Guyana - an Unspoilt Wilderness
Friday 25th August - Thursday 7th September - 2017
Guyana really does offer something special, a small South American country nestled on the Atlantic Coast east of Venezuela and west of Suriname, it is one of the last unexplored wild places on earth yet offers incredible access into a great variety of pristine habitats. It is also a land of great contrasts as you leave behind the coastal city of Georgetown travelling into the interior, over vast unspoilt forests and incredible isolated waterfalls. The lure of Guyana is its true wilderness and amazing wildlife with many sought after species easier to see here than any of the surrounding countries. We have worked hard to offer the most complete itinerary available which includes all the top sites visited by other companies but also includes the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, and highly sought after rarities such as the spectacular Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin. Zoothera only use the very best local guides and you can rest assured that your money will go to help Guianan owned lodges and local communities. If you want to see Cotingas, Parrots, Guianan Cock-of-the Rock, Harpy Eagle, the rarely seen Crested Doradito or Capuchinbird and an endless supply of mouth-watering species then this could be your best trip ever! We now offer the No1 trip to this fabulous country.
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Day 2 Georgetown – Mahaica River
This morning, after a well-deserved cup of coffee, we will leave our hotel early and head eastward along the Atlantic coast to the Mahaica River. This is where you will have your only chance of seeing Guyana’s national bird, “the Hoatzin,” on this tour. This prehistoric bird is found in abundance on this river system along with many other species including the localised Rufous Crab Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Long-winged Harrier, Barred Antshrike, Silvered Antbird, Striped Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Green-tailed Jacamars, Golden-spangled Piculet and a host of other interesting species. Depending on the tide we may be able to check the shoreline for birds such Scarlet Ibis, Greater Yellowlegs, Least, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Black-belled and Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Tri-coloured Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy and Great Egrets, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal, Gull-billed and possibly Yellow-billed Terns plus the odd Brown Pelican. We will return to Georgetown for lunch and in the afternoon we will again visit the Georgetown Botanical Gardens to try and connect with any species we may have missed yesterday. With luck, we may see again the rare and elusive Blood-coloured Woodpecker, a bird every birdwatcher wants on their list. This bird is restricted to the narrow coastal plains and is considered one of the Guianan Shield endemics. Night Georgetown.
Day 3 Kaieteur Falls – Iwokrama River Lodge
After breakfast at our hotel, we will take a chartered flight over endless unspoilt pristine forest to the Kaieteur Falls, one of the world’s highest free-falling waterfalls. Kaieteur is a single massive, thundering cataract 100 meters wide, created as the Potaro River makes a sheer drop of 228 meters, nearly three times the height of Niagara Falls and twice the height of Victoria Falls. The spectacle is even more impressive for its remoteness and it is most likely that we’ll be the only persons viewing it. Here, we will hope to find White-chinned and White-tipped Swifts swirling over the gorge, and perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to see a spectacular Orange-breasted Falcon as it hunts for its favourite prey, the swifts. We will also look for the rare Golden Frog that lives in water held in the leaves of Bromeliad plants. After a 3-hour stop at the falls, our flight will continue to Fair-View Village where we will be transferred to Iwokrama River Lodge in the heart of Guyana’s beautiful rainforest. We hope to arrive in time for a little birding on the nearby forest trails around the lodge and hopefully visit a nearby Capuchinbird lek. To see and hear these strange birds displaying is a truly unique experience. The impressive surrounding forest protects a unique ecosystem in the heart of the Guianan shield where Amazonian and Guianan flora and fauna form one of the highest species biodiversities in the world. Our very comfortable lodge has modern cabins each with balconies that overlook the beautiful Essequibo River. There will be plenty to look at with Pied Lapwings, Black-collared and White-winged Swallows over the river as well as a host of species in the surrounding forest edges. With luck we may come across Spotted Antpitta, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Ringed and Waved Woodpeckers, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-necked and Green Aracaris, Guianan Toucanet, Black Caracara, Swallow-wing and possibly Red-rumped Agouti or Wedge-capped Capuchin Monkey. This will be followed by dinner and then an optional boat ride on the river to look for night-life such as Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Great Potoo, Boat-billed Heron, Black Caiman, Amazonian Tree Boa and other nocturnal creatures. Night at Iwokrama River Lodge.
Day 4 Iwokrama River Lodge – Turtle Mountain
Don’t be surprised to be woken up at dawn by the calls of Spectacled Owl or Barred Forest-Falcon. Then after an early morning excursion on the Essequibo River, we will continue our journey to Turtle Mountain where we will explore the main trail, visiting Turtle Pond and climbing to an elevation of about 900 feet for a spectacular view of the forest canopy below. The trail to Turtle Mountain winds its way through beautiful primary forest where Red-and-black Grosbeak, Golden-sided Euphonia, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Cream-coloured Woodpecker Yellow-billed Jacamar, Dusky Purpletuft, Tiny Tyrant-Manakin, Golden-headed Manakin, Black-headed and Black-chinned Antbirds, Amazonian Antshrike, Ferruginous Antbird, and possibly Brown-bearded Saki Monkey can all be found. From the lookout we have our best chance of seeing the spectacular Orange-breasted Falcon. The trail up the mountain is well designed with sturdy handrails to help you walk up at your own pace and the view from the top is indeed breath-taking – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to enjoy nature at its best. We may see a fly-by King Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk or Red-and-green Macaw, while mammals here include Red Howler Monkey and Black Spider Monkey. We have even encountered the mighty Harpy Eagle on a previous tour! After a picnic lunch and more excellent birding we will return by boat to River Lodge. Night Iwokrama River Lodge.
Day 5 Iwokrama - Atta Rainforest Lodge
This morning we will take one of the forest trails in search of the very elusive and hard to see Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo as well as a variety of other forest species such as Dusky-throated Antshrike, Chestnut-rumped and Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Brown-bellied, Grey and White-flanked Antwrens, Cinereous Antshrike, Channel-billed Toucan, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, with luck we may even find an Amazonian Pygmy-Owl. We will return to River Lodge for lunch and afterwards depart and bird along the road towards Atta Lodge. This is a very productive road as you will see and the birding simply spectacular. In the stunted White Sand forest known as Mori Scrub we will look for Black Manakin, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Cinnamon Attila, and nearby we will search for Ladder-tailed and Blackish Nightjars. This is also a fantastic opportunity to spot the magnificent Jaguar, but obviously a lot of luck is also involved. From open areas we can check tree tops for the amazing Red-fan Parrot, Dusky Parrot, Red-and-green Macaws and possibly Blue-cheeked Amazon, Painted and Golden-winged Parakeets, while forest edges may reveal Lineated, Waved, Yellow-tufted, Golden-collared and Cream-coloured Woodpeckers, Green-tailed and Paradise Jacamar, Rufous-rumped Foliage-Gleaner, Thrush-like Shiffornis, Grey-winged Trumpeters, Black Curassow and with luck the stunning Guianan Red Cotinga or the even more stunning Crimson Topaz which comes out and fly catches in the early evening. As evening draws in we will arrive at Atta Lodge where an optional night walk into the forest will target the much sought after White-winged Potoo.
Night at Atta Lodge.
Day 6 Atta Rainforest Lodge
To spend the night at Atta Rainforest Lodge is to spend the night surrounded by pure nature with no sounds but the noise of the forest. At dawn, we will visit the canopy walkway to look for passing flocks of canopy-dwelling species. Time will be spent looking for Todd’s Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrants, Guianan Toucanet, Green Aracari, Painted Parakeet, Screaming Piha, Black-headed Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Dusky Purpletuft, Great Jacamar, Paradise Tanager, Opal-rumped Tanager, Golden-sided Euphonia, Purple and Green Honeycreeper, Black-faced Dacnis, Long-billed Gnatwren and Black Nunbird. This entire morning will involve birding on the canopy walkway and the trails around the lodge. This wonderful area is famed for its variety of colourful cotingas and if we can locate a few fruiting trees we will be in for an avian spectacle with possibilities of Pompadour, Spangled, Purple-breasted and Guianan Red Cotinga, as well as White Bellbird and the outrageous Crimson Fruitcrow. Within the forest that surrounds the lodge we can look for Red-legged and Variegated Tinamous, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Cayenne Jay, Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Painted Tody-Flycatcher, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Guianan Warbling Antbird, White-crested Spadebill, Waved, Chestnut and Red-necked Woodpeckers as well as Black Spider Monkey and White-faced Saki Monkey. After lunch, we will spend the afternoon birding on the main road through the Iwokrama Forest. We can try again for Black Manakin and Rufous-crowned Elaenia as well as Blue-backed Tanager, Swallow-wing, Black-chinned, Scale-backed and Grey Antbird, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Amazonian and Mouse-coloured Antshrike, Reddish Hermit, Tiny Tyrant Manakin, Rose-breasted Chat, Black and Red-throated Caracaras, Guianan Trogon, Golden-winged Parrot and Yellow-green Grosbeaks. While birding along the road, we will also keep our eyes open for the elusive Jaguar and Tapir which surprisingly are often seen at dawn and dusk. Late evening, on our way back to Atta Lodge, we will use a spotlight to do some night birding, mainly looking for owls and potoos, Beside a small wetland we could find Dwarf Caiman, Uniform, Ash-throated, and Russet-crowned Crakes as well as a Zigzag Heron all of which are difficult. This is a great place to look for potoos but it must be stressed these birds can be very hard to find. Nevertheless there are possibilities for White-winged Potoo, Great Potoo, Common Potoo and Long-tailed Potoo, plus Northern Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Spectacled and Crested Owl. Night at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
Day 7 Atta Lodge - Surama Eco Lodge
Today we will once again check the area around the lodge for any target species we may have missed before heading out for a 30-minute drive to the lek of the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock where we have a very good chance to see this beautiful bird. Other species may also be seen and previously we have had Long-tailed Potoo on a day roost. Moving on we will continue to Surama for lunch and a well-deserved cold beer or cold drink of your choice. After lunch and a short siesta we will take a walk through the grasslands to the nearby forest. The grassland along the way can hold Lesser Elaenia, Wedge-tailed Grassfinch, Savanna Sparrow and amazingly a good population of Ocellated Crakes! These tiny birds may be vocal but seeing them presents one of the biggest challenges in birding. We are still working on our many strategies for securing a view of this near invisible species. The forest here holds a wealth of species and we will search for Rufous-capped Antthrush, Spotted Antpitta, Cinereous Tinamou, White-browed, Rufous-throated and White-plumed Antbirds, Eastern Slaty Antshrike, White-chinned and Black-banded Woodcreeper, Amazonian Royal Flycatcher, Spotted Puffbird, Grey-crowned Flycatcher, Capuchinbird, Buff-cheeked Greenlet, Greyish Mourner, Cayenne Jay, Blue-backed Tanager, Caraya and Buff-breasted Wrens, Golden-spangled Piculet, Guianan Toucanet and Fiery-tailed Awlbill. Down by the river we could find Grey-rumped, Short-tailed, Band-rumped and with luck Chapman’s Swifts, White-banded Swallow plus Crane Hawk, Grey-headed Kite, Green Ibis, Amazon Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Long-billed Starthroat and White-fringed Antwren. We will then return towards dusk so as we can see Least and Lesser Nighthawks around the lodge. If we do not see White-tailed Nightjar tonight then we will have a good chance near the lodge and during the daytime tomorrow. An optional short night walk might find us the resident Mottled Owl. Night Surama Eco Lodge.
Day 8 Surama Area
This morning we will drive the short distance to the main dirt road and we will take a 45-minute walk along the Harpy Eagle trail which will bring us to the Harpy’s nesting site and once here the morning will be dedicated to observing Harpy Eagle activity and taking photos. If we are lucky, we may witness the male bringing in prey for the female. Following a satisfying sighting, we will continue birding our way back to the road. Birds can be elusive in this forest but we can search for the shy Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo, Great and Little Tinamou, Rufous-throated Antbird, Grey Antbird, Rufous-bellied Antbird, Wing-banded Antbird, Scaled-backed Antbird, Chestnut Woodpecker, Golden-headed Manakin, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Pink-throated Becard, Black-spotted Barbet, Paradise Jacamar, Black-necked Aracari, Murial Guan, Green-backed Trogon, Golden-bellied Euphonia, Todd’s Antwren, Guira, Flame-crested, Opal-rumped and Spotted Tanagers. Returning for lunch we will again take a short rest in the heat of the day before walking to a nearby area that offers us the chance of roosting Great Potoo, plus Moriche Oriole, Red-bellied Macaw, Brown-throated Parakeet, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Blue-chinned Sapphire, Black-throated Mango, Scaled Pigeon and even Sulphury Flycatcher. Night at Surama Eco-Lodge.
Days 9 - 10 Surama - Caimen House
This morning we will leave Surama and check a few forest edge streams to see if we can locate the highly elusive Zigzag Heron. We also have chances for Grey-necked Woodrail and Ash-throated Crake. Our journey then takes us eastward across the Northern Rupununi Savanna. The road we follow skirts numerous gallery forests and wetland areas offering great views of a variety of water birds including Cocoi Heron, Maguari Stork, huge Jabiru, possibly Pinnated Bittern, Azure Gallinule, Double-striped Thick-knee, Bicoloured Wren, Gray Seedeater, Grassland Yellow Finch, Yellowish Pipit, Crested Bobwhite, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and the agile Aplomado Falcon. Savanna Hawk, Great Black Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Northern Caracara and Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures should be present and we may even encounter a Giant Anteater if we are lucky. The open grasslands eventually take us through to a small area of forest and to Caimen House where we have 2 nights. On our first afternoon we will take a leisurely boat trip on the river beside our lodge. Here we are likely to find kingfishers including both Green-and-Rufous and American Pygmy, the superb Agami Heron, Capped Heron, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Pied Lapwings, Boat-billed Herons, Large-billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Pale-legged Hornero, with luck Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Spot-breasted Woodpecker and with even more luck we may come across the secretive Crestless Curassow. In addition we may be lucky enough to see Black and Spectacled Caiman, Giant River Otter, Capybara and many species of monkeys and even the occasional Arapaima or River Stingray. At the end of our day we may see Band-tailed Nightjars and possibly Nacunda Nighthawk and Common Potoo. Our next day we have the chance to see many species including Blue-backed Manakin, Pale-tipped Inezia, White-bellied Antbird, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Finch’s Euphonia, Ochre-lored Flatbill and even Tropical Screech-Owl, we will then set off into the Savanna in our 4x4’s in search of several seldom seen birds namely the Crested Doradito and Bearded Tachuri, both of which like to keep low down in short grasses close to water. The rare and localised Crested Doradito was only recently discovered here and we have a very good chance of finding it. Other species on our morning hit list include Sharp-tailed Ibis, Yellowish Pipit, Pinnated Bittern, Brazilian Teal, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Vermilion Flycatcher, Bicoloured Wren, Double-striped Thick-knee, Burrowing Owl, Maguari Stork and Savanna Fox. This is also our best chance to see the remarkable Giant Anteater in habitat that is perfect for it. Night Caimen House
Day 11 Caimen House - Karrasabai - Letham
Today we head for Karassabai Village, a distant border village perched between the northern Rupununi Savannas and Pakaraima Mountains along the Brazilian border. Here is where we are delighted to have a rare opportunity to see the highly endangered Sun Parakeet. In the early 1990’s, this species was on the brink of extinction due to extreme pressures from the pet trade until local villages took aggressive action to rehabilitate the population. A mere 7 individuals who remained at the time have struggled to regain their previous numbers, but signs are hopeful and current population counts suggest at least 300 birds are thriving in the area today. Karassabai is well off the standard tourist track, nonetheless local hospitality reigns and when not on the trail looking for the sun parakeet we’ll have a great opportunity to meet and interact with an Amerindian community that sees very few tourists and is eager to share their stories and learn about a world outside their own and maybe we will offer to show them birds through a scope. We will see plenty of other species during the day but our main focus will be on finding and seeing this gorgeous parakeet. Hopefully after seeing the beautiful Sun Parakeet we will head out towards the rodeo town of Lethem. Small patches of forest again give way to open grassland savanna and the main road sees infrequent traffic and therefore serves as an excellent vantage point for birdwatching. We will keep a look out for species such as Orange-backed Troupial, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Pied Water-Tyrant, Red-breasted Blackbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Buff-necked Ibis, Southern Lapwing, Pearl Kite, Zone-tailed Hawk and also focus our attention on seedeaters, which may including Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Lesson’s Seedeater, Large-billed Seed-Finch, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch, Grey Seedeater and Plumbeous Seedeater. This stretch of Rupununi Savannah is also some of the best landscape to catch a glimpse of the Giant Anteater and Savannah Fox. We have more opportunities for Azure Gallinule and previously we have even found Giant Snipe in the area although we would have to be lucky to find this again. Later in the day we will arrive at our delightful accommodation just outside of the cowboy town of Lethem. Here we have a little time to relax and enjoy the local hospitality as we have an early start tomorrow.
Day 13 Irang River Area
Another early morning start we have us leave our delightful base where we have access to the dry scrub and savanna alongside the Takatu and Iring Rivers. Once again our 4x4’s will come into play as we have to get to an area where two highly restricted and poorly known species occur, namely the Hoary-throated Spinetail, and Rio Branco Antbird. These two birds will be our main focus and once we have succeeded in finding them we will make our way back to Letham chacking areas of wetlands as well as the dry desert for a variety of species such as Pinnated Bittern, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Cocoi and Capped Herons, Striated Heron, Wood Stork, Limpkin, Double-striped Thick-knee, South American Snipe, Wattled Jacana, Marail Guan, Crested Bobwhite, Southern Lapwing, Pearl Kite, White-tailed Kite, Savanna Hawk, Aplomado Falcons, Brown-throated Parakeet, Red-bellied Macaw, Guianan Toucanet, Striped Cuckoo, Pale-legged Hornero, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Blue-tailed and Glittering-throated Emeralds, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Golden-spangled Piculet, Guianan Puffbird, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested and Barred Antshrikes, White-flanked Antwren, Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive and Ochre-lored Flatbills, Vermilion, Short-crested and Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellowish Pipit and Orange-backed Troupial. Once we are back in Letham we will make our way to Lethem airport for our return flight back to Georgetown where we will overnight.
Today we will transfer to Georgetown and you international flights home.
Leaders: Ron Allicock
Ground Price: £4695.00 - Georgetown/Georgetown
Airfare: £650.00 - £950.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Single supplement: £285.00 per person
Deposit: £500.00 per person
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 5 and maximum 10.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, en-suite, all meals from dinner on 25th Aug to breakfast on 7th Sept, all transportation within Guyana, Domestic flights, a variety of vehicles including 4x4’s, boat trips, all entrance and land owners fees including Surama Harpy Eagles conservation fee, Surama Village visitors fee, Yupukari Village village fee, Iwokrama Forest User Fee, Iwokrama Canopy Walkway fee, Kaieteur National Park fee, bottled water and daily snacks and services of all leaders and local guides.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature
Accommodation: Our hotels and lodges vary in quality but all are within easy reach of the areas we wish to bird. All have private bathrooms and some lodges, electricity is only available for a few hours in the evening via generator.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned and birding is mostly from open flat roads, wide tracks and even boats. The walk at Turtle Mountain is the most strenuous although we do take it slow and in its steepest parts there are handrails to help climb the last few forest steps. To see a good amount of endemics and specialities you need to be prepared for full days. We will generally start early and either have an early breakfast or return for breakfast. Lunches will be either picnic or at the lodge depending on our schedule. All in all this itinerary is by far the best available to see a really good selection of Guianan birds, and has been designed to maximise our birding at the right times of day, which will allow for an impressive list. We can expect all types of weathers from warm and hot to cool and showery. Please be prepared for this. Several days we have the opportunity to relax for a few hours during the heat of midday. A very important factor in running a tour to Guyana is to use local operators and local guides which sees your money go to the right people. A lot of other companies go through an agent who is not Guianan and does care for local guides and communities. Please help the local guides and communities look after their wildlife by booking through Zoothera. Its the right thing to do.
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