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Birding in Guyana (1 Viewer)

Wolf Beam

Well-known member
No threads about birding in Guyana - how come?
From reading about this area of S. America I have learned of wonderful habitats.
Since English is the official language, should there not be a lot more interest in going there? Is it too unstable and crime ridden?
Any information on travelling in Guyana along with birding tips are welcome.
I plan a 4w trip to either Guyana or Venezuela early in 2012.

All the best
Wolf
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Guyana is just not known as a tourist destination. I've birded there on two occasions, about 8-9 years ago. Customs folks there see very few tourists and we got blank stares when we told them we were there for birdwatching. Most US citizens associate Guyana with the Jonestown tragedy. As our guide there reminded us after noticing we were nervously staring at the purple koolaid served after hiking up Turtle Mountain...Jim Jones, the perpetrator...was an American.

In the last few years Guyana has crept onto the radar of US tour companies. I believe some British companies are going there as well. There are 4-5 lodge locations that most tours use. When I was there, the main weakness at the time was lack of knowledgeable bird guides...especially those that worked well with groups. I believe there has been some improvement since then, or at least the big tour company guides are now familiar with the territory.

We managed about 260-270 species in 10 days birding on each trip, crippled as we were with subpar guiding we did find some nice birds. Highlight was crippling view and encounter with a magnificent Harpy Eagle while boating on the Essequibo (Sp?). After watching us watch it for several minutes the Eagle flew right over us maybe 20 feet above. (I always thought some of our group did look like monkeys.)

As far as I know Guyana is still politically stable, there is some crime just as there is in most locales. Tours there seem a little pricey, I imagine you can find a lot of the same birds in eastern Venezuela for a lower rate, although perhaps the Ven. govt has changed that.

If you want more details, just ask. However I'm pretty much unavailable until the 2nd week of June.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
If you look at this page and scroll down a fair bit, you will see a paragraph on Martyn Kenefick. I believe he has been a tour leader in Guiana in the past, and at least he should be able to provide some info.

Niels
 

Wolf Beam

Well-known member
Thanks Bill and Niels
As I'm more of an insect photographer than a bird watcher I'm used to do without skilled guides. However I do bird to some extent and most of the time I visit birding areas.
So Bill, which of the lodges did you appreciate the most? I'm both interested in forests and wetlands.

All the best
Wolf
 

jimforjim

Well-known member
Hi Wolf,

My wife & I were in Guyana about a year ago, primarily looking for birds. In Georgetown, a really good guy to hook up with is Andy Narine with Guyana Feather Friends (http://www.birdingguyana.gy/). I think he's pretty much known as being as knowledgeable about Guyanese birds as it gets - granted, that's a bit of a small pond, so to speak. We also spent time in the Rupununi, at Rewa village - http://www.rewaguyana.com. Rovin Alvin is an excellent guide there, but if you try to contact them, you must be patient in waiting for a response. We liked this place the most. We also stayed at Rockview Lodge for two nights, which was a lot higher end than Rewa, but had some weird vibes. Sadly, we only had 10 days in country; we'd have liked to have stayed longer. We saw upwards of 300 species in that time, with over 200 in 3 days in Rewa, including a Harpy Eagle nest.

Guyana isn't really that easy to get to, or around in, which I think factors in to why it's not that popular; it's only got 700,000 people total, and 90% of them are on the coast. From a birding standpoint, if you're looking for endemics, there really aren't any, although Andy thinks that there's a Piculet sub-species endemic. From a safety standpoint, we always felt secure, but we also didn't venture into areas that looked dodgy, and didn't walk around Georgetown after dark. It's a common-sense thing, really.

I agree with Bill that Guyana isn't cheap. A lot of this has to do with the fact that it's hard to transport goods to the interior. That may be changing soon, however: about the time we were there (Sept. 2009), a bridge linking Bon Fim in Brazil and Lethem in Guyana was completed, and the Brazilians are hoping to complete a road from there to Georgetown, to replace the current unsealed road, which would give them fast access to the sea. This will no doubt bring many settlers to the interior ... probably good for Guyana's economy, but definitely not good for nature or the laid-back lifestyle of the interior.

Best of luck, Jim
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Wolf,

Here's a link to a pertinent article that appeared in Neotropical Birding:

http://www.neotropicalbirdclub.org/neobird/NeoBird2-collins.pdf[/URL]


I recommend Iwokrama and Karnambu Ranch. They are near the center of the country. The Iwokrama Field Station is on the Essequibo River. Karanambu (very rustic) is on the Rupununi River (sp?) Access to both from Rockview lodge after landing at the airstrip there from a 1.5hr flight from Georgetown. During drier periods you MAY be able to drive from Georgetown. I'm sure it takes the better part of a day. Improving the road per Jim's comment would be a very mixed blessing.

Iwokrama is mainly forested area. Karanambu is in the Rupunui savanna and had more grasslands and some wetlands. Boat and land rover excursions are the best bet for wildlife/bird watching. I would recommend at least a local guide to prevent you from getting lost, 95% of Guyana is still wilderness and getting lost is NOT good.


Oops, I forgot Karanambu also has have an airstrip.
 
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Wolf Beam

Well-known member
Thanks a lot, Jim and Bill,
This information is really useful. Both your texts and the link.
We will do som thinking and after the summer decide whether it will be Guyana or Venezuela early in 2012. If somenone is interested in recommending one over the other, that is very welcome.
Rainforests is the focus of the trip.
Wolf
 
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Wolf Beam

Well-known member
Me and my buddy Tomas will travel in Guyana between Jan 6 and Feb 4 2012. We are both biologists and will focus on dragonflies and mosses, but also a great deal of birdwatching. It's vacation, not really work but for us it is sometimes hard to tell the didfference :)
If anyone is insterested in joining to share costs please contact me. Also, any tips on guides, good hikes, boat trips, places to visit and tips on domestic flights are welcome.
Ulf
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
I just got back from a tour in Guyana.

Regarding Bill's post, it took 9½ hours (including a short lunch stop) to drive by mini-bus from the ferry crossing near Iwokrama to Georgetown. That also included a short stop where the drivers had to remove a fallen tree from the road with an axe.

The rainy season came early this year, and the roads everywhere south of Linden are in miserable condition. You will not get anywhere in the Rupununi except along the main north-south road without a 4x4 and sometimes not even with that. To get to Karanambu you can get there by charter plane, 4x4 or boat. No way a bus or car can get there.

And regarding jimforjim's comment about the Brazilians building a road, the message I heard is that the Guyanans are very resistant to that idea. They fear becoming over-run by Brazil and essentially becoming a de facto Brazillian state.
 
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Wolf Beam

Well-known member
Thanks Jeff,
Hopefully it will be a bit drier when we are arriving in Jan.
The plan for now is to book a few nights in Iwokrama. While there we will do planning of the remaining trip: Hiking and boating in Rupununi area. We might also try to hike to Kaieteur falls independently - a bit tempting!
 

AdamRiley

Adam Riley
Hi - I'm in Guyana right now guiding a birding tour. Its a fantastic country for birding - good numbers of large macaws, guans, trumpeters etc are all evidence that hunting pressure and disturbance is minimal. Its amazing to see so much pristine habitat and unbroken rainforest. Essential sites include Iwokrama, Atta, Surama, Karanambu and Karasabi (for Sun Parakeet). The quality of the birds is amazing - a small selection of what we have seen in the past 2 weeks includes Harpy & Crested Eagle, White-plumed Antbird, Capuchinbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Sun Parakeet, Crimson Fruitcrow, Crimson Topaz etc However from a photographic perspective, Guyana is quite tough going and the birding can be slow at times and the birds themselves rather shy or high in the canopy and passing by in fast moving flocks. This is typical of lowland areas through most of South America. During the dry season it will be no problem to drive from Georgetown into the interior and to Karasabi and other important sites. Outside of Georgetown, crime is almost non-existant and the people are wonderfully friendly. Good bird guides are now based at most lodges including the first 4 mentioned above.
Kindest regards
 

AdamRiley

Adam Riley
Hi again - as an afterthought, I have posted a few of my Guyana images from this tour in the BirdForum gallery, will give you an idea of what is possible, although I have been focussing on birding more than photography this tour.
 

Wolf Beam

Well-known member
Thanks Adam, lovely pics.
And interesting to see the info on where you took each one.
It will be helpful in our planning.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Adam,

Congrats on the crested eagle. A truly magnificant bird that someday I hope to see.

And somewhat gripped off on the trumpeters. Only a few of the group managed to see them at Atta (and I wasn't oine of them).

Jeff
 

AdamRiley

Adam Riley
Hi Wolf - feel free to drop me a message if you need assistance with your planning! Thanks for the comments Jeff, sorry you missed the trumpeters though and good luck for finding that Crested Eagle!
Best wishes
 

iguanamom

New member
Hi, do you mind if I ask who you toured with? I'm trying to find a place but they either don't have enough people or it's way too expensive. I appreciate it! Thanks!
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Hi, do you mind if I ask who you toured with? I'm trying to find a place but they either don't have enough people or it's way too expensive. I appreciate it! Thanks!

My tour was with Manu Expeditions. It was led by Barry Walker, who owns the company and also who helped train a lot of the local guides in Guyana. He does a tour each September.

Guyana will be expensive because the tourist infrastructure is so limited and transportation is so difficult. Much of it will be in 4 x 4's. This means multiple vehicles for a group. You'll spend some time in small motorboats and also in military-type trucks. You might also end up in a small plane - think severe baggage weight limits.
 

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