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Guyana: Pristine Rainforest, Savannah, and Wetlands

Explore Guyana's vast, pristine wilderness, see abundant wildlife, and visit vibrant indigenous cultures on this expedition to one of the wildest places on Earth.

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Overview

  • Explore Guyana's vast, pristine wilderness with visits to Amazonian rainforest, savannah, wetland, river, and grassland ecosystems.
  • Learn from renowned photographer and Guyana expert Pete Oxford.
  • Visit Amerindian communities and learn about Guyana's cultural history.
  • Look for primates, giant anteaters, endemic birds, giant river otters, colorful frogs, tropical plants, and much more.

Home to vast expanses of wilderness, Guyana is a biodiversity hotspot harboring countless species, including many found nowhere else. By visiting this "off the beaten path" destination, travelers are rewarded with one of the best terrestrial wildlife experiences in the world.

Our trip explores Guyana's unspoiled interior with a focus on close-up wildlife observation. Guided by award-winning conservation photographer Pete Oxford, we will visit spectacular Kaieteur Falls, the Amerindian village of Rewa, Iwokrama Forest Reserve, and the famous Karanambu Lodge, where giant otters are rehabilitated. In the many ecosystems we explore, we will have opportunities to see several species of monkeys, diverse birds including the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock and possibly the majestic Harpy Eagle, giant anteaters, river otters, tapirs, amphibians and reptiles, and much more.

Trip participants will benefit from Pete's many years of experience photographing in and guiding expeditions to Guyana.

This is an amateur naturalist's dream trip! Offered in partnership with Pete Oxford Expeditions.

Trip Dates & Cost

2018: April 8-18. $6,850 per person.* Group limit 10.

2019: To be announced. Please inquire.

* Single supplement fee $500; limited quantity available. Trip price does not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Pete Oxford works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Georgetown
We will pick you up at the airport, and then transfer you to Cara lodge, where you will stay overnight. Cara Lodge was built in the 1840s and originally consisted of two houses. It has a long and romantic history and was the home of the first Lord Mayor of Georgetown. Over the years, the property has been visited by many dignitaries including King Edward VII who stayed at the house in 1923. Other dignitaries have included President Jimmy Carter, HRH Prince Charles, HRH Prince Andrew and Mick Jagger. Our accommodations tonight are at Cara Lodge.

Day 2: Kaieteur Falls – Iwokrama
Fly by chartered aircraft to Kaieteur Falls, the longest single drop waterfall in the world, plummeting 224 m (741 feet). Kaieteur supports a unique micro environment, and you will see tank bromeliads (the largest in the world), in which the tiny golden frog spends its entire life, as well as carnivorous plants. We will also look for the rare Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, which nests close by.

Re-boarding our plane we continue to the village of Fairview and from there we transfer to Iwokrama River Lodge set on the mighty Essequibo River. We explore the trails around the lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger. Iwokrama is home to many wonderful bird species including the Capunchinbird, Black Nunbird, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, Amazonian Antshrike, Brown-bellied Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Todd’s Antwren, Spotted Puffbird, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour Cotinga, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Bronzy Jacamar, Chestnut and Waved Woodpecker, Gray Antbird, and Strong-billed Woodcreeper.

The forest is also home to many mammals from the common red-rumped agouti to various species of monkey including red howler, black spider and wedge-capped and brown capuchins. Reptiles too are abundant including the rare black caiman.

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.

After dark we’ll set out on the river, in hope of finding one or another of its four species of caiman, and listen for nocturnal species such as the Spectacled Owl, White-winged Potoo, Rufous Potoo, Long-tailed Potoo, Zigzag Heron or Blackish Nightjar. You may also see snakes including tree boas and frogs. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge.

Day 3: Iwokrama - Atta Rainforest Lodge
We leave the lodge by boat, birdwatching along the way, for the hike to Turtle Mountain. A well maintained trail winds through the forest before an exhilarating climb up the mountain to its summit at 935ft (approx. 360m). It takes 1.5 – 2 hours to walk up the mountain, but the effort is more than worth it for the breathtaking views over the forest canopy. There are chances of sighting the 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. If you think this hike may be too strenuous you can take an alternative boat trip to Stanley Lake to search for giant river otters and black caiman.

After a full day, just after dark we transfer by 4×4 Bedford truck (converted with forward facing seats and canopy) to Atta Rainforest Lodge. We drive the main (dirt) road that connects Georgetown to the Rupununi. This is a deliberate addition to the itinerary as the road passes through primary rainforest and is well known as an area to spot jaguars. No promises, but we have seen many ourselves! Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge.

Day 4: Atta Rainforest Lodge
Atta Rainforest Lodge is 500 meters from the base of the Canopy Walkway, offering delicious home-cooked meals, and traditional Amerindian hospitality. The lodge is completely surrounded by tropical rainforest.

Taking our truck to a short trail, we hope to see the amazingly brilliant Guianian Cock-of-the-Rock at its lekking site. We continue to the nest (presuming it is still active) of a Harpy Eagle pair!

In the afternoon and evening we will walk one of the rainforest trails and visit the walkway with its four platforms in and above the canopy. It’s a good place from which to spot monkeys and a host of bird species. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge.

Day 5: Atta - Rewa Eco-Lodge
In the morning we can once again visit the canopy walkway or opt to spend some time in the clearing around the lodge, one of the best places to spot 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 group which has become habituated to people and regularly passes through the clearing, as do red brocket deer and agouti.

After breakfast we transfer from Atta Rainforest Lodge by 4×4 Bedford Truck through the rainforest to Kwatamang Landing for a pickup by Rewa Eco-lodge staff. We enjoy lunch at Rock View Lodge before continuing our journey.

Our trip to Rewa is by boat along the Rupununi River with opportunities to see wild giant river otters and black caiman. We will pass locals fishing and bathing in the river until reaching the Rewa River and the Amerindian community of Rewa. The journey is approximately 50 miles by river and takes from 2-4 hours depending on the water level.

In Rewa we spend the afternoon exploring the forest in search of brown capuchin monkeys, capybara and many bird species including limpkin, Wattled Jacana, Black-collared Hawk, Green Kingfisher and Guianan Puffbird. Overnight at Rewa Eco-Lodge.

Day 6: Rewa Eco-Lodge
We enjoy a full day exploring the diverse habitats of the Rupununi River and the surrounding Amazonian rainforest. This may include a visit to an oxbow lake and a hike up Awarmie Mountain. We will be on the lookout for black spider monkeys, red howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, brown capuchins, and other primates, as well as many bird species including the White Bellbird, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Black Curassow, Red-fan Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Spotted Tanager, and Bay-headed Tanager. The area also has a high density of macaws including scarlet, blue-and-yellow and red-and-green. We may also have the opportunity to walk through the community of Rewa and visit villagers’ homes where you can experience their everyday life and see residents busy grating cassava, weaving baskets and tending kitchen gardens. Overnight at Rewa Eco-lodge.

Day 7: Rewa - Karanambu Lodge
After breakfast we travel by boat along the Rupununi River to Kwatamang Landing. Depending on local conditions we continue by river or road to Karanambu Lodge.

Karanambu was the home of the late Diane McTurk, conservationist and a world-renowned expert on giant otters. It is located in the North Rupununi, a region of south western Guyana known for its expansive wetlands, savanna, marshy ponds, riparian forest, and has a 30-mile stretch of the Rupununi River.

It is an extraordinarily rich and diverse area with at least 600 species of fish, along with 600 species of birds, and over 200 species of mammals. Karanambu is located roughly in the middle of this beautiful and fascinating biological hotspot where endangered species like the giant otter, black caiman, jaguar, giant anteater, and arapaima can be found.

This region is rich in history, too. The North Rupununi is the homeland of the Makushi and earlier peoples dating back almost 7,000 years ago. Neighbors include the Makushi villages of Kwaimatta, Massara, Yupukari, Toka, and Simoni. Several prominent explorers and naturalists have written about their experiences here, including Robert and Richard Schomburgk, Charles Waterton, Evelyn Waugh, Gerald Durrell and David Attenborough.

In the afternoon we will travel by boat to look for wild giant river otters and as dusk falls we will watch the giant water lilies bloom. On the return trip we will spotlight for black caiman and birds and creatures of the night. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge.

Day 8: Karanambu
This morning we may make an early start to reach an area of rolling grasslands, which is home to a population of giant anteaters. With luck we shall locate one of these six-foot-long animals excavating its breakfast from one of the red termite mounds that stud the savannah. An evening visit to a nearby pond to see hundreds of ibis, anhinga, heron and egret roosting (only in the rainy season) 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 the Spotted Puffbird, Striped Woodcreeper, Pale-bellied Tyrant-manakin, Golden-spangled Piculet, Bearded Tachuri and Capuchinbird. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge.

Day 9: Karanambu
With both the river and the savannahs close at hand there is a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed at Karanambu. We are free to determine what we want to do based on our interests, local conditions and whether the guides have found anything especially unique and interesting to see. Two guided excursions are provided each day — one early in the morning and another late in the afternoon and into the evening. As well as being the coolest times to be out, these are usually the best times to see the different birds and animals. Trips may be on the river by boat, on the savannahs by Land Rover or along forest trails on foot to the different ponds in the area.

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. On the return trip we will spotlight for black caiman and birds and creatures of the night. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge.

Day 10: Karanambu - Georgetown
In the event we have not yet seen a giant anteater we have time to travel out to search the savannah once more for another try! After breakfast we then take our charter flight from the private Karanambu airstrip over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land in Georgetown and transfer to the Cara Lodge. After a late lunch enjoy a guided tour of Georgetown, the chief port, capital and largest city of Guyana. Overnight at Cara Lodge.

Day 11: Fly home
You will be transferred from the Cara Lodge to the airport in time for your flight home.

Accommodations

For the duration of the trip, guests will enjoy accommodations in a variety of eco-lodges, which are designed to provide both comfort and convenience for guests. These will include Cara Lodge, Rewa Eco-Lodge, Atta Rainforest Lodge, and Karanambu Lodge. See the above itinerary for a list of accommodations by day.

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