Nature Travel Specialists

nature tours & travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, Southeast Asia, South America and Alaska



The Wildlife of Guyana

Guyana is a little known, and little visited, country whose wildlife is one of the richest for its size in the world. Tucked away on the tropical shoulder of South America, it shares the features of its two large neighbors, Brazil and Venezuela, with coast, rainforest, isolated tepuis and dry savannah. The variety of habitats allows for about 225 species of mammals and 800 species of birds, many of which are endemic to the Guyana Shield. Moreover, the compactness of Guyana means that this variety can be discovered in small area. Though tourism in Guyana is new and very small – just about 2000 tourists visited in 2009 - over the last few years birding tours have started visiting, and Guyana is making a positive effort, following the Costa Rica model, to preserve and protect its natural areas – which is much of the country – and develop nature-based tourism as an alternative to logging, extractive industries and agriculture. So while conditions are still relatively primitive – don’t expect air conditioning outside the city – travel there also very rewarding.

While covering much of the same ground, our tour differs from the birding tours in that we are looking at the whole picture, not just chasing as many birds as possible, ticking them off and moving on. While our guides are expert birders – and birds will be an important part of what we are looking for – we are moving at a slower pace, spending more time at each site to give ourselves more chance of seeing a greater variety of wildlife. For example, the road from Iwokrama to and beyond Atta is known for its jaguar population, but other tours pass by just once, if at all, during the time jaguars are active. We have three mornings and two evenings here, and most importantly we have a vehicle to drive the road in search of jaguar and other wildlife. We also spend an extra day at Karanambu, in the savannah, to give us a better chance of seeing Giant Anteater and other savannah specialties, including capybara. We also include Kaieteur Falls, with its impressive 741ft single drop and 300ft width, in the middle of pristine rainforest only accessible by plane.

A tour, especially a wildlife tour, is more than a list of destinations, and most important of all is the quality of the guides. For this tour we have Wally Prince, one of the most sought-after guides for professional birders, documentary teams, and scientific expeditions visiting Guyana. Wally is not just a top birder, but has seen, worked on and studied Guyana's mammals, reptiles, insects and plants. Click on his name to see his full profile. In addition to Wally the tour is accompanied by Pat and David Beebe, a husband and wife video and still photo team whose work most recently appeared on National Geographic TV's "Hunt for the Shadow Cat;" you can see a short excerpt of their work here: More can be found on their own website and on Youtube: Their technique of combining video and stills makes for riveting viewing. Both Pat and David are friendly, very knowedgeable, and sharing, and will be available to assist with your own photography, be it still or video. David is an expert in Photoshop™ and other darkroom/manipulation programs, so this tour is sure to increase your total photographic skills. While not a photo tour per se, we know that most of our clients take photos, and have allowed plenty of time in all locations to both see wildlife and take photos - there's no "tick it off and hurry along" on this tour.

So we’re confident birders will add a very satisfying total to their life list, including many elusive species as well as the spectacular Guianan Cock of the Rock, Capuchinbird and other sought after species, including, hopefully, Harpy Eagle. For those who want to see birds while not chasing every species possible, but also see mammals, reptiles, butterflies and the rainforest itself; those who enjoy sitting patiently at dusk watching a giant water lily slowly unfold its beauty, with time for photography along the way (all the itinerary photos were taken by amateurs on one tour except the jaguar and anteater), this is the tour for you.


After you read the itinerary complete tour information can be found here.



Day 1 – Thursday, September 6: Miami or New York/Georgetown, Guyana
Depart Miami at 2.20pm on Caribbean Airlines for Georgetown, arriving at 9.45pmcara lodge georgetown (via a short stop at Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. There is no change of plane). We are met and transferred to Cara Lodge in the capital, Georgetown. Cara Lodge is a very comfortable boutique hotel, built in the 1840s, and originally two adjacent grand houses stayed in by kings, princes and presidents. For those who prefer, there is also a flight from New York on Caribbean or Delta, which depart about midnight/1am and arrive in the morning. Choosing this flight means you will have a day at leisure today; touring to the city sights, including the Demerara Rum factory, will be arranged, as will your airport transfer. The Delta flight is only weekly, so using this flight means an additional day in Guyana after the birding extension.

Day 2 – Friday, September 7: Georgetown/ Kaieteur Falls/Iwokrama
manatee at botanical gardens An early start this morning as we head to the Botanical Gardens for some excellent birding, and a bit of a mammal morning as well. The gardens, 184 acres in the center ofkaieteur falls Georgetown, are a former coffee plantation converted for conservation purposes in the early 20th century. The gardens are famous for their birds, including numerous parrot species, toucans, piculets, and the sought after blood-colored woodpecker. (Fuller bird lists for each day can be found at the end of the itinerary). We’ll finish our time here coaxing a manatee or two from the bottom of a pond with tempting fresh grass, and maybe see some “liberated” brown capuchins taunting their caged cousins in the adjacent National Zoo. We return to our hotel for toco toucanbreakfast, then head to Ogle Aerodrome for our charter flight to Kaieteur Falls. Our flight takes us over a great expanse of rainforest before we land on the grass strip adjacent to the falls – both arrival and departure enable us to get photos for the falls from the air, regardless of which side of the plane we sit. We walk to the falls, a short distance along a track through the forest, and can view the falls from a short distance away, and also from the overflow itself. With luck we’ll see a Guianan Cock of the Rock here, but will certainly see the world’s largest bromeliads, which are home to a bright golden frog that spends its entire life on the plant. giant bromeliad at Kaieteur FallsSwifts live in indents in the vertical rock face of the falls, and we expect to see them swooping about. We have about three hours here exploring, then continue inland to the Iwokrama River Lodge & iwokrama accommodationResearch Station. After settling in to our rooms we have the remainder of the day to explore the rainforest trails. Over 450 species of birds have been recorded here, plus a range of mammals and reptiles, plus of course colorful butterflies and beetles. Particularly noteworthy is that the large macaws – Blue and Yellow, Red and Green, and Scarlet - are quite common here.
Tonight at dinner we’ll learn about the important conservation and research mission that is at the heart of the research station, and afterwards look for nocturnal wildlife close to the lodge.       (BLD)


Day 3 – Saturday, September 8: Iwokrama
After some coffee and fruit we head out a little before dawn for Turtle Mountain. The first part of the journey is a boat trip along the river, then into a side arm. During this part we’ll hear the tropical dawn chorus, and bird from the boat. Breakfast will be a brown bag affair, taken along the way. We’ll be on the lookout for muscovy duck in treesloths, armadillos, late to bed opossums, capybaras, and caimans. We may be fortunate to see arapaima, a huge, ancient fish black spider monkeythat can reach over 8ft long and 400lbs, and which has an important place in Guianan culture. Muscovy Duck is also a good possibility along the river. Once at the foot of the mountain we’ll leave the boat and begin a leisurely 2 hour trek to the summit. Once again we’ll bird along the way, and watch and listen for monkeys and colorful squirrels. Black Spider Monkeys are most likely, but the petite Golden-handed (Midas) Tamarin is also possible. It’s high, bird-like chirps often give it away before it is seen. There are a couple of manakin leks along the route, and we expect to have a nice increase to our bird list before the walk is over. We’ll end the upward walk at 900ft, allowing for stunning views across the rainforest canopy, where no sign of humaan activity can be seen. We’ll scan for raptors, including King Vulture and Harpy Eagle – theregoldne-headed manakin are two nest sites in the area. We then return down the mountain and boat back to the lodge in time for lunch. After a morning or reasonable exertion some may want to avoid the heat of the day in a hammock on your cabin’s river-facing porch, perhaps catching up on the wildlife seen so far and mview from turtle mountainaking notes. However, we’ll also offer a visit to the Amerindian village of Fair View to learn a little about traditional lifestyles, cassava cultivation and local history. We’ll also have an opportunity to visit the butterfly farm, a sustainable business venture operated by the village residents.
Late afternoon we’ll both refresh ourselves and absorb a bit of the local culture when we travel by boat across the river to Michelle’s Island, where we can take a dip in the gentle rapids, then watch the sun set with coconut shell sundowners. After dark we’ll take to the river to spotlight the banks in search of three kinds of caimans, Cox’s Boa, tree vipers, capybara, any other mammal we can find; we also hope for the unusual sight of Black Skimmers fishing by night. Evening calls of Guianan Red Howler Monkey may be heard as they settle down; we’ll be seeking this monkey in the mornings as well.       (BLD)



Our Guyana Wildlife Tour continues >>>>>