Depending on the source, Man of War is either the 1st or 2nd highest mountain in Tobago. Most people living on the island seem to think Pigeon Peak is the highest, but not all maps agree. Detailed topographic maps indicate that Man of War is slightly higher.
Various maps list the summit of Man of War as either 549 or 550 meters and since there is a survey marker on the summit, the elevations on the maps are pretty consistent. It’s the other mountains on Tobago which have a great range of elevations between maps. Perhaps the thick rainforest makes surveying these peaks difficult, thus the various elevations. The Google Maps program is definitely off on distinguishing the Pigeon Peak elevation and its distinction from Man of War.
Man of War is probably slightly less attractive than its neighbor Pigeon Peak
if only because the summit of Man of War is less distinct. Both are worth the trip, but if you have time to only climb one, I’d say that Pigeon Peak has a slight edge.
The climb is exciting and beautiful, but the peak is rarely trodden. There is much bird and wildlife as well. We saw mountain crabs and frogs, and on a nearby peak we saw a large boa.
The climb is very steep and there is no discernible trail for the last 1/3 of the climb, but the forest is open enough that there is only minor bushwhacking. Slippery mud and navigating through the rainforest are the biggest obstacles and the climb is a real adventure.
Views are limited in places (especially at the summit), but there are some open areas where there are fine views of the ocean and surrounding country.
The neighboring peak to the east is Pigeon Peak and both can be climbed on the same trip.
Kim at or near the summit of Man of War.
Tobago is served by both plane and ferry from Trinidad.
The most popular way is to fly. Caribbean Airlines
has 24 flights daily from Trinidad to Tobago.
Several flights access Tobago directly from Europe, but strangely there doesn’t seem to be any direct flights from North America. You will probably have to connect in Trinidad.
Inter Island Ferry Service
has three trips a day from Trinidad to Tobago.
Getting to the trailhead is fairly easy. From the Tobago Airport, take a bus, maxi taxi, or car to Charlotteville or Speyside (on the opposite side of the island as the airport). If taking a bus or maxi taxi, you will probably transfer at Scarborough. (If doing several hikes in the Charlotteville or Speyside area, taking a taxi is still cheaper than renting a car).
From Speyside, take the road to Chalotteville over the pass between the two towns. The trailhead is just west of the pass and turnoff for Flagstaff Hill. It is right across from the 39.5 km post and on the west side of the main road. The trail was not marked as of December 2013, but is an old road cut heading up the hillside. The trailhead is within reasonable walking distance of Charlotteville or Speyside, but you may want to take a taxi up and walk all the way down. If driving, there isn’t much room to park at the trailhead, but you can park along the Flagstaff Hill road and walk to the trailhead.
Pigeon Peak (right) and Man of War (left) as seen from the ocean to the east.
Routes OverviewStandard (Northeast) Route
The standard route to Man of War follows an old road cut (overgrown in places) through an old plantation (which the jungle has mostly reclaimed) to its end at a gully. Just before the gully and extremely steep and slippery trail heads south to a saddle. From there the trail is mostly nonexistent, but it’s a mostly open jungle walk to the summit, sometimes marked with ribbons on trees. There were no ribbons on Man of War when we were there, but there were faint blazes on trees.
This is a half day climb, but you may want to make it a full day if you plan on climbing Pigeon Peak or walk all the way from the coast and back.
See the Route Page
We had to sqeeze through this large patch of bamboo in order to climb Man of War.
Kings Bay Dam Route
A rough route reaches Man of War from the south. The dam is to the right after the water treatment plan. I have not done this route, but it is described in the guidebook menioned below.
No permits are required and there is no red tape. Because there is no red tape make sure to be respectful of nature and the plant and animal life.
A Mountain Crab near the Pigeon Peak/Man of War saddle in Tobago. Before visiting Trinidad and Tobago, I didn't know that big crabs lived in the mountains!
This big frog startled us on the way to Pigeon Peak and Man of War. It sounded like something was moving through the grass and then this big frog jumps out!
When to Climb
January through May is the “dry” season, with February through April being the driest. December is an in between season. June through November are very wet and especially July and August. Even in the so called dry season, prepare for possibly heavy rains.
Although prices in Trinidad aren’t as effected except during Carnival, if you are visiting Tobago, prices sky rocket between mid-December and mid-April.
Even though a bit wetter, early to mid December and May can be good months to climb since it’s not tourist season and prices for accommodation is much lower.
A steep section of the route up to the saddle between Pigeon Peak and Man of War as seen mid-December.
You could likely camp near the saddle between Man or War and Pigeon Peak, though there isn't any running water and the ground is probably permanently wet. You could also probably camp near the gully where the trail steepens.
There are plenty of places to stay in Speyside and Charlotteville. Charlotteville is said to be more attractive due to the beach, but Blue Waters Inn
in Speyside is also very nice, has a nice beach, and offers good access to places like Little Tobago. We stayed at the Blue Waters Inn, but bear in mind that prices are almost double in the mid December to mid April season (we were there before the prices rise).
Speyside and the Blue Waters Inn (left) as seen from the hills above the bay.
Weather averages for Brasso Seco (on Trinidad) are below, but the mountains near Pigeon Peak will be much wetter and a bit cooler than Brasso Seco.
CLICK FOR SPEYSIDE WEATHER FORECAST
| Month || High (° F ) || High (° C) || Low (° F ) || Low (° C) || in. Rain || mm Rain || Rain Days |
| Jan || 88 || 31 || 70 || 21 || 2.98 || 75.6 || 21 |
| Feb || 88 || 31 || 70 || 21 || 1.70 || 43.2 || 18 |
| Mar || 90 || 32 || 72 || 22 || 1.14 || 29.0 || 14 |
| Apr || 91 || 33 || 73 || 23 || 2.28 || 58.0 || 14 |
| May || 91 || 33 || 75 || 24 || 3.97 || 100.8 || 20 |
| Jun || 90 || 32 || 75 || 24 || 9.20 || 233.7 || 25 |
| Jul || 90 || 32 || 73 || 23 || 12.13 || 308.1 || 26 |
| Aug || 91 || 33 || 73 || 23 || 11.16 || 283.5 || 25 |
| Sep || 91 || 33 || 73 || 23 || 9.37 || 238.1 || 22 |
| Oct || 91 || 33 || 73 || 23 || 6.86 || 174.2 || 22 |
| Nov || 90 || 32 || 73 || 23 || 7.87 || 199.8 || 25 |
| Dec || 90 || 32 || 72 || 22 || 4.72 || 119.9 || 22 |
It isn't cheap, but if you plan on doing much hiking in Trinidad and Tobago, The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club Trail Guide is a very valuable resource.
The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club Trail Guide