Highlights
  • Opportunity to watch rare birds
  • Trip offers a wide array of scenery and birds.
  • Wonderful mix of Caribbean, Indian and indigenous food
  • The constant supply of fresh tropical fruits and amply apportioned dinners are a bonus.

Guyana is a neglected jewel of Neotropical birding. Long overshadowed by its better-known neighbors to the west and the south, this English-speaking country on the northeast coast of South America includes vast expanses of unbroken forest among its wide range of habitats. The country sits just north of the equator so the sun rises relatively late, making it possible to take advantage of dawn birding without keeping extreme “birder’s hours.” The country’s impressive system of rivers makes for easy travel by boat to many of the prime birding areas. This tour to one of South America’s better-kept secrets is a fine introduction to the continent’s birds and an opportunity to experience the region’s many endemics (some of them recently split).

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Guyana

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Itinerary

Day 1:

The tour begins at 6 pm with a meeting in the lobby of our Georgetown, Guyana hotel.

Day 2:

We’ll depart before dawn, heading east along the coast to the Abary River. This small river drains north into the Caribbean and has been protected for the purpose of coastal flood control. A small road adjacent to the river leads toward the coast, allowing access to a mosaic of mangroves, hardwood forest, marshlands, and open grassy areas. We’ll concentrate here on searching for several range-restricted Guianan Shield specialties such as the handsome Rufous Crab Hawk, vibrant Blood-colored Woodpecker, and subtle Boat-billed Tody-Tyrant. Other interesting species in the area include Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Bicolored Conebill, and an array of hummingbirds including Green-throated Mango and Plain-bellied and White-chested Emeralds. After a few hours here we’ll backtrack toward Georgetown, spending the rest of the morning birding along a road that passes through expansive fields of rice abutting the scenic Mahaica River. Here an abundance of open-country birds fill the landscape. We should encounter large numbers of Snail Kites, Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, and various ducks and herons, as well as an array of raptors including perhaps Long-winged Harrier or Pearl Kite. A short trip on the Mahaica River by boat should reveal Guyana’s national bird, the odd Hoatzin, as it clambers along the riparian vegetation. We also hope to encounter several kingfishers and our first Silvered Antbirds and Green-tailed Jacamars. On the way back we’ll stop and bird as opportunities arise for Black-capped Donacobius, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, and Moriche Oriole.

After lunch we’ll stop along the coast to investigate the mangrove-lined mudflats exposed at low tide. Our chief target here among the throngs of waders and passing seabirds is the aptly named Scarlet Ibis. The intensity of their red plumage, especially set against a backdrop of Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons, should form an indelible memory of color. If we have time, we’ll spend the remaining few hours of daylight on our first visit to the Georgetown Botanical Gardens to observe foraging West Indian Manatees and several species of parrots that tend to congregate in the late afternoon in the park’s open trees. Night in Georgetown.

Day 3:

Accommodation: Karanambu Lodge.

We’ll transfer early to the nearby airport at Ogle, where Red-breasted Blackbirds sing and Snail Kites patrol the marshes. We’ll fly past the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and over hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Karanambu. Karanambu Lodge is the home of Diane McTurk, widely known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned Giant River Otters to the wild. Our birdwatching here will be largely in woodland patches or gallery forest along the river, where we hope to find such species as Spotted Puffbird, Striped Woodcreeper, Golden-spangled Piculet, and Capuchinbird. After lunch at Karanambu Ranch we’ll begin to explore the nearby grasslands, gallery forest, and wetlands, where we should find a wealth of species, including the oddest-looking members of the cotinga family, the Capuchinbird, the near-threatened Bearded Tachuri, Boat-billed Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Sunbittern, Green-tailed Jacamar, Spotted Puffbird, White-fringed Antwren, and Black-chinned Antbird. In the evening we’ll venture onto the savannahs to look for nightbirds such as Nacunda, Least and Lesser Nighthawks, White-tailed Nightjar, and Double-striped Thick-knee.

Day 4:

Accommodation: Karanambu Lodge.

We’ll spend our full day around Karanambu seeking out savannah species that we may have missed the previous day and also searching in woodland riparian patches for species such as Blue Ground Dove, Golden-spangled Piculet, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Great Antshrike, Amazonian Scrub-Flycatcher, and Black Nunbird. Marshy areas in the adjacent savannahs also support Stripe-backed and Pinnated Bitterns and sometimes large flocks of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. We’ll also make an early morning or late afternoon boat trip on the nearby Rupununi River to look for Crestless (Lesser Razor-billed) Curassow. Although this species has not been hunted on the ranch for many years, it remains rare and difficult to find, and our best chance of encountering it will be to hear a bird giving its low booming call around dawn or dusk. We may also see a Giant Anteater during our stay, as this species is not uncommon around the lodge.

Day 5:

Accommodation: Surama Ecolodge.

After early morning birding around Karanambu Lodge and then breakfast, we’ll transfer by boat via the Rupununi River to Ginep Landing. Depending on the river levels, this trip offers an excellent opportunity to look for Giant Otters, as there are several family groups that live along this stretch of the Rupununi. At Ginep Landing the journey continues by road through the savannah and the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. Jabiru Stork and Toco Toucan are often seen along this stretch of road, as are Red Howler and Spider Monkeys. On arrival at Surama, we’ll receive a welcome from a village councilor and settle into our accommodation. The pleasant community of Surama is set in five square miles of savannah and surrounded by the densely forested Pakaraima Foothills. Surama’s inhabitants are mainly from the Macushi tribe and still observe many of the traditional practices of their forebears. Our accommodations will be in benabs (thatched sleeping shelters), and our meals will feature excellent local produce. There is great birding leading to the village and in the surrounding savannah, and we may see Pearl Kite, Great Potoo, White-tailed and Savannah Hawks, and Red-bellied Macaws during the drive to the lodge. For our first afternoon here we’ll likely explore the forest edge and open savannah looking for species such as Black, Crested, and Yellow-headed Caracaras, Golden-headed Manakin, Cayenne Jay, Green-tailed Jacamar, Scaled and Pale-vented Pigeons, Fulvous-crested Tanager, and Finsch’s Euphonia. As dusk falls, White-tailed Nightjar and Lesser and Least Nighthawks often appear around the lodge grounds.

Day 6:

Accommodation: Surama Ecolodge.

For our full day at Surama we’ll concentrate on the forests around the Burro Burro River and on a brief boat trip down the creeks. There are several interesting species to be seen here, with one of the undoubted specialties of the area being the Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo. While this species is tough to find, the nearby forests are certainly among the better places in the Neotropics to look for it. Ant swarms are surprisingly common here and often have attendant antbirds and woodcreepers, including the hard-to-pin-down Rufous-throated Antbird and possibly the even scarcer Red-billed Woodcreeper. Boat trips along the Burro Burro are often productive for the spectacular Crimson Topaz, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Ringed, Green-and-Rufous, Amazon, Green, and American Pygmy Kingfishers, and perhaps even the cryptic Zigzag and Agami Herons.

Day 7:

Accommodation: Atta Rainforest Lodge.

After dawn birding near the lodge and then breakfast, we’ll pack and depart by four-wheel-drive vehicles to the Cock-of-the-rock Trail. After an easy 20-minute walk we’ll hope to have our first view of lekking Guianan Cock-of-the-rocks. Watching these luminous orange balls of feathers display among the boulder-strewn forested hillside is surely a highlight of the trip. This trail can be excellent for Gray-winged Trumpeter, Black Spider Monkey, and Ferruginous-backed Antbird as well. We’ll then continue on to Atta Rainforest Lodge. After lunch at the lodge (which boasts some of the finest rainforest cuisine imaginable) we’ll explore the lodge clearing and some nearby trails. We’ll look for the local race of Chestnut Woodpecker, the stunning and rare Crimson Fruitcrow, and lekking Guianan Red Cotingas, all of which are regularly seen within a few hundred yards of the lodge. In the evening we’ll take a short walk into the forest to seek out White-winged Potoo.

Days 8-9:

Accommodation: Atta Rainforest Lodge.

The forest around Atta Lodge is excellent for birds, but the major attraction here is the nearby Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. The 500-foot-long walkway has four platforms, the highest of which is about 100 feet above the ground. These will allow us to get great looks at a range of canopy species, many of which are difficult to see well from the forest floor. We’ll welcome the dawn chorus from the canopy walkway as Short-tailed Nighthawks settle in for the day, swifts take to the sky, White-throated and Channel-billed Toucans yodel, and Collared Forest-Falcons call. We can spend the mornings birdwatching from the middle and upper canopy on the walkway, where the flocks traveling past include Paradise Jacamar, Guianan Puffbird, Yellow-throated and Waved Woodpeckers, Todd’s and Spot-tailed Antwrens, Black-tailed and Black-crowned Tityras, and Dusky Purpletuft, or we can bird along the jungle trails, where antbird flocks can include White-plumed, Spot-winged, and Ferruginous-backed Antbirds, Ash-winged and Long-winged Antwrens, and McConnell’s and Gray-crowned Flycatchers. In the afternoons we’ll head out onto the trails or along the main road to further sample the forest’s diversity. As daytime draws to a close, we’ll watch for Blue-cheeked Parrots, which are often found in the late afternoon near the lodge as they move toward their evening roost sites.

Day 10:

Accommodation: Iwokrama River Lodge.

After a brief morning’s outing along the main road, where we should encounter species such as Pied Puffbird, Rose-breasted Chat, and Blue-black Grosbeak and have a reasonable chance for the large and highly ornamented Crimson Topaz, we’ll start our transfer to Iwokrama River Lodge. We’ll take all morning to make the journey, as the drive will take us through the heart of the million-acre Iwokrama National Park and will likely involve numerous stops for roadside birding and, of course, the very real chance (however slight) of road-crossing mammals such as Tayra or even Jaguar! We’ll make frequent stops to investigate roadside flocks, perched raptors, and parrots (and perhaps a few cotingas) or whatever else strikes our interest. Roadside birding can be quite productive, and we should encounter Marail and Spix’s Guans, Plumbeous and Swallow-tailed Kites, and Pompadour Cotinga. We’ll make a special stop in an area of white sand forest known as the Muri Scrub, where we hope to encounter the local Black Manakin as well as Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Red-shouldered Tanager, and perhaps Red-legged Tinamou.

Day 11:

Accommodation: Iwokrama River Lodge.

The Iwokrama Rainforest is a vast wilderness of one million acres, established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development and located in the heart of one of the last four untouched tropical forests of the world, the Guiana Shield of northeastern South America. This is a protected area with a difference: the full involvement of people. Iwokrama is exceptional among conservation organizations because it joins with local people in every aspect of its work, from research to business, ensuring local economic and social benefits from forest use and conservation. On our first morning we’ll bird along the some of the trails close to the lodge. A pre-breakfast excursion to a nearby Capuchinbird lek should yield excellent views of these amazing cotingas as they call from the closed-canopy forest. After breakfast we’ll take some time to watch the river edge and the clearing around the lodge for perched aracaris and parrots (including Blue-headed, Caica, Dusky, Orange-winged, and Mealy Parrots, Red-and-Green Macaw, and Painted Parakeet) before heading back onto the trails. Mixed flocks here can contain a host of species, from vocal Mouse-colored Antshrikes and Gray Antbirds to perched Black Nunbirds or more retiring species such as Brown-bellied Antwren or Ferruginous-backed Antbird. The calls of Tiny Tyrant-Manakin should reverberate down to us from the canopy, and with a little luck we should also encounter groups of Gray-winged Trumpeters or Black Curassows foraging on the forest floor.

In the afternoon we’ll embark on the Essequibo River for a trip about an hour downstream to a section of flooded várzea forest known as the Stanley Lakes. Here we’ll investigate a maze of small channels and oxbow lakes by boat, winding through a palm-rich forest that is largely inaccessible by foot. Anhingas and Ospreys are numerous here, but we’ll concentrate on species such as Striped Woodcreeper, Green-and-Rufous and American Pygmy Kingfishers, White-browed Antbird, Ringed Woodpecker, and Yellow-throated and Sulphury Flycatchers. The riverbanks of the main Essequibo channel are lined with excellent forest and offer myriad perches for everything from Swallow-winged Puffbird to the (very) occasional Harpy Eagle.

Day 12:

Accommodation: Iwokrama River Lodge.

Making another early start, we’ll embark once more on the Essequibo and explore the back of Indian House Island, where we’ll experience dawn on the river, perhaps accompanied by the songs of up to five species of tinamou and Marbled Wood-Quail. Band-rumped Swifts and Black-collared Swallows should ply the skies above the river channel, and Guianan Streaked-Antwren and Green Ibis could be lurking along the water’s edge. We’ll then enjoy a picnic breakfast farther downstream on the Essequibo and set off for the trail system that leads to the crest of Turtle Mountain. This two-mile-long trail winds up to about 950 feet and, although steep in places, has handrails and steps to make the passage manageable. The open understory of the lower trail makes it easy to watch mixed-species flocks, and here we’ll seek out birds such as Red-and-Black Grosbeak, Yellow-billed Jacamar, and Brown-bellied Antwren. Once the trail starts climbing, the character of the forest rapidly changes. Among the boulders and vine tangles we’ll look for mixed flocks containing Cinereous and Dusky-throated Antshrikes, Black-faced and Rufous-capped Antthrushes, and perhaps even Collared or Spotted Puffbird. Mixed-species flocks are common along the upper part of the trail, where the shorter tree canopy allows for better views of canopy tanager flocks. Here we might encounter birds such as Red-legged, Green, and Purple Honeycreepers or Spotted, Paradise, Bay-headed, and Opal-rumped Tanagers. The overlook at the crest allows for an incredible view of the forest, stretching to the horizon in all directions and punctuated only by the Essequibo River snaking its way north to the Caribbean. The cliffs below the viewpoint often are attended by a pair of Orange-breasted Falcons, and raptor-watching can be very productive here, with Greater Yellow-headed Vultures, Plumbeous, Double-toothed, and Gray-headed Kites, Ornate and Black Hawk-Eagles, and Black-faced Hawk all possible.

We’ll return to the lodge for lunch and a siesta and then spend the remainder of the day further exploring the trail system around the lodge. Alternatively, we may cross to the north side of the Essequibo River and return to the white sand forest, where we’ll look for species we may have missed on Day 9.  In the evening we’ll take a short boat trip to look for Ladder-tailed Nightjar and perhaps potoos (including the scarce White-winged) along the river’s edge.

Day 13:

Accommodation: Cara Lodge.

We’ll have an early breakfast before departing for Annai and our morning flight to Ogle. From there we’ll transfer to Cara Lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, concentrating on any species that we may have missed, such as Black-capped Donacobius, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, White-bellied Piculet, or Ashy-headed Greenlet. We’ll also look for Festive Parrot, as a small number of (perhaps) feral birds are often encountered around the park. If we are lucky, we may find Red-shouldered and Blue-and-Yellow Macaws, Mealy, Yellow-crowned, and Orange-winged Parrots, or perhaps even a Toco Toucan perched up in the sun. After a few hours we’ll head back to our Georgetown hotel.

Day 14:

The tour concludes this morning with a transfer to the airport for international flights home.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 6,300

Price Per Day:

$ 450 per day
 
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 570
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • Prices are in $USD
  • Internal Transportation
  • Meals included
  • Guide
  • Lodging in comfortable hotels/motels
  • Tour materials are included
Trip Excludes
  • Passports and visas
  • International Flights
  • Optional excursions
  • Gratuities for leaders
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Anything of a purely personal nature
Flights & Transport
Internal airfare and ground transport
Group Size:
Intimate Group - 12 max
Maximum Number of People in Group: 8
Start City
Georgetown
End City
Georgetown

Trip ID#: guyanawin

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