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. The flight then continues on to Orinduik Falls on the Brazilian border. Overnight at Cara Lodge.
Visit the extensive and beautiful Botanic Garden, where, if we are lucky, the trip’s first ornithological highlight will be the Blood-coloured Woodpecker, an astonishingly colourful Veniliornis 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 Macaw, Red-shouldered Macaw and a host of parrots including the Orange-winged and Yellow-crowned Parrot and the Festive Parrot. We will walk on trails in the back on the gardens and may see Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Black-crested Antshrike, Short-tailed Swift, Ruddy Ground Dove, Grayish Saltator, Silver-beaked Tanager, Buff-breasted Wren, Piratic and Ashy-headed Greenlet. Later in the day we will travel to nearby Ogle, where Red-breasted blackbirds sing and Snail kites patrol. From here we’ll fly by aircraft over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest 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 birdwatching 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. Overnight at Karanambu Ranch.
Birdwatching 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. Then transfer by road to Annai. 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. Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Savannah and Black Collared Hawks patrol the grassland. At dusk as nightjars and nighthawks tumble over the grasslands we will look for the Nacunda Nighthawk and White-tailed Nightjar. Overnight at Rock View Lodge.
With its tropical gardens and flowering trees, our 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. Overnight at Atta Rainforest 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. Birdwatching from the mid and upper canopy on the walkway you may see 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 Antwren, Long-billed Antwren, McConnell’s Flycatcher, Gray-crowned Flycatcher, Plain Xenops and Wedge-billed Woodcreeper. After breakfast transfer back to Annai for a scheduled flight to Baganara Island where you will overnight. Exploring the grounds in late afternoon, you will have time to see Little Tinamou, Green Ibis, Pearl Kite, Gray-lined Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Laughing Falcon,Yellow-headed Caracara, Southern Lapwing, Black Skimmer and Scaled Pigeon. Overnight at Baganara Island Resort.
Walking a fairly extensive network of roads and trails we’ll birdwatch in mature tropical forest. We may find such species as Red-fan Parrot, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Racket-tailed Coquette and any of more than 20 species of antbirds. Here the sheer diversity of Guianan forest birdlife is very impressive and we may see Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Olive-backed Foliage-Gleaner, Black-headed Antbird, Ochre-bellied and Willow Flycatchers, White-bearded and Golden-headed Manakins, Spangled Cotinga and Purple-throated Fruitcrow. Later we’ll board a powerful motorboat and travel down to Parika at its mouth, here 21 miles in width. We’ll then travel by road following the sea wall eastward, seeing the system of canals and polders that allow sugar and rice cultivation on land below sea level, and reaching Georgetown by crossing the Demerara on the world’s longest pontoon bridge. Then transfer to the airport for the flight to Trinidad and transfer 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.
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. Your day will begin with 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. 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.
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. Be sure to bring your bathing suit and sunscreen as there will be a chance for a swim after lunch on the beach.
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.