The group flights leave London this morning and arrive in Georgetown this evening. We will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in central Georgetown for the night.
We leave early this morning on a small plane to the magnificent Kaieteur Falls. The sheer volume of water falling into the 226m deep gorge means that the falls are permanently capped with a rainbow, and the surrounding rainforest is home to unique flora and fauna. We land on a nearby table-top mountain and explore the falls and the forest in search of giant tank bromeliads (the world's largest) and tiny golden frogs, and with luck we will catch sight of the Guianan cock-of-the-rock in full display. After a couple of hours at the falls, we continue our flight over the rainforest to Iwokrama River Lodge, set in the vast wilderness of the Iwokrama Rainforest. This million acre reserve is a model of sustainable forest management, protecting countless species whilst still providing economic and social benefits for the indigenous Makushi people who have lived here for thousands of years. This afternoon a ranger will take us on a guided walk along the forest trails looking for some of the birds which live here, including potoos, woodcreepers, Guianan red cotingas and the beautiful Crimson topaz. After dinner we take a night boat trip on the river, listening for nocturnal birds and keeping our eyes peeled for caiman, snakes, tree frogs and capybara.
This morning we take a boat on the Essequibo River and circumnavigate nearby Indian House Island to experience the incredible dawn chorus provided by countless swifts, swallows, antwrens and tinamous. After breakfast, we take a boat to the base of Turtle Mountain, one of the smaller peaks in the Iwokrama Mountains. A two-hour trail takes us to the summit for spectacular views of the rainforest canopy, and along the way we may see Harpy eagles, colourful motmots, kites and several species of monkey. As the day starts to cool, we take to the river again this afternoon to see the petroglyphs at Kurupukari Falls, and visit an Amerindian village and a nearby butterfly farm.
After a dawn wildlife walk, we head south through the reserve in 4WD vehicles. Far more than just a simple journey from A to B, the drive takes us along a dirt road that is known as one of the best places in Guyana (and perhaps the whole Americas) to see jaguars in their natural environment. In addition, myriad bird species frequent the forest edge, and we may also see mammals such as tapir, puma and agoutis. Our destination, the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, consists of a 30-metre high, 154-metre long walkway with 4 platforms which affords an ideal opportunity to seek out birds and mammals which are usually hidden from view in the tree crowns. Our home for the next two nights is the Atta Rainforest Lodge, a short stroll from the walkway.
We spend the full day close to the lodge today, either on the walkway or in the forest. The lodge is set in a clearing which is a great place to see the beautiful Crimson fruitcrow, which often comes in to feed in the trees. There is also a habituated family of Black curassow which can sometimes be sighted walking through the grounds.
After enjoying the dawn chorus on the canopy walkway, we board 4WD vehicles and drive south to the Amerindian village of Surama, stopping en route for a walk through the forest in search of the cock-of-the-rock. Set in the savannah and surrounded by the richly forested Pakaraima Mountains, Surama is home to members of the Macushi tribe who still observe many traditional practices. We will be welcomed by one of the village counsellors and taken on a guided walk around the village to see the school, church and houses, and later in the afternoon we will see the forest through the eyes of the indigenous people as we take a guided walk on a short trail. This is followed by a nighttime wildlife walk which highlights the mystique of forest after dark. We stay in the Surama Eco Lodge for the next two nights.
Setting off before dawn, we walk across the savannah and climb Surama Mountain in the the cool of the morning - the best time to see birds. Breakfast is served at a lookout point which offers incredible views of the village and the savannah, as well as the Pakaraima range. In the afternoon we walk for three miles to the Burro Burro River, where our local guides take us in canoes to look for the animals which live in and alongside the water, including Giant river otters, tapir and Spider monkeys.
This morning we drive through the savannah and skirt the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, with excellent opportunities to see Jabiru storks and other grassland birds. Eventually we reach the small community of Annai, which sits on the edge of the Rupununi Savannah, a vast area of grassland with huge termite mounds and scattered woodland which is home to Harpy eagles, jaguar and Giant anteater. Rock View Lodge, where we stay for the next two nights, is a tropical oasis in the savannah, and its gardens attract many nectar feeders and frugivores from the mountains, whilst the plains and riparian forest harbour very different avifauna from that encountered in the rainforests of the north.
At dawn we hike along the Panorama Trail in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, watching the changing colours of the savannah as the sun rises. Antwrens and jacamars abound in the trees, as do a host of hummingbirds, flycatchers and tanagers. Later in the day we visit the local Amerindian villages and watch a demonstration of traditional cashew nut roasting. The day finishes with relaxing drinks by the lodge pool.
After breakfast we drive to the airstrip at Annai for our flight back to Georgetown. We may see Jabiru stork, Toco toucan, Red howler and Spider monkeys along this stretch of road. In the afternoon we discover the historic centre of the capital on a walking tour which includes the cathedral and Stabroek Market. We also visit the botanical gardens which house one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora in the Caribbean region.
Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport this morning for the overnight flight back to London.
The group flights arrive in London early this morning.