Wildlife Holidays in Guyana and Suriname


Guyana and Suriname Revealed

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 14 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

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. We also offer an optional extension to French Guiana at the end of the main tour.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●○○ | History ●●○○○ | Wildlife ●●●●●

Tour Pace

Busy

Tour Highlights

  • The flight over Kaieteur Falls, the highest free falling waterfall in the world
  • The Giant River Otters and Giant Anteaters at Karanambu
  • The pristine rainforest of Iwokrama
  • Meeting the local Maroon people in Suriname

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Lodges and hotels
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

Day 1 – Georgetown

Arrive in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital and transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Grand Coastal Hotel or similar.

Georgetown

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. (B)

*On occasion the visit to Kaieteur Falls may need to be re- scheduled.

Kaieteur Falls

Take a scheduled flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainfall to 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. (B)

Day 3 – Karanambu Lodge

Transfer to the airport for a flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Lethem, from where we will transfer by vehicle to Karanambu Lodge, which was established by the late Diane McTurk. Towards the evening we take a boat out on the river to look for Giant River Otters and other species. As dusk falls we continue by 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"

Karanambu Lodge

Transfer to the airport for a flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Lethem, from where we will transfer by vehicle to Karanambu Lodge, which was established by the late Diane McTurk. Towards the evening we take a boat out on the river to look for Giant River Otters and other species. As dusk falls we continue by 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)

Day 4 – Karanambu Lodge

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)

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, visiting the local school, the medical centre, the church and some of the village houses. Tonight enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark, accompanied by our local guides. Overnight in the basic accommodation of Surama Eco-Lodge. (BLD)

Surama

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 not to undertake it the local guides will arrange alternative activities. After lunch back at the village we set off 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. Return to the village for sunset. Overnight in the basic accommodation at Surama Eco Lodge. (BLD)

Day 7 – Iwokrama

Depart Surama by vehicle looking out for the myriad of bird species that frequent the forest edge and transfer to a trail in the hope of seeing one of Guyana’s most spectacular birds, the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. We continue to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, 30 metres above the ground, for a different perspective of the forest. We will also spend time exploring the clearing around Atta Lodge, where you will have an excellent chance of spotting the Crimson Fruit Crow, and Black Curassow. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge. (BLD)

Iwokrama

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 where we may see Red Howler Monkeys and Black Spider Monkeys. Afterwards we will travel by vehicle along one of the best trails for seeing Jaguar. Sightings cannot be guaranteed but if you are very lucky you may see one of Guyana’s most elusive creatures. On arrival at the airstrip at Lethem we will take the flight back to Georgetown and on arrival take a city tour of Guyana’s capital including visits to St George’s Cathedral, Stabroek Market and the Botanical Gardens and zoo. Overnight at Grand Costal Inn or similar. (B)

Day 9 –Paramaribo

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Paramaribo, the capital of neighbouring Suriname and transfer to your hotel. We take a walking tour of the capital which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautiful architecture, interesting markets and historical buildings. We will transfer to the pier for our Sunset Dolphin cruise 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. (B)

Paramaribo

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 – Danpaati

We head south from Paramaribo by road to Atjoni, and then travel by motorised boat along the Upper Suriname River to Danpaati River Lodge which is situated on an island in the middle of the rainforest. We pass Maroon villages through breath-taking scenery. On arrival we can swim in the pool or the river and relax in the forest surroundings. In the evening we head out on the river in search of Caiman lying on the river banks. Overnight at Danpaati River Lodge or similar. (BLD)

The Maroons

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-Danpaati

Today we will visit one of the twelve villages that are affiliated with Danpaati to learn about the customs and culture of the local Maroon groups. In the afternoon we take a forest walk and learn about the traditional medicinal uses of the plants here. The rest of the day is at leisure with the opportunity to take a dugout canoe around the island or try some fishing. Overnight at Danpaati River Lodge. (BLD)

Day 12- Paramaribo

This morning is at leisure until lunch, and in the afternoon we depart by dugout canoe for Atjoni and return by vehicle to Paramaribo. Overnight at Eco Resort or similar. (BL)

 Day 13 – Commewijne Plantations

Today we head to the Commewijne district to the east of Paramaribo across the Suriname River. 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.  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, with its large fortress which was built as a defence 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)

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers.

Transport throughout as detailed

Domestic flights

All accommodation

Services of English speaking guide

Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)

Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks


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