Caves and Critters in Barbados

Submitted by Jacqueline Warner on the 2017 winter session program in Barbados sponsored by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies…

On Saturday, some of our group went on a caves and critters tour of Harrison’s Cave and then to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. The tour was organized by a tour group and our driver, Kevin, was a really nice older man who tried (unsuccessfully) to teach us how to have a Bajan accent. Mine personally keeps coming out British…

In Harrison’s Cave the tunnels are about two miles long and there are still three miles they have not fully uncovered as the cave digging began in the 1970’s. The tour is taken on a tram through the cave. The cave goes down 160 feet below the surface, but we were still 700 feet above sea level. I had no idea how high up Barbados was, I just assumed that the island was mostly sea level because of the beaches. The island itself is a coral reef, the only Caribbean Island of its kind, that was pushed above the surface of the ocean at least four times during tectonic plate shifting. The coral reef acts as a water filtration system which is why the island was so sought after once Europeans discovered this, because the water is very clean and great for drinking. In the cave, we could see two different underground rivers, and in a cave next door that is not open to the public, you need to scuba dive in order to get around because there is so much water. The bottom of the cave had a small lake that was nine feet deep and had a waterfall coming from the ceiling.

The critters part of our day took place at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve on the north of the island. They have deer that I absolutely adore, I want to take one home, but I think it won’t get through customs 🙁 They are the size of large dogs and are very fluffy and have no teeth! They were trying their best to eat some sweet potatoes put out for the birds, monkeys, rabbits and tortoises, but it took them so long that I could have watched it all day. Below is a picture of them eating in their “watering hole”.

The monkeys were really funny. One sat on a bench on his butt eating just like a human and they would run to the food through our legs as we watched. The monkeys also would just stand on the tortoise shells and eat whatever they wanted and the tortoises just let it happen (although, what could they really do to stop them?). The animals all let us get very close and the only ones who ever really seemed nervous were the deer and the birds. We also saw a peacock try to protect itself from a tortoise and fanned its feathers (I have some great photos of that) and the tortoise  just kept walking, right through the fanned feathers. The tortoises were all generally like that, they walked along the pathways with us and tried to bite our toes, but we always managed to get away. Apparently, they think that nail polish on the toes looks like berries so they try to slowly go in for the kill – which is adorable.

Through these tours I saw a different side of the island, something different than the beaches on the coasts. I was able to see a part of the countryside that many tourists either don’t know about or don’t bother to go see. I am very happy that we chose to see this side of the island and experience the wildlife here.