Jewel of the Neotropics
October 29 - November 11, 2017
A small South American country nestled on the Atlantic Coast east of Venezuela and west of Suriname, Guyana is one of the last unexplored wild places on earth and offers incredible access into a great variety of pristine habitats. Here the pristine tropical rainforests of the Guianan Shield converge with the Amazon Basin creating a unique geography that includes an incredible combination of habitats from coastal waters to mangroves, marshes, savannahs, mountains to tropical rainforests. More than 70 of the 104 Guianan Shield endemics occur here.
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. Our itinerary includes all the top sites as well as the spectacular Kaieteur Falls. We are visiting at the best time of year when important trees are fruiting providing food for Aracaris, Toucanets, Cotingas, Fruitcrows, and Bellbirds. A special Savannah extension visits sites for specialties like Red Siskin and the stunning Sun Parakeet and we have enlisted the help of one of country's best local guides to help us find these stunning birds. With brightly colored Cotingas, the unbelievable Guianan Cock-of-the Rock, Harpy Eagle, the rarely seen Crested Doradito, the strange Capuchinbird and an endless supply of fantastic species, this could be your best birding trip ever!
Day 1, October 29: Arrive Georgetown, Guyana
Plan on arriving in Georgetown, Guyana today to meet the group and settle into our comfortable hotel.
, October 30: Georgetown – Mahaica
Depending on the level of the river, we may be able to check the shoreline for birds such Scarlet Ibis, Least, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Black-belled and Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal, Gull-billed and possibly Yellow-billed Tern or Brown Pelican.
We will return to Georgetown for lunch and in the afternoon we will visit the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, an area of parkland with open grass, scattered trees, bushes and several ponds and wet areas. Here we will target several special birds starting with Blood-colored Woodpecker, White-bellied Piculet, gorgeous Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Southern Beardless- and Yellow Tyrannulet, Lesser Kiskadee, Black-capped Donacobius, Yellow Oriole, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Wing-barred Seedeater, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Black-collared Hawk, and plenty of Snail Kites. In the tree tops, we'll hope to see Red-shouldered Macaw, Orange-winged, Yellow-crowned and Mealy Amazons, and with luck the Festive Amazon, a species in serious decline due to the illegal pet trade. If the trees are flowering, we will search for hummingbirds such as Black-throated Mango and Glittering and White-bellied Emeralds. Night Georgetown.
Photo © Steve Bird.
3, October 31: Kaieteur
Falls – Iwokrama
River Lodge |
After breakfast at our hotel, we will take a chartered flight over unspoiled pristine forest to the Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Though Venezuela’s Angel Falls is greater in total height, its filamentous drop occurs by stages, whereas Kaieteur is a single massive, thundering cascade 100 meters wide, created as the Potaro River makes a sheer drop of 228 meters, nearly five times the height of Niagara Falls. The spectacle is even more impressive for its remoteness. It is altogether possible 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 have our first sighting of the astonishingly colorful Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock or see an Orange-breasted Falcon as it hunts for its favorite prey, the swifts. We should also be able to find the rare Golden Poison-dart 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 Fairview Village where we will be transferred to Iwokrama River Lodge in the heart of Guyana’s beautiful rainforest. We will arrive in time for a late lunch and afterward we will bird the trails around the lodge and visit a nearby Capuchinbird lek. To see and hear these strange birds displaying is a truly unique experience and we have video of this phenomenon from our scouting trip in 2010 (Click for video>>). 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 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 and possibly Red-rumped Agouti or Weeping Capuchin Monkey. This will be followed by dinner and then an optional boat ride on the river to look for Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Great Potoo, Boat-billed Heron, Black Caiman, Tree Boa and other nocturnal creatures. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge.
4 & 5,
November 1 & 2:
Lodge – Turtle
Mountain – Atta
The trail up the mountain is well designed to help you walk up at your own pace and the view from the top is indeed breathtaking – 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.
On Day 5, we will return to River Lodge for lunch and in the afternoon we will depart and bird along the road toward Atta Lodge. This is a very productive road as you will see and the birding simply spectacular. In the stunted sandy forest known as Mori Scrub we will look for Black Manakin, while nearby we will search for Ladder-tailed and Blackish Nightjars. 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, while forest edges may reveal Lineated and Cream-colored Woodpeckers, Green-tailed and Paradise Jacamar, Rufous-rumped Foliage-Gleaner, Thrush-like Schiffornis, Gray-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. Night at Atta Lodge.
6, November 3: Atta
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 colorful cotingas and if we can locate a few fruiting trees we will be in for an avian spectacle with possibilities of Pompadour, Brilliant, 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, Gray-winged Trumpeter, Cayenne Jay, Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Ferruginous- backed Antbird, 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 Gray Antbird, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Amazonian and Mouse-colored Antshrike, Reddish Hermit, Tiny Tyrant Manakin, Rose-breasted Chat, Black and Red-throated Caracara, Violaceous Trogon, Golden-winged Parrot and Yellow-green Grosbeaks. While birding along the road, we will also keep watch for the elusive Jaguar and Tapir which is 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, Rufous Potoo, Great Potoo, Common Potoo and Long-tailed Potoo, plus Spectacled and Crested Owl. Night at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
7, November 4: Atta
Lodge – Surama
Following a satisfying sighting, we will continue on to Surama Lodge for lunch and a well-deserved cold beer or cold drink of your choice. Birds in the forest on our return walk may include the shy Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo or Rufous-throated Antbird. This afternoon, we will bird along the forest edges and visit a nearby Great Potoo and Mottled Owl roost. We may find Grassland Sparrow, Wedge-tailed Grassfinch, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, White-throated Toucan, Fork-tailed Palm Swift and at dusk, White-tailed Nightjar, Least Nighthawk, Lesser Nighthawk, Tropical Screech Owl, and Northern Tawny-bellied Screech Owl could be quite likely. Night Surama Eco-Lodge.
8, November 5: Surama
the afternoon we will
bird the local forest
and some ponds where
we hope to see Sunbittern,
Manakin, Striped Woodcreeper
and maybe Undulated
excursion to the open
as the sun sets should
end of a magical day
Least and Lesser Nighthawks.
at Caiman Lodge.
In the afternoon we have an opportunity to travel on the Rupununi River. This time we will head down river to Simony Lake where we are likely to find Green and Rufous Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Agami Heron, Capped Heron, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Pied Lapwing, Boat-billed Heron, Common Potoo, Band-tailed Nightjar, Bare-necked Fruitcrow and Spot-breasted Woodpecker. With a lot of luck we may come across the secretive Crestless Curassow and we have even seen fresh Jaguar tracks before! 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.
boat expedition wraps
with a delicious and
dinner back at the Lodge.
Night at Caiman Lodge.
12, November 9: Red
Today we depart early to cross the savannah to search the some special edge habitats between savanna and forested mountains for the stunning little Red Siskin, a much sought after species. This gorgeous bird has been hit hard by the caged bird trade and the Guianan population was only discovered here in April 2000. The journey can be a memorable adventure in itself, crossing extremely remote tracts of land zigzagged with rivers, muddy gullies, and seemingly-impassable corners of Guyana’s hinterland. With the able and highly experienced expertise of our 4X4 crew, however, we eventually arrive in an area where we begin our walk in search of the siskin hoping to get the striking vermilion male in our sites. Once we find our target there are numerous other savannah birds such as Red-bellied Macaw, Burrowing Owl, Buff-necked Ibis, Double-striped Thick-knee, White-fringed Antwren, White-naped Xenopsaris, Highland Hepatic Tanager and Red-breasted Blackbird to see as well. We'll keep an eye out for Giant Anteaters that roam the sprawling habitat. Night Lethem.
13, November 10: Lethem
Later in the day, we will depart Lethem via Trans Guyana Airways on our scheduled flight for Georgetown Ogle International Airport. Overnight Georgetown.
Photos © Steve
Bird & Gina