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The Guiana's Experience

14 Days FROM USD 5,585

Overview

The 1.7 billion year old Guiana Shield in northeast South America is one of the highest biodiversity regions in the world, with 1400 vertebrate species and over 1650 bird species. The Shield is covered by the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical rainforest in the world. Join us as we explore Guyana and Suriname with an optional extension to French Guiana. Marvel at Kaieteur Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in the world and discover one of the greatest untouched rainforests left on the planet. This region is home to endangered species such as the jaguar, giant anteater, giant river otter and tapir. Spend time learning about the cultures of the Guianas with visits to Amerindian and Maroon communities and explore the fascinating cities of Georgetown and Paramaribo. This really is a totally unique part of South America.

Trip Code: GUTSTGE

Location: Guyana, Suriname

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your selected hotel in Georgetown. The remainder of the day is free at leisure for you to settle in and explore your surroundings.

Arrive in Georgetown, Guyana

Georgetown is the chief port, capital and largest city of Guyana, situated on the right bank of the Demerara River Estuary. It was chosen as the site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements of the Demerara River. The city was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree-lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss-cross the city.

Most of the buildings in the city are wooden with unique architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, including traditional Demerara shutters. On Main Street there are several excellent examples of old colonial homes, including the State House, built in 1852. Set in large gardens and painted green and white, the State House has hosted many visiting dignitaries over the years.

Georgetown

After breakfast at the hotel we transfer to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport for a scheduled flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, the falls plummet 228 metres into a deep gorge. Kaieteur Falls are nearly five times the height of Niagara Falls and were first seen by a European on April 29, 1870.

The water of Kaieteur, one of the world’s natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge - a drop of 741 feet. There are no other falls in the world with the magnitude of the sheer drop existing at Kaieteur. Amerindian legend of the Patamona tribe has it that Kai, one of the tribe’s chiefs (after whom the falls is named), committed self-sacrifice by canoeing himself over the falls. It was believed this would encourage the Great Spirit Makonaima to save the tribe from being destroyed by the savage Caribishi.

Kaieteur supports a unique micro-environment. It is home to tank bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny golden frog spends its entire life and the rarely seen Guiana cock-of-the-rock that nests here. You may be lucky enough to see the Kaieteur swifts or Makonaima birds which nest under the vast shelf of rock carved by centuries of water, hidden behind the eternal curtain of falling water.

Please Note: If a flight is cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, we will endeavour to reschedule the flight during your itinerary. If this is not possible then a full refund on the flight will be made.

Kaieteur Falls

This morning we transfer to Eugene F. Correia International Airport for a flight to the Rupununi. From here we make our way to Karanambu Lodge. 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 south western 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 the 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 Amazonia Regis water lily in bloom. On the return trip we will spotlight for black caiman and other nocturnal creatures.

Karanambu Lodge

This morning we make an early start to reach an area of rolling grasslands, home to a population of giant anteaters. With luck we will locate one of these six-foot long animals excavating its breakfast from one of the red termite mounds that dot the savannah. The giant anteater, also known as the ant bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, long fore claws and distinctively coloured pelage. It feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its fore claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them. Though giant anteaters live in overlapping home ranges they are mostly solitary except during mother-offspring relationships, aggressive interactions between males, and when mating. Mother anteaters carry their offspring on their backs until weaning them.

An evening visit to a nearby pond to see hundreds of ibis, anhinga, heron and egret roosting (only in rainy season) is a highlight. If you are interested in bird watching you can explore woodland patches or gallery forest along the river where we hope to find such species as spotted puffbird, striped woodcreeper, pale-bellied tyrant-manakin, golden-spangled piculet, bearded tachuri and capuchinbird. A feature bird for the area is agami heron. An evening walk along the airstrip offers seven species of nightjar and among the grasslands the double-striped thick-knees.

Karanambu

If you did not see a giant anteater the previous morning, there is time to travel out to search the savannah again. Or you can explore the Rupununi River in search of wild giant river otters, black caiman and arapaima, making a boat journey along quiet stretches of river.

We return to the lodge for breakfast before departure. We travel slowly on the Rupununi River by boat giving us another chance to look for various river-edge, wetland and open country species. We may see black-bellied whistling ducks and swallow-wings. 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. Both black and spectacled caimans also inhabit the river and several species of monkey including red howler, white-faced saki and squirrel monkey can be found in the riverside trees.

Eventually we reach Ginep Landing, where we continue by vehicle to the Amerindian village of Surama. The village of Surama is situated in a small savannah, deep in the rainforest and surrounded by forest clad hills. It was here that Charles Waterton passed through in 1812 in search of the secrets of the useful Wourali poison known as Curare. Waterton was so stunned by this spot that he wrote in his memoirs “The finest park that England boasts falls short of this delightful scene”.

Surama’s inhabitants are mainly from the Makushi tribe and still observe many of the traditional practices of their ancestors. On our arrival, we will receive a warm welcome from the local people and will be shown to our basic accommodation. Your guide will take you on a tour of the village to visit the local school, medical centre and church along with some of the village houses. As the afternoon cools a local guide will escort you for a short walk along trails to observe the forest and bird life. See the forest through the eyes of your indigenous guide and learn about the medicinal plants and their uses in the Amerindian culture. Tonight enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark.

Rupununi River

We rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah before the exhilarating and challenging climb up Surama Mountain in the cool morning air. This is the best time to observe bird life along the trail. Breakfast will be served at a lookout point which affords incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains.

We return to the village for lunch before taking a three mile walk across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro River. Your guides will then paddle you on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe giant river otters, tapir, tira, spider monkeys and many more species. We return to the village for sunset.

Surama Mountain

After breakfast we depart Surama by 4x4 vehicle, watching for the myriad of bird species that frequent the forest edge. We continue to a trail in the Iwokrama Forest where we take a short walk in the hope of seeing the amazingly brilliant Guianan cock-of-the-rock. Most trips see at least one male and often the female or even a juvenile on the nest. Our journey then continues to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway which allows you to view the forest from 35 metres up in the canopy.

The Iwokrama Rainforest is a vast wilderness of one million acres. This protected area was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. The Iwokrama Forest is in the heart of one of four last untouched tropical forests of the world - The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Iwokrama was established as a living laboratory for tropical forest management because the unsustainable utilisation of these forests will result in the extinction of half the world's plant and animal species and unknown changes to global climate. This is a protected area with a difference - the full involvement of people. 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. 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 three platforms, the highest of which is over 30 metres above the ground. These allow us to spot a range of canopy species, many of which you would struggle to see from the forest floor. Amongst the likely highlights are painted, brown-throated and golden-winged parakeets, caica parrots, Guianan puffbirds, waved and golden-collared woodpeckers and various antwrens.

The walkway is also an excellent place to look for various species of cotinga including the poorly known and range-restricted dusky purpletuft. If there are any suitable fruiting trees nearby, you stand a good chance of seeing this bird, as well as the more widespread purple-breasted cotinga. Experience the activity in the mid and upper canopy of the forest as darkness settles over the forest. From this tree top vantage you can sometimes see red howler monkeys and black spider monkeys. As darkness falls on the Canopy Walkway, we also hope to see the white-winged potoo.

Iwokrama Canopy Walkway

This morning you have the opportunity to visit the Canopy Walkway as dawn breaks. Short-tailed nighthawks settle in for the day, swifts take to the sky, white-throated and channel-billed toucans yodel, and barred forest falcons call. The unusually timid black curassow can also be seen as at least one family party has become habituated and regularly feeds in the clearing of Atta Rainforest Lodge. The clearing around the lodge is one of the best places to see another of Guyana’s “must see” birds, the crimson fruitcrow. This species is seen here on a reasonably regular basis, coming in to feed in some of the nearby trees.

After breakfast we transfer by 4 x 4 along a trail that is one of the best places to see the elusive jaguar. The Iwokrama Forest is rapidly gaining an international reputation for its healthy jaguar populations that seem not to be troubled by the appearance of curious humans.

Along the road, we keep a look out for the myriad of bird species that frequent the forest edge, including crimson and purple-necked fruitcrows, crimson topaz, green oropendula, spotted and Guianan puffbirds, scarlet and red-and-green macaws, blue-cheeked and orange-winged parrots and grey-winged trumpeters. This road is the only north - south access in Guyana and links the country to Brazil. Even so traffic is only very occasional and wildlife is often seen along the road, including agouti, tayra, puma, tapir and black curassow. The road travels through the savannah and the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains with excellent opportunities for savannah birding. The Jabiru stork is often seen along this stretch of road.

Eventually we reach the Rupununi Savannah which is to Guyana what the Gran Sabana is to Venezuela, an extensive area of grassland with termite mounds and scattered or riparian woodland. It differs in that much of it is devoted to cattle raising, though the large ranches are not very productive. Indeed, one can travel for hours without seeing a domestic animal of any sort. Needless to say, the birdlife here is markedly different from that of the rainforest.

We depart via a scheduled flight that takes us over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

The tour of Georgetown includes St. George’s Cathedral, consecrated in 1892 and one of the world’s tallest free-standing wooden buildings. The foundation stone was laid on November 23, 1890 and the building was designed by Sir Arthur Bloomfield. The history of Guyana and the cathedral is depicted inside.

Other historic buildings on the tour include the Public Library, housed in the Carnegie Building on Avenue of the Republic, the gothic-styled Town Hall, the Victoria Law Courts, St. Andrews Kirk - the oldest surviving church structure in Guyana, the National Museum and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.

The famous Stabroek Market, once described as a “bizarre bazaar”, contains every conceivable item from household goods and gold jewellery to fresh meat and vegetables brought to town on the river daily. The clock tower can be seen for miles around and is a famous landmark. The Botanical Gardens house one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora in the Caribbean and the Zoo has over 100 species of Guyanese wildlife including a wide variety of tropical fish and birds.

The tour is accompanied by an experienced guide who explains the history and facts and legends of Georgetown and its citizens. A vehicle is used for travel between areas of interest. During the

Pakaraima Mountains, Georgetown

This morning we transfer to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport for our flight to Zorg-en-Hoop Airport in Paramaribo and on arrival we transfer to the Eco Resort Inn.

Paramaribo is the capital of Suriname and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After our arrival we take a walking city tour to discover the magnificent architecture of this beautiful city, one of the most attractive cities of South America.

During this tour we visit the Palm Gardens, the Waterfront and the Central Market. We will also see the many historical buildings including the recently renovated Presidential Palace, the Mosque and Synagogue next to each other and the magnificent Hindi Temple.

We continue our tour to the pier at Nieuw Amsterdam for a Sunset Dolphin Tour. With a drink in hand, we enjoy the cool breeze and river views. Meanwhile the captain scans the horizon for the dolphins. Normally we see them swim by in groups of up to 20 dolphins. After having enjoyed this playful company we continue on to the wonderfully restored plantation Frederiksdorp. Here we enjoy freshly made local snacks such as barra, baka bana or eggroll while experiencing the beautiful sunset. All this takes place in the relaxing atmosphere of the old plantation village. After the sun has set we transfer by car or bus to Paramaribo.

Paramaribo City Tour, Suriname

This morning we depart Paramaribo to begin our nature and cultural experience. At Paranam the asphalt road changes into laterite and we drive past impressive giant trees and small villages. After approximately 190 km we arrive at a place named Atjoni. From here we continue by motorized dugout boat for 45 minutes before we reach the comfort of Anaula Nature Resort, situated at the foot of the Ferulassi Falls.

During this trip we get to see various Maroon villages, breath taking scenery, and the tempestuous Jaw rapid. After some relaxation time we take a dugout boat and go to an island in the Ferullasi rapid which has a sandy beach where we can relax, swim and enjoy a natural Jacuzzi. After dinner there is an exciting adventure to search for caiman. The night dugout boat trip gives you the chance to enjoy the wonderful night sky and the complete silence of the rainforest.

Anaula Nature Resort

After breakfast we head for New Aurora by dugout boat. During the guided tour through the village you will meet the local people and learn about their unique way of life including their traditions and customs. We will take you to see the Mission Station where there is a church, a primary school and a medical post. From New Aurora we walk to the nearest village of Gunsi where our dugout boat awaits. After lunch we take a walk in the forest on the island. During this forest walk you will learn about the local medicinal use of plants. After dinner it’s time to enjoy traditional and cultural dancing performances of the Seketi, Awasa and Bandamba dances. Our guide will explain the meaning of these dances.

New Aurora

This morning is free at leisure. You may choose to go on a tour to see the various agricultural plots of the local people, go swimming, take a stroll in the forest, relax in the lounge area or in a hammock, or just enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. After lunch we return to Atjoni by boat, and from there return to Paramaribo.

Paramaribo

Today we head to the Commewijne district which is situated to the east of Paramaribo across the Suriname River. The tour takes us alongside former colonial plantations, most of which are now abandoned. We make a stop at Peperpot Plantation 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 plantations in Surinamese history. Peperpot was established by the English and already existed before Suriname was conquered by the natives from Zeeland under command of Abraham Crijnssen in 1667. This is one of the last plantations still in its former original state. On the plantation 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 that inhabit the area.

From Peperpot, 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. After lunch we 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. The large fortress was built as a defence for the crop fields that were situated along the upper parts of both rivers.

Commewijne

Today you will transfer by hotel shuttle bus to the airport for your onward flight.

Departure day
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Pricing & date

Travel Style Departing Duration PRICE FROM
Standard Daily 14 USD 5,585
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Important Information

  • -         Airport transfers

    -         Double or twin accommodation

    -         Meals as listed

    -         Limited local bar at Karanambu Lodge

    -         All road and river transfers

    -         Internal flights in Guyana

    -         Activities as described

    -         Local guides

    -         VAT

    -         Iwokrama Forest User Fee

    -         Iwokrama Canopy Walkway fee

  • 3 (Average fitness level required)
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  • Please note that this tour is available on a shared basis on the dates specified or can depart on a private basis on alternative dates at a higher rate. Please enquire for details.

  • Season and availability

Accommodation

We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle. 

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