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Few people even know where Guyana is, let alone travel there. This trip to the lost corner of South America is a fascinating exploration of pristine rainforest, staying in riverside eco lodges with indigenous communities, spotting caiman by torchlight along moonlit rivers and eating delicious Guyanese food at a small local 'backyard cafe'.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights simple guesthouse
5 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights comfortable lodge
2 nights simple lodge
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Georgetown, Guyana's capital city and by far its largest settlement. Originally chosen as a site to guard the early Dutch settlements of the Demerara River, the city has a largely Dutch design, and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss-cross the city.
For those arriving on time, our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Georgetown at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into either the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (code: GEO) or the Eugene F. Correira Airport (code: OGL), a 1hr15 minute drive or 15 minute drive respectively from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
Grand Coastal Hotel (or similar)
The early part of the morning is the best time to visit Georgetown's markets, and today we'll do just that. Bourda Market is Georgetown's largest, and is stuffed with local produce from tamarind balls to cassava bread, with fish, meat, vegetables and everything in between. There are the bush medicine stalls that sell concoctions for every ailment, and haberdashery sections with all kinds of fabrics including beautiful African prints. At the market we'll meet the local chef Delvin Adams, who will take us first for a breakfast at one of the local stands. He'll then guide us around the market and introduce us to all of the different foods that Guyana has in spades - from seaside grapes and large red bananas to fiery chillies!
Delvin will purchase our lunch ingredients with us at the market, and then depart to start preparing while we continue with a local guide. We'll visit some of Georgetown's key sites, including the beautiful and impressive wooden cathedral, one of the tallest wooden churches in the world at a height of 43.5 metres. We'll also visit the National Museum and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.
We will reunite with our chef for lunch, at his 'Backyard Cafe' restaurant, which is a little hidden Georgetown gem that Delvin has created in his own backyard. Our meal will be proper Guyanese fare, made from ingredients that we've picked up this morning at Bourda Market. It might vary depending on the tastes in the group and what produce is in season, but it's all guaranteed to be fresh and delicious.
After lunch, we will visit the Botanical Gardens, home to an extensive collection of tropical flora.
We have a free day to spend exploring Georgetown, or alternatively travel on one of two exciting excursions.
The first is a flight away, to the majestic Kaieteur Falls. This long-drop waterfall, first seen by a European on April 29, 1870, is the world's highest single-drop falls, and is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River. The water of Kaieteur, one of the world's natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge - a drop of 822 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. A lucky visitor may also see the famous Kaieteur Swifts, or Makonaima Birds, which nest under the vast shelf of rock behind the falls.
The trip departs from Ogle Airstrip in Georgetown and you'll spend approximately two hours on the ground.
Alternatively, take an early morning birding trip back to the extensive Georgetown Botanical Gardens. Travelling with an expert birding guide, you'll be searching out the blood-coloured woodpecker, a species found only in the Guianas. The gardens also host a myriad of other local and endemic species from snail kite and red-bellied macaw, to yellow-chinned spinetail and buff-breasted wren, along with many others.
It's an early departure from Georgetown today, and a long drive as we journey through the Bauxite Mining township of Linden and into the rainforest. The laterite road is easy traveling to Mabura Hill and then it becomes an adventurous drive on rainforest trails to the Essequibo River, which we will cross on pontoon. Just at the other side of the river we find the Iwokrama River Lodge, our base for the night.
It will take around 10 hours to reach Iwokrama along the interior road; this road is the only north-south access in Guyana and links the country to Brazil. If we take our time, the road also offers excellent opportunities to spot a host of birds, flowers, and perhaps even sloths residing high up in the trees. We'll explore both from the vehicle and on foot.
Our base at Iwokrama is located in a vast wilderness of one million acres. This protected area was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, and the forest is in the heart of one of four last untouched tropical forests of the world - The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Iwokrama was established as a living laboratory for tropical forest management. The forest is in the homeland of the Makushi people, who have lived here and used the forest for thousands of years.
Our hotel has a beautiful location overlooking the Essequibo River. With wooden en suite cabins, each one with their own veranda, the rooms are comfortable and charming. Electricity is run by generator (both solar and diesel), and there is limited wifi in the main building.
Iwokrama River Lodge (or similar)
For those who wish, there's the opportunity (at an additional cost) to take a pre-dawn boat trip around the nearby Indian House Island. It takes around one hour to circumnavigate the island, and with your wildlife-spotting driver, you'll look for butterflies, snakes, howler monkey and macaws by the water's edge before going back to the lodge for breakfast.
Reuniting with those who've enjoyed a longer sleep, we take a small motorboat after breakfast to the Turtle Mountain trailhead, birdwatching along the way. The walk starts off steadily winding its way through forest on a well-maintained trail, before ending with a short and steep climb to the summit at 360 metres. The effort is more than worth it for the incredible panoramic views over the forest canopy, and the chances of spotting green aracari, white bellbird or even one of five different types of eagle. If the hike is too strenuous, there is an alternative boat trip available to nearby Stanley Lake.
In the afternoon we'll explore the trails around the lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger, spotting myriad birdlife along the way.
There is the option this evening of a night time boat trip, spotting caiman and listening for night birds such as the spectacled owl and blackish nightjar. We'll also search for amphibians and snakes among the river edge.
We drive in a 4x4 vehicle today along a forest trail that is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the elusive jaguar. Of course, there's no guarantee of spotting these enormous cats, but occasionally they do make their way down to the interior access road. We'll be watching for myriad bird species en route.
The journey takes us to the southern boundary of the Iwokrama Reserve, to Atta Rainforest Lodge; home of the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. This series of four suspension bridges leads to observation decks of up to 30 metres in height. The state-of-the-art construction allows trees to grow normally by using adjustable cables and braces throughout the support structure. From the vantage points on the decks, you can comfortably gaze over the mid- and upper-level forest canopy, without intruding on the wildlife. We'll be looking for a procession of striking, canopy-dwelling birds such as screaming piha, caica parrot, white-throated trogon, Guianan toucanet and many more. If we are lucky we may even see the stunning and highly sought-after pompadour cotinga. Families of spider and howler monkeys are sometimes seen here, feeding on the fruits of nearby trees. Every day brings a new surprise to explorers on the canopy.
Our simple lodge for this evening offers private rooms, ensuite bathrooms and traditional Amerindian hospitality. There is a communal building that houses the bar and dining area, and its open-sided construction gives out views over the flower garden and the forest, which completely surrounds the lodge. Watch out for hummingbirds that come to feed in the heliconias.
Atta Rainforest Lodge (or similar)
Today will be fairly relaxed. We may head out before dawn to the canopy, where we can bird-watch more easily. Howler monkeys are also spotted more frequently at this time in the morning.
The rest of the day will be spent at the lodge and will be very flexible to explore either with or without the guide, as you wish. There are many bird species, insects, noisy amphibians and playful primates that make the surrounding forest their home. Deer, tapir and agouti (similar to a capybara) also visit the lodge occasionally. Walks around the access trail bring something different every time, and as darkness falls on the canopy walkway we may catch a glimpse of the white-winged potoo.
Night walks are possible from the lodge with our Tour Leeader, and something interesting or new always seems to appear. There is also the option (at an additional cost) to travel out in a vehicle this evening, moving slowly along the access road southwards, in an attempt to spot jaguar. Sometimes other animals like tapir, pacas and agouti are also spotted, but the excitement is really in the search, being completely surrounded by the noise of the forest.
We'll depart Atta Lodge this morning, travelling through the rainforest to a small place called Corkwood. Here we have a short trail through pristine rainforest, with the end goal of hopefully seeing the brilliant Guianan cock-of-the-rock. Along the way, the guides may explain how plants are used for medicine and other purposes.
After this short walk, we continue to Surama. This indigenous community is located right in the heart of the country, in the 'savannah' area that is ringed by the forest-covred Pakaraima Mountains. The villagers here are mainly from the Macushi indigenous trip, and our eco-lodge is owned and operated by the entire community. The Village Council decides, upon consultation with the villagers themselves, how to spend the profits from the tourism business so that it benefits the entire community.
We'll settle into the eco-lodge on arrival, and take a short walk on trails to observe the forest and bird life, as well as visiting the village as a whole. After dark, our Tour Leader will take us on an educational walk to experience the mysteries of the forest by night. Insects and amphibians come into their own at this time, and we'll catch some of them watching us, using our flashlights as a guide.
Surama Eco Lodge (or similar)
Today we rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah, before climbing up Surama Mountain in the cool morning air. This is the best time to observe birdlife along the trail. Breakfast will be served at a look out point which affords incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains. The climb is not long but can be quite strenuous, particularly after rain. Our Tour Leader will offer alternatives for those who wish.
We then return to the village for lunch and set out later in the afternoon to the Burro Burro River, from where the local guides will paddle us upstream in our indigenous dugout canoes for opportunities to observe birdlife and wildlife in their natural habitat, including plenty of kingfisher, ibis, and if we're lucky, giant river otters, before returning to the village. On the walk back, we'll see the forest through the eyes of our indigenous guide, learning about how medicinal plants are used in the Amerindian community to treat everything from upset stomachs to glaucoma.
We'll have our final chance to watch dawn breaking across the rainforest this morning, opting to walk through the forest for another bird-watching session, or relaxing around the lodge before breakfast.
We will then drive for several hours south across the savannah to Lethem, a town close to the border with Brazil, where we pick up our flight back to Georgetown. What remains of the day is ours to spend as we choose. For those who wish, there is the option to take a historical boat trip along the Demerara River. You'll cross with the commuters by river taxi, before picking up a boat to discover the history of the buildings along the waterfront. The trip also takes in the Demerara Harbour Bridge - once the longest floating bridge in the world, at almost 2 kilometres in length - as well as the mangroves near the city, where scarlet ibis, snail kits and egret make their homes.
We'll take a guided trip along the Atlantic Coast this morning, heading in the direction of the Mahaica River. Out of Georgetown, the road to the river landing runs parallel to the river itself, and gives us an introduction into the lives of the farming communities who cultivate rice and other crops in this area. Upon arrival at the river landing, we'll jump into our small boat for a waterway exploration. The Mahaica River is one of the best places to spot Guyana's national bird, the hoatzin. This odd bird is an unusual species of tropical bird found in swamps and mangroves in this part of South America. It produces a horrible smell to scare away potential predators, which has led to locals naming it the Stinkbird.
After our journey here we return to Georgetown, with the rest of the day free. Our guide will most likely organise a group meal this evening, on our final night in Guyana.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Georgetown.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Georgetown at any time. If you'd like a complimentary airport transfer you need to depart today from either the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (code: GEO) or the Eugene F. Correira Airport (code: OGL), a 1hr15 minute drive or 15 minute drive respectively from our hotel.
The climate is warm and humid; temperatures average about 27° C (81° F). Even at night, the temperature rarely drops below 24° C (75° F). At midday during the dry seasons the temperature may reach 36° C (96° F) in the shade. The constant trade winds bring some cooling relief. Short dry season beginning of February to end April; long rainy season: May to August; long dry season: August to November; short rainy season: November to January.
2 Pin Flat
The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Georgetown: Kaieteur Falls - Approx. $300 per person Birding in the botanical gardens - Approx. $40-$60 per person, depending on numbers Demerara Historical River tour - Approx. $50-$133 per person, depending on numbers Iwokrama: Indian Island boat trip - Approx. $23-$33 per person, depending on numbers Caiman night spotting - Approx. $23-$33 per person, depending on numbers Atta Lodge: Night time jaguar spotting - Approx. $30-$70 per person, depending on numbers Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract. Payments can be made by cash or card, but card payments incur a 4.5% service charge.
You will need loose fitting, comfortable clothes for hot, humid conditions. Sunhat, sunglasses, long trousers and long sleeved shirts are essential for protection from the sun.
Sturdy trail boots and trainers or sandals for travelling.
One main piece of luggage (a medium sized backpack is recommended) and a smaller day pack for cameras, water bottle etc.
For the internal flight from the interior back to Georgetown, you are only allowed 9kg of luggage. If you exceed this, there is a charge of approximately $3 per additional kg (subject to change by the airline). This means that for days 4-10 you will need to pack light, and we recommend that you bring a small duffel bag/rucksack with you for this purpose, leaving any excess luggage in Georgetown. You are also allowed a small handbag for personal items or a small camera, which cannot exceed 2kg. As stated above, additional kilograms can be paid for locally.
Head or small torch, water bottle, high factor sunscreen, insect repellent, and waterproof bags to keep personal equipment dry are useful. Mosquito nets are provided wherever necessary. An umbrella is very practical in the tropics, giving protection against the rain (without having to wear stifling raingear) and also against the sun. Please ensure you have enough personal prescription medicine for the duration of the tour as you will not be able to access this in the interior.
4WD, Boat, Flight, Minibus
Grand Coastal Hotel. This hotel offers excellent services and accommodation along with a restaurant and bar, gym and pool. The Iwokrama River Lodge is set overlooking the Essequibo River. Accommodation is offered in eight spacious timber cabins with en suite and verandas overlooking the river. Electricity is provided by a combination of solar and diesel generator systems, and limited wireless internet access is provided in the main building. Meals are provided buffet style in the dining hall. The Atta and Surama Eco Lodges are both graded simple, but their lack of amenities is more than made up for in their stunning forest location and the kind hospitality of the Amerindian teams. Both lodges have private en suite facilities, mosquito nets in the bedrooms and wonderful communal dining areas that look out upon the forest.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Guyana: No visa required in Guyana for citizens of UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. Valid passport required. All other passport holders please check with their local embassy or consulate. All visa information is subject to change. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory however, we recommend typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitus and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.