Although Guyana is known to be relatively expensive compared to other South American countries, the cost largely depends on your needs and the time you have available. A number of flights and river systems connect the key wildlife areas of the country, but you need to plan this in advance. While travelling by road from Georgetown to the interior savannahs and rainforests is cheaper, it is more arduous and takes longer as opposed to travelling by air. This comes with a number of benefits though – you will be rewarded with excellent views of the beautiful landscapes and wildlife throughout your journey. A general rule of thumb would be US$150-300/day for a budget trip, US$300-600/day for a mid-range trip and US$600+ a day for a top-end trip.
What to See
You can plan your trip according to the specific species of plant life, wildlife, or marine life that you wish to see. For example, the Rupununi is great to spot giant anteaters, giant river otters, and black caiman. The Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and the Kaieteur Golden Rocket Frog can be spotted in the Kaieteur National Park and the Hoatzin is largely found in the Mahaica River basin. It’s best to discuss with local tour operators who can advise and make a plan as per your interest.
Time Based Itineraries
With just a few days in hand, you can experience the wonders of Guyana. With robust air, land and river transport systems, and 80% of the country being covered in rainforests, you can get your fill in just one weekend. If you want a longer experience, seven to ten days is the ideal time it takes to cover both the rainforests and savannahs of Guyana and get a 360-degree wildlife view of the country. Choose from itineraries here.
Best Time to Visit
The dry season is the peak season and is the optimal time to explore Guyana’s landscapes. Expect the days to be warm with the shade of the forest to keep things cool. On the coast this is between mid-July to mid-November and January to April, and between September to April in the rainforest and savannahs. Getting around the interior in the green season (wet season) can be a challenge as overland travel by road can quickly become a 4×4 safari. But the river ways are most always an option making this the best time to see the rain-washed forests that are home to beautiful waterfalls and the wildlife that are prevalent during this period. You should therefore time your visit based on the birds and wildlife you want to see.
Lodges & Ranches
Experience incredible grass-root experiences to truly fall in love with Guyana. The authenticity of the country’s tourism product can be felt in the many community-led and owned enterprises and lodges that dot the grasslands and rainforests. The lodges of Guyana are home to passionate people who have made tremendous efforts in keeping Guyana’s biodiversity protected and engaging in tourism to improve their livelihoods. You will find local knowledgeable guides who know the trails and the wild occupants really well, comfortable basic rooms, authentic cuisine and a chance to see adjoining villages at close quarters.
Some of the best lodges in Guyana in the North and Central Rupununi include Karanambu, Surama Eco-Lodge, Rewa Eco-Lodge, Atta Rainforest Lodge, Iwokrama River Lodge, Rock View Lodge, and Pakaraima Mountain Inn. Saddle Mountain Ranch, Dadanawa Ranch, Manari Ranch, Waikin Ranch and Wichabai in the South Rupununi each has its own personality. For some great wildlife experiences closer to the coast, Baganara Island Resort, Hurakabra River Resort and Sloth Island Resort on the Essequibo River and Arrowpoint Nature Resort on the Demerara River are great bases.
Animals in the spotlight
Most of the animals that are given the moniker of ‘giants’ naturally come under the spotlight for wildlife travellers, but there are others who are equally fascinating and elusive. Apart from the jaguar, giant river otter, giant anteater and the dozen other giants, other favourite animal species of Guyana include carnivores like the jaguarundi, ocelot and margay. Kids love to see the squirrel, red howler, white-faced saki, and spider monkeys. Three-toed and two-toed sloth are also popular. The best way to see these animals is with seasoned local guides who know the terrain like the back of their hand. Make ecolodges your base and explore the great wildlife regions of the country. Read more about exciting wildlife encounters here.
Reptiles & Amphibians
Guyana has a unique herpetofauna with more than 324 species in total. Of these the caimans, golden frogs, cane toads, anaconda, and the turtles get the most attention from wildlife enthusiasts. Turtle species sought out include the elusive giant river Turtle, found in the interior and the hawksbill, green, leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles along the coast amid Shell Beach Protected Area. There’s a lot more to see though. Guyana is home to 137 species of frogs and toads, 11 caecilians, 4 crocodilians, 4 amphisbaenians, 56 lizards, 97 snakes, and a total of 15 turtles.
Known as the ‘Land of Many Waters’, Guyana has over 900 species of fish. This includes arawana, basha, himara, lukanani, pacu, payara, piranha, tiger fish, the famous vampire fish, and the prehistoric zip fish. The world’s largest scaled freshwater fish, the arapaima, is definitely at the top of both the wildlife lover and sport fisher’s list. The Rupununi, and Rewa Rivers are home to oxbow lakes and ponds which house a healthy population of these ‘giants’, which are known to come up for air every 10-20 minutes. Some of the more popular rivers to spot other fish species are the Essequibo, Abary, Mahaica, Apoteri and Burro Burro Rivers. Information on sport fishing can be found here.
Experts like the Guyana Amazon Tropical Birding Society contend that there are more than 910 bird species in Guyana. Others like the Smithsonian Institute cite 820 plus species. We feel the quality of the birding is what is most important. Many rare and endemic species can more easily be seen here in Guyana than other neighbouring countries. These include species like the Rio Branco Antbird, Hoary-throated Spinetail, Crested Doradito, Bearded Tachuri, Red Siskin, Sun Parakeet, Harpy Eagle and Crested Eagle. The Cock-of-the-rock, toucan, Screaming Piha and the Hoatzin – Guyana’s national bird – often top the list of birdwatchers as well. The accessibility is epitomised by Georgetown where there are more than 200 species alone. It is no wonder that Guyana is considered by hardcore birders as one of the best birdwatching destinations in the world. Read more here.
The forests of Guyana are known as the best place to spot wildlife. Some of the most popular mammals that will excite the wildlife enthusiasts are jaguars, pumas, manatees, white-faced saki monkeys, sloths, capuchins, tapirs, bats, ocelots, spider monkeys, capybaras, giant anteaters, giant river otters, tamanduas, coatis, red howler monkeys, deer and porcupines.