This birding tour is suitable for both experienced Neotropical birders and those wanting to visit one of the last true wildernesses in South America
For the more adventurous, there is an extension at the end of the tour to look for the spectacular Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin and the very poorly known Hoary-throated Spinetail and Rio Branco Antbird in a little explored area close to Brazil
Some of the special and range-restricted birds we will look for include Rufous Crab-hawk, Harpy Eagle, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Painted Parakeet, Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo, White-winged Potoo, Blood-coloured Woodpecker, White-bellied Piculet, Guianan Puffbird, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Streaked-antwren, Guianan Warbling-antbird, Guianan Gnatcatcher, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Guianan Red-cotinga, Crimson Fruitcrow, Capuchinbird and Finsch’s Euphonia.
PRE- AND POST- TOUR EXTENSIONS
Several extensions fit well with this itinerary. Start a few days early for birding along the Abary River and a visit to the can’t miss Kaieteur Falls. Or remain a few extra days in the Rupununi at the end of the standard tour to visit Karassabai, famous for its healthy (and rare) population of sun parakeets. Or, take advantage of your connection in Trinidad to spend a few days at the world-famous Asa Wright Center for an exceptional 3 days of tropical birding bliss.
FULLY ESCORTED TOURS
If you prefer a fully escorted tour with an expert birding guide throughout the journey then join one of our scheduled departures:
- Friday 11th August – Monday 21st August 2017
- Thursday 12th October – Sunday 22nd October 2017
Arrive in Guyana and transfer to Georgetown.
Pickup and transfer to Eugene F. Correia International Airport, where Red-breasted blackbirds sing and Snail kites patrol. Board scheduled flight for journey over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land in the Rupununi.
Transfer by 4 x 4 vehicle or 4×4 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.
This afternoon we will bird along the Screaming Piha Trail near the 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.
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 lodge for breakfast.
We then set out by boat for half an hour or less to the foot of Turtle Mountain. Along the way Harpy Eagles have been seen and we may also see Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, King Vulture, Grey-headed, Double-toothed and Plumbeous Kites and Black-faced Hawk. Here we explore the trails for a few hours first visiting Turtle Ponds where anis, herons and Green and Rufous Kingfisher hunt and then climbing to an elevation of 900 feet for a view of the forest canopy below and chances of Green Aracari, White Bellbird or a fly-by of one of five types of Eagles. The trails may reveal Little Chachalaca, Marail Guan, Black Curassow, Squirrel and Black-bellied Cuckoos, Eastern Long-tailed and Reddish Hermits, Blue-crowned Motmot, Guianan White-necked Puffbird, Collared Puffbird, Pygmy, Todd’s, Spot-tailed, White-flanked, Gray, Long-winged, Rufous-bellied, and Brown-bellied Antwrens, White-lored Tyrannulet and Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant. On the return trip we will bird as we go and hopefully spot Caica, Blue-headed, Blue-cheeked and Mealy Parrots, Cocoi Heron, Bat Falcon, Lined Forest-Falcon and Pied Lapwing.
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 night birds 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.
This morning we will bird along the Greenheart and Woodcreeper Trails close to the Iwokrama River Lodge. Quill rattling by Spix’s Guan or Crestless Curassow may start us off and then we will look for Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Eastern Slaty-Antshrike, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet and Tiny Tyrant Manakin. The trails may also reveal 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.
After breakfast we will transfer along the road 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 road also offers excellent birding, including a locality known as Mori Scrub, characterized by an unusual low, sandy forest. This supports an interesting assemblage of bird species, among them Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Black Manakin and Red-shouldered Tanager. We will stop along the road at numerous locations and look for species such as Guianan Red-Cotinga, Pompadour Cotinga, Blue-backed Tanagers, White-winged Potoo, Olive-green Tyrannulet, Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo and Marail Guan.
The journey continues onto the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. Here we can bird watch from the vantage of 35 Metres up in the canopy. 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. 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.
Welcome the dawn chorus from the canopy walkway. Short-tailed Nighthawks settle in for the day, swifts take to the sky, White throated and Channel-billed Toucans yodel, and Barred Forest Falcons call. You can spend the day bird watching from the mid and upper canopy on the walkway as flocks travel past and look for Paradise Jacamar, White-necked Puffbird, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Todd’s Antwren, Black-tailed and Black-crowned Tityras and Dusky Purpletuft. Or you can bird along the jungle trails where antbird flocks include White-plumed Antbird, Spot-winged Antbird, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Ash-winged Antwen, Long-billed Antwren, McConnell’s Flycatcher, Gray-crowned Flycatcher, Plain Xenops and Wedge-billed Woodcreeper.
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 Eastern Long-tailed Hermit, Crimson Topaz, Great Jacamar, Guianan and Pied Puffbirds, Guianan Toucanet, Green and Black-necked Aracaris, 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
Again the opportunity for early morning birding on the walkway or jungle trails in the hope of seeing Mealy, Orange-winged and Blue-cheeked parrot, Flame-crested Tanager; Slate-colored and Yellow-green grosbeak, Slender-footed Tyrannulet, Black-capped Becard, Gray-fronted Dove, Ruddy Pigeon, Buff-checked Greenlet, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Golden-winged Parakeet, Black-throated Antshrike, Red-and-black Grosbeak and Rufous-throated Sapphire.
After breakfast we depart for the Cock-of-the-rock Trail, an easy 20 minute walk, to hopefully have our first view of the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock. We will then visit a nearby Harpy Eagle nest, assuming this is active. The nest itself is located in a huge emergent tree only a couple of miles from the village 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 journey continues on to the Amerindian community of Surama. On arrival in Surama receive a welcome from a staff and settle into your accommodation. There are an excellent range of species at Surama, with one of the undoubted specialities of the area being the Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo. Whilst this species is certainly tough to find, the nearby forests are certainly amongst the better places in the Neotropics to look for it. We also plan to do some night birding and will hope to locate the recently split Northern Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, as well as Tropical Screech-Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, White-tailed Nightjar and both Great and Common Potoos.
This morning we will be up early looking for birds around Surama, there are also plenty of other species to look for and during our stay we will hope to encounter Red-legged Tinamou, Painted Parakeet, Dusky Parrot, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Pale-throated Barbthroat, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Guianan Puffbird, Northern Slaty-antshrike, Rufous-bellied Antwren, White-browed, White-bellied & Ferruginous-backed Antbirds, Lemon-chested & Ashy-headed Greenlets and Finsch’s Euphonia.
During our stay we will hope to encounter Great and Paradise Jacamars, Black-spotted Barbet, Golden-spangled Piculet, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, Spot-tailed and Todd’s Antwrens. We may see Dusky, Rufous-throated and Guianan Warbling Antbirds and Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant.
Some birding around the lodge before we transfer 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. This area is the North Rupununi Savannah which 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. Nearby patches of light forest are home to certain ant birds and flycatchers, and of course the grasslands support an avifauna of their own.
We travel south by road to Ginep Landing, making several birding stops and species we could encounter include Savannah Hawk, Red-shouldered Macaw, Sooty-capped Hermit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Cinnamon Attila, Pale-tipped Inezia, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Cayenne Jay and Orange-backed Troupial. From Ginep Landing we will journey by boat on the Rupununi River. This will give us an opportunity to look for various river-edge, wetland and open country species such as Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Jabiru, Wood Stork, Green Ibis, Northern (Crested) Caracara, Black-collared & Zone-tailed Hawks and Swallow-wing. We may also have a chance to see various animals including Giant Otters, Red Howler, White-faced Saki and Squirrel Monkey.
Eventually we reach Karanambu Lodge. This was the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned, giant river otters to the wild. Our bird watching here will be largely in 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 and Capuchinbird.
After lunch we will begin to explore the nearby grasslands, gallery forest and wetlands to look for many species including the oddest-looking members of the cotinga family, the Capuchinbird, the near-threatened Bearded Tachuri, Boat-billed Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Sunbittern, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Green-tailed Jacamar, Spotted Puffbird, White-fringed Antwren, Black-chinned Antbird and Rose-breasted Chat. We also intend to make a special effort to locate the Crestless (or Lesser Razor-billed) Curassow, however, this species is tough to find.
This evening, we also plan to head out onto the savannahs after dark to look for night birds and on a good evening it is possible to see at least six species of nightjar and nighthawk including Nacunda, Least and Lesser Nighthawks, White-tailed Nightjar, as well as Double-striped Thick-knee.
Bird watching from daybreak we’ll devote today to exploring Karanambu and its varied habitats, traveling by boat to certain localities up and downstream, and by Land Rover to one or another forest patch. Grasslands host Double Striped Thick-knees, Bi-colored Wren, and Bearded Tachuri while Forest patches host Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Violaceous Trogon, Blue Ground-Dove, Plain-crowned Spinetail and Great Antshrike. The river is home to Wood Stork, White faced and Black-bellied Whistling Doves, Stripe-backed Bittern and Pied Lapwing. As we move around we may see Least Grebe, South American Snipe, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Yellow Tyrannulet, Cliff Flycatcher and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater.
When water levels are appropriate a wooded swamp near the lodge is the site of a surprisingly large colony of Boat-billed Herons. Whilst out in the boat you may see Capped and Little Blue Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets and Purple Gallinule.
Early morning birding around Karanambu Lodge or for those interested there is also the
opportunity to travel out onto the savannah to look for a Giant Anteater.
After breakfast transfer to airstrip to join scheduled flight back to Georgetown. We will visit the Georgetown Botanical Gardens in central Georgetown where a good range of species can be found. These include Snail Kite, Grey Hawk, Brown-throated Parakeet, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Greyish Saltator, Buff-breasted Wren, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Golden-spangled Piculet, Spotted Tody-flycatcher, Wing-barred Seedeater, Blood-colored Woodpecker and Carib Grackle. We will walk on trails in the back on the gardens and may see Boat-billed Flycatcher, Short-tailed Swift, Ruddy Ground Dove, Silver-beaked Tanager, Piratic Greenlet. You may also see the White-bellied Piculet, Great Horned Owl, Pinnated Bittern and Brown-throated Parakeet.
Transfer to the airport for your departing flight.
Important note regarding tours to Kaieteur Falls
Flights to Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls are operated on chartered aircraft and all flights have a minimum passenger restriction. Therefore, any booking to Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls is subject to a minimum of 12 passengers being available to travel. In most cases we are able to fill flights, especially if scheduled for a weekend. However, in the rare case that we cannot meet the required numbers we will reschedule the trip to another day during your stay, if this is possible. Wilderness Explorers retains the right to reschedule a flight as a first option. If we cannot reschedule the flight Wilderness Explorers will guarantee a flight, with a minimum of 2 passengers, to Kaieteur Falls only or a combination of Kaieteur Falls and Baganara Island Resort. This means you see the major falls of Kaieteur, but miss Orinduik Falls. If a flight is cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, we will endeavour to reschedule the flight during your itinerary. If this is not possible then a full refund on the flight will be made.
Why Travel with Wilderness Explorers?
For more than 20 years, we’ve been working at the crossroads of adventure travel and community tourism. Not from the sidelines or behind a desk, but on the ground. In the jungle. On the boats. Getting our feet dirty and seeing everything first-hand. Tourism isn’t our business – it’s our life. Our handcrafted itineraries prove it.
Our partners in the field aren’t just suppliers in the traditional sense: we are deeply involved with the development of the lodges, tours, training programs, and attractions that draw adventurous souls to this part of the world. Back in 1999 Wilderness Explorers was one of the first tour operators to embrace the now-fashionable idea of community tourism, partnering with the Amerindian Makushi village of Surama in Guyana to provide marketing and administrative support for that country’s first indigenously-operated ecolodge. These days we continue to work with lodges and regional consortiums with tourism development aspirations. Hand-in-hand we are building opportunities for economic growth that don’t rely on resource extraction or the mass-market.
We know that tour companies are increasingly looked upon as unnecessary middlemen in a world where the internet connects everyone with marvelous ease. And, no doubt, someone with ample time and patience could organize their journey independently. But we know that sometimes you want to spend less time researching and more time travelling. If that’s you, we can vastly simplify your trip planning, get you into the best (and often least-known) lodges, prioritize your activity list, and set you up for an unforgettable getaway. Having the time of your life once you get there? Well, that part is entirely up to you!