Sherman, overnighting for free at the municipal Waterfront Park in St. Albans, West Virginia. Photo taken yesterday.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? St. Albans, West Virginia.

Where are they going next? Lexington, Kentucky.

And after that? Heading towards Nashville, Tennessee.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Disappointing trip to Harrison's Cave, Barbados

We like to visit caves when we're traveling, and we've been to quite a few. I don't think that we are cave snobs by any means, but we have been to the magical Kartchner Caverns in Arizona, and the huge Grutas de Garcia in Mexico. And we've done the wild cave tour in both Mammoth Cave, Kentucky and in South Africa. Among others.

So perhaps it is because of these past experiences that we were quite disappointed in Harrison's Cave.

But there's more to it.

Sure, the Harrison's Cave tour will show you some decent formations, but in order to see them you have to endure a Disney like tram tour that seems to have been designed to pack as many high paying cruise ship customers through the cave as possible.

And, perhaps that was their intention to begin with.

Harrison's Cave is owned and operated by the Barbados government. Back in 1974, they decided to commercialize the cave and make it accessible to the public. The plan included making several man made tunnels to access four or five of the attractions in the cave. They made the tunnels large enough to accommodate several electric trams at one time. The tunnels are much larger than the actual caves, although the cave system itself apparently goes on for about 2.3 kms. You don't get to see any of that though.

They spent a lot of money making the caves accessible to high numbers of visitors.

The grounds in the gully are very nice and lush!

We're not sure, but it looked like trams leave every ten minutes. First though, you sit through a 10 minute movie which we found interesting enough, but the video feed itself could be modernized. Very blurry picture at times.

Then, we were told to wait about ten minutes for the next tram.

Packed on to the tram. 

The first stop.

I'm actually surprised the photos turned out as well as they did. You're not given a lot of time to try and take decent photos, and often the tram will not stop at all... simply slow to a crawl. But with long exposure times, many photos will turn out blurry if you don't use a flash, and of course using the flash is often not the way to get a decent photo in a cave.

They call this the "village".

Stalactites.

There are two stops where you actually disembark from the tram. 



The waterfall.

The last stop was at a "waterfall". To me, it didn't look natural. And I found out later that it is not! Looks like someone simply turned a water hose on. In fact, for much of the cave it was difficult to tell what was real and what was man made. Definitely the most disturbed cave we have ever visited.

The tram tour is 50 minutes long and costs $60 BBD ($30 USD, $39 CAD) per person. Way overpriced in our opinion for this kind of tour. But, it's a free market and they have an endless supply of cruise ship passengers willing to pay the price. (Consider that the best public tour at Mammoth Caves costs $26 USD and lasts 4 hours...).

It's true that there are some interesting formations, and if you're a first time cave visitor you will probably find it informative. Or, if you are not very mobile, or disabled, this tour would be great for you. 

However for all others, unfortunately, we can't recommend this tour. Save your money for a real show cave.

There is though, some interesting vegetation in the gully outside the interpretive center...




They also advertise a Gully Walk Tour, but unfortunately it was closed and nobody knew anything about why it was closed, or when it would open, if ever.


There are wild monkeys in Barbados... approximately 14,000 green monkeys live here! They were brought from west Africa aboard slave ships in the 1600's. As were mongoose, which were brought here to control the rat population in the 1800's.

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Nice price drop on the popular Caravan Sorts Zero Gravity lounger...


And in Canada... this is a fancy corkscrew!



22 comments:

  1. Sounds like a tourist trap...with beautiful vegetation and cute monkeys

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    1. In our opinion it is but if your haven't visited a cave before then I am sure you would enjoy it.

      Loved the monkeys and we would really have liked having the opportunity to walked through the trail in the gully. I am sure it was beautiful!

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  2. Thanks for the heads up. Will not be taking that excursion.

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    1. We definitely think there are better things to see in Barbados and spend your money on.

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  3. We did this tour in 1984 but we had never been on one before so can't compare. I don't remember a tram!

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    1. They didn't have the trams back then, they added them when the did upgrades to the cave some when between 2008 to 2010 or so.

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  4. We didn't see Carlsbad caverns on your list.

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    1. We haven't been to Carlsbad Caverns yet, that is why you wouldn't have seen it mentioned. We do however want to visit it some day when we are in that area. :-)

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  5. Some places just get too commercialized and that is a shame.

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  6. Caves look interesting but I do not care for this type of entertainment too touristy! Greenery looks lovely and adore the monkeys.

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    1. We understand why they did it, they want to make it accessible to everyone but unfortunately they did it in a way that really did take away from the cave itself. We loved the gully and all the vegetation there as well as the monkeys but we were also disappointed that the gully trails themselves were closed off without any real explanation. I am sure we would have loved doing that.

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  7. We traveled around Barbados via shared taxi; touring w/another couple. Stopped at caves, couple decided do cave tour. $60 hr (2 peeps) is TOO costly for us; declined tour. Huge push for us to tour cave went on for quite a while. So, handed our video camera to couple to video for us! Video big disappointment; esp compared to other 100% natural caverns costing only $13 hr (2 peeps). Really enjoyed beautiful FREE gardens, while waiting for couple on tour. Gardeners pointed out many "healing" plants. Was told elders teach young which plants heal various illnesses; including diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Was also told, very few local peeps have health problems like diabetes..have plant for almost every problem known to man & many grow naturally on island. Seems most locals prefer not spend money on pharmacy meds, instead use plants!

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    1. I would suggest that you were misinformed about the health situation!

      https://www.barbadostoday.bb/2017/02/04/an-island-of-diabetes/

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    2. DON'T think elderly gardeners misinformed any of us. More to this than first read.

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  8. On same taxi ride - also visited old sugar cane plantations, farms. One s cane plantation had lovely, traditional-plantation style home. Forgot cost to tour home, but thought it too was over-priced. Taxi driver told us, go into main entrance & ask to "preview" just a little bit...aka free ;) Home was very beautifully furnished, told much was original! Enjoyed seeing areas bus did not travel to; really getting off beaten path. Being small island, able see most of island in short amt time in private taxi vs bus many stops loading/unloading. Hope this is helpful to you, Kevin/Ruth & others traveling. Someone asked about homes raised? In LA, raised to fair hurricanes better; not just flooding - but wind damage also. When built on ground on cement slabs, house breaks apart more. After Katrina, all that remained of my Dad's brick house, was cement slab. Home totally gone. On same property, cypress (wooden) house on blocks remained intact. Flooded/needed total gut job; had something to repair. This was in Buras, LA where eye came ashore; 70 miles S of New Orleans.

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    1. Yes, if you only have a very short time to visit the island than sharing a taxi with someone else would be the way to see the island but because we have lots of time we enjoy taking the bus and believe it or not it does go to most places on the island. We also have fun taking the bus because we get to see the locals and how they live their life more closely. We have also seen stuff that you can't even see in a car because we do lots of walking and hiking.

      It seems more and more of the houses now are being built on a cement foundation but one other explanation that we were given that that by not having the houses on a firm foundation they were easy to move from one location to the next. Perhaps at the time it was to place your house near your work when they didn't have the public transportation that they have nowadays.

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    2. Agree - walking you will see more. Road bus many places, but private taxi will go places bus does not go & taxi driver will also provide info about places as ride thru areas - that otherwise would NOT know about :)

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  9. Oh, that does sound terrible. Natural beauty transformed into some theme park ride. Thanks for the review. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.

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    1. Not one of our better tours but that does occasionally happen. It does seem like many people do enjoy their experience and maybe that is because they haven't been to as many caves as what we have been to.

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  10. We spent a night at Carter Caves State Park (Kentucky), didn't get to any of the caves, but on the Saturday night after we left they were screening an Indiana Jones movie in one of the caves. I'd have gone to that!

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    1. Just looked up Carter Caves and we may even stop by there ourselves. It looks interesting and the cave tour seems pretty reasonable but it also looks like there are some nice hikes within the park. Thanks for the suggestion! :-)

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