Day 1 - Our tour will begin from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport where the tour leader and driver will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to your hotel in Georgetown. The drive into Georgetown can vary depending on traffic, taking between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
Georgetown is located in the north of Guyana on the Atlantic coast, and about a one-third of the Country’s population lives in this English speaking metropolis. After arriving at your hotel, if there is time today, we will visit the Botanical Garden. Otherwise, we will do this the next day.
The Georgetown Botanical Garden offers large tropical trees, lawns and wetlands providing for some exciting birding. Some of the species we are likely to see include Great Black-Hawk, Common Black-Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Snail Kite, Green-rumped Parrotlet, good numbers of Orange-winged and Yellow-crowned amazons and this is the only place to see our first target; the Festive Parrot. White-bellied Piculet, Wing-barred Seedeater, Wattled Jacana, White-throated Toucan, Pied Water-Tyrant, Red-Shoulder Macaw, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, and a number of other amazing birds are possible. Overnight in Georgetown
Day 2 - After an early breakfast at our hotel, we will transfer to Ogle Airport to connect with our schedule flight to Iwokrama River Lodge. The flight to Iwokrama takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Our plane will fly to the Amerindian village of Fair View, then a 5-minute drive to the Lodge.
The Iwokrama Rainforest, a vast wilderness of one million acres, is a protected area that was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. The Iwokrama Forest is in the heart of one of the last untouched tropical forests of the world – The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Iwokrama is exceptional among conservation organizations because it joins with local people in every aspect of its work. From research to business, Iwokrama ensures local economic and social benefits from forest use and conservation.
Upon our arrival at the river lodge, we will receive a welcome by the staff and then settle in to our rooms. After lunch, depending on the time, we will either head out on the bushmaster trail or along the main Iwokrama road. The trail will be good to target the Capuchinbirds at a lek plus birds like Spotted Antpitta, Rufous-bellied Antwren, Ferruginous-backed Antbird and Guianan-warbling Antbird. If it is not too late, we may run into a forest flock where we can pick up birds like the Brown-bellied Stipplethroat, Chestnut-rumped Woodpecker, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Plain-browned Woodcreeper, Waved Woodpecker, Collared Puffbird, and the elusive Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo. If we are lucky enough with an army ant-warm, we stand a good chance of seeing White-plumed, Rufous-throated and Wing-banded antbirds. At sunset, we will then head out along the main road to an area to target the White-winged Potoo, we may see other night bird including Northern Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Spectacled Owl, Great Potoo and more. We will keep our eyes out for the Crested Owl as well. Overnight at lodge on the Iwokrama River
Day 3 - We will start the day after an early breakfast. A trip to Iwokrama is not complete without a hike/birding to the top of Turtle Mountain. We will take a boat journey downriver approximately 30 minutes and then enjoy a slow walk of about 1.5 hours up the forested trail to the summit (950 ft) for a stunning jungle vista punctuated by the powerful Essequibo River snaking through the forest. Numerous bird species can be spotted on the lower section of the trail including the Red-and-Black Grosbeak, Yellow-billed Jacamar, Brown-bellied Antwren, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Guianan-Red Cotinga, Blue-cheeked Parrot, Pygmy Antwren, Guianan Tyrannulet, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Tiny-tyrant Manakin, Long-tailed Potoo on a day roost, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Puffbird, Green Aracari, Rufous-bellied Antwren, Yellow-green Grosbeak, Amazonian Antshrike, Amazonian Grosbeak and many other birds.
Alongside the spectacular views of pristine rainforest the summit can hold one of our main targets for the day, the rare Orange-breasted Falcon! We will also have our first chance to see the rare Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo and if very lucky, perhaps some Tepui Parrotlets passing by as well.
After returning the lodge, depending on the time, we will have the chance to explore the forest trails around the lodge looking for Rose-breasted Chat, Wing-banded Antbird, White-plumed Antbird, Rufous-throated Antbird, Brown-bellied and Rufous-bellied antwrens. Spotted Antpitta, Yellow-throated and Waved woodpeckers and a host of woodcreepers; Chestnut-rumped, Red-billed, Amazonian-barred, Buff-throated, Lineated, and Wedge-billed. We may see Ringed Woodpecker as well. Before returning to the Lodge we will have another chance to visit the Capuchinbird lek in case we might have missed them the day before. Overnight at lodge near the Iwokrama River.
Day 4 - After breakfast, we will begin our transfer to Atta Lodge and Canopy Walkway but not before stopping at a trail to visit the day roost of the Rufous Potoo. To get to the roosting site, it requires hiking for about 20 minutes on a flat terrain forest trail that can be flooded, so rubber boots might be needed here.
From here, we will continue to Atta Lodge with another stop at the Mori Scrub/white sand forest. Mori Scrub is a unique white sand forest that hosts some key bird species such as Red-legged Tinamou, Red-shouldered Tanager, Bronzy Jacamar, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Black Manakin, and Guianan Schiffornis. This area is very flat so the hike will be easy. We will be sure to have our cameras and binoculars ready because occasionally Jaguars and other mammals are seen while driving through the rainforest!
We then continue to Atta Lodge located within the one million acres of protected rain forest of Iwokrama. After settling in, we will take an afternoon walk on the Canopy Walkway.
The lodge is situated approximately 750 meters from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. The walkway has three platforms, the highest of which is over 30 meters above the ground. These platforms and the walkway will allow us to get great looks at a range of canopy species. Among the likely highlights are Painted and Golden-winged parakeets, Caica Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Waved and Golden-collared woodpeckers, and Spot-tailed, Todd’s and Ash-winged antwrens. The walkway is also an excellent place to look for various species of cotinga including the Dusky Purpletuft as well as Purple-breasted Cotinga. Another area where we will spend some time is the clearing around the lodge, as this is one of the best places to see the Crimson Fruitcrow and Black Curassow. Overnight Atta Lodge.
Day 5 - This morning we will head out to the walkway at first light for opportunities to spot canopy species that we may have missed the previous day plus Guianan Toucanet, Green Aracari, Painted Parakeet, Black-headed Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Dusky Purpletuft, Great Jacamar, Paradise Tanager, Blue-backed Tanager, Golden-sided Euphonia, Buff-cheeked Greenlet, Tiny Tyrant-Manakin and Black Nunbird. This entire morning will involve birding on the canopy walkway and the trails around the lodge.
Within the forest that surrounds the lodge we can look for Black-faced Hawk, Spotted Antpitta, Red-and-Black Grosbeak, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Cayenne Jay, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Painted Tody-Flycatcher, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Guianan Warbling Antbird, White-crested Spadebill, and Chestnut and Red-necked woodpeckers.
After lunch, we will spend the afternoon birding on the main road through the Iwokrama Forest and also visit another nearby white sand forest to target the scarce Pelzeln’s Tody-Tyrant, Guianan Red Cotinga, Bronzy Jacamar, Red-legged Tinamou, Guianan Schiffronis and many other amazing birds within this forest. Meanwhile, along the main road, we will have further chances to spot many of the aforementioned birds and we will also keep our eyes open for the elusive Jaguar and Tapir which are sometimes seen at dawn and dusk.
On our way back to Atta Lodge, we will use flashlights or spotlights to do some night birding, mainly looking for owls and potoos. This is a great place to look for White-winged, Great, Common and Long-tailed potoos, plus (Northern) Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Spectacled Owl, Black-banded Owl, Amazonian Pygmy-Owl and Crested Owl. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
Day 6 - Today we will rise before dawn, have some coffee, and then enjoy our final morning at Atta Lodge, birding the clearing around the premises to try for a few of our target species that we might have missed or to just get better looks at ones we’ve seen. These may include Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Trogon, Painted Tody-Flycatcher, Guianan Tyrannulet and more. After our early morning birding and breakfast, we will venture onward to Surama Lodge with an important stop at a Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where this stunning bird is regularly seen as the males display for females. The lek’s location is about a 20-minute walk on a flat forest trail. Some other species sometimes seen along this trail include Yellow-billed Jacamar, Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo, Spotted Antpitta, Amazonian Motmot, Scarlet and Red-and-green macaws, Painted Parakeet, White-plumed and Rufous-throated antbird, and more.
We then continue to the Amerindian village of Surama, where we will be welcomed by the staff and then settle in to our basic accommodation for the next two nights. The Amerindian community of Surama is located in the heart of Guyana. The village is set in five square miles of savannah that is ringed by the forest-covered Pakarima Mountains. Surama’s inhabitants are mainly made up of the Makushi people, one of the nine indigenous people of Guyana, and they still observe many of the traditional practices of their ancestors.
After lunch, we will venture out into the savanna and through the forest for a chance to find White-naped Xenopsaris and the Sooty-capped Hermit. We will continue back out along the main road to target bird like Crimson Fruitcrow, Olive-green Tyrannulet, Blue-cheeked Parrot, Caica Parrot, Dusky Parrot, Painted Parakeet, Variable Chachalaca, Black-spotted Barbet, Tiny Hawk and many other targets. We may also visit a nearby pond to look for the Great Potoo that roosts in the area. Overnight at Surama.
Day 7 - This morning we will rise before dawn for an expedition to see a very special bird; the incomparable Harpy Eagle. This, the largest eagle in the world, (although the Philippine Eagle weighs more), is one of the most sought-after species among birders world-wide. We will drive a short distance through the forest to a trailhead, from there we will hike the rest of the way to the Burro Burro River. We will make our way down river to the nesting site by boat. We often see birds like Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher and Amazon Kingfisher en route. In addition, birds like Cocoi Heron, Great Black Hawk, Green-tailed Jacamar, White-collared Swallow, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Great Antshrike and Black-chinned Antbird are some we may also see along the river.
The Harpy Eagle nests approximately every 2-3 years. The female sometime lays two eggs and takes nearly two months to incubate them. When the chicks hatch, the stronger of the two usually pushes the weaker from the nest; Harpy Eagles raise only one chick at a time. When a young chick is being fed, the male brings food to the female and young about once every 3.5 days. As the chick grows and both adults are hunting, they bring food to the nest about every 2.5 days. Typically, the fledgling eaglet is “branch-hopping” at the age of 4 – 6 months, and it will stay within 100 meters of the nest for more than a year after that, as the parents continue to provide its food. Even after the young eagle flies, the parents will continue to provide some food for another year or so and the birds will stay in the general vicinity of the nest.
We will be back at the lodge in time for a late lunch and then, as the afternoon cools, depending on our targets, we may either do some birding along the main road at Surama or visit the river trail. Some of the species that are likely to see include Rufous-capped Antthrush, Black-faced Antthrush, Capuchinbird, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Red-legged Tinamou, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Rufous-throated and White-plumed Antbird, Dusky Purpletuft, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Red Cotinga and many other amazing birds.
During our stay at Surama, we will have a chance to target the very difficult Ocellated Crake. We will also try for Spotted Antpitta, Gray-winged Trumpeter, Tiny Tyrant-Manakin, Waved Woodpecker, Red-billed, Chestnut-Rumped and the Guianan woodcreeper. We will remain alert in hopes of spotting the very elusive Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo, and since our guides have found an area where this rare bird has been seen on several trips, we will be on the lookout for this amazing bird. We will return to the village for sunset or return in the dark before dinner. Overnight at Surama.
Day 8 - After another early breakfast, we will transfer to Caiman House with stops along the way to check a few forest edges and many savannah ponds to see if we can locate the Sharp-tailed Ibis. As we search, we should come across some more common species such as Grey-cowled Wood-Rail, Cocoi Heron, Maguari Stork, Buff-necked Ibis, and the behemoth Jabiru stork. Raptors in the area include Savanna, White-tailed, Great Black and Zone-tailed hawk. The morning journey will end at Caiman House where we will be welcomed by the staff, settle in to our accommodation, and then have lunch.
As the name suggests, the Caiman House Field Station houses researchers studying the endangered Black Caiman. Guests are sometimes invited to join the caiman research crew in a night of caiman capturing. It’s a bit like having a job with a National Geographic crew!
Our afternoon will be spent patrolling the gallery forest surrounding Caiman House in search for more target species including Spotted Puffbird, Green-tailed Jacamar, Blue-backed Manakin, Golden-spangled Piculet, Northern Slaty-Antshrike, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Pale-tipped Tyrannulet, Guianan Warbling-Antbird, (Southern) White-fringed Antwren, Sooty-capped Hermit, Red-capped Cardinal, Yellow-crowned Parrot and many other amazing birds. Overnight at Caiman House
Day 9 - After an early breakfast, we will have a chance to do some birding in the Savanna and forest patches that surrounds Caiman House. Some of our target birds will include the Crested Doradito, Bearded Tachuri, Jabiru Stork, Maguari Stork, White-face and Black-bellied whistling duck, Pinnated Bittern, Aplomado Falcon and many other species.
We may also see Sharp-tailed Ibis, Yellowish Pipit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Double striped Thick-knee, King Vulture and Orange-backed Troupial. In addition, this will be the best opportunity to see the Giant Anteater! If we’re lucky enough to find one, we will take our time to enjoy the encounter and take pictures. Eventually we will make our way back to Caiman House for lunch.
In the afternoon we will take a boat trip on the Rupununi river. Here we are likely to find kingfishers including both Green-and-Rufous and American Pygmy. If we are lucky, we may see the beautiful Agami Heron, Capped Heron, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Pied Lapwing, Boat-billed Heron, Large-billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Pale-legged Hornero, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, and perhaps even the very shy Crestless Curassow. In addition to the birds, we may see both Black and Spectacled caimans, Giant River Otter, many species of monkeys, and largest fresh-water scale-fish in the world; the Arapaima. As the sun sets we will look for Band-tailed Nightjars and possibly Nacunda Nighthawk and Common Potoo on the boat ride back to the lodge. Overnight at Caiman House
Day 10 - This morning we will continue on our journey to Karasabai on a rough road passing through very nice habitats such as open savanna and the Pakarima mountain range with gallery forest patches. Here, Aplomado Falcon hunts over expansive plains with Grassland Yellow-Finches mixed alongside a variety of seedeaters, including Gray, Plumbeous, Chestnut, Ruddy and Lined seedeaters. We also have good chances of encountering Giant Anteaters as they occur in this savanna. We will be passing lots of ponds, so these spots should produce very good birding opportunities for water birds such as herons, egrets and storks. Many other great birds should be seen on the drive to the very remote village of Karasabai with its exceptionally friendly residents.
Upon arrival we will take time to visit some of the locals in order to secure official permission to bird the area. There are very few visitors here and we wish to ensure good relations and encourage ongoing conservation efforts, especially when considering that these people ultimately control the fate of the Sun Parakeet.
This riparian forest along the border of Brazil where we will be birding during the morning offers some very interesting birding opportunities. Our primary target species will be the Sun Parakeet, but we will also have chances to observe many other birds, including Red-and-Green Macaw, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, Zone-tailed Hawk, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Toco Toucan and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, to name but a few.
Following lunch in the village, we will bird our way back to Manari Ranch, which is located just 15 minutes outside the town of Lethem near the Brazilian border. Upon arrival, we will meet our local guide who will be taking us to look for the very rare Rio Branco Antbird and the Hoary-throated Spinetail on our final morning in the Rupununi. We will settle in to our very simple but comfortable accommodation for the next two nights. Overnight at Manari Ranch
Day 11 - Today we'll focus our attention on two birds with exceedingly restricted ranges, the Hoary-throated Spinetail and the Rio Branco Antbird. Both species are only found in gallery forest along the Rio Branco River and other main tributaries, all of which ultimately flow into the Amazon. Recent agricultural pressures have seriously reduced the amount of available habitat for these birds, and as a result the spinetail is now classified as endangered, with the antbird treated as near-threaten. However, there is good news surrounding the fate of both species as there are plans afoot to preserve the area.
In order to reach suitable habitat for these birds, we will travel via 4×4 through the open Savannah. Along the way we might come across various open country species as well as Ringed Kingfisher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black-chinned Antbird, Orange-backed Troupial and other species before reaching our site along a comparatively short stretch near the Iring River. We will specifically target the Hoary-throated Spinetail and the Rio Branco Antbird in this area, although other interesting species may include Pale-legged Hornero, Double-striped Thick-knee, Golden-spangle Piculet, Flavescent Warbler, Bearded Tachuri, Nacunda Nighthawk and more. The entire morning will be spent birding in this area. After our time here, we will return to the Manari Ranch for Lunch.
After Lunch, we will get ready for our journey to Whichabai Ranch in search of the highly endangered Red Siskin in South Rupununi. Our Rupununi team will be waiting with their 4x4s to take us on the journey to Whichabai. From Lethem, Whichabai is approximately 90km away, so we will not waste any time as the drive could take close to 3.5 hours depending on the road conditions. Whichabai is located in the south Rupununi savanna region and along the way we will see why this is one of the most beautiful regions in Guyana, with spectacular grasslands, mountains, and forest. We will pass through indigenous Amerindian villages, plus some of the local cattle ranches before reaching our destination.
Along the way, we expect to do some birding looking out for birds of open country similar to previous days as well as Crested Bobwhite, Brazilian Teal, White-throated Kingbird, South American Snipe, Giant Snipe, White-naped Xenopsaris, the very shy Sharp-tailed Ibis, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Bearded Tachuri, Grassland Sparrow and much more. We will aim to arrive at Whichabai ranch in time for dinner and get ready for an early start next day. Overnight at Whichabai Ranch
Day 12 - Today we will have a very early start in search of the highly endangered Red Siskin. A fairly large population of Red Siskin was discovered in this region in 2003, far removed from any previously known colony, and we stand a good chance of observing this strikingly plumage species with an estimate world population of just 600-6000 pairs. We will be covering a long distance in getting to and from the area for the Siskins and the sooner we can find them the better so we will be quite focused on this species.
While our main focus will be on the Red Siskin there are other birds that we might come across including, Pale bellied Tyrant-Manakin, White-barred Piculet, Bicolored Hawk, Flavescent Warbler, White-bellied Antbird and many more. We will return to Whichabai Ranch for Lunch.
The entire afternoon will be spent either trying to locate the Siskin in case we might have missed out on seeing it during the morning. Or, perhaps birding the surrounding habitats at Whichabai looking for the rare Sharp-tailed Ibis, Pale-belied tyrant- Manakin that we often see along the nearby Rupununi river or other missing specialties. Throughout the day we will keep our eyes out for the Finsch’s Euphonia and the Rufous-winged Antwren as well. Overnight at Whichabai Ranch
Day 13 - Today will be our final day in the Rupununi. After breakfast, our 4x4s will head back to Lethem where we will connect with our scheduled flight back to Georgetown. The flight to Georgetown is 1 hour. Once we arrive in Georgetown, depending on the time, we will drop off our main luggage at the hotel and continue the journey eastward along the Atlantic coast to the Mahaica River. This is where we may have the only chance on this tour of seeing and photographing Guyana’s national bird, the “Hoatzin”. Our target birds here will include; Long-winged Harrier, Blood-coloured Woodpecker, White-bellied Piculet, Wing-barred Seedeater and the elusive Mangrove Rail. We have a good chance of seeing all of these birds during our trip to Mahaica river. Other species we often see in the area includes Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Little and Striped cuckoos, a variety of kingfishers, Black-collared Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle and many other amazing birds. This area is also one of the best places to see and photograph the Guianan Red Howler Monkey.
After our time on the Mahaica river, on the way back to Georgetown we will stop at some mangrove forest for a chance to possibly see and photograph another localized species, the Rufous Crab-Hawk! With reasonable luck, we hope to get some stunning views of this species. Our journey will continue to Georgetown for dinner. We will spend our final night in Guyana and celebrate your journey and experience of this beautiful country. Overnight in Georgetown
Day 14 - This morning we will transfer to the airport to connect with your international flight back home.