Black River Safari

Black River Safari is an outdoor ride boat adventure ride where the main attraction is Sightings of crocodiles and other wildlife such as egrets in mangrove forests. For a guide tour you can contact (876) 965-2513. It is located in the community of Black River in the Parish of Saint Elizabeth.

 

Importance of Black River

Black River south coast feature the black river which is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica with its dark waters humid mangrove swamps. It stretches for 33 miles across the island.

It begins as an underground stream in the cockpit country and then goes up and down disappearing underground and re-emerging again until it builds up into this big river in the Parish of Saint Elizabeth and meets the sea in the town of Black river.

The river gets its name from the darkness of the riverbed that has over the years been lined with thick layers of decomposing vegetation. This gives the river a dark almost black color, especially in the more thickly vegetated areas.  The black river lower morass is actually the largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in Jamaica. It's also one of the largest swamp environment exhibiting the greatest biodiversity in the Caribbean. 

 The most common wetlands in Jamaica are the mangrove wetlands. They can be seen in a lot of places along the coastline.  Around ponds lagoons and small islands.  But of course the biggest one is in black river featuring giant mangrove trees, sending out roots like spider legs sometimes dropping 40 feet into the river.

 The power of wetlands is that they're natural barriers that act as filters between the land and the sea. They are like these huge sponges that hold flood waters, as a result reducing the risk of flood damage to houses, businesses and roads. Wetlands protect coastal areas from storms and hurricanes, as well as marine ecosystems such as coral reefs from too much fresh water. At the same time they protect fresh coastal groundwater from all the salt that might have seeped in otherwise. Without wetlands the coral reefs will be harmed by runoff water and debris from the land. There would be less fish, fewer beaches to visit and Jamaica's underground drinking water would become polluted. Basically wetlands protect Jamaica.

 As for the Black River Morass. It has been designated by Jamaica for inclusion in the list of wetlands of international importance. Black river and south coast offer many recreational and educational opportunities such as boat trips, fishing and bird watching. Making the wetlands a valuable resource for ecotourism.

 Black River Crocodiles

The Black River wetlands are a habitat to many diverse unusual and unique species of plants, animals, fish and numerous birds. One of the main reasons to visit the black river is an opportunity to safely meet American crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Crocodiles are one of the oldest living creatures on earth. They have been so evolutionary perfect that they remain almost unchanged from their ancient ancestors of their cretaceous period that is from around 145 million years ago.  Being a reptile they are kind of a lost dinosaur.

 There are 21 species of crocodiles found in Wetlands Rivers and lakes throughout the world's tropic and subtropic regions. In Jamaica there is only one species, the American crocodile.  They are often found hidden in the quiet areas of the wetlands preferably where there is brackish water and a good supply of food. These creatures are not manitous. They live mainly on fish and birds. They are shy animals and are active at night and prefer to be left alone. In the wild they retreat or submerge at the slightest disturbance. The only time a crocodile in Jamaica would dare to attack a human is when the crocodile is threatened by a human in one way or the other like. Poking a crocodile or hanging around a crocodile's nest is not a good idea.

 Crocodiles breed and nest from March to August.  During this period the animals can be seen moving from place to place in search of nesting areas. They will protect these areas and therefore should be left alone.  Crocodiles are not only important as living links to our past but they also have historical, biological  and economic importance. These are endangered species and since 1971 crocodiles have been protected by Jamaican law  under the wildlife protection act. Therefore no crocodile should be hunted captured killed or in any way harassed. The crocodile is on the crest of the Jamaican coat of arms which is a badge of great historical significance to the nation.

 Crocodiles eat dead and dying animals thus keeping the waters free of disease.  Their holes and barrows provide refuge and water for other wild animals during times of drought.

 Black river safari tour

 Black river safari tour is the name of an adventure you can take along black river. There is a company that has these big boats that we took a tour with and they also keep a crocodile nursery. They also breed rescue and release crocodiles into the wild to increase their population numbers and save them from extinction.

 On our tour with them we got a chance to see the crocodiles in the wild and to visit the nursery. The whole experience costs $20 per person or e$ 1500 Jamaican dollars per person with a local discount.

 There are also tours on black river run by smaller companies or individuals with smaller boats at various rates. Before booking a trip with anybody make sure the person has a tourist board license to run the tour to ensure your safety because these are waters with crocodiles.  The tour itself takes about one hour and the guides on the boat are highly knowledgeable and entertaining. Keep in mind some of the crocodiles in black river were the ones released from the nursery; so they do know these guides who've been feeding them and bringing them up.  That why it's a unique situation when crocodiles are not afraid

to come to the boats and guides can interact with them. Please do not try to do the same the swimming in the waters where crocodiles live. It is not safe especially during the breeding period. The guides know where to park the boat so that you can go for a swim without disturbing or scaring off any crocodiles.

 During the years of operation there have never been any cases of harm done to humans nor animals. Still though you might want to think twice before doing something like feeding or swimming in crocodile waters.

 The Negatives

There are no negative sides for the tour but there can be a few things you want to be prepared for.  Note that boats leave only at a certain time. So if you come too early or too late you might have to wait for about half an hour for the next boat

 

 

Depending on your luck you can sometimes see a lot of crocodiles. On other days there might be only like three maybe five. Keep in mind crocodiles are wild animals. So originally they are not there for your entertainment. They live there and it's us humans who come to visit their home So just be thankful if some of them decide to come close to the boat to say  hello. 

Conclusion

We highly recommend this tour. The guides are so friendly. On our tour we were provided with refreshment of homemade Jamaican juices. We even got a chance to steer the boat. So definitely make plans to cross this one off your bucket list.