Keeshan Ramkissoon is a 22 year-old civil engineering student at the University of the West Indies. In 2012 he was awarded the President’s Medal, in recognition of his contribution to scouting. He is an avid hiker with the instincts of a natural outdoorsman. When you say someone “cuts a new path” it’s usually a cliché but in Keeshan’s case, he actually wants to do the finding, clearing and cutting new trails.
What makes a hike enjoyable for you?
I always like to go to a good destination – like a waterfall or a beach. I like the North Coast: Paria Bay and Madamas Bay. At Madamas, you can see turtles at night; that is my favorite hiking spot. The Maracas waterfall is a very short hike – a good place for new hikers to start.
If Maracas is easy, what’s Madamas?
It is probably about 3 hours from the Matelot side or 5 hours from Blanchisseuse. You’re allowed to camp – there’s a nice little area between the river and the beach; people build little tables and what-not from bamboo.
Sounds idyllic, but a bit grueling – are there easier ways to have a similar experience?
You can get a boat from Blanchisseuse directly to Paria Bay. There is a waterfall about 15 minutes away from the bay – it’s maybe twice the size of the one at Rio Seco. And there are a few people around: there is a guy on the beach who rents a couple of tents out.
What aspects of hiking in Trinidad could be made better in your opinion?
The signage and trail markings could be improved: markings to let you know you’re on the right path. The Maracas waterfall route has been properly marked, but that is really the only one which has been done well.
If you could make one contribution to improving hiking in Trinidad, what would it be?
Any advice for people new to hiking in Trinidad?
Bring water, first aid supplies, and something to eat. Definitely go with a guide, if you don’t know someone with knowledge of the area. Don’t just guess the route.
Things we didn’t ask but are happy he mentioned:
- If you come across a snake, do nothing. Do not throw a rock at it. Give it space and leave it be.
- Be careful about going off the trail – especially during hunting season.
- The rainy season is the best time to go looking for waterfalls.
For more information about hiking in Trinidad and Tobago, there are several local clubs, including:
- Island Hikers – islandhikers.com
- Trinbago Backpackers Hikers Club – trinbagobackpackers.webs.com
- Hikers Inc – hikersinctt.com
- Trinidad & Tobago Hikeseekers – hikeseekers.com
- The Trinidad and Tobago Tour Guide Association can also provide assistance with arranging guided hikes.
Bonus: The waterfall at Rio Seco
The forest walk to the waterfall at Rio Seco (near Salybia) is a well-beaten path over gently undulating terrain. If it’s been raining a lot, there will be muddy areas, and it is almost impossible to reach the waterfall without getting your feet wet – but if you stay dry on this trek you are both extraordinarily nimble and missing out on the fun.
Rise early, aim to reach the waterfall by around 7am, and you can hope to experience a rare privilege: your own clear-water swimming pool under a canopy of trees, with no disturbance other than the exuberant rush of the fall and the occasional startled fish.
The drive to the trailhead and the path itself lacks signposting, so a certified guide or the company of a local hiking club is recommended.