Early departure for Iwokrama
We left at dawn to drive into the Iwokrama Rainforest in Guyana for a walk along their Canopy Walkway. The walkway was cool, but it was the third best adventure of the day. The second was hunting anacondas on return trip.
The first was the amazing bird display along the Georgetown-Lethem Road as morning broke. I was staying at Rock View Lodge in the dry savannah. First light peaked over the hills in the distance over the Iwokrama Rainforest.
Bird paradise in the Iwokrama Rainforest
Bird paradise started right away even before we entered the jungle. We saw two crested caracaras walking along the road and atop small trees in the savannah. Unfortunately, a lack of light did not allow for good picture taking. I took a few blurry pictures and moved on.
I was joined by the son of Rock View’s owner Colin Edwards, Vitto, and my guide Gabe. Gabe turned out to be invaluable spotting birds in the trees while going 50 miles per hour. He was calling out macaws, toucans, oropendolas while craning his neck to look at the passing trees. Every time something interesting was spotted we stopped, and I exited to take pictures.
The best way to see wildlife is from a car. You can walk miles in the jungle, woods, desert, around a lake, or canoe a river and see very little wildlife. We make too much noise, and we smell scaring off animals and birds we would like to see. In a car, you cover more ground increasing your odds at seeing birds and animals, plus you can sneak up on them, and they cannot smell. Just watch where you are driving. You do not want to squash what you are looking for.
The sun began to rise as we entered the rainforest. The first interesting species of birds we saw were a couple of white-throated toucans singing to each other in a tree. I had enjoyed seeing chestnut-mandibled toucans in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica a few years back, so I was pleased to be back in the company of toucans.
We drove a little farther and along the roadside we saw three green-winged macaws with two channel-billed toucans sharing the same tree. I had also seen scarlet macaws in Costa Rica. I thought they were the most amazing birds, but the green-winged variety was even more spectacular. They were a more brilliant red and had more colors on their wings.
The action was fast and furious after this. We saw a juvenile black hawk , a guan (a turkey like bird), several black currosows, a ringed kingfisher, a bevy of trumpeters, and then we saw two jabirus. Jabiru are enormous storks and there were two along the side of the road. One flew into a dead tree and perched and posed for several pictures.
Guyana is a bird paradise
Not many people know anything about Guyana. If there is one group of travelers that are quite familiar with Guyana’s offerings it is bird-watchers. According to Guyana’s Tourism Authority, Guyana has an astounding 815 resident and migratory birds species. In fact, the Tourism division has bird-watching atop their list of things to do and the list is not alphabetized. I only saw a handful of this number on this drive and during my time in Guyana, but what I saw was very impressive and leaves me wanting to return for more.
I shared the plane ride in with a group of birders from California. I had also ran into them at the Georgetown Botanical Gardens. While walking through the Iwokrama Rainforest, I would run into another group of birders.
Once the sun rose and the jungle heated up, my new feathered friends disappeared. We only saw a few birds in the walk around the Iwokrama that day. It tends to happen that way.
Tips for birding Iwokrama and Guyana
- Get there early as the bird activity was most intense between 6 a.m and 7 a.m.
- Stay inside the jungle at either the Atta Rainforest Lodge or the Iwokrama River Lodge
- If you stay at Rock View Lodge, and want to use their guides, do not do it solo as the tour is quite pricy for the lone traveler
- You can also get to the Iwokrama Rainforest via maxi-taxis as it is along the Georgetown-Lethem Road
- Kaieteur National Park is another place to see a great amount of birds including the famous cock on the rock, but you need to stay in the guesthouse a night or two to experience it
- In Georgetown check out the Botanical Gardens
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