Sunday, November 23, 2008
Trinidad & Tobago: Home of mud volcanoes
Trinidad & Tobago’s unique surroundings also offer visitors a variety of extraordinary attractions and unusual activities that include exploring underground grottos, viewing mud volcanoes and swimming in the destination’s asphalt lake and offshore lagoon. Cave Exploration, Trinidad Most of Trinidad’s Northern Range comprises of limestone caves such as the Sea Caves at Las Cuervas Beach and the Aripo Caves.
The Dunstans Caves, located on the Asa Wright Nature Reserve, is home to the oilbird or guacharo, the world’s only nocturnal fruit-eating bird. The caves also feature a crystal clear pool that adds to the mystery of these underground grottos.
Another place of interest is the Gasparee Caves, which lie below the ground on the island of Gaspar Grande, located off Trinidad’s northwest coast. It is known to be the site where pirates and smugglers once used to secure stolen treasures. Pitch Lake, Trinidad This natural phenomenon, situated in the village of La Brea in southwest Trinidad, has fascinated explorers, scientists and locals since its discovery by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595.
About 250 feet deep at its center, it is estimated to have reserves in excess of 6 million tons, from which approximately 180 tons of pitch are mined daily. On a good day, the output can reach 240 tons. Far from being water, the “lake” is 40 percent pitch, 30 percent water and 30 percent colloidal clay. The only liquid source is the self-replenishing center, known as “The Mother of the Lake.” A gift of nature and a national treasure, The Pitch Lake provides the entire country, and many of the neighboring islands with pitch for building roads.
From a distance the lake appears to be an abandoned car park and visitors can be seen walking on the surface or even swimming, with the hopes of gaining what some believe to be the lake’s healing properties. Mud Volcano, Trinidad Trinidad is one of the few countries in the world where mud volcanoes are prevalent. They are locally referred to as "bouffe" (French for swelling) or by the original Amerindian term guaico, meaning "mud-stream". By definition however, mud volcanoes are areas where there is an extrusion of watery mud or clay, accompanied by or sometimes forced by methane gas.
When the mud is of a dry consistency, a volcanic shape is usually formed and the wet mud tends to result in depressions. One of the most popular mud volcanoes in Trinidad is the Piparo mud volcano (known by some as Morne Roche) located in South Trinidad, just east of Marabella. It reaches an elevation of 365 feet (150 feet in relation to the surrounding land) and covers some 425 acres. This mud volcano usually sits dormant, but occasionally spews mud hundreds of feet into the air. The largest recorded eruption occurred in February 1997.
Piparo is considered the most accessible and the most visited mud volcano on the island with recreational facilities including a children’s play area and picnic tables located in close proximity of the volcano. Nylon Pool, Tobago Considered a veritable tranquil paradise in the center of the ocean, the Nylon Pool is located right next to what is dubbed one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Buccoo Reef.
The Nylon Pool was named by Princess Margaret during her visit to Tobago in 1962, when she commented that the water was as clear as her nylon stockings. This natural, meter-deep swimming pool is formed from an offshore sandbar and still lagoon in the middle of the sea. With the deep ocean on one side and palm fringed beaches on the other, the shallow waters and powder-soft sand provide a secluded island oasis.
In addition, the unique feature of the reef complex allows swimmers to enjoy their own private swimming pool with depths no greater than 7-10 feet at high tide. Local folklore promises that a dip in the waters of the Nylon Pool will make you look five years younger.