Walk the colonial streets of Georgetown. Feel the power of the huge Kaietuer Falls. Survey the Iwokrama Rainforest from the Turtle Mountain summit. Meet the Amerindian Macushi tribe and discover the forest though their eyes
Uncover this little known corner of South America, north of Brazil and east of Venezuela – but off the map entirely for many people. Guyana’s mixed African, Amerindian and Indian population, links with the nearby Caribbean and British colonial history (with most people speaking English) creates a lively cultural blend. The coast feels Caribbean and the interior deeply Amazonian, while the cuisine is a word that reflects of the country as a whole – fusion. Discover this undisturbed landscape for yourself on this independent journey. Go into a wild that looks much like it did hundreds of years ago and visit giant waterfalls, search for jaguar, look down on the tree canopy from walkways and mountaintops, and find yourself surrounded by more wildlife than you can imagine. Visit local villages and learn about the culture and daily life of the Amerindian tribes, and understand the conservation efforts that make this nature-filled paradise an unforgettable trip.
Independent travel, without the stress. Peregrine’s Independent Journeys are a range of Peregrine’s best-selling group tours, available for 1-4 people. They depart on any day and are accompanied by a Peregrine guide in each location and 24/7 support from the local Peregrine office.
Georgetown, the capital, and largest, city of Guyana is situated on the right bank of the Demerara River Estuary. It was chosen as a site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements along the river. The city of Georgetown was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide, tree-lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss cross the city. Most of the buildings are wooden, and the main street contains several old colonial homes, including the State House, dating from 1852. Other sites worth visiting are St George's Cathedral, Avenue of the Republic, Stabroek Market, Botanical Gardens, National Museum, Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, and the Demerara Harbour Bridge - the longest floating bridge in the world.
Travel to the famous Kaieteur Falls where the Potaro River flows over sandstone and drops 741 feet into a deep gorge below. There are no other falls in the world with the magnitude of the sheer drop existing at Kaieteur. We then travel on to Orinduik Falls, where the Ireng River thunders over steps and terraces of solid jasper, a semi precious stone.
This morning we transfer to Ogle Airstrip for a flight across the rainforest to Annai. We stop for lunch at Rock View Lodge and then transfer by 4x4 vehicle to Iwokrama River Lodge.
The Iwokrama Rainforest is a vast wilderness of one million acres, in the heart of one of four of the last untouched tropical forests of the world. This protected area was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development.
Iwokrama’s mission is a sustainable tourism program which hosts hundreds of visitors each year. Guests have an opportunity to learn about the research and conservation work at the Centre while experiencing the surrounding pristine rainforest first-hand. Iwokrama is home to a great number of bird species and during the right season there is probably no better place on earth to see jaguars in the wild with many visitors viewing the big cats at dusk or dawn.
The afternoon here is free to explore the trails around the lodge with a ranger.
After dark, we’ll set out on the river, in hopes of finding one or another of its four species of caiman, and listen for nightbirds such as owls, potoos, herons and nightjars. You may almost certainly see snakes including Cox boa, tree frogs and if lucky maybe some mammals. Maybe even a puma or capybara.
Accommodation is offered in eight timber cabins with shingle roofs, on the banks of the Essequibo River. Each cabin has it’s own bathroom facilities and veranda overlooking the river. Running water and flush toilets are standard, however water is not heated (and rarely desired in the tropical heat).
Electricity is provided by a combination of solar and diesel generator systems, and wireless internet access is provided for free in the main building. Meals are served buffet-style in the Fred Allicock dining hall, where you can mingle with the rangers, administrative and scientific staff.
Making an early start we will embark on the Essequibo and circumnavigate Indian House Island giving us a chance for dawn song on the river including five species of tinamou, marbled wood-quail, band-rumped swift, white-banded and black-collared swallows, and Guianan streaked-antwren before returning to the River Lodge for breakfast.
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 935 ft (approx. 360 m). It takes nearly 2 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 sighting 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 monkeys and red howler monkeys, 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 we'll 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 processing and use of cassava, the staple of the Amerindian diet. We will also visit the Butterfly Farm where butterflies are bred for export.
At dawn take a wildlife walk with an Iwokrama Ranger close to the River Lodge.
After breakfast we will transfer you by 4x4 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! Along the road, we will watch for the myriad bird species that frequent the forest edge, including macaws and parrots. 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 agoutis, tayras, pumas and tapirs. The journey concludes at the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway.
The Iwokrama Canopy Walkway is a great place to bird watch from the vantage of 35 metres up in the canopy. Parakeets, Guianan puffbirds, woodpeckers, antwrens, 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.
At the base of the canopy walkway is Atta Rainforest Lodge, resting amidst towering trees and grassy lawns. The lodge provides comfortable accommodation with 8 private rooms, three home-cooked meals per day, and ample opportunities to explore the surrounding rainforest by foot, canoe, or 4X4.
The trails around the lodge have an interpretative walk with the trees named and you can learn about their varied uses in the Makushi culture. Deer and agouti are also regular visitors to the 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. 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 the lodge.
After breakfast travel by 4x4 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.
We continue on to the Amerindian village of Surama. The village is set in five square miles of savannah and surrounded by the densely forested Pakaraima Mountains. Surama’s inhabitants are mainly from the Macushi tribe and still observe many of the traditional practices of their ancestors. On arrival in Surama receive a welcome from a village counsellor and settle into your accommodation. Your guide will take you on a tour of the village. Visit the local school, medical centre and church along with some of the village houses. Later in the afternoon a local guide will escort you for a short walk on trails to observe the forest and bird life. See the forest through the eyes of your indigenous guide and learn about the medicinal plants and their uses in the Amerindian culture. Tonight enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark.
Rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah and then the exhilarating climb up Surama Mountain in the cool morning air. This is the best time to observe bird life along the trail. Breakfast will be served at a lookout point which affords incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains.
Return to village for lunch and then take a three mile walk across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro River. Your guides will then paddle you on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe giant river otters, tapirs, spider monkeys and many more species. Return to the village for sunset.
At dawn take a hike in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains on the Panorama Trail. The views across the savannah and villages as the sun rises are spectacular, as is the variety of bird life you are likely to encounter.
Today you can visit nearby Amerindian villages. Enjoy an explanation and demonstration of traditional cashew nut roasting.
Finish the day with drinks around the pool.
After breakfast transfer by 4x4 vehicle along the road through the savannah and at the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. Jabiru storks and toucans are often seen along this stretch of road, as are red howler and spider monkeys. From Ginep Landing we take a boat trip on the Rupununi River to Karanambu Ranch. 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 Ranch, the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned, giant river otters. Diane sometimes has resident orphaned otters and you can help her as she tends to them.
Late in the afternoon we will travel by boat to look for wild giant river otters, and as dusk falls we travel to the ponds to see the giant Victoria Regis waterlily, bloom at dusk. On the return trip we will spotlight for black caimans and birds and other creatures of the night. Dinner with Diane will include stories on the history of the family and the Rupununi Savannah.
The next day is free for you to relax or further explore the area around the ranch.
You can visit Simoni Pond for some of the best inland fishing in Guyana including peacock bass, or explore the flooded forest or savannah.
An evening visit to Crane Pond to see hundreds of ibis, anhingas, herons and egrets roosting 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 spotted puffbird, striped woodcreeper, pale-bellied tyrant-manakin, golden-spangled piculet, bearded tachuri 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, as well as several species of egrets, anhingas and wattled jacarnas. A feature bird for the area is the agami heron.
This morning travel out onto the savannah to search for a giant anteater. Explore the Rupununi River in search of wild giant river otters, black caimans and arapaimas.
After breakfast transfer by boat, birdwatching along the way, to the Amerindian village of Yupukari and Caiman House. Caiman House is the hub of several participatory development projects, including the introduction of classroom libraries in all three village schools and an internet-enabled public library. Visitors may have the opportunity to meet local craftspeople, including the furniture builders at Yupukari Crafters, a nonprofit venture to create village jobs and generate income to sustain educational development.
Tonight enjoy a foray on the Rupununi River from Caiman House Field Station. As a guest you have the unique opportunity to support and participate in an ongoing field study of the black caiman, the largest member of the alligator family and an endangered species. Guests will observe the capture from a separate boat, but will be offered the opportunity to assist in data collection. Caimans are weighed, measured, sexed and tagged before being released back into the river. The research has already discovered interesting information on caimans’ nests that was previously unknown.
Skilled guides expertly escort visitors aboard outboard powered boats, and help to interpret the sights and sounds of the river after dark. Just after dark many creatures emerge such as caimans, boas, iguanas, frogs, and many fish species, including piranhas. Sleeping birds, bats, (harmless) spiders, insects, moths, and more can be closely approached in way not possible during the hours of light. Less likely, but not rare, sightings include possums, tree dwelling rodents, capybara and sleeping monkeys (esp. squirrel monkeys) amongst other mammals. Few nights pass without some unusual offering.
Please note that if the water level is too high the caiman experience may not be available. In these cases an alternative wildlife-spotting boat trip will be offered instead.