Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Jamaica. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.
ENTERING AND LEAVING JAMAICA: All visitors must have a valid passport. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom do not need visas, but citizens of other countries should check entry requirements with their nearest Jamaican embassy of consulate. Anyone visiting Jamaica within six weeks of being in South America must show proof of yellow fever vaccination. A US $27 departure tax is required on departure from Jamaica. Most airfares include this tax, but check with your airline or travel agent to be certain.
MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Jamaica in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Jamaica here.
HEALTH: It is a good idea generally to have current tetanus and typhoid inoculations. You can review the latest CDC advisories here. Municipal water supplies are potable throughout. 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. After unusually dry winters, minute ticks can be a nuisance, but they carry no diseases.
PACE OF THE TOUR: Most mornings will start moderately early, around 6:00, but there will be several earlier mornings and some mornings where we take it a little easier. We’ll bird through the morning hours, taking time on most days for a relaxing sit-down breakfast. On most day’s we’ll try to schedule an hour or two of free time between lunch and dinner for rest and relaxation, but sometimes we’ll use the afternoon for the drive to our next hotel.
There are no especially long or strenuous walks or hikes on this tour. The longest walks are only a mile, and none of our walks climbs any substantial heights. Most walking is on roads and trails, although at Marshall’s Pen there will be some very uneven, rocky ground. Those with balance or stability problems 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 may go owling within a short walk of our doorstep. There are several longish drives on typically rough Jamaican roads.
CLIMATE: The days are generally quite warm and humid, and summer clothes are suitable year-round. Please be prepared for rather cool, damp weather in the Blue Mountains, where low temperatures can be in the mid-50s F, and for cool mornings at Marshall’s Pen, with morning lows usually in the upper 60s.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Marshall’s Pen is a 200-year-old Jamaican great house with ten guest bedrooms. Because of the limited number of rooms, private accommodation cannot be guaranteed. If you have requested single accommodation and it is not available, you will receive the appropriate refund of the single occupancy supplement for those nights. The other hotels on the tour have modern rooms with private bathrooms.
FOOD: Jamaica is famous for delicious local foods such as ackee (also known as “vegetable scrambled eggs”), callaloo (a vegetable cooked like 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.
DRESS: Informal throughout.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation during the tour is in self-drive minibuses.
SMOKING: We request that you not smoke 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 from the group and downwind. If any lodge, accommodation, or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy, that more restrictive policy will prevail.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information and Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.
FINAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Jamaica will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary.
Updated: June 2013