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Due to the mixture of fauna from the Amazon and Guiana Shield regions, the Rupununi Savannah displays a high degree of species diversity – with over 2,000 vertebrates and many highly endangered species.

For millennia the Rupununi Savannah has been the home to, and a source of livelihood for, indigenous Amerindian tribes such as the Makushi and Wapixana, and earlier indigenous peoples dating back almost 7,000 years. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, the extensive grasslands attracted European settlers, who established cattle ranches throughout the area. Nowadays the cattle industry is in decline, as the savannah’s grass has proved too poor to support large herds over a long period.

As a result, ranchers are turning instead to ecotourism, welcoming visitors to former ranching properties such as Rock View, Karanambu and Dadanawa. Once protected by its sheer isolation, the Rupununi is attracting interest due to its potential for gold mining, petroleum extraction and large-scale agricultural development, all of which threaten the pristine natural habitats and spectacular wildlife that includes over 800 bird species, plus many mammals.

The Kanuku Mountains divide the region into two roughly equal areas – North and South Rupununi. North Rupununi is an extraordinary natural area with four ecosystems: wetland, savannah, river and forest, which accounts for the fact that the species count is much higher than expected, given its size. There are at least 600 species of fish, along with 600 species of bird, and over 200 species of mammal.

Karanambu lies roughly in the middle of this fascinating biological hotspot. Endangered species such as giant otter, black caiman, jaguar, giant anteater, and arapaima—all apex predators—are abundant here, in addition to armadillo, tapir and monkeys. The seasonally flooded savannah and forest attracts substantial fish migrations. The region is rich in history, too – Sir Walter Raleigh, and later Alexander von Humboldt and others, thought that Lake Amuku, not far from Karanambu, was the location of Lake Parime, or the fabled El Dorado! Among the prominent explorers and naturalists who have written about their experiences here are Robert and Richard Schomburgk, Charles Waterton, Evelyn Waugh, Gerald Durrell, and David Attenborough.

Biological data from the more remote southern Rupununi are still remarkably lacking. As pressure to develop the whole region increases, the population has undergone change, but still includes groups of Makushi and Wapixana Amerindians, along with Guyanese of Creole descent, Brazilians and Europeans. Communications have improved and the Rupununi can now be reached via daily scheduled flights from Georgetown, which afford magnificent aerial views of Guyana’s rainforest, mountain ranges and rivers.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: giant anteater, giant river otter, armadillo, anaconda, black caiman
  • Where: Southwest Guyana, Guyana

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Rainforests, Savannahs & Wetlands

Guyana is a tiny but wildlife rich country containing pristine rainforest. Giant river otters, caiman, extraordinary flora and lekking sites for the spectacular cock-of-the-rock all combine to make this two-week small group itinerary the perfect introduction to bird and wildlife watching.

  • When to go: Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,095 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Caribbean Wilderness

Journey to the Caribbean to explore untouched rainforest, sprawling savannahs and tropical reefs that offer a variety of captivating wildlife encounters and incredible nature experiences. This itinerary combines birding in Trinidad with the diverse wildlife and scenery of Guyana, before a few days relaxation in Tobago.

  • When to go: Sep-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 19 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,645 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Guyana: A Land of Giants

This exceptional adventure penetrates the densely forested interior of Guyana, the ‘land of many waters’. Staying in Amerindian villages and former cattle ranches, you will travel by light aircraft, four-wheel-drive vehicle, dugout canoe, and on foot, discovering the rich and colourful birdlife and searching for jaguar.

  • When to go: Sep-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Ultimate Guyana Nature Experience

This expertly guided group adventure takes you deep into Guyana’s pristine interior to explore its rainforests, rivers and savannahs, and see a remarkable variety of wildlife. Travelling by air, land, river and on foot, you’ll stay in Amerindian villages, research stations, ranches and jungle lodges.

  • When to go: Mar-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,175 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Caiman House

Caiman House is an ecological research station is in the village of Yupukari, upstream from Karanambu on the Rupununi River, where you have the unique opportunity to participate in an ongoing field study of the black caiman. Accommodation consists of four simple en suite rooms, with electricity and running water.

Karanambu Lodge

This eco-resort lies in a tranquil spot, where savannah, swamp and forest meet at the Rupununi River and the plain stretches towards the Pakaraima Mountains. Renowned for its hospitality and abundant wildlife, the five clay-brick and palm-thatched cabanas give it the flavour of an Amerindian village.

Rock View Lodge

Lying on the outskirts of the small Amerindian village of Annai, in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, this comfortable lodge is a pleasant place to relax on the North Rupununi savannah. There are eight rooms, and the lush tropical gardens attract many species of birds - hummingbirds in particular.