Project Description

WILDLIFE

BICYCLING

NATURE

SERVICE

Highlights: Jungle rivers / Mountain biking / Arawak cultural immersion / Kaieteur falls / Karanambo Nature Reserve / Giant anteater safari / Makushi village life / Caiman research project

Going Wild in Guyana – 8 Days

Guyana is a land of superlatives. It boasts the world’s largest waterfall drop, one of the world’s oldest and most remote geological formations, the world’s largest ants and anteaters, the world’s largest otters, and anacondas – the world’s largest snake. Victoria amazonica – a water lily so massive that a child can sit on a single leaf can be found here in abundance.

This former British colony hidden away on the northern edge of South America is also a wild place where toucans, macaws and parrots fly over virgin tropical rainforests, jaguars and ocelots prey along the forest floor and rivers teem with piranhas and giant Black Caiman.

Students on this trip can let their spirits go wild with one adventure after another as they kayak remote waterways, learn to hunt with Amerindian bows and arrows, fish for their dinner and prepare cassava bread, come face to face with 8 species of monkeys in the rainforest, search the savannahs for giant ant eaters, negotiate a 500-meter canopy walkway through the rainforest 96 feet high and take part in a caiman capture research project.

One of the wildest experiences of this trip will be assisting researchers at night as they search out four different species of caiman and tape their jaws shut long enough to measure, weigh and tag them. Students will also engage in a service project with a remote Amerindian community of Makushi.

Looking for an adventurous learning experience? Give us a week of your time and this trip will give you back your spirit.

Highlights: Arrival / Jungle river cruise / Bonfire dinner on a beach

  • Students arriving in Guyana’s international airport will clear customs and immigration and transfer 30 minutes by mini vans to the banks of the Demarara River.
  • Here we board a motorized launch for a 45-minute cruise across the Demarara to Pokerero Creek, an intimate tributary that we will wind our way up looking for wildlife as we go – toucans, boas, caiman and a wealth of birds.
  • Arriving at our lodge located on the edge of the savannah and rainforest of an Arawak Amerindian Reserve, we check in to our rooms and freshen up for a wonderful welcome dinner set out on the riverbank beach and illuminated with torches and a bonfire.

Overnight: Arrowpoint Resort

Highlights: Kayaking a jungle river / Mountain biking through the rainforest / Arawak cultural immersion

  • We’re up early this morning watching for birds and other wildlife as we head to the main lodge for breakfast.
  • Following a safety briefing and some basic paddling lessons, we set off in the cool morning hours with our Arawak guides to explore some of the beautiful waterways surrounding Arrowpoint Lodge.
  • Along the way we might come across caiman lurking in the brown waters, a wealth of birdlife, flared root buttresses on trees and the Arrowpoint trees our lodge takes its name from.
  • Returning to our lodge for lunch, we now stretch our legs exploring extensive rainforest trails by mountain bikes. There’s an elevated Arrowak hunting hut deep in the jungle that is worth exploring before we all set off by bike 6 km to the Arawak community of Santa Mission.
  • Santa Mission, established by Christian missionaries in 1868 is an Arawak community where students will learn traditional hunting skills with bow and arrows, how to prepare and cook cassava bread, weave baskets, fish for dinner and the social traditions of Amerindian peoples.

Overnight: Arrowpoint Resort

Highlights: Kaieteur Falls / Karanambo Nature Reserve

  • Today is day of superlatives no one will ever forget as we check out of Arrowpoint Resort right after breakfast, return down Pokerero Creek and cross the Demarara River. From here it’s just a short drive to the Airport where we board a charter plane with Roraima Airways for a scenic flight to Guyana’s greatest attraction – Kaieteur Falls.
  • This 60-min. flight at 6,000 ft. offers spectacular panoramas of Guyana’s wilderness interior as we fly over the vast expanse of primary rainforest that represents 80% of Guyana’s landscape. Below us jaguars hunt for peccary, parrots and macaques scream from the treetops and anacondas lurk in rivers with piranha and caiman.
  • Nearly an hour into our flight we approach the Pakaraima Plateau pressing skyward with Precambrian rock… one of the world’s oldest and remotest geological formations.
  • As we follow the escarpment we suddenly come upon Kaieteur Falls. Five times higher than Niagara Falls and plunging 741 feet into a river carved canyon, Kaieteur has the longest single drop of any waterfall in the world.
  • Our pilot will circle the falls to give everyone an opportunity to photograph its majesty from directly above before we land on a small bush runway nearby.
  • Here we will enjoy refreshments with local Patamona tribe guides before setting off on foot to view the falls from three amazing viewpoints.
  • Breathtaking as Kaieteur Falls is, it is not the only thing special about this place. The Guyana Shield is home to some of the world’s greatest biodiversity including many unique species like the poisonous Gold Frog that lives in the micro pond habitats created by one of the world’s largest bromeliads.
  • The brilliant, crimson colored Cock of The Rock is a rare, endemic bird we might come across during our walk around the falls. We will also see insectivorous plants unique in the world.
  • After several hours to take in the splendor of Kaieteur, we board our charter plane again and fly 30-minutes to a completely different landscape – the vast savannah lands bordering the Guyana/Brazilian border.
  • Landing on a bush airstrip, we transfer by truck a short distance to Caiman Lodge – a research center for studying four species of caimans as well as turtles in the Rupunui River.
  • After checking into our traditional styled Makushi huts, we will enjoy a hearty homemade lunch and some time relaxing in hammocks before embarking on our late afternoon adventure.
  • At 4:00 pm we board motorized launches for a delightful trip along the Rupunui River, a waterway that is actually connected to the mighty Amazon during the flood season.
  • The Rupunui is world famous for the world’s largest otters, giant Black Caiman and the massive Victoria amazonica – the world’s largest water lily pad that can support the weight of a child.
  • The Rupunui was also the home of celebrated conservationist Diane McTurt who grew up at a nearby ranch and gained international acclaim for her work in rescuing orphaned Giant Otters whose parents were killed for the fur trade. Having reared and released over 50 baby otters, her efforts have been crucial in protecting this endangered species.
  • Birding is outstanding along the Rupunui and we are likely to record over 30 of the regions 450 species before we reach a trailhead that accesses a mile long oxbow lake. Hiking along a classic flooded forest trail frequented by jaguars, we suddenly come upon Victoria amazonica – one of the most amazing plants on Earth.
  • Over a dozen species of water birds converge here in the late afternoon and provide a beautiful display for our cameras.
  • As sunset approaches, we return along the trail to our boat and cruise back to Caiman House for a good dinner.
  • It’s been a pretty spectacular day, but it’s not over yet as we go back on the Rupunui after dark to spot, contain, measure and tag the four species of caiman found here as part of an ongoing research project.
  • Crocodilians are some of the largest reptiles on the planet and are sources of fascination and fear throughout the world. For some species there are still crucial gaps in our knowledge of even their most basic life processes (e.g., individual growth rates, size-at-age patterns). One such species for which some basic knowledge is lacking is the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), the largest member of the Alligatoridae and the largest predator in the Amazon ecosystem.
  • Students on this trip will have their wildest experience of all, and stories to tell their grandchildren, as they join in this hands-on research project under the guidance of expert naturalists to guarantee their safety.
  • After a late night of spotting, containing and tagging caiman, we head back to Caiman House for a good nights sleep.

Overnight: Caiman House, Rupunui River

Highlights: Giant Anteater Safari / Makushi Village Life / Caiman Research Project

  • We’re all up before dawn this morning marveling at the firmament of stars in the crystal clear sky and sipping hot coffee or hot chocolate before boarding open-air vehicles for a dawn safari.
  • This is a magical time of day on the open savannah as the cool night air allows for several hours of bird spotting before the rising sun warms the landscape.
  • While it’s easy to spot and identify 30 or more species of birds in the savannah, including the massive Jabiru Stork, the real attraction here is the Giant Anteater – the world’s largest.
  • All eyes will be scanning the landscape for these surprisingly fast paced nocturnal mammals as they end their nights foraging and start looking for a shady place to sleep away the heat of the day. Once settled in under a tree with their huge bushy tails further concealing their bodies, the Giant Anteater is virtually impossible to detect from the surrounding landscape.
  • It takes an organized team effort to spot and enclose the swift footed Giant Anteater so guests can get close enough for photos. To assist, the Makushi lodge staff join us as well as a Makushi ‘Vaquero’ (Cowboy) that helps locate anteaters in the vast savannah and rounds one up for us like a cattle rancher.
  • Returning to Caiman House for a hearty breakfast we will visit a nearby Makushi Amerindian village and engage with the students in a cross-cultural learning session at their village school. It’s easy to communicate in Guyana as it was a former British colony and almost everyone speaks English.
  • Returning to our lodge for lunch we will have a talk on the research projects underway here and how our findings fit into the database.
  • Students will now have some free time to wash their laundry, catch up on journals, cool down in the river or chill out in hammocks until dinner and another exciting night of caiman catching for the research project. Though not often seen, the Rupunui is also home to the giant anaconda – the world’s largest snake by weight.

Overnight: Caiman House, Rupunui River

Highlights: Giant Otters / Makushi culture

  • Right after breakfast this morning, we pack our bags and bid a fond farewell to our friends at Caiman House before setting off by boat down the Rupunui River in search of Giant Otters and other wildlife as we cruise our way to our next destination.
  • After an hour on the river, we come ashore and transfer to air con vehicles for a few hours drive through the open savannah lands to the village of Surama.
  • Here we will enjoy lunch and have a full afternoon to learn about the fascinating culture of the Makushi Tribe, a tribe that makes up 6,000 linguistically and culturally distinct peoples spread out over 20 villages.
  • As part of a community eco tourism project, the Surama villagers have set up Atta Lodge which originally was just hammock accommodation, but now has Makusha-styled lodges with full bathrooms.
  • Today we will learn about traditional cassava processing, weaving, hammock making and Makusha song and dance for a wonderful full immersion into Amerindian culture.

Overnight: Atta Lodge, Surama

Highlights: Cock of the Rock Trail / Canopy Walkway / Night Walk

  • We’ll get an early start this morning to try catching a glimpse of one of Guyana’s most enigmatic birds – the spectacularly crested and brilliantly plumed Cock of the Rock.
  • Just a 30-min. drive from Atta Lodge, a short trail leads up through a popular nesting area for this bird, but you need to be early to see them. There is also a Harpy eagle nest site nearby.
  • We now drive one hour to Guyana’s famous canopy walkway that offers visitors a unique look at the flora and fauna of the Amazon Rainforest. This 550 ft. mid-canopy walkway is made up of five sturdy suspension bridges and four staging platforms up to 98 feet above the forest floor.
  • Visitors commonly see parrots, toucans and macaws from the walkway, depending on the fruiting season and sometimes the elusive sloth.
  • Descending from the walkway, we drive another hour to the famous Iwokrama Nature Reserve on the Essequibo River. This is Guyana’s largest river draining the biggest watershed between Venezuela’s Orinoco River and the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Checking in to Iwokrama River Lodge, we will enjoy lunch and have an afternoon to cool down in the many river pools and waterfalls of the Essequibo.
  • This was a significant cultural site for Amerindian peoples in the past as testified by the many 7,000 to 12,000 year old petroglyphs carved in the bedrock that we can see while swimming.
  • The Iwokrama Forest and surrounding North Rupununi Wetlands act as a convergence point for three diverse ecosystems – the Pantanal, the Amazonian and the Guiana Shield ecosystems. The resulting biodiversity is unmatched for the highest recorded densities of fishes and bats in the world.
  • Iwokrama will offer us our best opportunities for spotting jaguars and ocelots as well as many other Amazon forest species.
  • After dinner and after dark, we will have an expert naturalist take us on an amazing night walk through the rainforest with torches. Expect to meet the closest thing to aliens we have on our planet.

Overnight: Iwokrama River Lodge

Highlights: Sunrise birding on the Essequibo River / Closing feast & ceremony

  • We rise early to hike some nearby trails in search of jaguar and monkeys followed by a dawn birding safari by boat along the intimate channels and islands of the Essequibo River.
  • After a few hours of taking in the magical beauty of this place during the coolest hours, we will return to our lodge for brunch and laze away the heat of the day in the cool comfort of a hammock or some delightful river rapids running over smooth bedrock.
  • This is our last night in the wilds of Guyana and we will celebrate it with a special dinner and a closing candle ceremony where each student can reflect back on their most amazing moments.

Overnight: Iwokrama Lodge, Essequibo River

Departure

  • Right after breakfast this morning, we pack up and board a charter Roraima Air flight to Guyana’s international airport for connecting flights home.
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