Barbados Wildlife Reserve
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since my dad’s visit to Barbados. In case you missed my last post about the stunning Animal Flower Caves, we rented a car and explored many parts of the island that are less accessible by bus or foot. The next stop we headed to was the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve is located in the eastern part of St. Peter parish. Busses are sparse from the west part of the island to any locations in the northeast. But, you can find one route from Speightstown to Bathsheba that does have a stop near the reserve.
From our apartment in the central part of St. James, it only took us about 15 minutes to get there by car. Highway 2A and Highway 2 are the main roads to follow, both of which are pretty freshly paved and pothole free! There isn’t a lot of signage leading to the reserve, but the entrance itself is well marked and there aren’t many other roads going off Highway 2. As long as you’re following along a map, it won’t be too hard to find.
The road leading in is bumpy and gravelly (as pictured above), but there’s signs to the parking lot. Once parked, helpful staff will point you in the right direction to the admission window.
I’m sort of a budget traveler, so at $15 USD per person, this was a pleasantly affordable find for us. Our 10:30 AM arrival time on a Saturday morning turned out to be perfect, as there was a feeding scheduled for 30 minutes later at 11:00 AM.
Note: The reserve is CASH ONLY! They do accept both USD and/or BBD.
The tour of Barbados Wildlife Reserve is self-guided, so after purchasing tickets, we were given a map of the reserve and off we went!
Nature immediately immerses you once you pass through the double entrance doors (keeping the animals secure inside). Two friendly red-footed tortoises greeted us and were not hesitant to just hang out. This species of tortoise basically runs the park, to the point that you have to watch your step or you might trip over one on the walkway!
Keep your eyes open as you follow the winding cobblestone path, as you’ll spot plenty of other wildlife. A red brocket deer lounging in the shade almost passed by our notice as she blended in with the foliage so well. I read that there are agouti (a guinea-pig like rodent) and armadillos, though we didn’t see either of them.
At the bottom end of the path, there were a few small ponds. We spoke with one of the workers who said they were renovating them right now. Two caimans were being held in a temporary, swamp-like pool, which the worker pointed out to us. The species is similar to a wide-bellied crocodile, and apparently just as aggressive… though you wouldn’t guess it from the way the one above didn’t seem to mind a turtle hitching a ride on his back!
By this point, we had already made it about halfway through the reserve and it was quickly approaching feeding time. We made haste through the second half of the park, encountering peacocks and peahens, turkey, and even more turtles.
None of the male peacocks had their stunning plumage on display, but they do molt their feathers at the end of summer. Considering it was end of September, we probably just missed them. It was still neat to see the the peacocks mingle nonchalantly with turtles, deer and the other animals.
On our way out, we passed by a number of bird cages, but they all appeared to be empty. According to reviews, there are supposed to be lovebirds, parrots and even snakes, iguanas and other reptiles. I’m not sure if we weren’t looking close enough in our hurry to get to the feeding or if they actually weren’t there.
The feeding time is what really makes the Barbados Wildlife Reserve a memorable experience. There were already a dozen monkeys hanging out at the feeding location when we walked up. Some were swinging around trees, others were tackling each other in the middle of the walkways.
We followed another cobblestone path through a small forested area to the right of the parking lot where the rest of the monkey troop was hanging out. I could’ve easily spent the rest of the day there just taking photos. I swear some of the monkeys looked just like they were posing for school portraits.
Naturally, I couldn’t keep my camera off the cute baby monkey, either. He was hopping from branch to branch practicing his skills, but never wandering too far from mama.
As mentioned above, all paths through the Barbados Wildlife Reserve are cobblestone. They are rough and uneven, with an occasional steep grade. Moss also grows over some of the cobblestone, which, while giving it an appropriately natural look, can make those spots extra slippery when wet.
My dad (post-hip-surgery) navigated it in sneakers without too much trouble, but there is unfortunately no way a wheelchair or even children’s stroller would do well in there. Not to mention the frequent turtle road blocks!
The takeaway is to tread with caution and maybe consider wearing sneakers if you’re not confident on your feet, especially on a rainy day.
We thought the park was quite enjoyable and reasonable for the price. I would encourage potential visitors not to expect or compare it to a metropolitan zoo. There’s not a huge variety of animals (you’re not getting a safari in the Caribbean!), but there are also no barriers between you and the animals that are there. It is an open and immersive experience to walk close to animals in their natural habitats.
I would not recommend planning an entire day around going here as you can walk around the whole reserve in under an hour. The feeding times are at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM and each last about 30 minutes. Coupled with the nearby Morgan Lewis Windmill, Cherry Tree Hill Reserve and St. Nicholas Abbey though, it’s definitely worth a visit!
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