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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Lesser Antilles

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for this tour. 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 LESSER ANTILLES: This tour visits a number of islands in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean: Barbados, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Montserrat, St Vincent, St Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Grenada. Visas are not required on any of these islands for citizens of the U.S., U.K., E.U. and Commonwealth nations. Most just require a passport with more than six months’ validity. Other nationalities should consult their embassy website for each country.

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 that the order of islands visited sometimes changes from year-to-year due to ferry and flight schedules.   

ARRIVAL DATE/INTRODUCTORY MEEETING: In 2021 the tour begins in the early afternoon at the VC Bird International Airport on Antigua before being transferred to our hotel. The exact time will be specified at tour confirmation. If you can’t arrive before midday, you may want to consider arriving a day early; we would be happy to make extra hotel arrangements for you. The tour ends with transfers to the Grantley Adams International Airport on Barbados. *Note that the order of islands visited sometimes changes from year-to-year due to ferry and flight schedules so it’s worth double-checking with the WINGS office about this.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the CIA World Factbook background notes for each country at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/.

PACE OF THE TOUR: This tour generally has daily starts of around 6am (sometimes earlier). Many meals during daylight hours will be taken in the field, with our returning to the hotel before dinner. Trails are relatively smooth and straightforward. Much of the birding is along roadsides, and/ clear designated paths and the walks are generally not at all challenging. Two forest walks require that we make short ascents up paths with moderate inclines.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

Specialized medications may be difficult to obtain locally and we advise bringing all you will need with you.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for the islands can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel). Please contact your physician if you have questions about travel to these islands.

Malaria and Chikungunya: Malaria and other tropical parasites are not common on these islands, but mosquitos (more prevalent in the wet season) have been known to transmit Dengue Fever and (as of 2016) Chikungunya and Zika. As we will be traveling to the Caribbean during the dry season we typically encounter few mosquitoes during the tour. However we cannot guarantee that there will be absolutely no mosquitos. As an added precaution we therefore recommend that you take with you an insect repellent which has a high concentration of DEET.

Miscellaneous: We typically encounter few biting insects during the course of the tour. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Like most islands in the Caribbean, there may be chiggers present.

Altitude: The highest elevation we visit is just over 3,000 feet above sea level. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. While in the field or traveling, use of a smokeless alternative such as nicotine gum is requested. Please do not smoke at short stops while traveling. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group and leave ample time between smoking and getting back into the vehicle. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail. The leader reserves the right to modify this policy if the situation warrants it.

CLIMATE: The days are generally quite warm 25-32 Celsius (in the 80’s F) and summer clothes are suitable year-round. Please be prepared for the possibility of cool, damp (or rainy) weather in the mountains. Light rain is always a possibility (although rare during the months of your tour). The sun can feel intense, so please ensure that you bring sunscreen (preferably with a high SPF). Humidity can be high when in certain habitats so please bring light, breathable clothing.

ACCOMMODATIONS: During the tour we’ll stay at comfortable hotels or their equivalent.

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: Free Wi-Fi is available at all of the hotels at which we will be staying. You should be able to have cell phone signal on most of the islands (although roaming charges will apply).

FOOD: Food is very good with a variety of delicious local dishes. On some mornings we’ll have breakfast at our hotels and on other mornings we’ll have a picnic breakfast out in the field. Lunches will either be at local establishments in order to get a more accurate feel for true Caribbean cuisine and experience the friendly nature of Caribbean islanders or packed picnic lunches. Evening meals at our hotels offer tasty fusion dishes as well as traditional authentic Creole cuisine, and mostly include fish / chicken / vegetarian options.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.                                     

DRINKS: Bottled water, a soft drink, juice or (if stated in the itinerary beer/ rum punch) are provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. In addition we keep a supply of bottled water on the tour vehicles. Bottled or filtered water may also be provided in some rooms where we stay. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be travelling by minibuses or people-carriers. The leader will arrange a seating rotation and participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. We will be on boats and dingys at various times. We use scheduled flights and ferries between the islands.

LUGGAGE: Bring what you need but consider the utility of each item. If you have it, please pack soft luggage, as it’s more easily packed into the vehicles. Our leader(s) will help with luggage if they can, but please do not expect them to carry excessively heavy bags. Please do not bring any bag that is so heavy that you are unable to lift and carry it yourself. Please bring two smaller lighter bags rather than one very heavy one or alternately pack a light-weight duffel in your big bag and redistribute your gear once you join the tour.

As a reminder, do not pack important medicines in checked luggage; always carry them in your carry-on luggage. Conversely, remember to pack sharp, pointed items, such as pocket knives, etc., in your checked luggage.

As a general rule, in addition to using your WINGS luggage tags, it is a good idea to affix identification to the inside of each piece of luggage.

INTER-ISLAND TRAVEL: There are no weight restrictions for luggage when traveling by boat between islands, however there are weight restrictions on flights between islands. The weight restrictions on luggage are listed below. Charges for weight overage are the responsibility of the participant.
Carry-on luggage: One piece per passenger with a maximum weight of 5kg/11lbs. This must fit under the seat in front of you and measure less than 21” (54cm) in length x 11” (28cm) width x 7.8” (20cm) height.
Checked luggage: 1 checked bag per passenger of maximum of 23kg (50lbs) within overall dimensions (L+W+H) of 62” (157cm).

LANGUAGE: English is widely spoken throughout the Lesser Antilles. Martinique and Guadeloupe are the exceptions, but many locals on these islands do speak English in addition to their native French. 

TIME ZONE: The Lesser Antilles are in the Eastern Caribbean time zone (or Atlantic Standard Time) year-round and thus 1 hour ahead of Eastern Time and 4 hours behind GMT.

CURRENCY: The local currency in all of the Lesser Antillean islands except Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe is Eastern Caribbean Dollars (US$1 = ECD$2.69). The currency in Barbados is Barbados dollars (US$1 = BDS$2). The currency in Martinique and Guadeloupe is Euros (US$1 = Euro 0.9). While it is often possible to change both English pounds or US Dollars into local currency while on the island should you wish, it is recommended that should you wish to bring cash with you on the trip, you bring US Dollars, as this is widely accepted throughout the islands, whereas English pounds are not. It is possible to change currency directly into ECD at the airport or at most hotels. Credit cards are accepted at the hotels.

TIPPING: This trip includes all tour-based tips in the tour price. This means the leader will take care of tips for waiters and waitresses when we have group meals together in restaurants, and for porters. We do not make collections from the group for drivers, local guides etc. at the end of the tour. Again, this is included in the tour price and will be taken care of by the leader. The only tips you may want to give are for any personal service such as a drink in the bar or room service or any assisted activity outside the main framework of the tour. If you are unsure, the leader will be able to advise you on this. . Gratuities for WINGS/Sunbird leaders are at your discretion.

ELECTRICITY: Typically 110/120V AC 60Hz. Some of the islands such as Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia use European and / British sockets, so an international travel plug is useful and can be bought in most airport departure lounges. You may find the following website helpful: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/

LAUNDRY: Laundry facilities are available at select hotels on our trip.

Updated: 07 November 2019