Birding Tour Guyana: Lost World – Guiana Shield Specialists and Sun Parakeet
Birding Tour Guyana: Lost World – Guiana Shield Specialists and Sun Parakeet
Guyana conjures up a vision of one of the last fantastic places on earth that still holds incredible landscapes covered by thousands of miles of untouched rainforest, pristine forest rivers, lakes with giant water lilies, rolling grassland and savannas, and magnificent, breathtaking waterfalls. Guyana gives visitors the sensation of being in a lost world.
Guianan Cock-of-the-rock is one of the key species we search for on this trip.
This relatively small country found in northeast South America has become a mandatory destination for adventurous birders as it includes many species that are hard to find in adjacent South American countries, such as Capuchinbird, Black Nunbird, Crimson Fruitcrow, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Waved Woodpecker, Black Curassow, Crestless Curassow, Bearded Tachuri, Red-fan Parrot, and Rufous and White-winged Potoos. It also offers great chances for Harpy Eagle if there are active nests in the area; with the help of our Birding Ecotours leaders and local guides we will do the best to find this most-wanted bird. In addition Guyana offers a unique set of species called Guiana Shield specialists, including Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Trogon, Guianan Red Cotinga, Guianan Streaked Antwren, and Guianan Puffbird, and there are good chances for some forest species including White-plumed Antbird, Rufous-throated Antbird, and with luck Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo.
Our 14-day tour is designed to explore the best that the country has to offer to birders in two parts. The first part includes exploring the Kaieteur Falls and the lek of the gorgeous Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, the coast of Georgetown looking for the localized Rufous Crab Hawk and Scarlet Ibis, and the rainforests of Iwokrama River Lodge, Atta Rainforest Lodge with the magnificent Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, and Surama Eco-Lodge. The second part of the trip is focused on long 4×4 drives exploring remote Amerindian communities in search of two localized, endangered, and most-wanted species, Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin. We will make all possible efforts to provide you with these unique species as well as with the localized Rio Branco Antbird and Hoary-throated Spinetail.
Finally, Guyana also offers visitors good chances to encounter interesting wildlife, and sightings of Giant Otter, Giant Anteater, and even Puma and Jaguar are not uncommon in this fantastic country.
We may get lucky with a Puma sighting (photo John Christian)!
Itinerary (14 days/13 nights)
Day 1. Arrival at Georgetown and transfer to the hotel
You will arrive at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, located 25 miles south of the capital city, Georgetown, meet our local representative, and transfer to the hotel. Dinner is on your own account,
Overnight: Cara Lodge, Georgetown
Day 2. Mahaica River, Mudflats and Georgetown Botanical Gardens
Today we will have an early start to head to the Atlantic coast and check the mudflats for the beautiful Scarlet Ibis. We will continue towards the village of Mahaica, where we will take a boat trip along the Mahaica River. Among our targets will be Guyana’s national bird, the bizarre and distinctive Hoatzin. We will also look for a host of other species, including Rufous Crab Hawk, a localized Guyana specialty. Other birds include Black-collared Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Long-winged Harrier, Barred Antshrike, Silvered Antbird, Striped Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Green-tailed Jacamar, Blood-colored Woodpecker, White-bellied Piculet, Mangrove Rail, and Mangrove Cuckoo. Depending on the level of the tide we may be able to check the shoreline for waders, including White-rumped Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, and other coastal and typical aquatic species such as White-cheeked Pintail, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal, Gull-billed, and Least Terns, and Brown Pelican.
After lunch we will visit the famous Georgetown Botanical Gardens. This parkland area with open grass, scattered trees, bushes, and several ponds is famous for holding good numbers of species, including the localized Blood-colored Woodpecker. In addition we will look for White-bellied Piculet, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, the impressive Toco Toucan, Black-capped Donacobious, Wing-barred Seedeater, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Black-collared Hawk, and a colorful and noisy selection of parrots, including Red-shouldered Macaw, Orange-winged Amazon, Yellow-crowned Amazon, Southern Mealy Amazon, and Festive Amazon.
Flowering trees can provide hummingbirds such as Black-throated Mango, White-chested Emerald, and Plain-bellied Emerald.
Overnight: Cara Lodge, Georgetown
The Georgetown Botanical Gardens usually hold a selection of parrots such as these Southern Mealy Amazons.
Day 3. Kaieteur Falls – Iwokrama River Lodge
After breakfast at our hotel we will take a chartered flight over unspoiled pristine forest to Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Though Venezuela’s Angel Falls is greater in total height, its filamentous drop occurs by stages, whereas Kaieteur is a single, massive, thundering cascade 100 meters (328 feet) wide as the Potaro River makes a sheer drop of 228 meters (748 feet), nearly five times the height of Niagara Falls. The spectacle is even more impressive because of its remoteness; it is altogether possible that we will be the only people viewing it. Here we hope to find White-chinned and White-tipped Swifts swirling over the gorge. The other two targets are the astonishingly colorful Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and the most-wanted Orange-breasted Falcon. We should also be able to find the rare and endemic Beebe’s Rocket Frog that lives in water held in the leaves of giant bromeliad plants.
Then our flight will take us to Fairview Village, from where we will be transferred to Iwokrama River Lodge in the heart of Guyana’s beautiful rainforest. Arriving at the lodge by 3:00 p.m. we will settle in at our accommodation. During the late afternoon we will head out before dark. This will be our first opportunity to look for the localized White-winged Potoo. Returning after dark will give us the opportunity for night spotting. Even though wildlife is shy we have had impressive sightings in the past including Kinkajou, Jaguar, Lowland Tapir, Green Anaconda, Ocelot, and even Puma. The impressive forest surrounding the lodge protects a unique ecosystem in the heart of the Guiana Shield, where Amazonian and Guianan flora and fauna form one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the world. Our comfortable lodge has modern cabins, each with a balcony that overlooks the beautiful Essequibo River. There will be plenty to look at, with Pied Plover, Black-collared and White-winged Swallows over the river and a host of species in the surrounding forest edges. With luck we may come across Spotted Antpitta, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Ringed and Waved Woodpeckers, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, Black-necked and Green Aracaris, and Guianan Toucanet, as well as Red-rumped Agouti and Guianan Red Howler Monkey, which are common forest dwellers here.
Overnight: Iwokrama River Lodge, Kurupukari Crossing
Day 4. Birding the Kurupukari White Sand Forest
After an early breakfast we will drive to the White Sand Forest just across the Essequibo River from our base. This unique habitat offers a good variety of white sand specialists, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Black Manakin, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Pale-bellied Mourner, Bronzy Jacamar, with luck Sapphire-rumped Parrotlet, and Lilac-tailed Parrotlet. The forest also harbors Black-headed Antbird, Black-throated Antbird, Spot-winged Antbird, Double-banded Pygmy Tyrant, Pelzeln’s Tody-Tyrant, Red-shouldered Tanager, Guianan Schiffornis, McConnell’s Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Plain-crowned Spinetail, Dusky Parrot, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, and, with good fortune the stunning Guianan Red Cotinga and Red-billed Woodcreeper. We will return to our lodge for lunch
In the afternoon we will walk the trails, hoping for an active ant swarm, which could provide sought-after species like White-plumed Antbird, Spotted Antpitta, Rufous-throated Antbird, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, and if we are lucky the seldom-seen Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo.
Overnight: Iwokrama River Lodge, Kurupukari Crossing
Day 5. Iwokrama River Lodge to Atta Rainforest Lodge
Today we will have an early start leaving Iwokrama River Lodge to explore the road to Atta Rainforest Lodge, looking for species such as Black Curassow, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Guianan Toucanet, and Guianan Red, Purple-breasted, Pompadour, and Spangled Cotingas. Canopy flocks can also produce Ash-winged Antwren, Todd’s Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Buff-cheeked Greenlet, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Olive-green Tyrannulet, Zimmer’s Flatbill, Guianan Tyrannulet, Yellow-throated Flycatcher, and Guianan Puffbird. Before we arrive at our lodge we will look for Rufous Potoo. We have found the day roost for this very rare and elusive bird, and we will do our best to provide good views for our clients. After arrival at Atta Rainforest Lodge we will bird forest trails from the lodge during the afternoon.
Overnight: Atta Rainforest Lodge
Guianan Red Cotinga should be one of the many cotinga species on display at Atta Rainforest Lodge (photo John Christian).
Day 6. Atta Rainforest Lodge and Iwokrama Canopy Walkway
Another early start to visit the famous Iwokrama Canopy Walkway to look for passing flocks of canopy-dwelling species. Time will be spent looking for Todd’s Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant, Guianan Toucanet, Green Aracari, Painted Parakeet, Screaming Piha, Black-headed Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Dusky Purpletuft, Paradise Tanager, Opal-rumped Tanager, Golden-sided Euphonia, Purple and Green Honeycreepers, Black-faced Dacnis, and Black Nunbird. This entire morning will involve birding on the canopy walkway and the trails around the lodge. This wonderful area is famous for its variety of colorful cotingas, and if we can locate a few fruiting trees, we will be in for an avian spectacle with possibilities of Pompadour, Purple-breasted, and Guianan Red Cotingas as well as White Bellbird and the most-wanted Crimson Fruitcrow. In the forest that surrounds the lodge we will look for Red-legged and Variegated Tinamous, Black-faced Hawk, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Cayenne Jay, Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Waved Woodpecker, and Chestnut and Red-necked Woodpeckers, as well as Guiana Spider Monkey and White-faced Saki.
The beautiful Green Honeycreeper
After lunch we will spend the afternoon birding on the Kurupukari-Annai public road through the Iwokrama Forest. We can try again for Black Manakin and Rufous-crowned Elaenia as well as Blue-backed Tanager, Swallow winged Puffbird, Black-chinned, Scale-backed, and Grey Antbirds, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Amazonian and Mouse-colored Antshrikes, Reddish Hermit, Tiny Tyrant Manakin, Rose-breasted Chat, Black and Red-throated Caracaras, Guianan Trogon, Golden-winged Parakeet, and Yellow-green Grosbeak.
Early in the evening on our way back to Atta Lodge we will use a spotlight to do some night birding, mainly looking for owls and potoos. Next to a small wetland we could find Sunbittern, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher, and Crimson Topaz. This is a great place to look for potoos including White-winged, Rufous, Great, Common, and Long-tailed Potoos plus Spectacled and Crested Owls.
Overnight: Atta Rainforest Lodge
Day 7. Atta Rainforest Lodge to Surama Eco-Lodge
We’ll have another early start to explore the environs of Atta Rainforest Lodge before breakfast for one last time. Our birding adventure continues with a transfer to Surama Eco-Lodge, birding on the way. We will scan treetops for Marail Guan, Green Aracari, Guianan Puffbird, Dusky Purpletuft, Black-spotted Barbet, Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Golden-collared Woodpecker, Black-bellied Cuckoo, Green Oropendola, and Crimson Fruitcrow.
The area around Surama Eco-Lodge can be good for Ornate Hawk-Eagle (photo John Christian).
After lunch we will bird along the forest edges and visit nearby roosts of Great Potoo. We may find Little Chachalaca, Grassland Sparrow, Wedge-tailed Grass Finch, Forest Elaenia, White-throated Toucan, Neotropical Palm Swift, and Finsch’s Euphonia, and time permitting we will try for Ocellated Crake. At dusk White-tailed Nightjar, Least Nighthawk, Lesser Nighthawk, and Tropical and Tawny-bellied Screech Owls will hopefully be found near to the lodge.
Overnight: Surama Eco-Lodge, Surama
Day 8. Surama area, birding the Harpy Eagle trail
Today will be dedicated to looking for Harpy Eagle (if there is an active nest we might get a chance). A 30-minute drive from Surama Eco-Lodge will bring us to the Harpy Eagle trail. We will walk for an hour on a flat trail through virgin rainforest and hope to see Harpy Eagle at its nest. On past trips we have witnessed the adults bringing prey to the nest including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, macaws, and agouti. We also have a stakeout roost for Long-tailed Potoo and Tawny-bellied Screech Owl. Forest birding includes Rufous-bellied Antwren, Collared Puffbird, White-throated Manakin, Cinnamon-crested Spadebill, and Common Scale-backed Antbird.
Overnight: Surama Eco-Lodge, Surama
The magnificent Harpy Eagle will hopefully be seen around Surama Eco-Lodge.
Day 9. Surama to Caiman House – Northern Rupununi
This is our final morning birding forest trails near Surama. We will visit a nearby Ornate Hawk-Eagle nest. This will also give us the opportunity to look for understory skulkers such as White-plumed and Rufous-throated Antbird, Spotted Antpitta, Black-throated Antshrike, and Rufous-bellied Antwren again. After lunch we will depart for Caiman House. Our journey will take us across the North Rupununi Savannah. The road we’ll follow skirts numerous gallery forests and wetlands, offering great views of a variety of herons, ducks, Jabiru, Pinnated Bittern, Plumbeous Seedeater, Bicolored Wren, Grey Seedeater, Grassland Yellow Finch, Yellowish Pipit, White-fringed Antwren, Crested Bobwhite, Green-rumped Parrotlet, the colorful Orange-backed Troupial, and the agile Aplomado Falcon. On the drive we will make several stops to look for Crested Doradito and Bearded Tachuri, two key species on our target list. This is also the best chance of seeing Giant Anteater. We have a high success rate of spotting these giants on our tours. We will then continue our journey to Caiman House, where we hope to arrive by 6:00 p.m. in time for check in and enjoying dinner.
Overnight: Caiman House, Yupukari
Aplomado Falcon can be seen across the North Rupununi Savannah.
Day 10. Caiman House, Rupununi River excursion
This morning we will start with a cup of coffee before heading out by boat on the Rupununi River. We will be in small boats powered by a 15hps engine as we head downstream. Depending on the water level we will visit some of the many oxbow lakes found in this area and focus on seeing the rare Crestless Curassow; our best chances of seeing this bird are along the river banks as the birds come to drink water in the morning. We are also likely to find Green-and-rufous and Amazon Kingfishers, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Agami and Capped Herons, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Pied Plover, Boat-billed Heron, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, and Spot-breasted Woodpecker. In addition we may be lucky enough to see Giant Otter, Capybara, Black Caiman, Spectacled Caiman, and many species of monkeys. We will return for lunch back at the lodge.
During the afternoon as the temperature cools down we will visit nearby gallery forest to look for White-tailed Nightjar, Spot-tailed Nightjar, and Rufous Nightjar. This is also a good opportunity to see hundreds of Least and Lesser Nighthawks as they feed at dusk.
Overnight: Caiman House, Yupukari
Day 11. Caiman House to Karasabai Village
Moving on, today we head for Karasabai Village, a distant border village perched between the northern Rupununi Savannah and Pakaraima Mountains along the Brazilian border. Here is where we are delighted to have a rare opportunity to see the highly endangered Sun Parakeet. In the early 1990s this species was on the brink of extinction due to extreme pressures from the pet trade, until local villagers took aggressive action to rehabilitate the population. A mere seven individuals that remained at that time have struggled to regain their former numbers, but signs are hopeful and the current population counts suggests that at least 300 birds are thriving in the area today. Karasabai Village is well off the standard tourist track, offering a government guesthouse with adequate but sparse accommodations for our group. Nonetheless local hospitality reigns, and when not on the trail looking for Sun Parakeet we’ll have a great opportunity to meet and interact with an Amerindian community that sees very few tourists and is eager to share their stories and learn about a world outside their own. We will see plenty of other species during the day, but our main focus will be on finding and observing this gorgeous parakeet. After seeing the Sun Parakeet we will enjoy a delightful lunch before departing Karasabai Village in the afternoon and continue to Manari Ranch near the town of Lethem.
Overnight: Manari Ranch, Lethem
The beautiful and rare Sun Parakeet (photo John Christian)
Day 12. Full day tour for Red Siskin
Today we leave the lodge very early at 3:00 a.m. in our 4x4s to drive roughly 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast of Lethem. The drive will take us about six hours depending on what we see along the way. The road is actually a traffic-less sand track meandering across the hilly savannas with many opportunities for spontaneous birdwatching stops. We can scan numerous wetland areas for Maguari Stork, Brazilian Teal, White-tailed Hawk, Double-striped Thick-knee, and Bearded Tachuri. Along the way we pass the Amerindian communities of St. Ignatius and Shulinab, where the traditional homes and lifestyles of Amerindian Guyana are on display and remind us just how far we’ve come. We will meet one of our local guides who has been studying the rare and localized Red Siskin, a bird only discovered in Guyana in 2000 and one of the holy grails of South American ornithology.
Apart from the magnificent Red Siskin we will look for Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin and Sharp-tailed Ibis; both are most-wanted species, so our efforts will be concentrated on seeing these special birds, although many other species will be seen while searching for these targets. In the surrounding areas we could find Little Chachalaca, Black-collared Hawk, Amazonian Scrub Flycatcher, Plain-crested Elaenia, Pale-tipped Inezia, Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-naped Xenopsaris, Burnished Buff Tanager, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Glittering-throated Emerald, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Hooded Tanager, Vermilion Flycatcher, and Flavescent Warbler. We will enjoy a delightful lunch at Dadanawa Ranch before making our way back across the savanna to Manari Ranch.
Overnight: Manari Ranch, Lethem
Red Siskin will be our target southeast of Lethem (photo John Christian).
Day 13. Takutu and Ireng Rivers excursion, flight to Georgetown
Another early morning start will have us leave our delightful base where we have access to the dry scrub and savanna alongside the Takutu and Ireng Rivers. Once again our 4x4s will come into play as we have to get to an area where two highly restricted and poorly known species occur, namely Hoary-throated Spinetail, and Rio Branco Antbird. We will explore wetlands as well as the dry desert for a variety of species such as Pinnated Bittern, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Masked Duck, Maguari Stork, Double-striped Thick-knee, South American Snipe, Pied-billed and Least Grebes, Crested Bobwhite, Pearl Kite, White-tailed Kite, Savanna Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Brown-throated Parakeet, Red-bellied Macaw, Pale-legged Hornero, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Sooty-capped Hermit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Green-tailed Jacamar, White-bellied Piculet, Black-crested and Barred Antshrikes, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive and Ochre-lored Flatbills, Vermilion, Short-crested, and Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellowish Pipit, and Orange-backed Troupial. Hopefully with two exceptionally rare birds under our belts we will return to our lodge for lunch. After lunch we will head to the Lethem Airport to board our flight to Georgetown.
Overnight: Georgetown Hotel
Double-striped Thick-knee should hopefully be seen on this tour.
Day 14. Georgetown, your international flight home
You will be escorted to the international airport to connect with your flight home.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.Download Itinerary
Guyana Custom Tour Trip Report, January 2020
18 – 27 JANUARY 2020
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This was the first Neotropical 2020 Birding Ecotours trip, a shortened version of our set-departure Guyana trip. With only 10 days available we did our best to provide a great experience in this amazing country. Guyana, probably one of the least-known countries in South America, is synonymous of wilderness. With most of its forest still untouched, the country provides amazing landscapes, stunning wildlife, and great adventure. Our trip was focused on finding most of the Guiana Shield specialties, such as Guianan Trogon, Guianan Puffbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Tyrannulet, Guianan Streaked Antwren, and Todd’s Antwren. In addition to this selection of birds Guyana is great for many species that are difficult to see in other countries, such as Blood-colored Woodpecker, White-bellied Piculet, Rufous Crab Hawk, Crimson Fruitcrow, Black Nunbird, Capuchinbird, Grey-winged Trumpeter, White-winged Potoo, Bearded Tachuri, Black Curassow, Crestless Curassow, Crimson Topaz, and Red-and-black Grosbeak, and we saw all these species remarkably well during our 10-day trip.
Even though Guyana is a great destination the access to some birding and wildlife hotspots is not well developed, which increases the number of flights to take in order to reduce driving time and be able to explore the major number of sites in a 10- or 14-day trip. During this trip we were able to explore the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, the amazing Kaieteur Falls, the beautiful Rupununi Savanna in the south, and the Iwokrama Rainforest with the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway introducing us to many Guyana jewels. Please check our Guyana set-departure tour, which also includes an extension to look for Sun Parakeet, Red Siskin, Hoary-throated Spinetail, and Rio Branco Antbird.
Day 1, 18 January 2020. Arrival at Georgetown and transfer to Cara Lodge
We had a late arrive at Cheddi Jagan International Airport serving Georgetown and transferred to the beautiful Cara Lodge.
Day 2, 19 January 2020. Georgetown Botanical Gardens, Kaieteur National Park
We had an early start to drive to the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, which provides pleasant introductory birding to Guyana. We had a great morning, finding great species such as Toco Toucan, Red-shouldered Macaw, Festive Amazon, Yellow-crowned Amazon, Southern Mealy Amazon, Orange-winged Amazon, Black-necked Aracari, Yellow Oriole, Violaceous Euphonia, Bat Falcon, Cinnamon Attila, Black-capped Donacobious, Great Horned Owl roosting at daytime, and Snail Kite. Other finds included Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Grey-breasted Martin, House Wren, Tropical Kingbird, and Silver-beaked, Blue-grey, Palm, and Turquoise Tanagers. We were very lucky in finding two of the main targets for the Botanical Gardens, White-bellied Piculet and Blood-colored Woodpecker.
After two hours of intense birding and seeing West Indian Manatee in the ponds of the Georgetown Botanical Gardens as well we had found all our main targets and returned to Cara Lodge for breakfast. Then we were transferred to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport to take our round-trip flight to the Kaieteur Falls. The flight provided stunning views of hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest along the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers.
Kaieteur Falls is the world’s largest single-drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. It is about four times higher than Niagara Falls, and about twice the height of Victoria Falls with a height of 226 meters/741feet. Once we entered Kaieteur National Park we hiked to a waterfall viewpoint, where we had incredible views of Orange-breasted Falcon. After admiring the falls with excellent views we returned to the park headquarters after getting great views of another obligatory species in the country, the beautiful Guianan Cock-of-the-rock. On our flight back to Georgetown we had dramatic views of the falls from the plane. We enjoyed our tasty dinner at Cara Lodge to celebrate our first great day in Guyana.
Day 3, 20 January 2020. Flight to Lethem and 4×4 transfer to Karanambu Lodge
From Eugene Correia International Airport again we took a flight to Lethem, a remote town just on the border with Brazil in south-western Guyana. Here we were picked up by a 4×4 vehicle for a long drive to Karanambu Lodge in the northern Rupununi region. After lunch we went on a boat trip, which provided great birding with species such as Green Ibis, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Black Skimmer, Large-billed Tern, Sunbittern, Cocoi Heron, Great Black Hawk, Western Osprey, Boat-billed Heron, Capped Heron, Ringed, Green, and Amazon Kingfishers, Muscovy Duck, Pale-vented Pigeon, Wattled Jacana, and Jabiru.
A magical Guianan sunrise!
Day 4, 21 January 2020. Karanambu grasslands and boat rides along the Rupununi River
Today we explored the Rupununi grasslands, hoping for Giant Anteater and Bearded Tachuri. We had good luck with Bearded Tachuri, and this is probably the best place to see this species. We also found Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Short-crested Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Grassland Sparrow, Red-breasted Blackbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Wedge-tailed Grass Finch, Buff-necked Ibis, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, White-tailed Hawk, Plain-breasted and Common Ground Doves, Southern Lapwing, Pearl Kite, Savanna Hawk, and Grassland Yellow Finch. We checked a pond and saw two Pinnated Bitterns, White-faced Whistling Duck, and our second target of the morning, Crested Doradito. No matter how hard our trackers worked, though, we could not find the Giant Anteater, but we were fine with that since we had had brilliant views of it in Brazil last year. We returned to the lodge for a short break during the midday heat and enjoyed a nice break.
In the afternoon we made another boat trip, having great views of the species we had seen on the previous day plus Long-winged Harrier, Plumbeous Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Red-and-green Macaw, and brief but great views of Crestless Curassow. We also visited an oxbow lake to see the amazing Giant Water Lily (Victoria amazonica), the world’s largest water lily and the national flower of Guyana. At dusk we returned to the lodge, seeing Band-tailed Nighthawk and Tropical Screech Owl close to it.
Giant Water Lilies
Day 5, 22 January 2020. Capuchinbird lek and transfer to Surama Eco-Lodge
A short hike at dawn took us to the Capuchinbird trail at Karanambu Lodge. Just at dawn we heard the incredible call of this sought-after species, and it did not take long until we had two birds displaying above our heads. We thought the experience of having these birds displaying at the lek was an incredible experience as we left the lek in total ecstasy. We also found other great birds throughout the morning. The seldom-seen Tiny Hawk was seen beautifully, and in addition, we had good views of Spotted Puffbird, White-flanked Antwren, Chestnut Woodpecker, White-bellied Antbird, Olivaceous, Buff-throated, and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, Screaming Piha, Blue-backed Manakin, Lineated Woodpecker, and Green-backed Trogon.
We returned to the lodge to have breakfast and then we checked out to transfer by river and land to the Surama-Eco-Lodge. Our boat trip took us to the Ginep Landing, where we waited for our land transportation. While we waited we managed to see Green-tailed Jacamar, Green-backed Trogon, Northern Slaty Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, and Red-eyed Vireo. On the road trip we spotted a number of good species such as a pair of King Vultures perching by the road, Pied Water Tyrant, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Wood Stork, Cocoi Heron, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Scaled Pigeon, and Grey-lined Hawk.
After arrival at the Surama Eco-Lodge, a small lodge run by the indigenous community of Surama, we spent the afternoon exploring a trail where sometimes the shy Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo had been seen, but the trail was very quiet. We did, however, find Common Potoo and Least Nighthawk roosting at daytime, Great Tinamou, and a Tiny Tyrant-Manakin walking across the trail. On return to the lodge we saw several Crested Oropendolas and Yellow-rumped Caciques as well as Piratic Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Palm and Blue-grey Tanagers, Yellow-bellied Seedeaters, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-tipped Dove, and White-throated Toucan. The night was awesome, with both Spectacled and Crested Owl providing good views along the main trail.
Day 6, 23 January 2020. Birding around Surama Eco-Lodge
We spent the morning birding along the main road next to the lodge, where we had great views of Caica Parrot, Painted Parakeet, Black-headed Parrot, Red-throated and Yellow-headed Caracara, Violaceous Euphonia, Green Aracari, Band-rumped Swift, Green-backed Trogon, White-throated and Channel-billed Toucans, Lineated Woodpecker, Glittering-throated Emerald, Paradise Jacamar, and Black Nunbird. What a great morning!
We went to explore the famous Harpy Eagle trail, where a few years ago a Harpy Eagle nest had been active, but there had not been any recent records of this mythical species. However, the hike was well worth it as we found a splendid Long-tailed Potoo perching at daytime. The afternoon was rather quiet along the main trail, and a short canoe ride along the Burro-Burro River was not as productive as we had thought. But we had a fabulous morning indeed, with several lifers for everybody!
Day 7, 24 January 2020. Transfer to and birding at Atta Rainforest Lodge
We were very excited about our upcoming two full days at Atta Rainforest Lodge in the Iwokrama Forest. This was the place where we knew that we could find several of the Guiana Shield specialists, including some species that are hard to see elsewhere in Northeast South America.
We checked out of Surama Eco-Lodge and were transferred by land to Atta Rainforest Lodge. After a welcome drink and checking-in we were greeted by three Black Curassows in the lodge clearing, and flowering bushes attracted White-necked Jacobin, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, and Reddish Hermit. In the afternoon we explored a white-sand forest patch, where we had excellent views of Black Manakin, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, and the fabulous Pompadour Cotinga. Then we explored a trail where Rufous Potoo was roosting at daytime. We searched along a black-water stream next to the road, hoping to find the stunning Crimson Topaz, and after we had waited for some time we sadly saw the female only. Other birds here included Guianan Streaked Antwren and Black Nunbird.
Day 8, 25 January 2020. Iwokrama Canopy Walkway and Atta Rainforest Lodge area
This day will be long remembered by everybody who participated on the trip as one of the best Neotropical experiences ever had, as it was simply an amazing day. We started by walking to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, which not only provided good views of the endless canopy forest but also a good chance to encounter a number of Guiana Shield specialists. Along the way we managed to see a single Black Curassow and not long afterward a family of the most-wanted Grey-winged Trumpeters.
Once at the canopy platforms our first bird was Black-eared Fairy, which was followed by Guianan Trogon, Guianan Puffbird, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Golden-winged Parakeet, Red-and-green Macaw, Green Oropendola, Spangled Cotinga, Guianan Tyrannulet, Red-fan Parrot, Black-necked Aracari, Little Chachalaca, Blue-throated Piping Guan, and Todd’s Antwren. We explored the trail back to the lodge and enjoyed the most-wanted Black-faced Hawk and brief but good views of Spotted Antpitta. Other species seen included White-flanked Antwren, Cinereous Antshrike, Saturnine Antshrike, Mouse-colored Antshrike, Rufous-bellied Antwren, Brown-bellied Antwren, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, and the localized Waved Woodpecker among many other forest species. We also were lucky to find a small army ant swarm, which provided great views of White-plumed Antbird and Rufous-throated Antbird as well as White-chinned and Plain-brown Woodcreepers.
We returned to the lodge to get a shower before lunch after a great morning. After a short rest we gathered at the lodge clearing, waiting for Crimson Fruitcrow, but it did not make an appearance this afternoon. We returned to the white-sand forest, where this time we saw White-crowned Manakin, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, and Bright-rumped Attila. A short time later we spotted Golden-collared Woodpecker.
The day was ending, so the plan was to go back to the black-water stream and wait for the male Crimson Topaz. While waiting we were shocked by the unexpected appearance of a young Puma crossing the stream, using a fallen tree as bridge. This amazing animal did not look scared by us and remained on the log for a couple of minutes before it disappeared into the woods. After all this excitement we finally spotted a male Crimson Topaz showing briefly but in all its splendor. We were enjoying the hummer when I could not believe what I was seeing: A full-grown adult Puma with two young ones was crossing the road in front of us. I have seen Pumas in Patagonia in Chile, but after almost 20 years of exploring the Amazon Rainforest this is the first time I had the privilege of seeing this majestic creature in the forest.
Puma (photo by John Christian)
Puma (photo by John Christian)
And the day was still not over! We waited until it got dark and John played the tape of White-winged Potoo, which flew in quite high but right above our heads, allowing us to watch all its main features. Just before we returned to the lodge we finished the day with good views of Tawny-bellied Screech Owl. What a day!
Day 9, 26 January 2020. Birding around Atta Rainforest Lodge and flight to Georgetown
We had only a couple of hours at Atta Rainforest Lodge before we were transferred to Iwokrama River Lodge and from there to take our charter flight to Georgetown. We decided to spend those hours in the lodge clearing and scan all the trees arounds. The strategy paid off, finally giving us scope views of the most-wanted Crimson Fruitcrow. What a way to finish our stay at Atta Rainforest Lodge!
Not much that was exciting happened after we left the lodge and arrived at Iwokrama River Lodge. After lunch there we had some time to check the riverbank, enjoying views of Black Skimmer, Large-billed Tern, and Pied Plover among other usual suspects. Then we were transferred to the Fairview airstrip, which might be described as a dusty, smooth road in the middle of nowhere, to take our charter flight back to Georgetown. There were incredible views of the forest from the plane! We arrived at Georgetown with enough time to drive to a nearby coastline, where we found our last two targets for this trip, Scarlet Ibis and Rufous Crab Hawk. Back at Cara Lodge we had our last meal together and celebrated another great Birding Ecotours trip.
Day, 10. Transfer to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport
After breakfast we were transferred to the airport to connect with our international flights home.
Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species list included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.