Guyana, the "land of many waters" is a wonderful destination for travelers looking for pristine rainforest and abundant wildlife. Our 10 day trip focuses on the "wild" interior in the Amazon watershed where remote, comfortable lodges are the base for exploring the rainforest. This is the land of giant river otters, jaguars, black caiman, and countless bird species in an environment still relatively untouched by mankind. Guyana's mix of Afro-Caribbean, indigenous, and European roots and traditions create a unique cultural diversity.
Spot wildlife as you boat, drive and hike through the remote Savannah
Explore Iwokrama Forest, one of the last untouched tropical forests of the world
Summit Turtle Mountain for a breathtaking view over the canopy
Explore the community of Surama as you experience the unique culture
Early this morning, take a flight to Lethem and transfer by vehicle onward to Karanambu Ranch. This is the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned, giant river otters to the wild. This area is prime habitat for countless bird species and aquatic life, such as the black caiman and the giant otters. It is also home to giant anteaters and the Victoria Amazonica, the world's largest water lily and Guyana's national flower.
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 water lily, bloom at dusk. On the return trip we will spotlight for Black Caiman and birds and creatures of the night.
With both the river and the savanna close at hand, there is a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed at Karanambu. Itineraries are not fixed, and you are free to determine what you want to do based on your interests and the time of year.
Typically there are two guided excursions each day. Trips may be on the river by boat, on the savanna by vehicle, or along forest trails on foot to the different ponds in the area.
Activities may include: Searching for wild otters along the river and among the ponds. Tracking a giant anteater across the savanna. Fishing for Peacock Bass on Simoni Pond, one of the best inland fishing holes in Guyana. Boating through the flooded forest in the wet season. Enjoying the flora and fauna along the walking trails among the forest ponds. Spotting large cat species when they come out of hiding at night.
After breakfast, transfer by boat on the Rupununi River for a wildlife-rich excursion to Ginep Landing and continue by vehicle 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 utilization 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.
Afternoon free to explore the trails around the river lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger. As the sun sets we depart the river lodge by boat for a refreshing drink at Michelle Island overlooking the rapids (clients to pay for own drinks). After dark we will leave Michelle’s Island and take you out on to the river with hope of finding one or another of its four species of caiman, and listen for nightbirds such as Spectacled Owl, Long tailed Potoo, Zigzag Heron, caiman and other nocturnal wildlife.
This morning we will take you on an early morning boat ride near the River Lodge. 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 approximately two 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 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). Then visit the small Amerindian village of Fair View where you can experience the process and use of cassava, the staple of the Amerindian diet.
Day 7: Iwokrama Canopy Walkway and Rock View Lodge
Transfer before dawn by vehicle 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! 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 Atta Rainforest Lodge and Iwokrama Canopy Walkway where we can bird watch from the vantage of 35 Metres up in the canopy. 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. Enjoy breakfast at the Canopy before continuing by vehicle 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 to Rock View lodge at Annai. Rock View Lodge is located where the savanna meets the forest-covered foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. With its tropical gardens and flowering trees, the lodge resembles an oasis in the savanna, 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.
Explore the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains and enjoy the sunrise over the savanna and villages.
After breakfast, transfer by vehicle to the Amerindian village of Surama, and with your guide, visit the local school, church, and some of the village homes. Witness cassava processing, the staple of the Amerindian diet, and handicraft making and have the chance to interact with the local community. Enjoy a local lunch and an afternoon boat trip on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe giant river otters, tapir, tira, and spider monkeys. Late afternoon transfer back to Annai.
At dawn take a hike in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains on the Panorama Trail where you might see Cinereous Mourner, Finsch’s Euphonia, Reddish Hermit, Rufous-bellied Antwren, Green-tailed and Yellow-billed Jacamar. The views across the savannah and villages as the sun rises are spectacular.
After breakfast check in at the airstrip in Lethem for flight back to Georgetown. On arrival transfer to the beautiful Georgetown Botanical Gardens to explore the colorful native flowers and look for birds in the area. Return to your hotel for the evening.
Day 10: Return home or extend trip
Transfer to the airport tor your international flight.
With more time, take a city tour of Georgetown or visit Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls. Kaieteur Falls is the largest free falling waterfall in the world with a drop of 822 feet, five times the height of Niagra Falls.
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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.