Trinidad Pitch Lake
The Pitch Lake is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, located at La Brea in southwest Trinidad, within the Siparia Regional Corporation. The lake covers about 40 ha and is reported to be 75 m deep. Pitch Lake is a tourist attraction that attracts about 20,000 visitors annually. It is also mined for asphalt by Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Pitch Lake has fascinated explorers and scientists, as well as attracting tourists, since its re-discovery by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595. (The Amerindians knew about and actually showed it to him to help him caulk his boat). Raleigh himself found immediate use for the asphalt to caulk his ship. He referred to the pitch as "most excellent... It melteth not with the sun as the pitch of Norway". Exported asphalt from Pitch Lake was also used to pave the streets of some regions of New York City. Since its re-discovery, there have been numerous research investigations into the use and chemical composition of this material. There have been countless theories, postulations, and conclusions as to the size, source, and origin of the asphalt.
Evidence of an active microbiological ecosystem have been reported. Archaeal and bacterial community co-exists with novel species being discovered from Pitch Lake samples. Besides this, novel fungal life forms are described which can grow on the available asphaltenes as a sole carbon and energy source.
The origin of Pitch Lake is related to deep faults in connection with subduction under the Caribbean Plate related to Barbados Arc. The lake has not been studied extensively, but it is believed that the lake is at the intersection of two faults, which allows oil from a deep deposit to be forced up. The lighter elements in the oil evaporate under the hot tropical sun, leaving behind the heavier asphalt. Bacterial action on the asphalt at low pressures creates petroleum in asphalt. The researchers indicated that extremophiles inhabited the asphalt lake in populations ranging between 106 to 107 cells/gram. Trinidad Pitch Lake is one of several natural asphalt lakes in the world. The La Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles), McKittrick Tar Pits (McKittrick) and Carpinteria Tar Pits (Carpinteria) are all in the US state of California. Lake Guanoco is in the Republic of Venezuela.
In Trinidad, warm sulphur pools appear on the Pitch Lake in the rainy season when water collects in the cracks and crevices of the Lake. The pools, also known as the "fountain of youth" contain high levels of sulphur, which villagers claim is good for curing anything from skin conditions to joint pain. Visitors should be careful when bathing in the pools as some are very deep.
Flora and fauna also thrive in the natural surroundings of the Pitch Lake, which locals call the "Eight Wonder of the World". Cashew trees encircle the lake and mango and breadfruit trees are plentiful. Plant species such as water rose, nymph Lilies and bird of paradise grow in abundance. The Lake is also a bird watcher's paradise so herons are everywhere along with Humming Birds, Sandpipers, Kingfishers and Ospreys, just to name a few.
Rates and Days of Operation
Monday to Sunday and Public Holidays
From 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Bathe in sulphur pools
- Experience lush vegetation
- Enjoy bird watching
- Learn history
Please click here to contact us. After purchasing your ticket/tickets you will receive an email with your receipt number. Print and present it at the office of the Pitch Lake where it will be honored upon presenting a photo id of the purchaser.
Before booking, please click here to contact us for possible price changes and availability.