Want to see best of Guyana’s wildlife? Then head deep in the headwaters of the Amazon and Essequibo and take your pick of one of the jungle lodges wedged between dense rainforests and tan-coloured rivers or amid the golden savannahs of the Rupununi Region. The jungle lodges offer easy access to hiking trails. They also offer deep insight into the community-owned tourism efforts led by Guyana’s Indigenous peoples to protect wildlife. This is where the wonder of nature really comes alive, with visitors having unforgettable encounters with wildlife.
Karanambu Eco Lodge
For heart racing encounters with anteaters, caimans, howler monkeys, tapirs, giant river otters and what feels like, a million birds, treat yourself to a couple of days at Karanambu Eco Lodge. Not every day will you get the chance to walk in the footsteps of a world-famous conservationist. At Karanambu, Diane McTurk set the foundation for otter protection and rehabilitation efforts. Once the working ranch of her father, Tiny McTurk, Karanambu morphed into a conservation-focused tourism favourite, when Diane took the reins. The clay-brick and thatched roof cottages are perfect for listening to the chorus of the tree-frogs outside, feeling one with nature, yet having a comfy stay with ample amenities. Meal times at the lodge are one of the most exciting times of the day when all guests gather around at the common dining area to discuss sightings from their excursions. What’s the one thing you’ll definitely remember about your stay? The wildlife? Great hospitality? It might be the little details like the passion fruit punch served on the boat safari in the evenings. The recipe is not up for grabs no matter how much you try!
Surama Eco Lodge
Thatched benabs to snooze in, hearty local cuisine and a forest that is only a bird’s call away. Surama Eco Lodge is a great place to unwind in the middle of nature. The community-run lodge is located next to the Burro Burro River. Fishing and hiking by it keeps your senses alive to nature. Look out for caimans and otters and an amazing array of birdlife, while you throw a line to get the fish to bite.
At the lodge, you will feel privileged to have a chance to interact with the Indigenous People of the Surama village as the lodge is run entirely by the local community. The most heartwarming part of your stay here is the interaction with the youngsters from the village who run the local Wildlife Club. From guiding you on trails, to putting up energetic traditional dances and songs in the evenings, your hosts are a spirited bunch deeply rooted to their culture.
Rewa Eco Lodge
Another community owned and led lodge, Rewa is perfect for the rustic living, diversity of activities, and the proximity to several hikes. Want a taste of Rupununi life? This is where you should be heading. High on the wow factor for nature lovers, Rewa is a good base to get close to wildlife and birds of the region. The pampering comes in the form of warm hospitality by 300 villagers who live here, excellent local food, simple but comfy thatched cottages and an uninterrupted jungle experience. Be sure to stay an extra day, for exploring more trails or an exciting Arapaima catch and release fishing expedition! The Arapaima plays an important part in the Rupununi’ s ecosystem. By creating the catch and release initiative, Rewa helps to monitor and grow the of this threatened species.
Iwokrama River Lodge
You will find it difficult to leave behind the great views from the deck dining area of the Iwokrama River and Research Centre overlooking the west bank of the Essequibo River with is the largest river of Guyana. The nature trails and river trips that await you are worth the tread from the lodge. The lodge is great for serious birders and wildlifers, as well as those who are just getting warmed up. It offers access to Caiman tagging and other wildlife on a thrilling river safari. Don’t miss the night safaris by boat! Guided tours across the native wooded trails and hikes around are a perfect way to experience the country’s biggest charm – it’s rainforests. Iwokrama is also a serious centre for learning and research, giving it a wide appeal for different kind of travellers.
Pakaraima Mountain Inn
Located close to Annai, the Pakaraima Mountain Inn, while pretty basic in amenities has abundance of glamorous views of and access to the surrounding forest and the savannahs, which are in no shortage here. You simply need to slip into the lounger chair on your sit-out for breathtaking views or if you want to notch it up a little, then climb a low hill just behind the bedroom. For other hours of the day, there’s a river to swim in, a farm to pick fruits from and nature trails to explore. When you return from your adventures, cool down with the freshly made soursop juice. Travellers swear by the easy-going vibe, nightly jam sessions and the great food of the Pakaraima Mountain Inn. If you don’t have a night to spare, then book ahead for a stopover meal.
With over 25 years of history in hospitality, Rockview is one of the most well-known addresses on the Georgetown-Lethem highway. The indigenous community is the backbone of the lodge, offering a warm welcome, inviting stay and a ‘can’t wait for you to return’ goodbye. Ranch-life, nature trails for wildlife spotting, Tambaqui aquaculture, a swimming pool to relax in and art and culture are the top highlights of the lodge. In fact, the lodge was also the venue to the first ever Rupununi Music and Arts Festival. Rockview is not your back-to-basics lodge, so get here for comfort, unwinding hospitality and some wildlife adventure.
When not walking high above the enormous trees on the Canopy Walk, you can relax in the common area of the lodge, or stroll around the garden with the constant background score and company of the musical pihas and parrots. Well-trained guides take you through the endemic flora and fauna on walks in the mornings and evenings. In fact, if you are game, they could also wake you up for hair raising jaguar-spotting jungle trek in the dead of the night. With cozy accommodation and hundreds of species of birds around Atta Lodge, it is absolutely worth a couple days or more here. The lodge’s atmospheric, earthy rooms are perfect for resting your tired muscles after day-long jungle treks.