is nestled on the Atlantic Coast east of Venezuela and west of Suriname, this small South American country it is one of the last unexplored wild places on earth. About the size of the US state of Kansas, it is one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries with an amazing 70% of the country being forested. Travelling by plane from the coastal city of Georgetown into the interior, you fly over vast unspoilt forests and witness incredible isolated waterfalls such as the Kaieteur Falls. 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. For the birdwatcher there is a mouth-watering list of rare and localised species associated with the unique Guyana Shield’s white sand rainforest. Here it is possible to see the mighty Harpy Eagle alongside other sought after birds such as Guianan Cock-of-the Rock, Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo, White-winged Potoo, Crimson Fruitcrow, Capuchinbird, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Hoatzin, Rufous Crab Hawk, Crested Doradito and the spectacularly rare Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin. Mammal species are exceptional with such magnificent creatures as Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Giant River Otter, Margay, Brazilian Tapir and numerous primates, bats and opossums.
Hotspots & Wildlife:
Surama: The small and pleasant community of Surama is inhabited mainly by villagers from the Macushi tribe and still observes many of the traditional practices of their forebears. Set in five square miles of savannah and surrounded by the densely forested Pakaraima foothills, a stay at Surama Ecolodge offers much more than just somewhere to sleep. Local guides are highly knowledgeable on all aspects of nature including how and where to find the key species of mammals and birds, and also know about all the local plants and their use as medicines. From here it is easy to explore the forest edge and open savannah from where many species of birds can be found including Great Potoo, Spotted Puffbird, Red-bellied Macaw, White-naped Xenopsaris, Golden-headed Manakin, and if you are really lucky Ocellated Crake or day roosting White-tailed Nightjar and Lesser and Least Nighthawks. The nearby Buro Buro River can produce sightings of Black Spider Monkey, Red Howler, Weeping Capuchin monkeys and occasionally even Tapirs. And then there are the rainforest trails about 30 minutes drive away where it’s possible to see numerous antbirds plus Long-tailed Potoo, Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo and visit the nest of a pair of mighty Harpy Eagles.
Iwokrama: Iwokrama represents a vast wilderness of one million acres, established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. This is a protected area and home of the Makushi people who have lived and worked the forest for countless generations. One of the last remaining untouched tropical forests of the world, it is part of the Guiana Shield of north-eastern South America. A stay at the aptly named Iwokrama River Lodge contributes to a sustainability for communities that live in and depend on the forest, and is an ideal base from which to explore the extensive trail system and discover the unforgettable flora, fauna and Amerindian history. Set beside the Essequibo River they offer boat trips which can take you in search of Pied Plover, Black-collared Swallow, Waved Woodpecker, Black-necked and Green Aracaris, Guianan Toucanet, as well as Red-rumped Agouti and Guianan Red Howler Monkey. The boat also takes you to the base of Turtle Mountain where a two-mile-long trail winds up to about 950 feet and passes through pristine forest where rarely seen bird species and amazing mixed-species flocks occur. And finally around the lodge are areas of white-sand forest known as the Mori Scrub where specialities such as Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo and the bizarre Capuchinbird can be found alongside many antbirds, tanagers, woodcreepers and manakins. If you are very fortunate you could even see the elusive and magnificent Jaguar.
Karasabai: Karasabai is the region between the Pakaraima Mountains and the vast Rupununi grasslands. This small developing Amerindian village with a population of approximately 1260 residents, mostly consists of people from the Makushi tribe. Recent grants have helped towards the promotion of community development and economic growth through eco-tourism. The village has built a small lodge in order to attract international tourists, and indeed the recently opened Kezee Eco-Lodge is a good place to stay to enjoy nature around Karasabai. The most important species here is the endangered Sun Parakeet in one of its last strongholds. This truly stunning bird is restricted to Guyana and adjacent areas of northern Brazil, and is still under threat by loss of habitat and trapping for the pet trade. Hopefully encouraging ecotourism and by using the excellent local guides in the village it will ensure protection of this beautiful bird. Of course there are plenty of other things to look for including Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, White-bellied Piculet, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and Orange-backed Troupial, plus nearby grasslands that support a wealth of both birds and mammals including the incredible Giant Anteater.
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SPECIES of interest
Golden Spangled Piculet
Red-billed Pied Tanager
Rio Branco Antbird
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