“Going country” or “going to the tropical side”
means a trip to the East End residential section.
345-945-6588. The 200-
year-old Mastic Trail, a former footpath used by locals to herd cat-
tle from the North Side to the south coast, has been renovated and
is open for guided tours through a two-million-year-old woodland area.
The trail is a project of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and
winds through the Mastic Reserve.
The two-mile trail travels through swamps, woodland, and farming areas,
with changing fauna and flora along the way. One of the most interesting
places is a region filled with fine red soil called “red mold.” The dirt con-
tains minerals found in the ancient rocks of Africa and scientists believe
that, through the years, dust from the Sahara Desert blew across the Ca-
ribbean and accumulated here (it's not uncommon for hazy days to be at-
tributed to sand blowing off the distant desert).
Many visitors experience the trail with the expert guidance of Silver
Thatch Excursions (
The Mastic Trail , Frank Sound Road,
345-945-6588, fax 345-949-3342, e-mail silvert@
hotmail.com). The company's founders, Geddes and Janet Hislop, identify
birds along the way, often sighting the Grand Cayman parrot, Caribbean
dove, West Indian woodpecker, Cuban bullfinch, smooth-billed ani, and
the colorful bananaquit.
The hike also travels past 100 different types of trees, including black
mangroves that grow from the brackish water, elegant royal palms, and
tall mahogany trees. Fruit trees, first planted by early residents, include
mango, tamarind, and calabash. Orchids bring color to the trees during
the spring season, probably the best time of year to experience this eco-
tourism attraction. Look for the wild banana orchids (the Grand Cayman
version has cream-to-white blossoms with purple lips, and the variety
seen on the sister islands is pale to bright yellow with a purple center).
The walk takes in several environments - from the mangrove swamp to
dry woodlands to an ancient forest - as it travels south to north. The forest
contains over 100 species of trees and 550 other plant varieties. The trail
was named for the mastic tree, once used by islanders for its lumber. Today,
a tall mastic tree can still be seen at the halfway point of the trail.
Silver Thatch Excursions' guided tours along the Mastic Trail are US $50
per person (children 12 and under are half-price on all tours). Reserva-