Recommended for the intrepid traveller, avid birdwatcher and adventure seeker
Guyana combines well with Trinidad & Tobago as they are connected by regular short flights. There are many options available, but Guyana’s little explored interior is particularly recommended for the intrepid traveller, avid birdwatcher and adventure seeker. The following is a comprehensive birding holiday combining 8 days in Guyana with 4 days in Trinidad and can be extended to also include a few days in Tobago.
Fly to Guyana and transfer to Georgetown for the first of 2 nights at Cara Lodge.
After breakfast we’ll fly to Kaieteur, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Though Venezuela’s Angel Falls are greater in total height, their filamentous drop occurs by stages whereas Kaieteur is a single, massive, thundering cataract 100 meters wide created as the Potaro River makes a sheer drop of 228 meters, nearly five times the height of Niagara. The spectacle is the more impressive for its remoteness and it is altogether possible that we’ll be the only persons viewing it. Here we will hope to find White-chinned and White-tipped Swifts swirling over the gorge, and perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to see the astonishingly colourful Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, White-tailed Goldenthroat or Musician Wren. Depending on the day, the flight might then continue on to Orinduik Falls on the Brazilian border. Overnight at Cara Lodge.
Travel to nearby Ogle, where Red-breasted blackbirds sing and Snail kites patrol. From here fly by aircraft over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rain forest to land at Karanambu Ranch. Karanambu was the home of Diane McTurk, who was widely known for her work rehabilitating orphaned Giant River Otters. 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. When water levels are appropriate a wooded swamp near the ranch 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, Purple Gallinule and Pied Lapwing. And at any season the river and airstrip provide habitat for no fewer than eight species of nightjars, including Least Nighthawk and White-tailed Nightjar.
This region is rich in history and is the homeland of the Makushi and earlier peoples dating back more than 7,000 years. 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. With both the river and the savannahs close at hand there is a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed at Karanambu. You are free to determine what you want to do based on your interests, the time of year 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. Accommodations are in traditionally made clay brick cabins, each with en suite and a verandah with hammocks.
Late in the afternoon,travel by boat to look for wild Giant River Otters and as dusk falls, take a trip to the ponds to see the giant Victoria Amazonica waterlily, that bloom at dusk. On the return trip, spotlight for Black Caiman, birds and creatures of the night. Overnight at Karanambu Ranch.
Bir watching from daybreak to nightfall or later, we’ll devote this entire day to exploring Karanambu and its varied habitats, travelling 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-coloured 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. Overnight at Karanambu Ranch.
Early morning birding around Karanambu Ranch. For those interested there is also the opportunity to travel out onto the savannah to look for a Giant Anteater. After breakfast transfer by boat on the Rupununi River to Ginep Landing, keeping an eye out for Jabirus nesting along the river, Bat Falcons, King Vulture, White-necked Jacobin and Drab Water Tyrant.
Travel north by road from Ginep Landing to Rock View Lodge, located where the savannah meets the forest-covered foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. With its tropical gardens and flowering trees, the lodge resembles an oasis in the savannah and attracts many species of birds, particularly nectar feeders and frugivores. Nearby patches of light forest are home to certain antbirds and flycatchers, and of course, the grasslands support an avifauna of their own. Eight comfortable rooms have en suite bathrooms and feature a patio with hammock for relaxing. Meals are served in the dining room under the mango trees and most of the produce is grown on the property. There is a swimming pool in a lovely setting in the gardens and it is a welcome respite on a hot day. Overnight at Rock View Lodge.
With its tropical gardens and flowering trees, the lodge resembles an oasis in the savannah, and attracts many species of birds, particularly nectar feeders and frugivores. Amethyst Woodstar, White-chinned Sapphire, Long-billed Starthroat and several Hermits patrol around the grounds. Nearby forest patches are home to Amazonian Scrub Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and a variety of antbirds. This morning we bird in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains on the Panorama Trail for Cinereous Mourner, Reddish Hermit, Rufous-bellied Antwren and Yellow-billed Jacamar. After lunch we 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! Inside the Iwokrama reserve we will stop at the Cock-of-the-rock Trail, an easy 20 minute walk, to hopefully have our first view of the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock. 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. We hope to see Mealy, Orange-winged and Blue-cheeked parrot, Flame-crested Tanager; Slate-coloured and Yellow-green Grosbeak, Slender-footed Tyrannulet, Black-capped Becard, Gray-fronted Dove, Ruddy Pigeon, Golden-winged Parakeet or even the rare Crimson Fruitcrow.
Atta Rainforest Lodge is 500 metres from the base of the Canopy Walkway, offering comfortable private-room accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, delicious home-cooked meals, and traditional Amerindian hospitality. The main building is open sided with views across the gardens to the towering forest on all sides and houses the bar, dining area and kitchen. The Gardens have a wonderful collection of Heliconia flowers that attracts humming birds.Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
Before dawn return to the canopy where you will welcome the dawn chorus. From this treetop vantage, you can sometimes see Red Howler and Black Spider Monkeys. As well as from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway itself, you can enjoy wildlife and birdwatching walks on the trails around the area. For those interested in botany, many of the trails have the key tree species marked. Many bird species, stunning insects, noisy amphibians, and playful primates make the surrounding forest their home. Deer, Tapir and agouti are also regular visitors to the lodge.
Return to the lodge for breakfast before departure. Then transfer by a vehicle along the trail that is one of the best places to see the elusive Jaguar. 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, Tapir and Black Curassow. The journey concludes at the Fair View Airstrip.
Depart by scheduled flight from Fair View airstrip to Mahdia (approximately 3hrs road travel time) and then reboard flight for return journey to Georgetown, over hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest, to land at Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Pickup and transfer from Eugene F. Correia International Airport to your hotel in Georgetown.
At 1500hrs you will be picked up and transferred to the extensive Georgetown Botanical Gardens where, if we are lucky, we will have views of the Blood-coloured Woodpecker. This colourful Veniliornis is found only in the Guianas and even there almost wholly limited to the narrow coastal plain. The gardens host Snail Kite, Gray Hawk, Pearl Kite, Carib Grackle, Red-bellied and Red-shouldered Macaws and the rare festive parrots. We will walk on trails in the back of the gardens and may see Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Silver-beaked Tanager, Buff-breasted Wren, Golden-spangled Piculet and Ashy-headed Greenlet. You may even want to take a break from birding to feed some manatees in one of the nearby ponds. Overnight at Cara Lodge.
Before dawn, depart your hotel and travel eastward from Georgetown along the Atlantic coast to the Mahaica River. Here you will be joined by your guide before continuing to the river landing. The narrow winding road to the landing runs parallel to the river and takes you through an area that has been mainly used for the cultivation of rice and other crops. Fortunately, the area along the river has been well preserved and provides an excellent riverfront ecosystem inhabited by flocks of egrets, herons, ibis, various marsh tyrants, and Guyana’s national bird, the Hoatzin. Howler monkeys often frequent these riverside trees also.
Upon arrival at the river landing, you will have a bathroom break or enjoy a cup of coffee or tea before heading out onto the river. This is the lifeline of the community and is one of the main sources of transportation, food, recreation and fresh water to irrigate the fields. The river offers a rare chance to see the range-restricted Blood-coloured Woodpecker which has been badly affected by habitat loss in the ‘Guianas’ coastal region. This woodpecker is only known to live along a narrow coastal strip which runs eastward for just a few hundred miles from Guyana. Along the way, we will also look for the poorly-known White-bellied and White-barred Piculet as well as Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, and the threatened Great-Billed Seed-Finch.
This river is one of the best places to spot Guyana’s national bird, the Hoatzin (Opisthocomus Hoatzin), also known as the Stinkbird, or “Canje Pheasant”. This odd bird is an unusual species of tropical bird found in swamps, riverine forest and mangrove between the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. The Hoatzin is herbivorous; it eats leaves and fruit and has an unusual digestive system with an enlarged crop which functions as a rumen. It also produces a horrible smell to scare away potential predators, hence one of its local names.
After birding, we will return to the home of our boatman, Ramesh, where we will have breakfast before returning to Georgetown. Our drive back to the city offers excellent spotting opportunities for shore birds. Some species include Scarlet Ibis, Black Skimmer, Brown Pelican and the Magnificent Frigate bird. Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-herons, Little Blue Herons, Cattle and Snowy Egrets, Snail Kites and the mangrove endemic Rufous Crab Hawk. This species is listed as near threatened due to the severe deforestation of its mangrove habitat both by nature and commercial development. The replanting of the mangroves project along the coast of Guyana has seen an increase in the numbers of this beautiful hawk.
This afternoon we will take a drive through the heart of the city to the Stabroek Market area. Here you will join the afternoon commuters using the old ferry Stelling to board the river taxis which are used to cross the Demerara River. The river taxis are an alternative route to using the Demerara Harbor Bridge. As you slowly cruise along the bank of the Demerara River your guide will give you a brief history of the famous buildings along the waterfront. We then continue our trip to see the Demerara Harbour Bridge, once the longest floating bridge in the world at a total length of 1,851m long. We will cross under the bridge and tie up the boat near a mangrove that is the nightly roost of about nine different kinds of birds. As the sun sets over the river, we will have a cold drink and some snacks or cutters as we call them here in Guyana as we enjoy flocks of brilliant Scarlet Ibis and three kinds of Egrets as they fly across the sky and settle into the Mangroves for the evening. Soon after the sun sets, you will return to the ferry Stelling while enjoying the city and ship lights from the river. Overnight at Cara Lodge.
Transfer to the International Airport for the flight to Trinidad. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to the Asa Wright Nature Centre for 4 nights, where your stay will include early morning tea/coffee, full breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, rum punch at sunset and dinner.
On your first day, you will enjoy a guided tour of some of the trails traversing this rich and diverse wildlife sanctuary. On this introductory walk you may see species such as Violacious Trogon, Channel-billed Bellbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Turquoise and Bay-headed Tanager.
Later in the afternoon, you will take a boat trip through the famous Caroni Swamp, a specialized mangrove forest. Its highlights include Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Osprey, Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Bicoloured Conebill and Red-capped Cardinal. Your day will end with the spectacular flight of Scarlet Ibis returning to their roosts at dusk. This is truly one of the world’s most dramatic natural moments.
Awaken to the raucous noise of the Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. These could include various hummingbirds such as White-necked Jacobin, Tufted Coquette, Copper-rumped and Blue-chinned Sapphire. Orange-winged Parrots will be calling loudly, Palm Tanagers, Purple Honeycreeper, Great Kiskadee and Bananaquits will be everywhere. Today there is an all day excursion over the Northern Range to the seaside village of Blanchisseuse. En route you will look for Swallow-tailed Kite, Common Black Hawk, Bat Falcon, Collared Trogon, White-tailed Trogon and Rufous-tailed Jacamar, among many others. At the seashore we will look for Magnificent Frigatebird, Green Kingfisher and Brown Pelican.
Today you will wind your way out of the Northern Range to the east coast and the Nariva Swamp. This is the largest freshwater herbaceous swamp in Trinidad, which also has a mangrove area. On the way you will visit an agricultural research station where a host of lowland species such as Savannah Hawk, Red-breasted Blackbird, Southem Lapwing, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-headed Caracara and Green-rumped Parrotlet. Arriving at the coastal area you will have the opportunity to look for Pearl Kite, Pinnated Bittem, Azure Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Limpkin and White-tailed Goldenthroat. You will stay here until dusk, when hopefully you will see flocks of Red-bellied Macaws coming in to roost.
This morning we will visit Dunston Cave, home of the most accessible colony of Oilbirds in the world, before departing for the airport for your flight to the UK.
Arrive at London Gatwick in early morning.