This small group adventure takes in numerous of the highlights of Guyana: visit the Iwokrama Forest and view it from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, and the chance to see the elusive jaguar. Stay in the Makushi village of Rewa before going into the savannahs in search of giant river otters, giant anteaters and black caiman at Karanambu Ranch.
Arrive at Chedi Jagan International Airport. Formalities at this small, friendly airport rarely take very long, baggage facilities are efficient, and there aren’t any touts to worry about. Our guests are met in the arrival hall and transferred to Cara Lodge in Georgetown, approximately one hour from the airport. Built in the 1840s and originally consisting of two houses, Cara Lodge is one of the oldest wooden buildings in Georgetown. It has a long and romantic history and was the home of the first Lord Mayor of Georgetown. Over the years it has hosted many dignitaries including George V who stayed at the house in 1923 and planted the sapodilla tree in the front garden to mark the occasion.
0630hrs pickup and transfer to Ogle Airstrip for a flight across the rainforest to Annai. Breakfast at Rock View Lodge and then transfer by 4×4 vehicle or 4×4 Bedford Truck (converted with forward facing seats and canopy) 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! 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.
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 35 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.
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. The unusually timid Black Curassow can also be seen as at least one family party has become habituated and regularly feeds in the clearing of Atta Rainforest Lodge. After breakfast travel by 4×4 vehicle or 4×4 Bedford Truck (convert with forward facing seats and canopy) to a trail in the Iwokrama Forest to hopefully see the amazingly brilliant Guianian Cock-of-the-rock. This trail is through interesting forest and the guides can show the use of the plants.
Continue your trip onto Kwatamang Landing. Then travel along the Rupununi River with opportunities to see wild Giant River Otters and Black Caiman. You will pass locals fishing and bathing in the river until you reach the Rewa River and the Amerindian community of Rewa. Journey is approximately 50 miles by river and can be as short as 2 hours and as long as 4 hours depending on the water level.
Rewa Village is located where the Rewa River runs into the Rupununi River in the North Rupununi. The surrounding area is rainforest, mountains and oxbow lakes and teeming with wildlife birds and fish. The community of approximately 220 persons is predominately Macushi with a few families of the Wapashani and Patamona tribes. Villagers practice subsistence farming, fishing and hunting with little opportunity for cash employment. In 2005 the community constructed the Rewa Eco-lodge so that they could establish a sustainable eco-tourism business. The lodge itself is situated on the river bank overlooking the Rewa River with views down river to the Rupununi River. Along the river bank tables and benches offer a relaxing location to enjoy the river. The grassed clearing in the rainforest houses three benabs and three cabins. The largest benab is the kitchen and dining area, with an outlook to the river. Accommodation is in two benabs each with two bedrooms and a large patio with hammocks for relaxing and three individual rooms in the cabins for a total of 7 rooms. Three bathrooms with flush toilet, shower and basin are just a few metres from the bedrooms in the benabs. Cabins have ensuite bathrooms.
This afternoon take a boat up the Rewa River and then a 15 minute hike to Grass Pond. This pond or lake is about 3 kms long and is a beautiful setting with Victoria Amazonica. It has a good population of Arapaima, (reportedly the highest density in Guyana) the largest fresh water fish in the world and you can also fish for Peacock Bass. During a late afternoon visit you may see Brown Capuchin monkey or Capybara. Birds likely to be seen include Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, Black-collared Hawk, Green Kingfisher and Guianan Puffbird. As dusk settles watch the flower of the Victoria Amazonica bloom.
Enjoy breakfast at dawn overlooking the Rewa River. Then head out by boat along the Rupununi River, into an oxbow lake to begin a hike up Awarmie Mountain. The climb is steep in a few sections but in general not too difficult. Along the way you will lots of birds and perhaps good close up views of Black Spider Monkeys. There is good birding along the trail with White Bellbirds calling both from the scrubby woodland at the beginning of the trail and again from the forests far below you when reach the summit. Other species you may see include Ornate Hawk-eagle, Black Curassow, Red-fan Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Todd’s Antwren, Spotted Tanager and Bay-headed Tanager. The area also has a high density of macaws including Scarlet, Blue-and-yellow and Red-and-Green Macaws. At the summit you will have absolutely stunning views across rainforest to the distant mountains. There is a small plateau on the top of the mountain and in one direction, there are uninterrupted views back to the Rupununi River, some patches of savannah and across to the distant Kanuku Mountains. In the other direction, there is a near vertical drop of at least 200m and the view is across great swathes of undisturbed forest to the distant Iwokrama Mountain and much closer, Makarapan Mountain. On the return you could also fish for peacock bass which are plentiful in the oxbow. Return to the lodge for lunch, then take a walk through the community of Rewa to see how the locals live. Visit villager’s houses where you can experience their everyday life and see activities such as grating cassava, weaving baskets and tending kitchen gardens. Later this afternoon travel up the Rewa River to a location known as Seawall. This rock formation is a great place to fish or take in the beauty of the location. Visit sand banks where giant river turtles come to lay their eggs. On the return trip spotlight for wildlife. Along the river banks you may see red howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys and brown capuchin.
This morning travel by boat back to Kwatamang Landing. Transfer by 4×4 to Ginep Landing. The road travels through the savannah and the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains with excellent opportunity for savannah birding. Jabiru Stork and Toco Toucan are often seen along this stretch of road, as are Red Howler and Spider Monkey. 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. From Ginep Landing we take a boat trip on the Rupununi River to Karanambu Lodge. Depending on the river level, this trip offers an excellent opportunity to look for Giant Otters as there are several family groups which live along this stretch of the Rupununi River. The journey ends at Karanambu Lodge, the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned, giant river otters. 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 Regis 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.
Today explore the Rupununi River in search of wild Giant River Otters, Black Caiman, Arapaima and bird watching along the way. 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.
This morning travel out onto the savannah to search for a Giant Anteater. After breakfast take a flight back to Georgetown. Enjoy an afternoon Georgetown City Tour (see description below) highlighting the architecture, markets and botanical Gardens (see full description below). This evening you can take an optional tour to the Roy Geddes Musical Museum for a cultural evening and local dinner. Roy is Guyana’s most famous steel pan player and maker. He will demonstrate how steel pans are made and discuss their history and a rendition of pop, rock, soca, classical and jazz numbers of the pans. NOTE – An optional extension to Caiman House is available.
This morning depart for a flight to Kaieteur Falls which is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo. The water of Kaieteur, one of the worlds natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge – a drop of 822 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. Kaieteur supports a unique micro environment with Tank Bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny Golden frog spends its entire life and the rarely seen Guiana Cock- of-the-rock nesting close by. The lucky visitor may also see the famous flights of the Kaieteur Swifts or Makonaima Birds which nest under the vast shelf of rock carved by the centuries of water, hidden behind the eternal curtain of falling water. The trip then continues onto Orinduik Falls 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. The Ireng River forms the border between Brazil and Guyana. In contrast to Kaieteur, Orinduik is ideally suited for swimming and you will find natural Jacuzzi’s as the falls tumble down the steps of jasper.