Guyana: Best Nature Explorer (14 days)
Guyana is wild and untamed and best describe as unspoiled Amazon, Savannah and coastal forest ecosystems with a mix of traditional Amerindian heritage. Enjoy birds and wildlife.
The rich natural history of British Guiana described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell still abounds.Those interested in birds will find that Guyana offers all the avian richness of the lowland forests of adjacent Venezuela and a tourist infrastructure that makes it accessible in far greater comfort. Monkeys, tapir, peccaries and jungle cats exist in record numbers. There are just a handful of ecolodges in natural forest settings. In the savannahs of the south, several ranches offer comfortable quarters close to varied and interesting habitats, and also serve as points of departure for camping expeditions to truly remote areas of the interior.This coupled with great lodges, super guides, English speaking citizens and good transportation routes make this a fantastic country to visit.
This tour is suitable for both birders and general wildlife enthusiasts, visiting the coastal plain, the sandbelt forest, the seemingly limitless forests of the interior and the Rupununi Savannah along the Brazilian border. It includes travel by boat and small plane and includes the Demerara and the Essequibo Rivers, as well as a visit to Kaieteur Falls, surely among the worlds most imposing scenic wonders. Moderate to rigorous walking is involved - participants should be in good physical condition.
2017 Departure Dates and Costs
February 18 to March 3
March 4 to 17
April 22 to May 5
May 6 to 19
August 12 to 25
September 2 to 15
October 14 to 27
November 25 to December 8
December 9 to 22
Tour cost: $5,238 USD per person based on minimum 2
Early booking bonus $ 200 per person for bookings made at least 120 days in advance
"This is one of the most spectacular and original wildlife programs on the planet!"
Catherine Evans, owner Tours of Exploration
DAY 1 ARRIVE GEORGETOWN (B)
Arrive in Guyana where you will be met and transferred to Georgetown (1 hour), the capital city and chief port of Guyana, which is situated on the right bank of the estuary of the Demerara River which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Palm trees, large deciduous trees and lower buildings form a skyline. Approximately 200,000 live in the capital, Guyana's only large city. This site was originally chosen as a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements of the river. Georgetown today preserves an array of Dutch and British colonial architecture. Check into the Cara Lodge.
DAY 2: KAIETEUR FALLS/ORINDUIK FALLS (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you will be transferred by air to the Mighty Kaieteur Falls.
The flight provides good views of the extensive rainforest below. These falls are nothing short of awe inspiring. At 741 feet, its loftiness is over four times the height of the Niagara Falls and boasts the largest single drop waterfall in the world. Enjoy a guided rainforest trek in Kaieteur National Park to absorb the unique flora and fauna, which exists in abundance, as well as the Johnson's Point, which affords the best photo shoots. We will look for the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and the golden frog whose lives its entire life in the bromeliads of Kaiteur. A visit as well to Orinduik Falls. Return to Georgetown.
0700hrs transfer to Ogle Airstrip for a flight across the rainforest to Annai. Breakfast at Rock View Lodge and then transfer by 4x4 vehicle or 4x4 Bedford Truck (converted with forward facing seats and canopy) to Iwokrama River Lodge. The Iwokrama Rainforest is a vast wilderness of one million acres. This protected area was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. The Iwokrama Forest is in the heart of one of four last untouched tropical forests of the world - The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Iwokrama was established as a living laboratory for tropical forest management because the unsustainable utilisation of these forests will result in the extinction of half the world's plant and animal species and unknown changes to global climate. This is a protected area with a difference - the full involvement of people. Iwokrama is exceptional among conservation organizations because it joins with local people in every aspect of its work. From research to business, Iwokrama ensures local economic and social benefits from forest use and conservation. The Forest is in the homeland of the Makushi people, who have lived here and used the forest for thousands of years. People are a vertical part of the ecosystem. The success of Iwokrama relies on the ownership of local people and the combined skills of specialists and communities. Iwokrama does what so many International conventions have acknowledged as best practice. It has begun conservation locally and integrated conservation into national development. Afternoon free to explore the trails around the river lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger. Iwokrama is home to many bird species including Capunchinbird, Black Nunbird, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, Amazonian Antshrike, Brown-bellied Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Todd’s Antwren, Spotted Puffbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour Cotinga, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Bronzy Jacamar, Chestnut & Waved Woodpecker, Gray Antbird, and Strong-billed Woodcreeper. Three other Neotropical species in the Iwokrama forest of high interest are White-winged Potoo, Rufous Potoo, and Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo. Finally, after dark, we’ll set out on the river, in hopes of finding one or another of its four species of caiman, and listen for nightbirds such as Spectacled Owl, White-winged Potoo, Rufous Potoo, Long-tailed Potoo, Zigzag Heron or Blackish Nightjar. You may see one or another of the four species of caiman, and most certainly snakes including Cox boa, tree frogs and if lucky maybe some mammals. Maybe even a puma or capybara. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge
Making an early start we will embark on the Essequibo and circumnavigate Indian House Island giving us a chance for dawn song on the river including five species of Tinamou, Marbled Wood-Quail, Band-rumped Swift, White-banded and Black-collared Swallows, and Guianan Streaked-Antwren before returning to the River Lodge for breakfast. After breakfast, you will leave the river lodge for the journey to Turtle Mountain, and an exhilarating climb up the mountain to its summit at 935ft (approx. 360m). It takes 1 3/4hrs to walk up the mountain, but the effort is more than worth it for the breathtaking views over the forest canopy when you get there and chances of Green Aracari, White Bellbird or a fly-by of one of five types of Eagles. This trail is also a great location for seeing Black Spider Monkey and Red Howler Monkey and if we are very lucky even a Jaguar. This pristine forest offers huge buttress trees and the endemic Greenheart, a highly sought after hardwood. Return to the River Lodge for lunch. As the afternoon cools you set out on a boat trip to visit Kurupukari Falls to see the Amerindian petroglyphs (dependent on the water level). Continue by boat for a refreshing drink at Michelle Island overlooking the rapids (clients to pay for own drinks). Return to the lodge. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge
At dawn take a wildlife walk with an Iwokrama Ranger close to the River Lodge. After breakfast we will transfer you by 4 x 4 along the trail that is one of the best places to see the elusive Jaguar. The Iwokrama forest is rapidly gaining an international reputation for its healthy jaguar populations that seem not to be troubled by the appearance of curious humans. No promises, but many have been lucky! Along the road, we will watch for the myriad of bird species that frequent the forest edge, including Crimson and Purple-necked Fruit-crow, Crimson Topaz, Green Oropendula, Spotted and Guianan Puffbird, Scarlet and Red-and-Green Macaw, Blue-cheeked and Orange-winged Parrot and Gray-winged Trumpeter. This road is the only north – south access in Guyana and links the country to Brazil. Even so traffic is only very occasional and wildlife is often seen along the road, such as Agouti, Tayra, Puma, Tapir and Black Curassow. The journey concludes at the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway where we can bird watch from the vantage of 30 Metres up in the canopy. Painted Parakeet, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Guianan Puffbird, Green Aracari, Waved Woodpecker, Pygmy Antwren, Guianan Streaked-Antwren, Dusky Purpletuft, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Guianan Toucanet, Pompadour Cotinga, Buff-cheeked Greenlet, Caica Parrots, and a host of crown specialists may come within our view. From this tree top vantage you can sometimes see Red Howler Monkeys and Black Spider Monkeys. The trails also have an interpretative walk with the trees named and you can learn about their varied uses in the Macushi culture. Deer and agouti are also regular visitors to the lodge. As dark falls on the Canopy Walkway, we will hope to see the White-winged Potoo. We move on to Atta Rainforest Lodge for 2 nights
Although the forest around Atta Lodge is excellent for birds, the major attraction here is a 154 metre long canopy walkway which is only 750m from the lodge. The walkway has four platforms, the highest of which is over 30 metres above the ground, and these will allow us to get great looks at a range of canopy species, many of which we would struggle to see well from the forest floor. Amongst the likely highlights are Painted, Brown-throated and Golden-winged Parakeets, Caica Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Waved and Golden-collared Woodpeckers and Spot-tailed, Todd’s and Ash-winged Antwrens. The walkway is also an excellent place to look for various species of cotinga including the poorly known and range-restricted Dusky Purpletuft and if there are any suitable fruiting trees nearby, we stand a good chance of seeing this bird, as well as the more widespread Purple-breasted Cotinga. Another area where we will want to spend some time is the clearing around the lodge, as this is one of the best places to see another of Guyana’s “must see” birds, the Crimson Fruitcrow. This species is seen here on a reasonably regular basis, as it often comes to feed in some of the nearby trees. The clearing is also a reliable site for Black Curassow as there is a family party which has become habituated to people and regularly passes through the clearing. With reasonable luck, we should be able to add this bird to the impressive list of species we hope to see around the lodge and walkway. During our two nights stay, another of our major targets will be the poorly known White-winged Potoo which, after dark, can be found both around the lodge and at the walkway.
Rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah and then the exhilarating climb up Surama Mountain in the cool morning air. This is the best time to observe bird life along the trail. Breakfast will be served at a lookout point which affords incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains. This is an arduous climb especially after the rains so if you are not up to this - alternative activities in the forests near Surama village are available. At Surama village for lunch and then take a long walk (3 miles) across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro River. Your guides will then paddle you on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe Giant River Otters, Tapir, Tayra, Spider Monkeys and many more species. Return to village for sunset. Overnight at Surama Eco-Lodge
After breakfast depart Surama by 4x4 vehicle or 4x4 Bedford Truck for Rock View Lodge at Annai. The road travels through the savannah and the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains with excellent opportunity for savannah birding. Jabiru Stork are often seen along this stretch of road. Eventually we reach the Rupununi and Annai, its northernmost community. The Rupununi Savannah is to Guyana what the Gran Sabana is to Venezuela, an extensive area of grassland with termite mounds and scattered or riparian woodland. It differs in that much of it is devoted to cattle raising, though the large ranches are not very productive. Indeed, one can travel for hours without seeing a domestic animal of any sort. Needless to say, the birdlife here is markedly different from that of the rainforest. Rock View Lodge is located where the savannah meets the forest-covered foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. With its tropical gardens and flowering trees, the lodge resembles an oasis in the savannah, and attracts many species of birds, particularly nectar feeders and frugivores. Nearby patches of light forest are home to certain ant birds and flycatchers, and of course the grasslands support an avifauna of their own. Overnight at Rock View Lodge
This morning we can bird or look for wildlife around the environs of the Lodge. If you are interested in birdwatching you can explore woodland patches or gallery forest along the river where we’ll hope to find such species as Spotted Puffbird, Striped Woodcreeper, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Golden-spangled Piculet, Bearded Tachuri and Capuchinbird. A feature bird for the area is Agami Heron. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge
This morning travel out onto the savannah to search for a Giant Anteater. After breakfast explore the Rupununi River in search of wild Giant River Otters, Black Caiman, Arapaima and bird watching along the way whilst being transferred by boat to the Amerindian village of Yupukari and Caiman House. Caiman House is the hub of several participatory development projects, including the introduction of classroom libraries in all three village schools and an internet-enabled public library. Visitors may have the opportunity to meet local craftspeople, including the furniture builders at Yupukari Crafters, a nonprofit venture to create village jobs and generate income to sustain educational development. Tonight enjoy a foray on the Rupununi River from Caiman House Field Station. As a guest you have the unique opportunity to support and participate in an ongoing field study of the Black Caiman (melanosuchus niger), the largest member of the alligator family and an endangered species. Guests will observe the capture from a separate boat, but will be offered the opportunity to assist in data collection. Caiman are weighed, measured, sexed and tagged before being released back into the river. The research has already discovered interesting information on caimans’ nests that was previously unknown. During periods of high water it is difficult to capture Caiman so you will have another chance to enter the nocturnal world of the Rupununi River and associated gallery forests which offer an experience, and world of wildlife entirely different than those viewed on a day trip. Skilled guides will expertly escort visitors to meet elusive denizens of darkness by outboard powered boats, while interpreting the sights, and sounds of Guyana after dark. Just after darkness settles on the River many creatures emerge such as black caiman (to over 12 feet), spectacled caiman, tree boas, iguanas, frogs, and many fish species( i.e arrawana, piranha). Sleeping birds (kingfishers, small perching birds) nightjars, potoos, Boat-billed Herons and other aquatic birds, bats, (harmless) spiders, insects, moths, and more can be closely approached in way not possible during the hours of light. Less likely, but not rare inclusions for night viewing include possums, tree dwelling rodents, capybara and sleeping monkeys (esp. squirrel monkeys) amongst other mammals. Few nights pass without some unusual offering
This morning we will have some time to visit the village, to learn about their way of life. Or go birdwatching in search of the many good savannah, gallery forest and river-edge birds found in the Caiman House area including Pinnated Bittern, Green-tailed Jacamar, Black-chinned Antbird and Capuchinbird. After breakfast take a flight back to Georgetown. Enjoy an afternoon Georgetown City Tour. Overnight at Cara Lodge
Transfer to the airport for your departing flight.
3 night ASA WRIGHT EXTENSION
Pre or post tour $ 490 USD per night per room
DAY 1 Arrive Port of Spain
On arrival in Trinidad clear customs where you will be met by Asa Wright nature Centre and transferred to the lodge. 3 nights at the world renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge, a 200-acre conservation area and wildlife sanctuary in Trinidad's rainforested northern range, participants will travel to visit several unique natural areas throughout the island accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable guides.
DAY 2 ASA Wright (B,L,D)
Awaken this morning to the raucous noise of the Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. A first-time visitor may see 20-30 life birds before breakfast. Our day will begin with a guided tour of the several trails which traverse this rich and diverse wildlife sanctuary. On our introductory walk we may see such species such as Violaceous Trogon, Channel-billed toucan, Chestnut Woodpecker, White-bearded Manakin, Bearded Bellbird. Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Turquoise and Bay-headed Tanager.
The Nature Centre is situated in a typical valley of Trinidad;s Northern Range, where traditionally coffee, cocoa and citrus plantations were located and today many of these plants are maintained at the Nature Centre. Natural secondary growth has taken over and festooned the abandoned plantation vegetation with vines and epiphytes to produce an effect of being deep in a tropical rainforest.
The afternoon will be free to allow you to relax, enjoy the trails and adjust to the tropical sun and heat. Birding from the Nature Centre's veranda is one of the World's most pleasant and exciting, ornithological experiences with the White-chested Emerald, White-necked Jacobin, Tufted Coquette, Copper-rumped, Green Honeycreeper, Purple Honeycreeper and Great Kiskadee among the many species that can be easily seen.
DAY 3 ASA WRIGHT (B,L,D)
Full day at the Centre. It is possible to visit the cave of the oilbirds.
Additional side trips can be taken to the Northern Range to the seadside village of Blanchisseuse or to Caroni swamps. These extra tours are approximately $ 60 per person.
DAY 4 Port of Spain Departure (B)
Spend the morning at the Nature Centre exploring the trails, extend your photographic opportunities, take a dip in the naturally beautiful waterfall-fed bathing pool, or just relax on the veranda. Asa Wright will transfer you to the airport for your BWIA flight to Georgetown or home.
- Local naturalist escorts
- Services of English speaking local guides
- Airport transfers
- Double or twin accommodation
- Meals as listed
- Local bar at Rock View & Karanambu
- All road and river transport
- Internal flights/tax
- Activities as described