U.S. / Georgetown, Guyana
Fly independently to Georgetown, Guyana, where we overnight at the Cara Lodge. (Meals Aloft)
Georgetown / Kaieteur Falls / Iwokrama Rainforest
After breakfast, enjoy a briefing on our activities by our knowledgeable Expedition Leader. Transfer to the airport for our charter flight to magnificent Kaieteur Falls. Secluded and spectacular, Kaieteur receives few visitors, so it feels as if our small group are the only explorers clambering over the rocks around the falls. First seen by Europeans in 1870, Kaieteur flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge — at 822 feet a drop five times higher than Niagara Falls. Legends from the local Patamona tribe tell that Kai, one of the tribe’s chiefs (after whom the falls is named), canoed over the falls in an act of self sacrifice that he believed would save the tribe from being destroyed by the savage Caribishi. Kaieteur supports a unique micro-environment with tank bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny golden frog spends its entire life. Our naturalist will lead a stroll through the lush wilderness in search of the magnificent Guianan cock-of-the-rock. Lucky visitors may spot Kaieteur swifts and makonaima birds, which nest under the vast shelf of rock carved by the centuries of water, hidden behind the eternal curtain of falling water. Enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding another charter flight to Iwokrama. Spend two nights at the Iwokrama River Lodge, where the calls of long-tailed potoo, zigzag heron or blackish nightjar fill the night skies. Our river-view cabins feature wrap-around verandahs with hammocks to relax during the day and enjoy the nighttime symphony of sound. (B,L,D)
This morning a ranger joins our small group Guyana tour on a walk through the vast wilderness of the Iwokrama Rainforest. Established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, this protected area is the heart of one of the last untouched tropical forests of the world — The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Morning and afternoon excursions on forest trails and along the river are an opportunity to observe diverse bird species including capunchinbird, black nunbird, chestnut-rumped woodcreeper, brown-bellied antwren, spot-tailed antwren, Todd’s antwren, spotted puffbird, Guianan cock-of-the-rock, Guianan red cotinga, rufous-crowned elaenia, bronzy jacamar, chestnut woodpecker, gray antbird and strong-billed woodcreeper. Other neotropical species which inhabit the forest include white-winged potoo, rufous potoo and rufous-winged ground-cuckoo. After dinner at the lodge, set out on a river excursion, searching for caiman, snakes, tree frogs, capybara and maybe even jaguar. (B,L,D)
Iwokrama Rainforest / Atta Rainforest Lodge
Stroll paths along the river as dawn breaks in Iwokrama, a time when the wildlife will be most active before the heat of the day. After breakfast, drive through the forest, stopping in areas that are known observation points for the elusive jaguar. Iwokrama has gained an international reputation for its healthy jaguar populations which have a habit of ignoring curious humans. No promises, but many have been lucky! Check in to the Atta Rainforest Lodge and enjoy lunch. Our afternoon excursion takes us to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, suspended 115 feet above the forest floor. Explore the mid and upper canopy as darkness settles over the lush jungle. While birdlife abounds in the area, we also look for Guianan saki monkey, black spider monkey and two-toed sloth. (B,L,D)
Atta Rainforest Lodge / Rupununi Savannah
This morning, welcome the dawn chorus from the tree-tops on the canopy walkway before departing the Atta Rainforest Lodge. Our Bedford truck follows a trail to a hotspot known to locals as the best place to find nesting Guianan cock-of-the-rock. Continue to Rock View Lodge, our home for two nights, where the Annai savannah meets the forest-covered foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. Our lodge’s tropical gardens and flowering trees attract a spectacular variety of nectar feeders and frugivores. Amazonian tropical, amethyst woodstar, white-chinned sapphire, long-billed starthroat and several hermits patrol the grounds. Nearby patches of forest are home to Amazonian scrub flycatcher, rufous-browed peppershrike and a variety of antbirds, which we search for during our afternoon naturalist-guided walk. At dusk, as nightjars and nighthawks tumble over the grasslands, look for the Nacunda nighthawk and white-tailed nightjar. (B,L,D)
Rupununi Savannah: Surama Village & Burro Burro River
Our 4x4 transports us to the Amerindian village of Surama, where these members of the Macushi tribe still observe many of their traditional practices. This remote village is situated on a small savannah, deep in the rainforest and surrounded by forest clad hills. One of the warm locals leads our escorted tour of the village, allowing us to visit the school, medical center, church and village homes. After lunch, we make our way to the Burro Burro River. Aboard a skillfully guided paddleboat, enjoy a quiet afternoon listening to the songs of forest birds. Search the banks for giant river otter, tapir, tayra and black spider monkey before returning to Rock View Lodge. (B,L,D)
At dawn, hike through the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains on the Panorama Trail, where our guide may point out cinereous mourner, Finsch’s euphonia, reddish hermit, rufous-bellied antwren, and green-tailed and yellow-billed jacamar. The views across the savannah and villages as the sun rises are spectacular! Fly back to Georgetown and visit the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, where we hope to spot the blood-colored woodpecker, along with rate macaw and parrot species. Spend tonight at the Cara Lodge. (B,L,D)
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad / Asa Wright Nature Center
Say good-bye to our friends in Guyana and board scheduled flights to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The continental origin and proximity of Trinidad to South America, along with its varied habitats, has resulted in an extremely diverse biota. Species lists for this island are impressive, including 97 native mammals, 400 birds, 55 reptiles, 25 amphibians, and 617 butterflies, as well as over 2,200 species of flowering plants! No other area in the West Indies can match this spectacular species diversity. Trinidad is 50 miles long by about 37 miles wide, and dominated by the Northern Range, which rises to about 3,000 feet and was historically covered by tropical rainforest. Here, in this lush part of this beautiful island, we find the magical Asa Wright Nature Center. Asa Wright is a hotspot for birding in the neotropics, and the sounds of myriad songbirds fill the air. See a variety of colorful tropical birds including such gems as the bay-headed tanager and the tufted coquette hummingbird. Enjoy a leisurely walk along trails graced by tropical flowers in search of manakins and bellbirds, whose haunting calls are synonymous with the sounds of the rainforest. Even while relaxing on the center’s veranda can be an ornithological adventure — white-chested emerald, white-necked jacobin, copper-rumped, green honeycreeper, purple honeycreeper and great kiskadee among the species that can be easily seen. (B,L,D)
Asa Wright Nature Center
Awake to the raucous noise of the crested oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. Begin with a naturalist-guided tour of the trails traversing this rich wildlife sanctuary. On our introductory walk, look for violaceous trogon, channel-billed toucan, chestnut woodpecker, white-bearded manakin, bearded bellbird, and turquoise and bay-headed tanager. The Nature Center is situated in a typical valley of Trinidad’s Northern Range, where traditionally coffee, cocoa and citrus plantations were located and today many of these plants are maintained. Natural secondary growth has taken over and festooned the abandoned plantation vegetation with vines and epiphytes to produce an effect of being deep in a tropical rainforest. According to the time of year you travel to Trinidad and Guyana with International Expeditions, different afternoon excursions will be offered while at the Asa Wright Nature Center to coincide with the best wildlife viewing for that season. (B,L,D)
January & October Guyana Tour Groups
Explore the Aripo savannah, the last remaining savannah on the island of Trinidad. This sensitive ecosystem has been a nature reserve since 1934, and is home to 260 species of birds and 243 species of flora, many of which are rarely seen anywhere else in Trinidad. Colonies of bats can be seen roosting in the abandoned US WWII military bunker.
April Guyana Tour Groups
Travel to Matura Beach to watch nesting leatherback sea turtles. Leatherback sea turtles are the world’s largest sea turtle and third largest reptile. During the spring and summer, females haul themselves onto the beaches of Trinidad to lay eggs in the sand. You have the unique opportunity to visit Matura Beach and observe the turtles as well as research going on at the time.
Asa Wright Nature Center
This morning visit Dunston Cave, home of the most accessible colony of oilbirds in the world. Oilbirds are the only nocturnal, fruit-eating birds in the world. Explore the famous Caroni Marsh for an opportunity to observe neotropic cormorant, anhinga, osprey, striated heron, white-cheeked pintail, bicolored conebill and red-capped cardinal could be among the new species seen here. This mangrove forest is home to several species of mangroves, showing classic examples of plant adaptation in this unique brackish water environment. The highlight of our day will be watching the spectacular flight of scarlet ibises returning to their mangrove roosts at dusk — one of the nature’s most dramatic moments. Returning to the boat dock, search the mangrove-lined channels for the mysterious sounding common potoo before returning to the Asa Wright Nature Center. (B,L,D)
Asa Wright Nature Center / Port of Spain / U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Port of Spain for independent flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)