, a path strikes off right to three tiers of mini-waterfalls with two swimmable, ice-cold pools. Signs warning “no candles” are puzzling until you near the main falls twenty minutes further; here you’ll see clusters of candles or pools of wax on the rocks, left by followers of the Hindu, Spiritual Baptist and Orisha religions, who regard the waterfall as a sacred place.