Things To Do And See
Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area
Located deep in the South Rupununi, Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area (COCA) is the set amid the headwaters of the Essequibo River and the Wassarai, Yahore, Komoa and Kaiawakua Mountains. Spread over 625,000 hectares, this region is considered one of the last pristine rainforests with unmatched biodiversity. The conservation area is managed by the local Wai Wai community, who have inhabited this land for generations. The Masakenari community of the Wai Wais who live here, have a deep spiritual, cultural and social connection with the land. They practice shifting cultivation, clearing the forest for agro practices, and keeping soil rejuvenation at the core to maintain the fragile tropical rainforest ecosystem. The tall highland forests and clean, unpolluted waters of the region are home to a remarkable diversity of fish. There is a healthy population of giant river otters, capybaras, and a few species of caiman. Large mammals such as jaguars, tapirs, bush dogs, giant anteaters, and saki monkeys are still common. Over 400 species of birds have been reported from the region, and the diversity of reptiles and amphibians are similarly rich. As the first legally protected community-owned conservation area in Guyana, Konashen has paved the way for many more.
The village of Yupukari is a conservation hotspot. Here the locals have protected the rainforest adjacent to the Rupununi River and partnered with researchers, scientists and conservation groups to build upon their knowledge and capacity for conservation work. The Wapishana and Makushi Indigenous Peoples have taken on the responsibility of overseeing village concerns, development and conservation work. It is a great example of community-led conservation. Set near the near the Kanuku Mountain Range and within the Rupununi-Ireng ecological corridor that links the Amazon and Essequibo Rivers, this is one of the most biodiverse regions of Guyana and is home to over 70% of the mammal population and 53% of avian species of the entire country. This means, that chances of spotting some of the most fascinating wildlife are extremely high here. The village is a base for Caiman House Field Station, a conservation centre for the black caimans and the yellow-spotted river turtles. Caiman House also doubles up as accommodation for travellers, who can experience Yupukari and the surrounding areas with local guides.
Surama Village Eco-lodge lies at the edge of the rainforest amid the golden savannahs of the North Rupununi at the foothills of the Pakaraima Range of Mountains. This is one of Guyana’s best conserved, high biodiversity hotspots. The largely primary rainforest along the Burro Burro River that skirts the village is protected by the local community of Makushi People. Surama Eco-lodge was established in 2004 with a vision to “develop, own and manage a community-based ecotourism business by constructively using the natural resources and traditional culture in a socially appropriate manner.” After 15 years, it is an integral part of Guyana’s nature and wildlife travel circuit. The community-led enterprise unites the community to protect their natural resources and use them to generate sustainable livelihoods. Conservation awareness and natural resource management practices at the household level are made through environmental awareness outreach programs. This results in each household making a conscious effort to reduce exploitation of the forests for food, fuel and building materials, ensuring that the integrity of the ecosystem is preserved.
Rewa River Watershed & Apoteri Tribal Waters
The Rewa River is a tributary of the Rupununi River and is found just upstream of the confluence of the Rupununi and Essequibo Rivers. The headwaters of the Rewa offer travellers a unique opportunity to explore pristine habitat where it is said that the wildlife is not afraid of humans. Few people travel all the way here by river as the journey is difficult. Most travellers opt to fly to Annai or Apoteri and take a shorter river journey from there. Rewa Eco-lodge and Guyana Truly Wild are the only operators that offer the four-week expedition covering more than 200 river miles. Set at the mouth of the river, Rewa Eco-lodge is owned and operated by its namesake indigenous community who protects the watershed. This results in some of the best and most sustainable catch and release sport fishing in Guyana. Spotting giant river otters, black and spectacled caimans and river turtles is relatively easy. There are also opportunities to spot tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, capybaras, giant armadillos, peccaries and seven different species of monkeys.
Located at the confluence of the Rupununi and Essequibo Rivers, Apoteri village is just downstream of Rewa Village. The community conserves its tribal waters along the Essequibo from Yakatu Lagoon to King George Falls for catch and release sport fishing. During the years the fishery has been protected, the size and number of fish have increased significantly. King William Adventures and community members have documented 40 species. Both host visitors for fishing, village tours, birdwatching and more.
The South Rupununi Conservation Society and Karasabai
Formed in 2000, the South Rupununi Conservation Society comprises community members from six villages helps who banded together to protect the region’s flora and fauna. This includes the red siskin, a rare bird that was greatly endangered by the cage bird trade. Since the surprising discovery, the society has been working hard to determine the size of the population, its behaviour and habitat for conservation purposes. The village of Karasabai in the North Rupununi has undertaken similar efforts at on a smaller scale to protect the endangered Sun Parakeet. Recently a giant anteater monitoring project has been launched by the South Rupunununi Conservation Society at Wichabai Ranch and Guest Houses.