Photo Gallery, pg 5
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Sightseeing in Jamaica
Named for Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, Albert Town is the largest town in southeastern Trelawny, an area dotted with small villages, rural communities and agricultural districts. Located on the outskirts of the Cockpit Country, much of the area’s beauty lies not in the small busy town centre, but just outside the town, in the cool hills and valleys covered with exotic tropical flora, intriguing inter-connected limestone caves and numerous underground rivers and waterfalls.
Albert Town is truly a bird-watcher's paradise, as dozens of species endemic to Jamaica and to the Cockpit Country pass overhead with startling regularity. On any given day, observers will notice
wild yellow and black-billed parrots, yellow-billed amazons, and flocks of 'Doctor Birds,' a species of hummingbird indigenous to Jamaica.
As the central town in an area of Jamaica that produces about 50% of all the yams exported by the country, Albert Town is the home of the annual Trelawny Yam Festival. In the week leading up to Easter Monday each year, the town comes alive when visitors from all over the island and farmers from all over Trelawny come together for a week of street parades, exhibitions, and a variety of competitions. The yam festival culminates on Monday with the Yam Farmers’ Competition, in which yams are judged according to their quality, weight, size and shape. The week-long celebration and exposition have done much to generate excitement and interest in yam, a key component in the average Jamaican’s diet.
In recent times, Albert Town and its surrounding communities have struggled to maintain their agricultural way of life, faced with falling yam prices, environmental degradation and urban drift. In light of these problems, the South Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA) was formed by collaboration between local interests, government and several non-profit development agencies. The outcome of the STEA's efforts is encouraging; the most impressive and noticeable impact being made in the area of soil conservation. Researchers estimate that since the agency began exposing farmers to methods of cultivation that conserve topsoil, about 60 tonnes of topsoil have been saved in those areas.
The soil conservation project is only one of many promoted by the STEA, which generally focuses on generating environmental awareness within the various communities, and with developing Eco-tourism Projects to provide eco-friendly and sustainable income-generating alternatives for residents. On account of the STEA's development and training work in the area, Albert Town is now an excellent base from which to explore the Cockpit Country and environs, and the STEA will assist visitors in planning and executing most bird-watching, camping, hiking and caving trips.
Credits: Jamaica Travel visitjamaica.com