Things to Do in Falmouth: Jamaica Swamp Safari Village

Things to do in Falmouth:

Jamaica Swamp Safari Village  – Trip Report

We visited Jamaica Swamp Safari Village in Falmouth, Trelawny in March 2016. It was an easy 20 minute or so drive from the villa so a great way to spend a couple hours.

In case you were wondering, we did not ask for, neither did we receive, any form of compensation for writing this post. If you want the full story of our travel review, keep reading. If you just want the highlights or the key tips, please scroll to the bottom.

Things to do in Falmouth - James Bond film set Swamp Safari

Things to do in Falmouth – Oh what a croc! Film location for James Bond’s 007 Live and Let Die movie

With such an intriguing name, Jamaica Swamp Safari Village, it is easy to be set up for disappointment if you don’t know what to expect. This is especially true if you have visited many large zoos and animal preserves or have been on a real safari. So, let’s start with a quick reality check so we get our expectations in focus.

The property does back onto a swamp with mangrove trees similar to what you would see in the Louisiana bayou. The safari portion is cool marketing and not like going on a safari in Africa. You could consider a collection of animal habitats a village, but that would be a stretch. Nevertheless, this is an under-rated gem that rounds out the list of things to do in Falmouth Jamaica, or on the northern side of Jamaica for that matter.

The property is only a few acres in size and so is more like a very small zoo or wild-life preserve. This is not the Bronx or San Diego or London Zoo. If you keep that in mind, you will be able to appreciate Jamaica Swamp Safari Village for what is it worth.

What is distinctive about this attraction is the curation of a few animals that are now rarely seen in Jamaica and the preservation of the crocodile, which is protected by Jamaican law. Swamp Safari’s claim to fame is for its role as a location in a real live box office hit movie.

The Animals at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village …

There is a large walk-through aviary where you can feed the birds. Many of the birds are common to other attractions; nevertheless, people, especially kids, love that the birds will eat right out of their hands.

Birds at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village

Birds at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village Photo credit

If you are lucky you might get to see a West Indian whistling duck, known for its unique whistling call.

West Indian Whistling Duck at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village

West Indian Whistling Duck at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village. Photo credit

Jamaica Swamp Safari Village is a common destination for Jamaican school trips. As a result, there are some animals there, such as white-tailed deer and raccoons, that would be exotic to Jamaican school children but would be commonplace to Americans.

The collection of animals reflects animals of the Americas and not necessarily animals native to Jamaica. For example, there was a collared peccary, called Javelina, which looks like a wild pig but isn’t actually a pig. Trinidad is the only Caribbean island to which it is native but there were introduced populations in Jamaica and a few other islands. I don’t recall seeing one in Jamaica outside of Swamp Safari.

We saw several animals that we had never seen or heard of before such as coatimundi and tayra. There is a Jamaican coney, once thought to be extinct. This is a real score for Jamaica Swamp Safari Village.

Jamaican coney at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village. A rare sight.

Jamaican coney at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village. A rare sight.

After much coaxing, I was able to convince Darrian to hold a huge Jamaican boa constrictor. There was a python that was even bigger.

Things to do in Falmouth: How brave are you - Hold a snake at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village

The mongoose is commonly seen in certain parts of Jamaica, especially where there are sugar cane fields. They were brought here from South East Asia in the 1800s to try to control the rat infestation of the cane fields.

Farmers would probably applaud Swamp Safari for having a mongoose in captivity because that  is one less creature to steal and eat their chickens. On a more serious note, this cunning predator is directly responsible for putting certain of our bird species at risk. The Robin Red Breast and the Jamaican Tody are two especially vulnerable birds because they build their nests on the ground, making them easy victims.

Jamaica Swamp Safari Village serves as a nature preserve for the endangered and protected American crocodile. These creatures are not native to Jamaica. They migrated here, as well as to other islands in the warm Caribbean sea, from Florida due to over-population in the Florida Waters. Nevertheless, they worked their way into our culture and have a prominent place on our National Coat of Arms.

The life cycle of crocodiles is well represented here – from the eggs, to the hatchlings through the aged. 

Crocodile egg at Swamp Safari Jamaica

Crocodile egg at Swamp Safari Jamaica. Photo credit: S. Woodhouse

The older ones were all lounging around in various areas, separated from the public, of course, some seeming like statues with their mouths in various positions. That is until they thought it was feeding time. All of a sudden, the previously motionless animals come to life and their sole goal is to feed.

There were other animals but those were the ones I found most interesting.

 

The Movie Set …

The main draw, for me anyway, is that part of the 1973 James Bond Thriller, Live and Let Die, was filmed here. In the scene, Bond escapes from an island surrounded by a sea of crocodiles by jumping across their backs like stepping stones. Then owner of Swamp Safari, Ross Kananga, served as Bond’s (Roger Moore’s) stunt double. We watched the movie clip and some of the B-roll footage. That was interesting. If you are a James Bond fan, you will want to see this. After all these years, you will still recognize James’ Bond island.

In the past, they used to charge to take a picture holding a crocodile. At the time of our visit, we were able to take our own pictures. I hope they continue to allow that. At least you don’t feel nickeled and dimed.

Things to do in Falmouth: Holding a crocodile at Jamaica Swamp Safari Village. Photo credit: S. Woodhouse

There is a restaurant and bar on the outside. The restaurant wasn’t opened when I went so I can’t comment on the food. You could buy drinks from the bar.

Just So You Know …

  • If you are a James Bond fan, this is a must do.
  • If you are an animal rights activist, don’t like zoos, or it bothers you to see animals in cages or captivity, you won’t love this place. Don’t go.
  • This is one of the family-friendly things to do in Falmouth.
  • The property appears to be wheel-chair friendly. The terrain is flat but some of the walkways are not paved and could be uneven.
  • Tickets are cheaper at the attraction than through a hotel.
  • At the tour desk, we were told the tour was 90 minutes. If it is a very small group, you can speed it along. Our tour took about an hour.
  • Tours are given between 9am and  4pm. If it is not crowded, they generally don’t make you wait to start the tour.
  • It can be crowded on cruise ship days; but, it isn’t as popular an attraction as Dunns River or Blue Hole for example so the crowds may be more manageable.
  • There isn’t a feeding schedule. Feeding of the crocodiles is done during the tour, if there is meat available. We did get to feed the birds in the aviary. I did confirm that there are no feeding of the crocs with live animals. I was happy to hear that as I think that would potentially traumatizing to children. 
  • The tour was educational. They did have some helpful signs as well.
  • This is not a manicured garden or zoo. Between the mangrove trees and other trees shedding leaves and large reptiles with sharp teeth that could be a menace to workers, I would imagine that it is difficult to keep the grounds clean. It is rustic, although they did a nice job refurbishing the house that was part of the James Bond set. This is not Disneyland with crocodiles. Appreciate it for what it is.
  • Some reviews mentioned overcrowded rabbits in cages. I did not see that on my visit. I will say that the infrastructure is not what you are accustomed to seeing at an accredited zoo. Some of the animals are in a more natural state and have more space to roam around. For others, the cages could be a little bigger.
  • Be brave and hold a crocodile or a humongous snake.

Trespassers will be eaten! Jamaica Swamp Safari Village

Special Note:

I must say that I stopped by in June 2016 to get some additional pictures of things to do in Falmouth. I met the most knowledgeable guide. She was fun and informative. Her name was Racquel. If she is there, I am sure you will be in for an excellent tour. Make sure you tell her that Sherry and Darrell from Mais Oui Villa said hi!

Darrell with Swamp Safari Tour Guide beneath iconic sign - Trespassers Will Be Eaten

Jamaica Swamp Safari Village is just outside of Falmouth, Trelawny and is about a 20-25-minute drive from Mais Oui Tennis and Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica.

Contact them via

Phone:  876-617-2798.

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JamaicaSwampSafari.

Website: http://www.jamaicaswampsafari.com.

 

Have you visited Jamaica Swamp Safari Village? How was your experience? Let us know. Leave a comment below.

 

Think and dream Jamaica!

Til next time,

Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian

Considering a visit to Jamaica? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups.

Visit our website: http://www.MakeItJamaica.com

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Give us a call:  866.624.7684 (toll free) or 914.709.0457

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tenis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!

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