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“Do you just LOVE it when a plan comes together?”
Review of Hacienda Jacana

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Hacienda Jacana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 17 August 2013

Paul Pugh, a long time friend, and I have been saying for years we need to sort out our lives so that we could have some time birding together - any time, any place. He and I used to be birding 'rivals' but our lives have taken over, and he, to a large extent, had left birds behind.

Anyway, we did get our acts together, big time.

A few alternative options for the timing of the holiday were mulled over and so we quickly resolved the 'When?' dilemma, and then we quickly moved on to the 'Where?' question.

Although we briefly touched on other global birding hotspot destinations, we quickly settled on Trinidad.

But where on Trinidad?

As birders we were well aware of long established one-stop shop destinations such as Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Pax Guest House. However, on enquiry we were immediately put off the former by what seemed to be excessive prices, (having been there on our trip this alone proved to be a very good decision).

We renewed our researches and almost immediately Paul found details of Hacienda Jacana, no doubt due to its deservedly high profile on Trip Advisor. He quickly convinced me that we need look no further, and we duly contacted Hacienda Jacana about our plans.

This though was just the beginning of things.

By e-mail we entered into a long very happy dialogue with the manager, Helen Quesnel, sorting out the details of our holiday break. I could have said the minutiae, because in a way that was what it was, but on a holiday the 'small' details really matter. They can be the making of the trip.

Anyway, suffice to say nothing was too much for Helen. Changes of dates relative to our flights were readily accommodated. Arrangements for our two part day one overnight stay of Tobago were facilitated, (even though that was down to us to organise!), transfers to and from the airport were arranged, etc..

Best of all Helen volunteered the services of Dave Ramlal, a bird guide associated with Hacienda Jacana,

In many ways this was the making of the trip, as although we had an itinerary of birding destinations outlined, Dave effectively delivered it, and much, much more.

As a result of the decision we made to use Dave's services and the airport transfers we no longer needed to hire a car.

Therefore, eating out wasn't really an option, and nor was buying the basis for cooking meals ourselves.

As such, Helen offered a package of meals tailored around about our birding itinerary. We gladly accepted.

What a good decision this was. Besides keeping us stocked with breakfast goodies, fruit, (oh, and beer!), Helen provided us with fantastic meals, (sometimes lunches, sometimes evening meals, all depending on our itinerary).

I say Helen; she and Jesse arranged and delivered them, but it was Helen's mother-in-law who so obviously lovingly prepared them. Although we passed on our thanks we never got to thank her for this in person, which I regret. The meals were wonderfully. Perfectly 'weighted' for our activities, (Helen even referred to the meals as, for example, a 'heavy' lunch), wonderfully cooked, and delightfully aimed at giving us a good introduction to local cuisine, (I am a huge believer in 'when in Rome' so this suited me perfectly).

So as I say, nothing was too much trouble; our itinerary continued to be fluid to our benefit, (e.g., making a last minute decision to change our plans by driving overnight to Grande Riviere and then sleeping in Dave's mini-bus rather than getting up to leave at 03:00 as had been intended, so that we saw nest-excavating and egg-laying Leatherback Turtles as well as the intended Trinidad Piping Guan).

As I said in the guest book, Helen was the consummate hostess.

I could go on and on with more detail about our whole wonderful experience as a result of selecting to stay at Hacienda Jacana, opting to use the services of Dave Ramlal and deciding to take up the option of having our meals there.

Suffice to say Helen was really lovely to deal with; everything was done with a smile - we made Helen laugh and she made us laugh!

I have so far said very little about Hacienda Jacana itself. Basically, it proved to be the absolutely perfect for us. Besides all of the above, the place was perfect in terms of providing extremely comfortable accommodation within fantastic grounds full of the wildlife we had come to Trinidad to see.

Trip Advisor reviews say more about the accommodation itself so I won't major on this. Also, I will just say that the setting allowed us the, (frequently taken), option of 24/7 wildlife watching, featuring not just the birds we had come to see, but also all sorts of other wildlife too numerous to detail.

In summary, I would thoroughly recommend a stay a Hacienda Jacana to anyone wanting a fantastic peaceful break, but especially so to anyone like us, who wants the ideal base for a birding holiday in Trinidad.

Indeed, I would strongly recommend exactly the same package we happened upon, taking in Asa Wright Nature Centre, Blanchisseuse Road, Caroni Swamp, Grande Riviere, Aripo Livestock Station, Nariva Swamp and Waller Field in just 5 days with Dave Ramlal, (plus our two day trip to Tobago with Newton George).

As a result, we managed some 210 - 220 bird species including a large number of the endemics and specialities and various of wildlife highlights. Even though we are experienced birders we would have really struggled to see anything like that without the services of Dave and Newton - rainforest birding is obviously a hard art to get right from a standing start without any prior knowledge of the species involved!

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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53 - 59 of 101 reviews

Reviewed 31 July 2013

My husband and I stayed for the weekend. I made the arrangements and saw the pictures but on arrival it was a wonderful surprise to both of us. Your are able to be one with nature as well as have all the conveniences of a self catering apartment in a 4 star Hotel. The view from the balcony of the cottage is awesome. It is a quiet and peaceful location where you can just relax. The owners Helen and Jesse make you feel right at home and they cater to your every need from the time you get to the gate until you leave. We highly recommend Hacienda Jacana to both locals and foreigners. We will certainly visit again.

Room Tip: The 4 cottages each have 2 bedrooms and overlook a pond.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Charmaine2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2013

Four beautiful cottages, ours was 14m x 8m, so very spacious. Well equiped with good air-con. Ideal for 3 to 5 night break...try to arrange a visit to Tamana Bat Caves if you like wildlife. Super place for spending hours on the veranda sipping tea and watching birds, we also saw caimen & Tyra here. The establishment is in harmony with the local wild life with plenty of bats & frogs - as a consequence it was the only place on the island where we did not get mosquito bites. The owners Jesse & Helen are exceptionally welcoming & went the extra mile to make our stay very comfortable. Highly recommended.

Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
3  Thank Rohug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 March 2013 via mobile

Enjoyed a weekend getaway at this peaceful hideaway.
Hacienda Jacana consists of 4 cabins/ cottages each with 2 rooms, a full bath, kitchen, and living room area. There is well- functioning wifi and direct tv.
The verandah overlooks a pond.
The cottage's kitchen was supplied with all utensils, flatware and dishes. You can cook your own meals if you like.
We asked for all meals to be provided.
The food was delivered to our door by the family members who run the establishment.
The food is fantastic and the family equally so.
They make you feel very welcome and are quite willing to show you around the grounds.
Our main purpose there was to see their grey- necked wood rail, which we accomplished, with the help of Jesse.
And our secondary purpose was to see and photograph any other bird species as well as relax and enjoy in an environment conducive to all of that.
These things we were able to do.
To summarize, the cabin is very comfortable , with a/c, although it can be cool at nights depending on the time of year, very new fittings in bathroom.
Lovely kitchen, drinking water dispenser provided.
Wifi, cable.
Canoeing on lake.
Lovely views from balcony

  • Stayed: February 2013
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2  Thank summer789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2013

What a wonderful find by Motmot Travel who recommended this to us. We were given such a lovely welcome by Helen and husband Jesse. Nothing was too much trouble and the evening meals arrived as if by magic. The Hacienda is so peaceful and beautifully maintained. Certainly worth a visit. Excellent for birdwatchers.

Room Tip: All self catering units are overlooking the lake so choose any.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank NatureloverCotswolds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2013

Spent a weekend here at Hacienda Jacana with my husband and son. I must say it was a 'flawless staycation!' ..
All of our needs were catered for, from the food to the cottage being child-friendly for our 3 year old. The nature all around with the sounds of birds and other creatures was quite calming. Our hosts, the Quesnels, were wonderfully friendly and ensured we were comfortable throughout our entire stay. A weekend was not enough because we would still like to go canoing and do some late-evening fishing. It's the perfect place for us busy folks in TT to go to and enjoy a place from the hectic lives we live.
It's a place for all and if anyone outside of TT is looking for an ideal tropical vacation, this is definitely a superb place to stay! It's a combination of true country living with the modern comforts of life.!

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank shalizaSM-A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2013

After spending six weeks in a hot and dusty boatyard carrying out repairs on a sailing boat, two yachties desperately needed a tranquil haven to recharge their own battered spirits.
We found the perfect port of call miles from the sea in heart of central trinidad's beautiful wild countryside. Jesse and Helen, our hosts, couldn't have been more welcoming. The chalet was simple but stylish and had everything you could possibly need for a really comfortable stay. The home cooked lunches and dinners, delivered to the chalet were absolutely delicious and all made with local fresh ingredients.
The chalet was beautifully situated under the tree canopy, surrounded by exotic plants and butterflies . One of the special moments of our weekend was going down to the small lake near our chalet in the dark with a tourch to watch the moon lillies open and spotting dozens of pairs of eyes of baby cayman glistening in the tourch light like jewels.
The best treat however was the day spent with local bird expert, David, who managed to show us an astonishing forty six different species of bird all within this natural paradise.
We will certainly make a visit here every time we come to Trinidad.
Jane and Rowan Francis.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank rowan_n_francis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hacienda Jacana

Address: Leotaud Trace 6, Talparo 437258, Trinidad
Region: Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Trinidad > Talparo
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Talparo
Price Range: £160 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hacienda Jacana is a peaceful country haven. Slip into the serene setting of a private country paradise, discretely set in 22 acres on the edge of the tropical rain forest at the centre of Trinidad. Relax or BBQ poolside, walk the grounds, bird watch, read a book in a hammock under the trees,fish or canoe in the lake. Bedrooms are air conditioned and the cottages are outfitted to the highest degree of elegance. ... more   less 

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