Six Reasons to Visit the Cockpit Country
by Stephanie Koathes Aug 26, 2019
Jamaica’s wild and beautiful Cockpit Country is a unique space full of history, culture, adventure, and an array of flora and fauna.
This harsh terrain, spread through Trelawny and parts of St Elizabeth, is what is known as a karst landscape.
Karst landscapes are areas of limestone that have been sculpted by erosion from water forming caves, sinkholes and the craggy hills Cockpit Country is known for. Below the thickly forested rolling hills, there are streams, rivers, and caves. The Cockpit Country is the source of 40% of the island’s groundwater. It is home to several endemic species of plants and animals and was the stronghold of the Maroons as they warred with the British.
The Cockpit Country has a lot going on!
Yello had a chat with Hugh Dixon, Executive Director of Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency, about why you should visit the Cockpit Country.
“People should visit to experience the picturesque landscape, rolling hills, greenery, and the charm of the place,” shared Dixon.
The Cockpit Country is considered one of the last truly wild places on the island. It’s an area of heavily forested, dramatic hills, full of sinkholes, caves and endemic flora and fauna. The Cockpit Country is also full of history: the Maroons lived and fought against the British in this unique region.
“If you got a chance to explore, you would get an appreciation of the trails in a historic sense. What the trails meant to the Maroons who were traversing the area and who were having to operate and survive in the hills while fighting the British,” Dixon added.
There are incredible opportunities for adventure in the Cockpit Country, with some of the best caving and spelunking in the island.
Dixon explained further: “It’s a great experience going on a trail, into caves, seeing the rivers, and experiencing the sense of community that comes with living in the region.”.
The quality of the environment
The Cockpit Country is one of the most untouched regions in Jamaica, making for a clean environment that Dixon believes is responsible for the wellbeing of the people.
Visiting the area, you get an understanding of how the health of the environment has impacted those living there. He reflects: “The health, clean air, the rich environment, and cleanliness of the landscape has enabled people here to have good health and a robust physical condition.”
Understanding the ecology
The unique karst landscape with its rich earth, thick forest, rolling hills, caves and underground water systems makes the Cockpit Country an interesting place to explore. One great reason to visit, according to Dixon, is to get a better understanding of the ecology. “It’s amazing to learn about the underground aquifers [sources of groundwater], the cave systems, the ecology of the various environments as you move from high elevations to low depressions.”
You might not equate the Cockpit Country with food, but the food is definitely a reason to visit. Explore the area and discover the food, the yams, root crops, and interesting preparations in the region. One thing the people of the Cockpit Country consider their own is roast yam and saltfish. There are small stalls around the area where you can get these foods to try.
Traditions and community
The Cockpit Country is an area of great historical importance and the people in the region have held on to certain traditions. Visit the Cockpit Country to discover the amazing community life, the traditions among the people, and how those traditions have evolved having to survive in this landscape.