This tour is the perfect introduction to bird and wildlife watching on the South American continent – in Guyana you can expect to find wonderful waterfalls, and freshwater marshes teeming with birds and mammals,
On this trip we visit the coastal plain, rare sand-belt forest, rainforests of the interior and Rupununi savannah close to the Brazilian border, including travel on small watercourses and two great rivers, the Demerara and the Essequibo. At the spectacular Kaieteur Falls – the 750ft sheer drop puts it among the world’s most imposing scenic wonders - we will search for gatherings of male Guianan cocks-of-the-rock. Add giant river otter, jaguar and a multitude of exotic birds and mammals and you have a fantastic all round neo-tropical naturalist experience.
Read travel consultant Chris Smith's blog about his trip to Guyana.
Fly to Georgetown, Guyana
Arriving in the late afternoom, we transfer to a comfortable lodge close to the Botanic Gardens.
Accommodation: Georgetown, 1-night
Visit Kaieteur Falls*, transfer to Iwokrama Rainforest
This morning we travel first by motorised canoe and then by vehicle to Ogle Airport for a chartered flight over hundreds of kilometres of unbroken tropical rainforest to Iwokrama River Lodge and Research Station.
We make a stop at the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Here we will hope to find white-chinned and white-tipped swifts swirling over the gorge and perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to see the astonishingly colourful Guianan cock-of-the-rock. Searches of the giant bromeliads will be made for the endemic Kaieteur golden frog which lives in their water-filled interiors.
Our flight continues over the Iwokrama rainforest and lands at the village of Fairview. It is then a short drive to Iwokrama River Lodge. Late afternoon we explore the extensive trail systems which allow good access into the forest.
Accommodation: Iwokrama River Lodge, 2-nights
Iwokrama: boat trips to search for wildlife
Making an early start we will embark on a boat down the Essequibo River, giving us a chance for dawn song on the river. We will listen for tinamous, look for band-rumped swift, white-banded and black-collared swallows before returning to the lodge for breakfast.
After breakfast we leave the River Lodge for a journey to Turtle Mountain. Starting with a peaceful and scenic half hour boat ride to the base of the mountain, we will look out for all manner of wildlife, hoping for a host of birds, sloth, capybara, caiman and arapaima, the largest freshwater fish. We may also be rewarded with sightings of monkeys such as red howlers, wedge-capped capuchins and black spiders. An exhilarating climb to the 290 metre Turtle Mountain summit takes about two hours but the breathtaking views are more than worth the effort.
We return to our lodge for lunch before setting out on a visit to Kurupukari Falls to see Amerindian petroglyphs. After nightfall we will meander along the river by boat looking for tree boas, tree frogs and if lucky maybe some mammals.
Transfer to Surama village
We transfer before dawn along a road through the heart of the Iwokrama Forest where there is a good chance of seeing an elusive jaguar. The area also supports an interesting range of birds including rufous-crowned elaenia, black manakin and red-shouldered tanager. Our journey continues onto the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway where we can watch birds from platforms 30 metres up in the canopy.
We then continue onwards to the Amerindian village of Surama which is situated in a small savannah deep in the rainforest and surrounded by forest clad hills. A guide will take us on a tour of the village.
We walk through the forest to the Burro Burro River after lunch for a quiet boat ride, as we listen to forest birds singing. We will also search the banks for such mammals as giant river otter, Brazilian tapir, and black spider monkey, and a wealth of birds. A delicious supper is cooked for us by local women who come to the lodge which is run as a village cooperative venture.
Accommodation: Surama Eco-lodge, 1-night
Dawn transfer to Atta Rainforest Lodge
This morning, we take a five kilometre walk across the savannah and through the rainforest until we reach Burro Burro River, where we have opportunities to observe giant river otter, tapir, tayra, spider monkey and many more. We return to the village for lunch before departing Surama.
Transferring in a four-wheel drive vehicle through a corkwood rainforest in Iwokrama, we take a short walk along a trail to look for the Guianan cock-of-the-rock. We continue to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, where we explore the four suspension bridges connected to three platforms.
Our base for the next two nights, the Atta Rainforest Lodge, is situated 500 metres from the canopy walkway itself. In the surrounding area of the lodge is one of the best places to see another of Guyana’s sought-after species – the crimson fruitcrow – which feeds in the nearby trees. The clearing is also a reliable place to see black curassow.
Accommodation: Atta Rainforest Lodge, 1-night
Atta Rainforest Lodge
Before dawn, we return to the canopy where we can enjoy an early morning’s birding in the charming forest surroundings. We may see rufous-throated sapphire, green aracari, pygmy antwren and Guianan streaked-antwren. With luck, we may also see Guianan toucanet, Pompadour cotinga and buff-cheeked greenlet. From this treetop vantage, you can also see red howler monkeys, black spider monkeys as well as a broad range of insects and amphibians. Deer and agouti are also regular visitors, and we will keep an eye out for the rare rufous-winged ground cuckoo. Night-time excursions are possible, and we hope to see white-winged potoo, or even a jaguar on the transnational road near the lodge.
Journey by road and boat to Karanambu
We enjoy a final morning of birdwatching on the canopy walkway, or from the nearby jungle trails, before leaving Atta Rainforest to travel to Ginep where we board our small motorized boat and navigate slowly on the Rupununi River.
We eventually reach Karanambu, home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work rehabilitating orphaned giant river otters. Our birdwatching here will be largely in woodland patches or gallery forest along the river where we hope to find such species as spotted puffbird, striped woodcreeper and capuchinbird.
Accommodation: Karanambu Lodge, 3-nights
Full day birdwatching in Karanambu
Birdwatching from daybreak to nightfall (or later), we will devote the entire day to exploring Karanambu and its varied habitats, travelling by boat to certain localities up and downstream, and by four-wheel drive vehicle to forest patches.
Explore Rupununi River
Today we will explore the maze of lagoons along the Rupununi River with our hosts, in search of giant river otters, scanning the treetops for family parties of red howler monkeys and the exposed riverbanks for capybara and black caiman.
A highlight will be sipping rum-punch sundowners surrounded by giant water lilies with bulldog fishing bats skimming the surface while - with luck - band-tailed nightjars, rufescent tiger herons and black-crowned night herons fly over our heads.
Fly to Georgetown
Early morning birding the savannah will be a high priority here with white-tailed hawks, fork-tailed flycatchers, grassland sparrows and yellowish pipits a good possibility and the chance of sharp-tailed ibises, eastern meadowlarks and double-striped thick-knee. The major contender will be seeing giant anteater if we are lucky and early enough.
After breakfast we say our goodbyes to Diane and transfer by road to the Lethem airstrip for a scheduled flight back to Ogle Airport, Georgetown. After checking into our hotel, we walk through the nearby beautiful Botanic Gardens to look for the amazing blood-coloured woodpecker, found only in the narrow coastal plains of the area. The gardens are also home to snail and pearl kites and numerous species of parrots and macaws.
Later in the afternoon we travel eastward from Georgetown to look for some of many the range-restricted species we will be hoping to find on this tour, as well as the poorly-known white-bellied piculet which can be found in this area.
Accommodation: Georgetown, 1-night
Visit Amerindian Reserve at Santa, boat to Arrowpoint Nature Resort
In the morning after breakfast, we transfer to a boat for a trip along the Demerara River to the Amerindian reserve of Santa. The river system is the only means of travel here, and you may see families transporting their farm produce to market or canoeing to the village church. The area is also rich in birds and wildlife, and we may catch a glimpse of monkeys in the trees or a toucan gliding overhead.
We stop at the Amerindian village of Santa Mission, of the Arawak and Carib tribes, where local people welcome visitors and often will stop to talk or even invite you into their homes.
It is then a 15 minute boat ride to Arrowpoint Nature Resort the surroundings of which offer a variety of habitats. We will enjoy an orientation walk on arrival with further exploration after lunch and a siesta.
Accommodation: Arrowpoint Nature Resort, 2-nights
Birdwatching on creek
This morning we take large motorised canoes out onto the creek to look for the amazing crimson topaz, a hummingbird which may be hawking insects above our boats – a fabulous way to start the day. Other birds we hope to encounter include point-tailed palmcreeper, sungrebe, sunbittern and more hummingbirds, including black-throated mango and green-tailed goldenthroat.
We continue birdwatching in the late afternoon, watching for flocks of red-bellied macaws crossing the sky en route to their roosts, and perhaps seeing an evening gathering of euphonias and other tanagers in low trees of the clearing. Sapphire-rumped parrotlets also occasionally roost in the area.
You should note: * In 2018, this trip will be 1 day shorter and will not include Kaieteur Falls.