Yet the nature of Guyana is about more than its impressive parade of wildlife. You’ll meet local people in tiny villages leading a natural, unchanged way of life. You’ll learn about the rainforest’s plants and the way they’re used; take part in a black caiman protection programme and immerse yourself in the history of Georgetown, the country’s capital and once a Dutch settlement. It’s the perfect way to come to understand the true nature of Guyana.
London – Georgetown – Kaieteur Falls
Your flight from London takes you to Georgetown in Guyana, and a totally different world. You’ll be driven from the airport to your hotel, and on the following day you’ll take a short hop to Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River. It’s a fitting start to your discovery of the vibrant nature and spectacular countryside of Guyana.
The Kaieteur Falls are amongst the very highest in the world. In fact, they have a drop that is five times higher than that of the mighty Niagara Falls, so you’re guaranteed a breath-taking sight.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Cara Lodge.
The theme of outstanding nature continues when you fly over to the Iwokrama Rainforest. This region is the ancestral home of the Makushi people who have roamed across the wilderness for thousands of years. Today they’re guardians and managers of a million acres of the Guiana Shield of North Eastern South America and share it with fascinating – and often very voluble – indigenous creatures like howler and spider monkeys, wedge-capped and brown capuchins.
Not to mention huge flocks of colourful birds, including many rare and little-seen species. During the day you’ll be entranced by the birds, and at night you can set off on a river safari to see nocturnal creatures, including caiman. A boat will be your means of transport on your second day too; water safaris will take you to watch the fantastic birdlife of Indian House Island, and then to Kurupukari Falls to see their ancient Amerindian petroglyphs.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Iwokrama River Lodge.
There are even more natural wonders awaiting you in the Atta Rainforest. A wildlife walking safari – with an experienced guide, of course – will see you treading carefully through the realm of the jaguar, puma, tapir, agouti, tayra, and black curassow, as well as any number of interesting birds.
You’ll also gain a new perspective on the life of birds as you ascend 30 metres into the treetops to experience the canopy environment of parakeets, toucans, parrots, contingas and toucanets.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
If you really want to gain a feel for an area, ask a local to show you around. You’ll travel along remote trails in a 4×4 vehicle, accompanied by birdsong and sightings of the singers until you reach the Amerindian village of Surama – home to the local Macushi tribal people. Welcoming strangers is part of their traditional way of life and they’ll happily show you around their village and tell you about their unchanged way of life.
They are totally at home in the rainforest so they’ll be proud to introduce you to the forest’s creatures and explain how they use the region’s unique flora and fauna. A water safari along the Burro Burro River will give you a great opportunity to photograph giant river otters, tapir, spider monkeys and tira.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Surama Eco-lodge.
Your journey across the savannah by road to Annai will be both picturesque and rewarding. You’ll travel around the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains and have the chance to spot flocks of birds, including the famous jabiru storks.
At Annai you’ll be deep in Guyana’s cattle country – the perfect place for seeing working cattle ranches as well as visiting Amerindian villages to learn about a centuries-old lifestyle that has kept many of its local traditions and industries like cashew nut roasting.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Rock View Lodge.
Of course, you can’t pass through cattle country without staying on a ranch and experiencing the life of a cowboy. From Ginep Landing you’ll set sail along the Runpununi River towards Karanambu Lodge – an eco-tourist lodge set on a ranch. But Karanambu has more than cattle to offer.
On the way there you’ll have seen toucans, and spider monkeys (and heard the howlers) but now it’s time to meet giant river otter and a host of indigenous creatures like giant anteaters. Specialist local guides will take you from one natural environment to another so you be able to experience the diversity of the region’s riverside, savannah, wetlands and forest habitats.
As well as watching out for over 600 species of birds and more than 200 different types of mammals you’ll have the chance see life in local villages like Yupakari, Kwaimatta and Massara.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Karanambu Lodge.
Wildlife-watching can be a non-stop, 24 hour occupation (or obsession) at Rapanuni. During the day giant anteaters, giant river otters, black caiman and arapaima can be seen along the river banks, as well as great displays of local birds. As night falls your expert local guides will take you on a safari to see a whole range of nocturnal creatures, including a surprising number of night birds, bats, frogs, iguanas and tree boas.
You can even take part in a field study that will help understand and protect the endangered black caiman. At Caiman House you’ll meet local craftsmen and women, many of whom specialise in making furniture.
Stay: One night in a standard room at Caiman House.
Now it’s time to exchange Caiman House and the riverine forest for the banks of the Demerara River and Georgetown with its fine wooden buildings, many of them dating back to the 18th century. Georgetown was once a Dutch settlement so you can expect to see the influence of old Amsterdam in the city’s wide, tree-lined avenues, its intersecting canals, gabled colonial homes, grand public buildings and quaint churches.
Stay: One night in a double room at Cara Lodge.
Georgetown – London
Your international flight takes you from Georgetown to London, arriving the following day.