Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.
ENTERING JAMAICA: All visitors must have a valid passport. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom do not need visas; citizens of other countries should check with their nearest Jamaican embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide you with a letter about your participation in the tour.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. It is always a good idea to take photocopies of your passport and air ticket with you when traveling abroad. They can prove invaluable in helping you get replacements if your original documents are lost or stolen. You should pack the photocopies separately from the originals.
Note: Anyone visiting Jamaica within six weeks of being in South America will have to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1147.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Jamaica at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jm.html.
HEALTH: The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Specific vaccinations and proof thereof may be required to enter the country. For entry and exit information please visit the U.S. State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html. We strongly recommend contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.
Municipal water is potable throughout, but we always have bottled water available; please bring your own refillable water bottle. Specialized medications may be difficult to obtain locally, and we advise bringing all you'll need with you. Though mosquitoes are present in a few locations, birding here is relatively nuisance-free. Jamaica has no poisonous snakes. Though chiggers are absent or rare, minute ticks can be a nuisance in a couple places, but they carry no diseases. To repel ticks, we recommend treating your clothing with permethrin one to a few days before you leave home. This non-staining, odorless chemical is non-toxic to humans and protective on clothing through several launderings. Camping supply and drug stores sell sprays containing 0.5% permethrin, while online sources also offer pump sprays as well as a more economical 10% concentrate which you dilute and then treat clothing by soaking it in a large bag and then hang out to dry; be sure to look into this option well in advance of the tour. If you do not use permethrin-treated clothing, bring spray DEET or Picaridin to treat your socks and lower pant legs in the field each morning. We recommend using insect repellents with a concentration of DEET around 20%, and remember that airlines usually do not allow aerosols; a pump spray or cream is best. Care must be taken, however, to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves some rubber and plastics and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some alternatives that contain natural products and aren’t corrosive.
SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group.
If any lodge, accommodation, or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than the WINGS policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.
PACE OF THE TOUR: Most mornings will start around 6:00 am, but there will be several earlier mornings and some mornings where we can take it a little easier. We bird through the morning hours, with a sit-down breakfast on most days. On most days we try to schedule one to two hours of free time after lunch and before dinner for rest, but sometimes we'll use the afternoon to drive to our next hotel.
There are no especially long or strenuous walks or hikes on this tour. The longest walks are of only one mile and do not climb substantially. Most walking is on roads and trails, although at Marshall's Pen there is some very uneven, rocky ground. Those with balance and stability issues should bring a collapsible walking stick with a wrist loop, and those who find it difficult to stand for long periods may wish to bring a small travel stool. On several evenings we might go owling within a short walk of our doorstep. There are several longish drives on typically rough Jamaican roads.
FOOD: Jamaica is famous for its delicious local foods, such as ackee (known also as “vegetable scrambled eggs”), callaloo (a vegetable cooked as spinach), bammy (fried or steamed cakes made from cassava), and the famous jerk recipes. The food at Marshall’s Pen and Starlight Chalet is home-cooked and served family style, while on other nights we eat at standard restaurants.
WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, please note that not all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, clients with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs can, regretfully, not be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participants who need to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them.
CLIMATE: The days are generally quite warm and humid, and summer clothes are suitable year-round. But be prepared for rather cool, damp weather in the Blue Mountains (with lows possible into the mid-50's F), and slightly cool mornings at Marshall's Pen (morning lows usually in the upper-60's F). Rain is very unpredictable, with an occasional downpour possible, or even a totally dry week without a single drop.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Marshall’s Pen is a 200-year-old private “great house” with ten guest bedrooms with private baths. Because of the limited number of rooms, private accommodation cannot be guaranteed with larger groups. If you have requested single accommodation and it is not available, you will receive the appropriate refund of the single occupancy supplement for those two nights. The other hotels on the tour have modern rooms with private bathrooms.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation during the tour is in minibuses driven by the leaders.
Created: 20 May 2014