Diane McTurk

Diane McTurk was a National Treasure in Guyana – a hero of conservation and eco-tourism

Her work at Karanambu left a permanent mark on Guyana and thousands of guests who had the good fortune to meet her.

Diane McTurk was known to a select group of adventuresome souls who dared to venture into the obscure rainforests of Guyana, South America where she operated Karanambu Lodge. But to those who live and work in Guyana, she was simply a fixture, a fact of life.

Auntie Diane.

Born on her father’s cattle ranch, Diane grew up in the remote wilds of what was still known as British Guiana. She was ushered away for a genteel education in London and later pursued career opportunities in both London and Guyana. She returned to the ranch in the 1970’s to take over the ranching business in newly-independent Guyana. In what was both a visionary and strategic turn, Diane decided to convert part of the property into a tourist destination, a move that laid essential groundwork for the development of Guyana’s unique ecotourism sector and created what is now lovingly known as Karanambu Lodge.

Diane’s special relationship with giant river otters in the Rupununi River won her the notice and praise of many including Gerald Durrell and David Attenborough. Not to mention scores of amazed visitors who marveled at her ability to commune with these gregarious (and highly endangered) ‘river dogs’ that gleefully inhabit the area.

Auntie Diane leaves behind an important legacy for Guyana: she was an early conservationist, a graceful hostess, and a steely survivor in a frequently-inhospitable environment. We deeply mourn her passing and cherish the legacy that she leaves behind in her beloved Guyana.




It is with great sadness I pay tribute to the passing of Diane McTurk. Diane was an inspiration to not just me but to the entire tourism industry in Guyana and the thousands of visitors that were privileged to stay with her at Karanambu.

It is with great sadness I pay tribute to the passing of Diane McTurk. Diane was an inspiration to not just me but to the entire tourism industry in Guyana and the thousands of visitors that were privileged to stay with her at Karanambu.

Her work in rehabilitating orphaned Giant River Otters to the wild was grass-roots conservation that helped bring understanding to local people and at the same time provide unrivalled wildlife experiences for visitors.

Diane’s old-style hospitality was legendary and she treated all guests as friends at her dining table. The endless stories were entertaining and often hilarious and told part of the rich history of the Rupununi.

On a personal note Diane was a much cherished friend who daily lived her dream at Karanambu. We shared some challenging, funny and rewarding business experiences over 25 years. Some of my most cherished moments in the Rupununi have been shared with Diane. May she rest in peace in her eternal home at Karanambu.

Tony Thorne
Managing Director
Wilderness Explorers

Diane in the News

Tourism, conservation pioneer passes away
The “Otter Lady” passes away at 84
The Otter Lady, Diane McTurk passes on
Diane McTurk & Her Orphaned Giant River Otters
The otter lady: Rupununi’s Diane McTurk passes away
Message of Condolence President David Granger
Julie Zickfoose: Giant Amazon Otter!
Mark Hay: How to Duct Tape a Dinosaur
Adventures of a real-life Dr. Dolittle
Guyana: a guide for beginners
Guyana: A journey into the Jurassic
Boy Meets Girl at Otter Exhibit
Travellers Guide: The Guianas
Travellers Guide: The Guianas
10 Places Where the Wild Things Are
Jeff Corwin Experience at Karanambu

Come see Karanambu for Yourself!


Adventures of Andrea & Salvador


Diane McTurk on Facebook


Tributes and remembrances