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Another world record!

Green Castle has been lucky enough to feature in another world record.  Jonathan Rossouw chose Green Castle as part of his quest to see 9,000 world birds ahead of his 50th birthday.  Ahead of schedule, Jonathan became the youngest person to have seen 9,000 bird species.

Joining Green Castle with Ignacio Yúfera, wildlife photographer extraordinaire and Malcolm Fair, a fellow birding enthusiast, Jonathan chose Green Castle because of its convenient central location on the island.  Situated in a beautiful part of the world, Green Castle’s 1600 acres / 6.5km2 provides a home to many flora and fauna.  Birds such as the Jamaican Streamertail can be seen amongst the Green Castle gardens, with more difficult species such as the Jamaican Owl and the Jamaican Mango also a possibility when using one of our expert bird guides.  With a relatively short drive to the Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains, birders have the best opportunity to see all 28 endemic birds of Jamaica, and over 100 migratory bird species as well.

Taking in Green Castle’s guided tours to Ecclesdown and Hardwar Gap the following day after their arrival, Jonathan, Malcom and Ignacio quickly began with seeing the last of the 9,000 birds as part of their record attempt.  A Red-billed Streamertail, which is the national bird of Jamaica, became the 9,000th bird seen and allowed Jonathan to achieve this impressive record. This glorious hummingbird is known colloquially as the “Doctorbird”, a reference to the forked streamers of its tail, which reminded the population of the coats and tails worn by surgeons during the colonial era. What a fantastic, appropriate bird to mark the occasion!

Within their first day of bird watching at Green Castle, 20 endemic birds of Jamaica had already been seen and photographed.  Enjoying a well-earned rest, and maybe 1-2 rum punches that night at the Green Castle Terrace restaurant on site, the team were up early again the next morning to visit Cockpit Country where even more birds were seen taking Jonathan significantly past his 9,000 target.

The following day as part of their trip, the trio headed west towards Montego Bay.  Stopping off at Goldeneye, which was Ian Fleming’s former home, and where the James Bond novels were penned.  As Jonathan Roussouw identified in his blog he created to commemorate this world record attempt, ‘Few non-birders are aware that Ian Fleming chose to name his Agent 007 after his best friend, the author of The Birds of the West Indies’.  A visit to Green Castle gives birders the chance to bird in a tropical paradise and the land of James Bond.   Following their visit to Rocklands Reserve, near Montego Bay, one final endemic bird species remained, the elusive Crested Quail Dove.  Jonathan openly admitted it was the bird he most wanted to see before he arrived in Jamaica.  Taking in a visit to Ecclesdown at dawn, the trio could hear the male Crested Quail Dove, but it had remained elusive.  However not to be outdone Jonathan, Malcolm and Ignacio persevered, and were rewarded with a pair of courting quail doves.  In seeing the Crested Quail Dove, Jonathan, Malcolm and Ignacio completed their initial aim of seeing all 28 endemic birds of Jamaica during their trip.  During the trip Jonathan also completed his record attempt to see 9,000 world birds well in advance of his 50th birthday.

To read more about Jonathan’s world record please click here.

Jamaica opening up

2020 has seen a year like no other in recent memory across the world.  As it comes to a close and we slip into 2021, there are green shoots of life returning to normality.  The Caribbean, and Jamaica in particular are entering peak season.  The Jamaican tourist board are expressing ‘cautious optimism’ that we can continue to offer guests a slice of paradise whilst providing excellent service and exemplary levels of safety.

Over 4,000 tourists arrived in Jamaica on December 12th to enjoy their vacation.  This is the highest daily amount of tourists arriving since Jamaica reopened for tourism on June 15th.  Last month Jamaica saw 65,000 visitors, which was 7,000 more than October.  This is in part thanks to the Resilient Corridors, of which Green Castle is located in the Northern Resilient Corridor. It is also due to the dedication by many hotels and attractions to provide a safe location for guests to vacation whilst also limiting contact. Jamaica is reopening for holidays and vacations.  Green Castle undertakes a strict daily policy of cleaning, as well our team wearing protective equipment to ensure that guests do not have to worry about Covid whilst they stay at our 1600 acre /6.5km2 private estate.  Green Castle has not had a single case of Coronavirus by any guests during their stay. Providing a perfect blend of natural social distancing due to Green Castle’s size and limited numbers of guests being allowed at any one time on the estate, guests have been able to escape 2020 to bring much needed respite. Green Castle offers a chance to de-stress and unwind after what has been a difficult year.

Further good news this week was the resumption of British Airways’ service from London Gatwick to Montego Bay a route that will operate twice weekly through April 2021.

“We are happy to welcome the return of British Airways to Montego Bay for the winter season, adding to their current service to Kingston,” said Donovan White, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “The increased capacity, in addition to our series of travel agent familiarization tours, will serve to boost our arrivals and demonstrate an increased interest in Jamaica. We hope these increasing numbers are an indication of the trend going forward.”

For more on Jamaica’s travel protocols see here.

Fancy a Staycation?

For those that are lucky enough to call Jamaica ‘home’, many are now deciding to have a ‘staycation’ as opposed to heading abroad. For the majority of 2020, local Jamaicans have headed in larger numbers to Green Castle’s 1,600 acres / 6.5 km2 for everything from half-term, National Heroes Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in-between. We have started to take bookings from locals for New Year, Easter holidays and general Summer vacations. The benefits of staying local are clearly evident with less risk of travelling abroad as well as benefitting the local economy.

Green Castle is ideally placed in Robin’s Bay, just an hour from the main population centres of Ocho Rios, Kingston and Port Antonio, yet far away enough to feel like you really are vacationing in another country. With 20 miles / 32 km2 of hiking trails contained within our own private rainforest, a beautiful coastline where you can swim and snorkel at Jack’s Bay, there is something for everyone. Added to that is Green Castle’s fascinating history which covers everything from having some of the most prominent Jamaican families having lived and worked at Green Castle, through to evidence of Jamaica’s earliest inhabitants, the Jamaica Tainos.

Social distancing at Green Castle isn’t a problem either. Located within the Northern Resilient Corridor, all of Green Castle’s rooms are accessible from the ground floor and the hotel itself adheres to the most stringent levels of Covid-19 hygiene protocols for your safety. There have been no cases to date of Coronavirus at Green Castle.

There are a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. And if you don’t fancy a vacation, you can even visit just for a day trip. Why not take our Green Castle Estate Tour and have afternoon tea?

To find out more about how we can help you plan your visit, whether for a day trip, weekend break or longer vacation, contact us now.

Amazing historical archives unearthed at Green Castle

Archives have recently been discovered at Green Castle Eco-Resort, Northern Jamaica which relate to the very earliest days of Jamaica’s origins. Green Castle sits within 1,600 acres of rainforest in the north east of Jamaica in the Robin’s Bay / Annotto Bay area. Archives which had been packed away for ‘safekeeping’ have recently been discovered and a real treasure trove of historical documents has been found. These include:

1. Evidence of Taino burial sites (including a village) within the Green Castle Estate – supported by University of West Indies / Murray State University, Kentucky, USA.

2. Timbers used in historical tower on Green Castle estate have been radiocarbon dated to late 16th / early 17th century – documents by University of California.

3. Documentation relating to suggestions that Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay – supported by Jamaica Historical Society/Institute of Jamaica

1. Evidence of Taino burial sites/village within the Green Castle Estate

Experts from Wickliffe Mounds Research Center, Murray State University have carbon-dated the skeletal remains of what looks like one of the earliest examples of a Taino Indian family living in Jamaica, to circa 900AD.

Archaeological explorations that took place at Davey Hill located within Green Castle Estate’s 1,600 acres, Saint Mary Parish, showed that the Estate is linked right back to the beginnings of life on the island. The skeletal remains of what is believed to be a Jamaican Taino adult and child were found, as well as a well-preserved Taino village.

It has revealed a people that lived on a wide variety of animal sources as well as cassava root. Early inhabitants of Jamaica named the land “Xaymaca”, meaning “Land of wood and water” and this evolved or changed into Jamaica over time.

“We note that the recovery of two burials, one adult and one infant, is a significant contribution to the bioarcheology of the Jamaican Taino.” (Preliminary Report, University of the West Indies and Murray State University, 2001).

2. Timbers used in historical tower on Green Castle estate have been radiocarbon dated to pre-Columbus times

One of the many great features within Green Castle’s expansive estate is the Spanish Tower near the coast. The coral-stone tower dates back to the late 16th / early 17th century during the time of ownership of one of the island’s most prominent families, The Nedham family. Some of the largest timbers used from trees felled in its construction date back to early 14th century suggesting that they came from a Spanish ship or some Spanish building nearby. The timbers were radiocarbon dated by the University of California – dating them as either 14th century or early 15th century.

3. Documentation relating to suggestions that Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay

It is widely known that Columbus first set foot on Jamaica on the morning of May 7th, 1494 and that he first made landfall at St Ann’s Bay, however, from analyzing eye witness accounts and diary entries from Michele (Miguel) Cuneo, an Italian who accompanied Columbus on the voyage; Fernando Colon, Columbus’ son, Fray Bartolome De Las Casas (friend of Columbus) and Antonio Herrera, it is clear that there is a strong argument he first made landfall at Annotto Bay on the north east coast of Jamaica, very close to Green Castle. A report written by the Jamaican Historical Society suggests that based on these accounts (all stating the same thing), Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay taking into account sailing conditions at the time, the direction he was sailing from and eyewitness accounts. Initially, Columbus was repelled upon approaching the coast of Jamaica by Arawak Indians. It is well known that there was a large Arawak settlement which would account for the large number of Indians who came out in their canoes to repel the Spanish ships. Additionally, the area around Annotto Bay was and is unsuitable for beaching a ship the size of the one Columbus sailed (The Nina). It is thought that after this and given the direction of the winds in the area, he sailed further up the coast to St Ann’s Bay.

You can find out more about Green Castle and the part it’s played in Jamaican history over the centuries, here.

Green Castle + Jamaica = A safe haven from Covid

Green Castle reopened to tourists on 18th August 2020.  Green Castle is situated in what Jamaica is calling the Northern Resilient Corridor, which means tourists are welcome to travel here without having to quarantine for 14 days as you would require, if visiting other areas of the Island.  When you enjoy your time at Green Castle you can access our 1600 acres of rainforest that is only available to a maximum of 25 guests who may be staying at our nature retreat.  This means you are as safe as you can be from contracting the virus whilst you enjoy your well deserved break.  One of the positive things resulting from Covid -19 is the bird life, and wildlife in general is in greater abundance than ever before.

What about staying safe at the Green Castle hotel?

Over the last few months Jamaica and Green Castle have been working extensively on making your safety our ultimate priority.  All employees are required to observe the established protocols of hand hygiene, social/physical distancing and wearing of masks in public spaces.  Employees are screened on a daily basis including temperature checks.  The property is thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant including high touch surfaces such as door knobs and railings.  All bed linen and towels are washed in at least 60ºC/140ºF.  Contactless Check in and Check out is made available to all guests, with hand sanitiser throughout the hotel for your added peace of mind.

We keep all rooms vacant for 48 hours after guests have left us, and then they are cleaned to further protect you.  All our accommodation is at ground level, there are no lifts and access to rooms is directly from outside.  You can opt to have housekeeping every day or not. Green Castle has an abundance of space and social distancing is therefore not a problem. Guests are uniquely placed to take a well-deserved break from what has been a difficult 2020 so far.

We are listed on www.visitjamaica.com/travelauthorisation under Guesthouses and the name Taino Hills Estate (Green Castle, St Marys). We are fully compliant with the Jamaica Tourist Board to once again start welcoming guests to our slice of paradise.  In addition to this we are operating with a flexible cancellation policy.  We know if things change we need to be flexible for you.  This means in the event of your trip being affected by Covid before you arrive, we will move your booking to another time, with no penalties, so you don’t miss out on the wonder of Green Castle and the paradise waiting to welcome you with open arms… (socially distant of course).

Book Now

What are the requirements to enter Jamaica?

All entrants to Jamaica must fill out a pre travel health authorisation registration.  This is in addition to the customs and immigration form.  Currently residents from US, Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic also need to supply a negative Covid test taken 9 days before they arrive in Jamaica.  When these are submitted as part of the authorisation registration, the government will issue a travel approval document.  Please print this before arriving at the airport, airlines will not accept any travellers to board flights without prior proof of authorisation.

Upon entry to the country please expect thermal temperature checks and a health screening for your own safety.  Once in Jamaica, travel is only permitted within the “Resilient Corridors”.  Green Castle is in the Resilient Corridor (Northern) meaning travel is allowed and safe. Our airport transfers follow the same principles for cleaning and PPE.

Do I need to Isolate or self quarantine when I return from my trip to Green Castle.

There is ever-changing advice.  We have identified the links below that will give you the latest information when you are returning;

UK

USA

Canada

If we can be of any further help please Contact Us Now

Jamaica – the perfect vacation getaway!

A tropical climate breathtaking views, outstanding beauty, ecological and cultural diversity offering visitors a unique and authentic experience. Here at Green Castle Estate, we are lucky to have some amazing ecological sites to visit, from Jacks Bay Beach to the wild horses, Green Castle Cliffs, reservoir plus many other animals and birds.

If our 1,600 acre eco-resort, 20 miles of walking trails, forest, coastline and natural eco-beach aren’t enough, there are a wide variety of activities to keep your interest – and even better, all within a relatively short distance of Green Castle.

Are you a James Bond fan?  Then why not plan a visit to Goldeneye, the place where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels.  Or Firefly – the home of playwright, Sir Noel Coward and his final resting place.

One of Jamaica’s top visitor attractions, Mystic Mountain Rainforest Park gives you the chance to take a ride in the Rainforest SkyExplorer, a state-of-the-art chairlift taking you to the top of Mystic Mountain, or bobsled through the Mystic Mountain rainforest or for those adrenaline-junkies, try Mystic Mountain’s zip lining experience taking you through its beautiful rainforest canopy.  Located next to Mystic Mountain, is one of Jamaica’s most famous waterfalls, Dunn’s River Falls. This could be combined into your day trip.

One of the most popular things to do on Jamaica involves visiting the breathtakingly beautiful Blue Mountains. They are the longest range of mountains in Jamaica and from the summit, you can see both the north and south coasts of the island.  Blue Mountain Peak is the island’s highest point at 2256m.

Visiting the Blue Mountains is often combined with visiting one of the coffee plantations within them. The towns of Hagley Gap and Mavis Bank are renowned for growing coffee and rely on the area’s rich soil. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is grown in this area and is famous worldwide.

For more information on Green Castle and things to do during your stay in Jamaica, click here.

Streamertail Hummingbirds

Streamertails are only found on Jamaica and are often commonly referred to as Green-and-black Streamertails, Jamaican Streamertails or Streamertail. They’re currently divided into two species based on differences in colour and width of the bill, body size and differences in behaviour – the Red-billed Streamertail and the Black-billed Streamertail. Both Streamertail Jamaican Hummingbirds have been spotted within the grounds of the Green Castle Estate with the Black-billed a rare visitor and the Red-billed Streamertail a daily visitor.

The original inhabitants of Jamaica – the Arawaks – believed that the Streamertail Jamaican hummingbirds were the reincarnation of dead souls and had magical powers, and accordingly referred to them as “God Birds.” Harming these birds is considered to bring bad luck on one’s self.

These birds are not only revered by the people of Jamaica, but are also a favourite attraction of the visitors to the island. The Red-billed Streamertail is also commonly called the ‘doctor bird’, and is Jamaica’s national bird. It is indigenous to Jamaica and found in all the habitats – from sea level to the highest mountains – but is most abundant in closed forests, such as the Blue and John Crow Mountains, and of course Green Castle Estate. Doctor birds also visit plantations, parks and gardens which contain suitable feeding flowers and hummingbird feeders. The doctor bird is described in Ian Fleming’s book For Your Eyes Only as “the most beautiful bird in Jamaica”.  Some say it is the most beautiful bird in the world.

The Red-billed Streamertail is a familiar sight at the Green Castle Eco lodge and often seen in the Green Castle gardens and on the estate.  For the best opportunity to see and photograph the Black-billed Streamertail, Green Castle offers guided birding tours to the mountains.  Contact us to arrange a bespoke inclusive guided tour or join one of the Green Castle Birding tours for your chance to see these birds and many others.

World Record at Green Castle

Did you know…Green Castle played a large part in helping get the “World Big Year” record for the number of bird species spotted in a single year? Due to our experience and specially prepared birding tours and nature tours, we have an enviable record. Many famous birding companies from around the world utilise our services as well as some solo record holders.

Way back in 2016, Birding enthusiast, Arjan Dwarshuis spent the year birdwatching around the world almost non-stop.  This was part of his ‘Biggest Year’ which was also made into a documentary film (Arjan’s Biggest Year).  Arjan, a BirdLife Species Champion from the Netherlands, undertook this mammoth task to raise money for BirdLife’s ‘Preventing Extinctions Programme’ which focuses on the most threatened birds in the world.

With over 171 species of birds recorded to date and 27 of the 28 Jamaican endemics, it’s not hard to see why birding experts recommended Green Castle’s 1600 acres of rainforest, walking trails and coastline to Arjan for the Jamaican leg of his world record attempt.

During Arjan’s Biggest Year, he visited 40 countries over 366 days and saw a whopping 6,852 birds averaging 18 birds per day, breaking the previous record set by Noah Strycker in 2015.  His efforts have helped him raise a massive €42,883 of his €100,000 target to date.  He won’t stop until he hits his goal of €100k.  You can still donate via his fundraising page – www.justgiving.com/Biggest-year

Want to bring your own birding group for a tour?

We’re happy to discuss new partnerships with birding companies and if you’ve been before and want to bring your own birding tour, depending on the size of group, you can stay for free!  For those that want to refer either a group, party or individuals to Green Castle, we offer a generous 5% commission fee.

It’s easy to see why Green Castle is a mecca for bird-watching companies and private individuals bringing their own groups.  More than 171 species of birds inhabit this 1,600-acre eco-resort.  Our estate itself boasts a diversity of ecosystems, including forest, freshwater ponds, reservoir, pasture and coastline. It all adds up to make Green Castle the ideal base for any bird watching trip in Jamaica!  On a guided birding tour it’s fairly common to hear and see the yellow-chested Bananaquit, or the Jamaican Mango as well as many Hummingbirds from your bedroom door or balcony.

Green Castle has the ideal set up for companies wishing to bring groups to Jamaica.  Its beautiful location is combined with superb accommodation, flexible meals and personalised service where our friendly staff create a truly unique ambience – a home away from home!  We run specialist birding tours in the peak season and bespoke tours all year round including many well-known birding companies who bring birding guests to visit.

And for those that want to take a day off from birding to see what else Jamaica has to offer,  or for non-birding partners or friends – within a very short drive from Green Castle, there are plenty of fantastic fun activities to choose from including visiting…

  • Goldeneye – the place where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels. *Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from a book about birds of Jamaica written by JAMES BOND.
  • Firefly – the home of playwright, Sir Noel Coward and his final resting place.

Contact us for more information.

2019 Tour Dates Announced!

SPECIAL GREEN CASTLE BIRDING TOURS 2019 Our 2 special Green Castle birding Tours for 2019 are now released. Reserve to avoid disappointment!
The dates are:
23rd to 30th January 2019
8th to 15th March 2019

For the amazing price of $1795 you receive our all-inclusive Birding Tour which annually is extremely popular because it offers exceptional value for money. Most of our groups see all 29 Jamaican endemics, as well as many of the endemic subspecies, Full details and itinerary at: https://www.gcjamaica.com/guided-birdtours/

We are also the perfect place to bring a non-birding partner for relaxing at Jamaica’s premier birding and eco resort.Enjoy our renowned Jamaican hospitality! Please see our superb reviews on Trip Advisor.

For further information or to confirm a date please email us on info@www.gcjamaica.com to process this SPECIAL price.

IMPORTANT;
*Group Airport transfers are included from Montego Bay in the afternoon with departure flights based on mid to late afternoon/evening flights; transfers from Kingston airport can be provided for an additional charge.

*Based on standard en suites -superior front line en suite accommodation may be reserved for a reasonable additional sum. See accommodation section of website and email us with any request at time of booking. Subject to availability.

* For the single traveller there is a $275 supplement plus 10% Government tax.

Flight Information:

Daily NON STOP flights from many North American airports including New York and Miami and Toronto.
None stop flights from London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester in the UK with Thomson on new Dreamliner and daily with Virgin and British Airways from London; .
Flights from Frankfurt, Germany

Please note:

50% deposit at booking and balance within 60 days of arrival.
Flights not included. Alcohol can be purchased from the bar. Cancellation Policy is shown at the foot of the website.