Jamaica Tripper Interview

Interview with Lynda Lee Burks of the Jamaica Tour Society

Q. How are the tours offered by the Touring Society of Jamaica different from other tours offered on the island?

A. My tours are private, customized to suit my client’s interests. I specialize in unique, off-the-beaten-track destinations and introduce people to interesting local personalities.

Q. What surprises await visitors in the island’s interior?

A. The interior of the island is still very much unspoiled; you will see people move to a different sense of time. A simple country drive can be both pleasurable and eye-opening. The landscape is stunning both naturally and the architecturally. Jamaica’s architecture has a lot to say about the island’s social history.

Q. Can you describe the Fairy Glade Trail?

A. The Fairy Glade Trail is in the area above Newcastle. It starts across from The Gap Café (near Hardwar Gap) and finishes at the old British army base (very interesting architecturally), now home of the Jamaica Defense Force. It’s about a three-hour hike – some of it climbing – but anyone in a reasonable state of fitness can make it. It goes through the rain forest under a thick canopy of vegetation and can be very wet. The variety of ferns is tremendous. Prehistoric tree ferns are abundant and the bromiliads are all larger than you ever imagined they could be. What you know as a small house plant is suddenly in front of you the size of a tree.

Good shoes are important on this hike and a water-repellent jacket with a hood is often useful.

Q. What other sights should travelers be sure to visit?

A. In the Blue Mountains, they should visit a coffee farm (there are a couple of different ones I take people to). I love introducing people to Alex Twyman and The Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate. Alex grows and processes the best Blue Mountain coffee on the island. He has an infectious passion for the bean and teaching people about how coffee is grown and processed. The hike across his coffee estate is one of the most beautiful trails I know; I call it my Sound of Music hike, and the vistas are positively thrilling.

Q. What’s the itinerary of your tours?

A. If I am carrying people from Ocho Rios, we will leave by 8:30 am and travel over the mountain from Buff Bay, reaching The Old Tavern by 11 am. We’ll pack a picnic lunch. Coming down the mountain, we’ll stop at Strawberry Hill. You get a glimpse of Kingston as we pass through to find Junction Road, one of the most scenic roads in Jamaica. Castleton Gardens and the last big stand of Royal Palms can be seen on Junction Road. Estimated return to Ocho Rios is 6:30 pm. The full-day tour to Blue Mountains runs US $100-150 per person. Advance reservations and deposit are required to secure the date.

The Touring Society plans custom holidays and events in Jamaica and can best be contacted via at the above address.

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