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Discover the Timeless Beauty of Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad Wildlife Sanctuary

As you turn off Blanchisseuse Road to enter HADCO Experiences at Asa Wright Nature Centre, you are met with a wooden sign that signifies your arrival at this very special place. Through the swinging wooden gate you go, entering a wooden nirvana, driving on curving roads until you arrive at the newly renovated ecolodge.

In this protected rainforest teeming with life, you are surrounded by the symphony of bird calls and buzzing insects, gurgling streams and the occasional whooping bark of howler monkeys.

This is as it has always been.

It is no accident that this extraordinary destination has captured the attention of travellers worldwide. Particia Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller 1,000 places to see before you die, wrote that sitting on the verandah of the Asa Wright Nature Centre is one of those things you should put on your bucket list. Just one day spent here will be enough to discover why.

Nestled within Trinidad’s Arima Valley, this part of the Northern Range is dotted with old cocoa estates, most now reclaimed by nature. The original main road from Arima to Blanchisseuse ran along the western side of the valley and the original road into the Spring Hill Estate – the Guacharo Road, part of which is now used as the Discovery Trail – branched off that old road.

The estate was an amalgamation of small cocoa plantations owned by the Meyer family. It was purchased after the end of World War II by Asa Wright, an Icelandic woman, and her English husband, who continued to operate Spring Hill as a cocoa-coffee-citrus estate. When internationally famous natural scientist William Beebe purchased the Verdant Vale Estate (which he renamed Simla) and St. Patrick’s Estate lower down the Arima Valley in 1949, his presence drew many foreign visitors to the Arima Valley, and this created a business opportunity for Asa, who began hosting guests at Spring Hill.

In 1967, the Asa Wright Nature Centre Trust was established, with the aim of protecting Spring Hill Estate as a Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Centre; and Spring Hill Estate was conveyed to the Trustees by Asa Wright, which consisted of several American, British, and local natural scientists at that time.

This pioneering trust paved the way for sustainable land conservation, combining agricultural development with a profound commitment to scientific research, education, and the preservation of Trinidad and Tobago’s rich flora and fauna. Recognized internationally, the Asa Wright Nature Centre became a trailblazer in funding conservation through ecotourism, setting an inspiring example for sustainable development.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the AWNC’s guest house business operated under the constraints of its location. Nevertheless, by the 1990s the AWNC’s guest house was booked out in advance for a couple of winter seasons at a time. This model waxed and waned. Over the years, the Asa Wright Nature Centre has evolved, facing challenges and seizing opportunities for growth. The humble guest house that once operated without even basic landline telephone service has now been renovated as a sought-after destination for nature enthusiasts.

Nature’s only constant is change.

In 2021, the Centre embarked on a new chapter, inviting proposals to operate the ecolodge at Spring Hill. After careful consideration, HADCO Holdings was selected as the preferred concessionaire for an initial 10-year period. Under the concession agreement, HADCO Holdings will occupy and carry out its hospitality business within the building, compound and environs on Spring Hill Estate and enjoy ancillary rights to use the driveway and nature trails for the purposes of that business. This partnership ensures the continuity of conservation efforts while enhancing the hospitality experience for visitors.

The AWNC will still have a presence on Spring Hill Estate and the right to carry on its conservation and educational programmes and revitalise its sustainable agricultural activities. It will also maintain the facilities at the William Beebe Tropical Research Centre at Simla for the use of local and foreign scientific researchers. Having a stable source of funding for its operations, the AWNC will be able to increase its attention to conservation, scientific research and sustainable agriculture on its lands beyond Spring Hill.

While change is inevitable, the natural beauty of the Arima Valley remains unmatched. The Asa Wright Nature Centre continues to embrace its role as a guardian of Trinidad’s ecological wealth. With upgraded facilities that focus on eco-tourism, the Centre emphasizes the importance of coexistence and the countless benefits that arise when humans live harmoniously with nature.

There is an unspoken belief in endless life here. Nothing is wasted. Everything has a purpose.

The dedication of the Tour Guides, hailing from surrounding communities and beyond, ensures that this intrinsic treasure is protected for generations to come; with the understanding that the value of their undertaking may not truly be valued or fully understood now but will certainly benefit many generations to come.

HADCO Experiences’ investment in the Asa Wright Nature Centre signifies a paradigm shift in Caribbean tourism. Departing from consumer-driven and extractive models of the past, sustainability lies at the heart of this new approach. It is a destination that appeals to both scientists and seekers of serenity, where rustic charm has seamlessly blended with restful comfort. The invitation is extended to all who wish to revel in the wonders of nature while supporting a sustainable future.

The Asa Wright Nature Centre stands as a testament to the power of conservation and the enduring beauty of Trinidad’s Arima Valley. Its rich history, commitment to sustainable practices, and unwavering dedication to protecting the natural environment make it a true jewel in the Caribbean. Experience the timeless magic of Asa Wright Nature Centre with HADCO Experiences and embark on a journey that celebrates the harmony between humanity and nature.

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