International Expeditions guests Bill and Pam Daws just returned from our February Guyana tour, and were kind enough to share their favorite experiences. Nature travel often brings with it the unexpected, and Mr. and Mrs. Daws share what it is like when tour plans don’t go 100% according to plan.

My wife, Pam and I have fallen in love with eco-tours. We have taken previous tours with IE, so that when the Trinidad and Guyana tour became available we jumped on board. Although the trip started with a major disappointment when weather conditions required canceling the excursion to Kaieteur Falls. Did that ruin our trip? Absolutely not! We just flew directly to Iwokrama Reserve. The flight in small planes over the Guiana Shield allowed us to see the magnitude of the rainforest.

Iwokrama Lodge was everything we hoped for with rustic but very comfortable cabins, a delightful staff, great food, and of course, close views of a multitude of birds and wildlife. The guides were great and kept our days full. Ron Allicock our lead guide lived by his grandmother’s motto— “Don’t let the sun greet you before you greet it.” So we were up early and enjoying the forest.

Our Top 5 Guyana tour highlights included:

  1. A long walk thru forest to Turtle Mt. rewarded with spectacular views over the canopy as swallow tailed kites sailed over us and an orange breasted falcon raced by to perch in front of us. That even excited Ron.
  2. Walking the road between Iwokrama and Atta camp and seeing jaguar tracks. Pam and I also found the Guianan streaked antwren all by ourselves. Atta was also a wonderful place to stay with friendly staff and great food. Seeing the unbelievable orange of the Guianan cock-of-the-rock.
  3. Our visit to Ron’s home village, Surama, where his community of Macushi people are building a visitor lodge of their own. We met Ron’s parents and walked the rainforest. On the entry road, Ron showed us his spot among flowering shrubs where we were surrounded by hummingbirds of five species.
  4. Talks with guides and local people about the lack of recognition by the majority of Guianans that their wonderful rainforest resource exists.
  5. 170 species of birds, black caiman, anaconda, yellow bellied rat snake, giant river otter, red howler monkeys, black spider monkeys, and weeping capuchins.

Trinidad was also delightful. The Asa Wright Center was much more developed but had plenty of wild areas to see. Our guide, Mukesh and his uncle Ramdass were terrific hosts answering all our wildlife and cultural questions. I learned a lot about the Hindu culture of the island.

Our Top 5 Trinidad tour highlights included:

  1. Standing on the veranda and being face to face with hummingbirds and honeycreepers.
  2. The absolutely stunning change in color of the ruby topaz when he was sunlit. Like the cock-of-the-rock, no field guide illustration can do it justice. This alone was worth the price of admission!
  3. Sitting in the boat in Caroni Swamp and watching hundreds of scarlet ibis come to roost.
  4. Our last excursion to the savanna and seeing the dynamics of our new friends (fellow guests as well as guides) working together to help each other have a great experience. We also saw the savanna hawk one last time.
  5. 130 bird species, short tail bat, sack wing bat, fish eating bat, silky (pygmy) anteater, Cooks tree boa, yellow bellied puffer snake, four eyed fish, tree climbing crab, red mangrove crab, tiger lizard, common ground lizard, yellow throated stream frog, spectacled caiman, and red rumped agouti.

I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves nature travel and wants to see a really unspoiled place. My only caution is the obvious — it’s a rainforest. It rains. Be prepared to get wet and be flexible. As with all outdoor plans, the weather is a factor. Embrace it and you will have an experience of a lifetime.

Bill & Pam Daws
February 2012