At dawn we take a hike in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains along the Panorama Trail where we may see cinereous mourner, Finsch’s euphonia, reddish hermit, rufous-bellied antwren, green-tailed and yellow-billed jacamar. The views across the savannah and villages as the sun rises are spectacular.
Later we head south by road from Rock View Lodge to Ginep Landing. From Ginep Landing we take a boat trip on the Rupununi River to Karanambu Lodge. Depending on the river level, this trip offers an excellent opportunity to look for giant otters as there are several family groups which live along this stretch of the Rupununi River.
Karanambu, a 110-square mile former cattle ranch, is the home of Diane McTurk, conservationist and world-renowned expert on giant otters. Karanambu is located in the North Rupununi, a region of southwestern Guyana known for its expansive wetlands and savannah, as well as its biological and cultural diversity. Settled in 1927 by Tiny McTurk, Karanambu was once a working cattle ranch and Balata collection station. It is now an eco-tourist destination known as Karanambu Lodge. Karanambu encompasses savannah, marshy ponds, riparian forest, and a 30-mile stretch of the Rupununi River.
The North Rupununi of southern Guyana is an extraordinary natural and pristine area. The landscape is an integration of four ecosystem types: wetlands, savannahs, rivers, and forests. The number of species found here is much higher than expected given its size. There are at least 600 species of fish and birds, and over 200 species of mammals. Karanambu is located in the middle of this beautiful and fascinating biological hotspot where endangered species like the giant otter, black caiman, jaguar, giant anteater and arapaima can be found. The seasonally flooded savannahs and forests also draw substantial fish migrations and at times there may be as many as 700 species of fish at Karanambu.
This region is also rich in history. The North Rupununi is the homeland of the Makushi and earlier peoples dating back almost 7,000 years ago. Neighbouring villages include the Makushi villages of Kwaimatta, Massara, Yupukari, Toka, and Simoni. Several prominent explorers and naturalists have written about their experiences here, including Robert and Richard Schomburgk, Charles Waterton, Evelyn Waugh, Gerald Durrell, and David Attenborough. Lake Amuku, near Karanambu, was once considered by Sir Walter Raleigh, and later by Alexander von Humboldt and others, to be the location of Lake Parime on whose banks the golden city of “El Dorado” was said to be located.
The romance of the Rupununi pioneers lives on at Karanambu. The compound has the flavour of an Amerindian Village. Because of the remoteness of Karanambu, staff live on site and the children can be seen and heard on weekends and holidays when they come “home” from schools in the nearby villages of Yupakari, Kwaimatta and Massara.
With both the river and the savannahs close at hand there is a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed at Karanambu. You are free to choose based on your interests and the time of year. Two guided excursions are included each day - one early in the morning and another late afternoon and into the evening. These are the coolest times to be out and the best times to see wildlife. Trips may be on the river by boat, across the savannahs by Land Rover or along forest trails on foot to the different ponds in the area.
Late in the afternoon we will travel by boat to look for wild giant river otters and as dusk falls we head to the ponds to see the giant