Guyana Wildlife Adventure
Day 1 Georgetown
Arrive in Georgetown at any time. Your local guide will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). Georgetown the chief port, capital and largest city of Guyana is situated on the right Bank of the Demerara River Estuary. It was chosen as a site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements of the Demerara River. The city of Georgetown was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss cross the city. Most of the buildings in the city are wooden with unique architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. For the most part the buildings have Demerara shutters and designed fretwork which trim eaves and windows. Main Street Georgetown provides several excellent examples of old colonial homes, a prime example of which is the State House, built in 1852. The State House is set in large gardens and is painted green and white and has hosted many visiting dignitaries.
Day 2 Georgetown (1B)
Enjoy a free day in Georgetown to explore the city or take an optional city tour. Other fantastic day tours from Georgetown include an optional full-day excursion to Kaieteur and Orinkuik Falls. The Kaieteur Falls which was first seen by a European on April 29, 1870 is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo. The water of Kaieteur, one of the world’s natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge - a drop of 741 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. The Orinduik Falls is where the Ireng River thunders over steps and terraces of solid jasper, a semi precious stone. With a backdrop of the rolling grass covered hills of the Pakaraima Mountains, this is truly one of the most beautiful locations in Guyana’s hinterland. Guyana’s most popular day trip takes in both of these spectacular falls. The trip departs from Ogle Airstrip and lasts 7 to 8 hours with two hours spent on the ground at each water fall.
Days 3-4 Iwokrama River Lodge (2B,2L,2D)
This morning take a priavte bus through the rainforest to the Iwokrama River Lodge. Arrive at the Kurupukari crossing and continue transfer to the Iwokrama River Lodge. Arrive in the early to mid afternoon. Free time to explore the trails around the River Lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger. You could explore the Screaming Piha Trail near the River Lodge, home to Bronzy Jacamar, Chestnut & Waved Woodpecker, Amazonian Antshrike, Gray Antbird, and Strong-billed Woodcreeper. We may also see Gray-winged Trumpeter, Black-tailed, White-tailed, Violaceous and Collared Trogons, Plain-brown, Wedge-billed, White-chinned, Buff-throated, Chestnut-rumped and Barred Woodcreepers. As the day ends we will look for Ladder-tailed Nightjar; Great and Common Potoo and the rarer Rufous Potoo and White-winged Potoo. After dinner, we will take you out on to the river to spot caiman and other nocturnal wildlife. At dawn on day 4 take a boat trip on the Essequibo River past Indian House Island to look for wildlife. Dawn song on the river may include five species of Tinamou, Marbled Wood-Quail, Band-rumped Swift, White-banded and Black-collared Swallows, and Guianan Streaked-Antwren. After breakfast, you will leave the field station for the journey to Turtle Mountain. Along the way Harpy Eagle have been seen and we may also see Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, King Vulture, Gray-headed, Double-toothed and Plumbeous Kites and Black-faced Hawk. Then make the exhilarating climb up the mountain to its summit at 935ft (approx. 360m). It takes 1 ¾ hours 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. On the walk Black Spider and Red Howler Monkeys are often seen. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest. On the return trip visit the small Amerindian village of Fair View where you may experience the process and use of cassava (once there are materials available), the staple of the Amerindian diet. We will visit the Butterfly Farm where butterflies are bred for export. This afternoon back at the Field Station we will spend time exploring the trails in the forest where we might see Swallow-winged Puffbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Golden-collared, Yellow-throated, Crimson-crested and Red-necked Woodpeckers, Guianan Toucanet, Black-headed, White-browed, Ferruginous-backed, Warbling, Scale-backed, White-plumed, and Rufous-throated Antbirds, Ringed Antpipit, Black-tailed Tityra and Thrush-like Schiffornis.
Days 5-6 Atta Rainforest Lodge (2B,2L,2D)
After a pre-dawn breakfast we depart by Bedford truck to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. This transfer is through the heart of the Iwokrama Forest, where there is a good chance 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! The Canopy Walkway is a series of suspension bridges and observation decks of up to 30 meters (98 ft) in height and 154 meters (505 ft) in length. The state-of-the-art construction allows trees to grow normally by using adjustable cables and braces throughout the support structure. The four observation decks enable visitors to view the mid and upper-level forest canopy and allow wildlife to remain relatively free from human intrusion. Caica Parrots, Painted Parakeets, Guianan Toucanet, Pompadour Cotinga, Plumbeous Pigeon, Red-and-green Macaw, Screaming Piha and a host of crown specialists come within our view. This evening remain on the walkway after dark and return to the camp for dinner. 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. Other species we hope to encounter during our stay include Spix’s and Marail Guans, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Red-fan Parrot, Eastern Long-tailed Hermit, Crimson Topaz, Great and Paradise Jacamars, Guianan and Pied Puffbirds, Guianan Toucanet, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Black-throated Antshrike, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Guianan Warbling Antbird, Pompadour Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Tiny Tyrant-Manakin, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Golden-sided Euphonia and both Red-and-Black and Yellow-green Grosbeaks. 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. Locating this bird will be one of our major priorities but we will need a bright moon-lit night to stand a reasonable chance of seeing it.
Days 7-8 Surama Eco Lodge (2B,2L,2D)
This morning we will welcome the dawn chorus from the tree-tops on the canopy walkway. After breakfast we will travel by Bedford Truck to a rainforest trail to a special locality where Guianian Cock-of-the-rock are known to display and nest. If it is active, we may be able to visit a nearby Harpy Eagle nest. The nest itself is located in a huge emergent tree and if we are extremely fortunate, we may see one of the adult birds bringing a sloth or monkey to the nest to feed their chick. The trek into the nest site is about an hour each way on a reasonable trail. We will then continue on to the Amerindian community at Surama. The village of Surama is situated in a small savannah, deep in the rainforest and surrounded by forest clad hills. It was here that Charles Waterton passed through in 1812 in search of the secrets of the useful Wourali poison known as Curare. Waterton was so stunned by this spot that he wrote in his memoirs “The finest park that England boasts falls short of this delightful scene”. On arrival in Surama receive a welcome from a village counsellor and settle into your accommodation. This afternoon escorted tour of the village, visiting the local school, medical centre and church along with some of the village houses. Tonight enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark. Rise before dawn on day 8 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. After walking back to the village, many might opt to rest and relax around the cabins. This afternoon a local guide will escort you for a short walk on trails to observe the forest and bird life and talk about medicinal plants. Whilst Neomorphus ground-cuckoos are undoubtedly amongst the toughest family of birds to locate anywhere in the Neotropics, Surama offers one of the best-known chances for seeing Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo and to maximise the odds of us finding one, we will use expert local guides to assist us. We will, however, still count ourselves as extremely fortunate if we succeed in getting good looks at this extremely elusive species.
Days 9-10 Karanambu Ranch (2B,2L,2D)
After breakfast take a three mile walk across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro. Your guides will paddle you on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe Giant River Otters, Tapir, Tira, Spider Monkeys and many more species. Return to village before departing Surama by Bedford Truck to Ginep Landing for a boat trip on the Rupununi River to Karanambu Ranch. This is the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned, giant river otters to the wild. Diane and her otters have appeared on National Geographic, Jeff Corwin Experience, Really Wild Show (BBC) and the Calgary’s “Zoo World”. Karanambu has a long history of visiting naturalists and Diane’s father, Tiny McTurk, has welcomed David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell (Three Singles to Adventure). Late in the afternoon we will travel by boat to look for wild Giant River Otters and as dusk falls to the ponds to see the giant Victoria Amazonica waterlily, bloom at dusk. On the return trip we will spotlight for Black Caiman and birds and creatures of the night. Dinner with Diane, will include stories on the history of the family and the Rupununi Savannahs. Diane sometimes has resident orphaned otters and you can help her as she tends to them. You can visit Simoni Pond for some of the best inland fishing (add US$15.00) in Guyana including Peacock Bass or explore the flooded forest or savannah. Explore the Rupununi River in search of wild Giant River Otters, Black Caiman and Arapaima. An evening visit to Crane Pond to see hundreds of Ibis, Anhinga, Heron and Egret roosting is a highlight. 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. When water levels are appropriate a wooded swamp near the ranch is the site of a surprisingly large colony of Boat-billed Herons, as well as several species of Egrets, Anhingas and Wattled Jacarnas. A feature bird for the area is Agami Heron.
Day 11 Georgetown (1B,1L)
This morning travel out onto the savannah to search for a Giant Anteater. After an early lunch take a flight back to Georgetown.
Day 12 Georgetown (1B)
Depart Georgetown at any time.