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New canopy tour explores Tobago's tropical forest reserve, hemisphere's oldest

Tourism Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine, center, has championed the new canopy tour. At left are The Original Canopy Tour's Rick Graham and at right is Tobago's Miami-based cruise consultant, Henry Yaniz (Photo: Anne Kalosh)
The southern Caribbean island of Tobago is adding an important new feature to enhance the experience of one of its most venerable nature attributes, the oldest forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere.

The Original Canopy Tour is coming to the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve, established in 1776.

The 1.5-kilometer zip line will give visitors fresh views of part of the 4,000-hectare tropical forest that is home to numerous species of flora and fauna, including 210 species of birds.

The Original Main Ridge Canopy Tour will begin at the reserve's reception center and run to the Gilpin Trace Trailhead. The grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 14.

The Original Canopy Tour, established 20 years ago, is touted as the oldest and most experienced company in the 'high angle' business, having carried more than 20m people safely worldwide. Many of the company's safety innovations have been patented, according to Rick Graham, vp of The Original Canopy Tour, and great care is being taken not to cause any environmental impact to the forest.

More than half a million US dollars are going into creating the tour.

Increasing Tobago's visitor attractions has been a priority for Tracy Davidson-Celestine, deputy chief secretary and secretary of tourism and transportation for the Tobago House of Assembly, who championed the canopy tour.

Tobago's Miami-based cruise consultant, Henry Yaniz, promoted the new attraction to cruise lines during Seatrade Europe in Hamburg last week.

When marketing Tobago, the canopy tour 'gives us much more to talk about. It makes the story more complete,' Yaniz said.

'Tobago is trying to be more attractive to cruise lines and offering more variety to cruise guests by leveraging what God gave them through this incredible rain forest protected by man for hundreds of years,' he added.

Known to Europeans as an ecotourism destination, Tobago offers beaches, brain coral and a rich, complex history. The island was fought over by the Dutch, English and French, changing hands 31 times.