The Guianas Experience
The Guianas Experience
The small South American country of Guyana rarely features on most people’s travel plans, but discerning travellers are coming to recognise it as one of the premier wildlife destinations on our planet. Brought into the spotlight by the BBC’s ‘Lost Land of the Jaguar’ series, Guyana offers unique opportunities to spot incredible wildlife such as Tapir, Giant River Otters, Caiman and of course the Jaguar itself. On this trip we head to Karanambu Ranch with its landscape ranging from savannah to wetlands to forest where we take trips on the river, look for birds, monkeys and Giant Anteaters, and experience the overwhelming hospitality that characterises this part of the country. We travel deep into the rainforest to Iwokrama – one of the best places for spotting these cats – and gain a unique perspective of the forest from its amazing canopy walkway, as well as visiting the Amerindian village of Surama to learn more about the lives of Guyana’s indigenous people. In neighbouring Suriname we explore the unique capital of Paramaribo with its superb colonial architecture, and look for freshwater dolphins on the river. We also visit old plantations for an insight into the country’s history, and visit Maroon villages more reminiscent of Africa than South America. Guyana and Suriname are unique within Latin America and an absolute delight to explore.
Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●○○ | History ●●○○○ | Wildlife ●●●●●
- The flight over Kaieteur Falls, the highest free falling waterfall in the world
- The varied landscapes and natural beauty of Karanambu with the opportunity to spot Giant River Otters and Giant Anteaters.
- The pristine rainforest of Iwokrama
- Meeting the local Maroon people in Suriname
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum of 8 (you may be joined by travellers from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations)
Start Point: Georgetown
End Point: Paramaribo
Transport: 4WD, motorboats & domestic flights
Countries: Guyana & Suriname
Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.
Day 1 – Georgetown
Arrive in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital and transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Grand Coastal Hotel or similar.
Located on the coast, Georgetown is Guyana’s largest city and has a distinctly Caribbean feel to it, interspersed with its colonial British, French and Dutch heritage. The city was founded in the 18th century but did not become the capital until it was captured by the French in 1782, only to fall into British hands thirty years later. It owes its existence to the fertility of its soil – early settlers found this to be an ideal region for establishing plantations and reclaimed what had been floodplains through the building of dykes and canals. Georgetown’s streets are laid out in a grid pattern and contain many interesting historic buildings dating back to the 19tlh century, as well as some colourful markets.
Day 2 – Kaieteur Falls
Visit the famous Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall, where the Potaro River drops 741 feet into the gorge below. Afterwards we return to Georgetown for the evening. Overnight at Grand Coastal Hotel or similar. (BL)
Kaieteur Falls is a spectacular site, five times higher than Niagara Falls, and one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. First seen by Europeans in 1870 it was known to indigenous people before this – the legend is that it was named after a great chief. Although there are taller and wider falls, Kaieteur’s distinction comes from its combination of both volume of water and height.
Day 3 – Karanambu
Transfer to the airport for a flight to Rupununi and transfer to Karanambu Lodge. In the late afternoon we take a boat out on the river to look for Giant River Otters and other species, and as dusk falls, we take the boat to the ponds to see the giant Amazonia Regis water lily which blooms at this time of day. On the boat ride back a spotlight will be used to search for Black Caiman and other night animals. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge (BLD)
Please read the notes on luggage under “Preparing for your Tour”
Day 4- Karanambu
This morning we travel out to an area of rolling grassland which is home to a population of Giant Anteaters There is a good chance of seeing some of these remarkable looking creatures. During the afternoon you can explore the area around the river to glimpse some of the many birds, and in the evening, walk along the airstrip to search for some of the seven species of Nightjar which live there. Overnight at Karanambu Lodge (BLD)
Karanambu Lodge is situated where the north savannah grassland, swamp and flood forest meet on the Rupununi River and the horse flats stretch towards the Pakaraima Mountains and into Brazil. The settlement has the flavour of an Amerindian village, with its clay brick and palm thatched cabanas set in a compound between the bush and the open range. The lodge accommodates guests in five cabanas with verandas; twin bedded rooms and en-suite bathrooms. Meals are served around a large dining table in the open hammock-swagged living room of the main ranch house. Outstanding tropical freshwater fish and teeming bird life abound. The area is also a last refuge for the Giant River Otter and the river reveals Black Caiman and for the lucky, the huge Arapaima, the world’s largest fresh water fish.
Day 5– Surama
Take a slow boat journey along the Rupunini River and on reaching Ginep Landing we transfer by vehicle to the Amerindian village of Surama. We take a tour through the village to learn about the local way of life, and accompanied by our local guides discover the surrounding forest. Overnight in the basic accommodation of Surama Eco-Lodge. (BLD)
Surama is a small Makushi village on the savannah with inhabitants still following time-honoured traditions and relying on the jungle for their livelihood. This isolated and idyllic location offers an escape from the concrete jungle to a serene and peaceful existence with nature. Dawn hikes, led by Surama guides across the savannah and up Surama Mountain, reveal a multitude of birds and fantastic vistas. The guides have lived their entire lives in the rainforest, and have an incredible understanding of nature and how to utilise its resources.
Day 6 – Surama Mountain
Rise before dawn and walk across the savannah in the cool morning air to climb Surama Mountain. This is not a technical climb but can be arduous, and for those who prefer, the local guides can arrange alternative activities. After lunch back at the village we set off this afternoon to walk the three miles to the Burro Burro River for a canoe trip, hoping to spot Giant River Otters, Tapir and Spider Monkeys amongst other wildlife. Overnight in the basic accommodation at Surama Eco Lodge. (BLD)
Day 7 – Iwokrama
Travel through Guyana’s rainforest to Iwokrama, an incredible region of rainforest with a breathtaking diversity of species. Iwokrama is one of the best places to see jaguar in the wild. En route we take a walk into the forest to look for one of Guyana’s most spectacular birds, the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. We then head to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, 30 metres up into the canopy, for a different perspective of the forest. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge. (BLD)
Iwokrama Forest covers nearly a million acres and is home to a bewildering array of different species. Its name means ‘place of refuge’ in the language of the Makushi Amerindians, who retreated here to avoid the predations of the slave trade. Iwokrama was established as a centre for the study of the rainforest and has been set aside to promote sustainable tourism within the region. Wildlife here includes Jaguar, Caiman, Howler and Spider Monkeys, rodents such as Pacas and Agoutis, and Peccaries among numerous other species. The birdlife here is equally spectacular, with Toucans, Macaws, Hummingbirds and the sought after Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. The forest is in the homeland of the Makushi people, who have lived here and used the forest for thousands of years. Although the forest around Atta Rainforest Lodge is excellent for birds, the major attraction here is a 154 metre long canopy walkway which is only 750m from the lodge. The walkway has four platforms, the highest of which is over 30 metres above the ground, and these will allow us the opportunity to spot a range of canopy species, many of which we would struggle to see well from the forest floor.
Day 8 – Georgetown
Our day starts with the dawn chorus from the canopy walkway, and afterwards we will transfer to a 4WD vehicle to travel along one of the best trails for seeing Jaguar. Sightings cannot be guaranteed but this is an excellent place to see one of Guyana’s most elusive creatures. We transfer to the airstrip at Lethum for the flight back to Georgetown and on arrival take a city tour of Guyana’s capital. Overnight at Grand Costal Inn or similar. (B)
Day 9 – Paramaribo
Transfer to the airport and fly to Paramaribo, the capital of neighbouring Suriname, and on arrival we take a walking tour of the capital. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautiful architecture, interesting markets and historical buildings. In the afternoon we take a boat on the Suriname River to look for freshwater dolphins, which can often be spotted in groups of up to twenty. Overnight at Eco-Resort Inn or similar. (BL)
Suriname’s capital looks rather out of place in South America – an unusual collection of architecture that often has you wondering exactly where you are. Located on the banks of the Suriname River, Paramaribo (Parbo to the locals) changed hands a few times between the Dutch and the English in the early days of their involvement in the region, but was under Dutch control from 1815 until the end of colonial rule in 1975. Evidence of this heritage can be seen in the city’s historic district (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where wooden houses with elaborate and elegant facades line the streets close to the old Fort Zeelandia. Elsewhere African markets vie for space with mosques and Hindu temples and buildings sport Chinese script, all of these reflecting the unique ethnic make-up of the capital and of Suriname itself. On street corners and open air bars look out for a man sitting with caged birds – a popular pastime in Suriname is entering birds in to singing competitions. The population of the city is just 250,000, giving it rather an intimate feel, and the historic inner city is a fascinating place to wander round, with stunning old wooden churches and whitewashed mansions lining the streets.
Day 10 – Anaula
We head south from Paramaribo by road to Atjoni, and then travel by boat to Anaula Nature Resort situated at the foot of the Ferulassi falls, passing various Maroon villages through breath-taking scenery, and the tempestuous Jaw Jaw rapids. On arrival we will take a dugout boat to an island in the Ferullasi rapids which has a sandy beach where we can relax, swim and enjoy a natural jacuzzi. In the evening we head out on the river in search of Caiman. Overnight at Anaula Nature Resort or similar. (BLD)
The Maroon people are the descendants of former runaway slaves who fled the colonial plantations from the end of the 17th century onwards, for a better life in the interior. Most settled alongside rivers, some crossing into French Guyana and customs that they had brought with them from Africa remain largely free from outside influences. A visit to Maroon villages presents an utterly different side of Latin America that is rarely encountered by travellers
Day 11- New Aurora
Travel by boat to the village of New Aurora to learn about the customs and culture of the local Maroon groups. We then head to Gunsi to take a forest walk and learn about the traditional medicinal uses of the plants here, and in the evening experience local culture in the form of Awasa and Bandamba dances. Overnight at Anaula Nature Resort. (BLD)
Day 12- Paramaribo
This morning is at leisure until lunch. In the afternoon we return to Paramaribo. Overnight at Eco Resort or similar. (BL)
Day 13- Commewijne Plantations
The tour takes us along the former colonial plantations, most of which are now abandoned. We make a stop at plantation Peperpot where the old coffee and cocoa factory, deputy-director’s house and the old office are located. This former plantation is one of the oldest in the history of Suriname. Peperpot was established by the English and already existed before Suriname was conquered by the natives from Zeeland under the command of Abraham Crijnssen in 1667. This is one of the last plantations still in its original condition. You can still see coffee and cocoa plants as well as an ancient shed and factory, the manager’s residence and a kampong (workers’ living area). Peperpot is renowned for the many birds which can be spotted. From here we make a stop at the mini-museum of Marienburg, a former sugar plantation, before enjoying a delicious lunch in a typical Javanese restaurant (warung) in Tamanredjo. We then continue to the confluence of the Commewijne and Suriname Rivers at Nieuw Amsterdam. Here we will a visit the outdoor museum of Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, and the large fortress, which was built as a defense for the crop fields that were situated along the upper parts of both rivers. Overnight at Eco-Resort. (BL)
Day 14 – Tour ends
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Arrival and departure transfers
Services of English speaking guide
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Any airport taxes