Midday is the best time for sighting the endangered American crocodiles that live in the Black River on Jamaica’s South Coast near St. Elizabeth. If you travel with J. Charles Swaby’s Black River Safari, you should see the reptiles closer than you every imagined. On a good day, our crocodile experience should be no less than amazing. However, the crocs are wild animals, so nothing is guaranteed.
The 90-minute boat safari travels up Jamaica’s second longest river, passing thatch palms, royal palms, freshwater swamp forest and three species of mangroves. Some mangrove trees have amazingly large root systems, some taller than a person. A guide explains the river’s history and its ecology while keeping an eye out crocodiles, which stay near shore or boldly cruise the river.
When a crocodile is spotted, the guide calls over the 8 to 10-foot reptile, tossing it food to bring it beside the boat. With the croc floating just below him, the guide normally leans down and lifts the animal’s mouth partially out of the water, not something you’d expect.
Then he may grab one of the animal’s front arms and invite guests to reach down and touch the crocodile. How all this is done without loss of life and limb is something only the guide can explain. It is a quite an unusual story. See the interaction with a croc for yourself. Later in the cruise, some guests feel safe enough to jump in the water and swim.
Although you can drive to Swaby’s Black River Safari, many take the boat cruise as part of an organized tour that continues to YS Falls, another of Jamaica’s top sights.