11–24 December 2013
Pre-tour extension from 7 December
Post-tour extension to Kaieteur Falls to 25 December
This exciting tour visits one of the last true wildernesses in South America. Some of the special and range-restricted birds we will look for include Grey-winged Trumpeter, Painted Parakeet, Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo, White-winged Potoo, Blood-coloured Woodpecker and (all Guianan) Puffbird, Toucanet, Streaked-antwren, Warbling-antbird, Gnatcatcher, Cock-of-the-Rock, Red-cotinga, plus Capuchinbird and Finsch's Euphonia.
PRE TOUR EXTENSION
Day 1 We will depart on a morning flight from London, arriving in Guyana in the late evening. Overnight in Georgetown.
Day 2 We will make an early morning visit to the Botanical Gardens in central Georgetown where a good range of species can be found. Targets here include Snail Kite, Grey Hawk, Brown-throated Parakeet, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Greyish Saltator, Buff-breasted Wren, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Golden-spangled Piculet, Spotted Tody-flycatcher, Wing-barred Seedeater and Carib Grackle. We will then drive to the nearby internal airport and fly, by scheduled flight, over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Lethem in Southern Guyana. Depending on when our flight arrives, we plan to have an afternoon excursion to a nearby area of savannah woodland where we could encounter Crested Bobwhite, Pale-vented Pigeon, Brown-throated Parakeet, Red-shouldered Macaw, Bicoloured Wren and Red-capped Cardinal. Four nights at Savannah Inn, Lethem.
Day 3 We will make a very early start for the small community of Karasabai, located on the border with Brazil, which is where one of the rarest and most spectacular birds in Guyana, Sun Parakeet, can be found. Depending on where the birds are feeding, we may need to use motorised canoes to maximise our chances of finding this gorgeous parrot. Other species that can be found in this area include Jabiru, Maguari Stork, Muscovy Duck, Great Black-hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Plain-breasted Ground-dove and Black-crested Antshrike. This area is isolated and has not been thoroughly explored by birders, so there is a chance that we could make some genuinely exciting and noteworthy discoveries.
Day 4 Today we will be turning our attention to two birds which have seemingly always had restricted ranges, Hoary-throated Spinetail and Rio Branco Antbird. We will travel by boat on the Takatu and Ireng Rivers and should also encounter species such as Capped Heron, Pale-legged Hornero and various river-edge birds. Although the habitat needs of the antbird and spinetail are seemingly slightly different, they can both be found along a comparatively short stretch of the Ireng River.
Day 5Another extremely early start awaits us, as we will be travelling several hours south of Lethem to look for the highly endangered Red Siskin. There should also be time for some further birding in the area, and species we could encounter include Wood Stork, Buff-necked Ibis, White-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Macaw, White-fringed Antwren, Yellow-bellied Elaenia and Red-breasted Blackbird.
Day 6 Shortly after dawn, we will leave Lethem and travel across the savannahs to Karanambu Ranch, where we will meet those joining us on the main tour.
Day 1 We will depart on a morning flight from London, arriving in Guyana in the late evening. Overnight in Georgetown.
Days 2–3 We will make an early morning visit to the Botanical Gardens in central Georgetown with a local Guyanese bird guide (see day 2 of the pre-tour extension for some of the target species) and then drive to the nearby internal airport to catch a scheduled flight to Karanambu. After lunch at Karanambu Ranch we will begin to explore the nearby grasslands, gallery forest and wetlands to look for many species, including the oddest-looking member of the cotinga family, the Capuchinbird, the near-threatened Bearded Tachuri, Boat-billed Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Sunbittern, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Green-tailed Jacamar, Spotted Puffbird, White-fringed Antwren, Black-chinned Antbird and Rose-breasted Chat. We also intend to make a special effort to locate the Crestless Curassow; however, this species is tough to find. On one evening we also plan to head out onto the savannahs after dark to look for night birds. On a good evening it is possible to see at least six species of nightjar and nighthawk, including Nacunda, Least and Lesser Nighthawks and White-tailed Nightjar. Double-striped Thick-knee is also possible. During our stay we may also see Giant Anteater, as this species is not uncommon around the lodge. Two nights at Karanambu Ranch.
Day 4 After a final morning and lunch at Karanambu, assuming the water levels in the nearby Rupununi River are high enough; we will board motorised canoes for the two-hour ride to Ginep Landing. This will give us an opportunity to look for various river-edge, wetland and open country species such as Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Jabiru, Wood Stork, Green Ibis, Crested Caracara, Black-collared and Zone-tailed Hawks and Swallow-winged Puffbird. We may also have a chance to see various animals including Giant Otter, Red Howler Monkey, White-faced Saki and Squirrel Monkey. Our journey then takes us north by road from Ginep Landing, but we will make several birding stops, hoping to see species such as Savannah Hawk, Red-shouldered Macaw, Sooty-capped Hermit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Cinnamon Attila, Pale-tipped Tyrannulet, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Cayenne Jay and Orange-backed Troupial. Overnight at Rock View Lodge.
Days 5–6 After an early breakfast we leave Rock View Lodge for Corkwood, where there is a comparatively short trail to a lek site for the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. Assuming the birds are displaying, we should get some great looks at this spectacular species. Other birds found here include Great Tinamou, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Spix's and Marail Guans, Thrush-like Antpitta, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper and Spotted Puffbird. We will then drive to Atta Rainforest Lodge. A major attraction here is a four-platformed, 154-metre-long canopy walkway 30 metres above the ground. Amongst the likely highlights are Golden-winged Parakeet, Caica Parrot, Guianan Puffbird, Waved and Golden-collared Woodpeckers, Spot-tailed and Todd's Antwrens, Grey Antbird, Olive-green Tyrannulet and Fulvous Shrike-tanager. The walkway is also an excellent place to look for various cotingas, including the poorly known and range-restricted Dusky Purpletuft. If there are any suitable fruiting trees nearby, we stand a good chance of seeing this bird, as well as Pompadour Cotinga. Another area where we will want to spend some time is the clearing around the lodge, which is a reliable site for Black Curassow (there is a family party habituated to people) and the stunning Crimson Fruitcrow. Other species we hope to encounter during our stay include Eastern Long-tailed Hermit, Crimson Topaz, Great and Paradise Jacamars, Pied Puffbird, Guianan Toucanet, Green and Black-necked Aracaris, Red-billed Woodcreeper, Black-throated Antshrike, Guianan Antwren, Guianan Warbling-antbird, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Tiny Tyrant- manakin, Helmeted Pygmy-tyrant, Golden-sided Euphonia, both Red-and-black and Yellow-green Grosbeaks and Blue-backed Tanager. During our three-night stay, another of our major targets will be the poorly known White-winged Potoo, which, after dark, can be found both around the lodge and at the walkway. Two nights at Atta Rainforest Lodge.
Days 7–8 We will have a final morning to explore the forests around Atta before making the comparatively short journey to Surama, where we will begin our exploration of the area. There is an excellent range of species, with one of the undoubted specialities of the area being the Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo. Whilst this species is certainly tough to find, the nearby forests are amongst the best places in the neotropics to look for it. We also plan to visit a nearby Harpy Eagle nest, if it is active, located in a huge emergent tree only a couple of miles from the village. There are also plenty of other species to look for, and during our stay we will hope to encounter Red-legged Tinamou, Painted Parakeet, Dusky Parrot, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Guianan Puffbird, Northern Slaty-antshrike, Rufous-bellied Antwren, White-browed, White-bellied and Ferruginous-backed Antbirds, Lemon-chested and Ashy-headed Greenlets and Finsch's Euphonia. We also plan to do some night birding and will hope to locate Tawny-bellied Screech-owl as well as Tropical Screech-owl, Lesser Nighthawk, White-tailed Nightjar and both Great and Common Potoos. Two nights at Surama Eco-Lodge.
Days 9–10 After a final morning birding around Surama, we will head north towards the Iwokrama Field Station, located in a clearing by the Essequibo River. We plan to make a number of short stops and species we could encounter include the range-restricted Blue-cheeked Amazon as well as Red-billed Woodcreeper, Spix's and Marail Guans, Grey-winged Trumpeter and Red-fan Parrot. We plan to arrive at the Field Station in time for a late lunch and will then spend the rest of the day and the whole of the next day exploring the surrounding area, where we should find plenty of new birds including Black Caracara, Red-and-green and Blue-and-yellow Macaws and Black Nunbird. To see some of the more difficult to find species, however, we will need to walk some of the nearby trails, where we could encounter a wide variety of ant-eating birds including Cinereous Antshrike, Brown-bellied and Pygmy Antwrens, Dusky and Rufous-throated Antbirds, Black-faced Antthrush and Spotted Antpitta. Other species we could encounter include Turquoise Tanager and Crested Oropendola. On one evening we will make a boat trip on the Essequibo River to look for nocturnal wildlife. Four species of caiman can be found in the area and we could also encounter Great Potoo and Spectacled Owl. Overnight Iwokrama River Lodge.
Day 11 After an early breakfast we will leave the Field Station and cross the Essequibo River, heading for an area of white-sand forest where the vegetation is distinctly stunted and there are some very special birds to be found. Our list of target species includes Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Bronzy Jacamar, Black Manakin and Yellow-throated Flycatcher. We will move on to some further birding sites before driving back to Georgetown. Two nights in Georgetown.
Day 12 After another early breakfast we will travel eastward from Georgetown to look for Blood-coloured Woodpecker and Rufous Crab-hawk, the last of the many range-restricted species we will be hoping to find on this tour. We will also look for the poorly known White-bellied Piculet and Guianan Gnatcatcher, both of which can be found in this area. On our return journey to Georgetown we may visit some mudflats where we are likely to find a range of herons and waders as well as Scarlet Ibis, Black Skimmer, Brown Pelican and Magnificent Frigatebird.
Day 13 Transfer to the airport for the flight home arriving in London on Day 14.
POST-TOUR EXTENSION TO KAIETEUR FALLS
Day 13 This trip will take us by charter flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Kaieteur Falls. This is the longest single-drop waterfall in the world and a truly impressive sight. The area is also good for birds and we will hope to see both White-chinned and White-tipped Swifts. The flocks of swifts often attract Orange-breasted Falcons and, with luck, we may see this species hunting swifts with the falls providing a spectacular backdrop. Nearby, there is also a small Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek and, if time allows, we will visit this before re-boarding our plane for the flight back to Georgetown. Overnight in Georgetown.
Day 14 Late morning transfer to the airport for the flight home arriving in London on Day 15.
General Information On the pre-tour extension there will be some very early starts to maximise our chances of seeing the specialities. There will also be some long drives (often over rough terrain) although there will be no long walks. On the main tour, some days will be split into morning and afternoon sessions, giving the option to remain at the lodge for half a day. The climate can be very hot and humid throughout Guyana, with rain to be expected, and there are special health requirements.
Group Size Minimum group size: 6; maximum group size 12 with 2 leaders.