The Hidden Guianas

15+ Days
TYPOLOGIES
DIFFICULTY

Low

MIN. AGE

12 Years

£ 6250

Discover The Mysteries Of Guyana

The Guiana Shield is a 1.7 billion-year-old Precambrian geological formation in northeast South America and is one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world. The shield has 1400 vertebrate species and 1680 bird species and is overlain by the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical rain forest in the world.  Join us as we explore the Guianas: Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.  Marvel at Kaieteur Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in the world and discover one of the greatest untouched rainforests left.  This region is home to endangered species such as jaguar, giant anteater, giant river otter, tapir and so much more.  Spend time learning about the cultures of the region with visits to Amerindian and Maroon communities.  Be amazed at the Space Centre in French Guiana and relive the story of Papillion at Devils Island. This really is an untouched and totally unique part of South America.

Price: £6,250 / $7,375

Based on 2 pax. Excludes international flights. (single supplement £725)

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Day by Day

We will pick you up at the JA Pengal International airport and transfer you to the hotel.

Formerly a townhouse that has been transformed into the most charming lobby of one of Paramaribo’s most favoured hotels with numerous eco-friendly features. The Eco Torarica is located within a 5-minute walk of the historic centre of Paramaribo and the tantalizing city life. Rooms offer either a breath-taking view of the Suriname River or a beautiful view of the lovely garden. The hotel is simply ideal for guests who want to visit Suriname to relax and unwind. Overnight in a standard room at Eco Torarica.  (Check in time 1700hrs, Check out time 1300hrs).

This morning we start our nature and cultural experience as we depart from Paramaribo After travelling a distance of approximately 190 km you arrive at the village of Atjoni. At the port of Atjoni join a motorized canoe, where our skilled personnel will navigate their way up the Upper Suriname River, which is famous for its breathtaking rapids, to the Danpaati River Lodge.

The Danpaati River Lodge is an exceptionally remote and tranquil oasis in the heart of nature, welcoming adventurous visitors in search of an escape from modern stresses and distractions. The lodge features a welcoming and breezy lounge facing the river, a large pool surrounded by a hardwood yoga deck, and easy access to one of the few portions of the Suriname River where it is actually safe to swim. Accommodations are in spacious A-frame style cabins with carefully appointed amenities including fresh coffee service in the mornings, and unbeatable views into the dense surrounding Rainforest.

Our day comes to an end with an exciting cruise on the river, looking for caiman lying on the river banks. Overnight at Danpaati River Lodge in a standard room.

Today we will visit one of the 12 villages that are affiliated with Danpaati. We will have a guided tour through the village and you will be introduced to the wonderful traditions brought from Africa by their ancestors. After the tour we will visit the Maroon museum Saamaka which is dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Saramak Maroon population.  Pikinslee is located 30 minutes by boat from Danpaati.  In the museum you will learn about the Maroon’s history, and their ancient traditions and crafts. After the tour we return to the lodge for lunch.

In the afternoon, we will discover some of the secrets of the rainforest during our walk in the woods. Afterwards you could choose to enjoy a massage done in a combination of traditional and Western techniques.  Possibilities to explore the surrounding area are available; fishing or taking the dugout canoe around the island.

After dinner you can enjoy a traditional and cultural dance performance. Traditional dances such as the Seketi, Awasa and Bandamba will be performed by the local population. Your guide will explain the cultural significance of each dance. Overnight at Danpaati River Lodge in a standard room.

This morning we still have some time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and take pictures. After saying good bye to the staff, we depart by dugout canoe from Danpaati to Atjoni. From Atjoni we will continue our journey back to Paramaribo by vehicle.

Sunset Dolphin tour: Optional Services (not included in prices below)

Number of Pax:   2 – 12 pax

Rate p/p in US$:   55.00

We continue our tour to the pier at Nieuw Amsterdam where we will be picked up for the Sunset Dolphin tour. While having a drink we enjoy the cool breeze and river views, meanwhile the captain searches the horizon for the dolphins. Normally we see them swim by in groups of up to 20. Sometimes they’re very curious and if we are lucky they will jump and play close to the boat. After having enjoyed this playful company we part for former plantation Johan and Margaretha where we will enjoy freshly made local snacks like barra, baka bana or eggroll while experiencing the beautiful sunset.  All this takes place in a relaxing atmosphere on a wooden deck near the waterfront of the Commewijne River.  After the sun has set we will get back on board, pour another drink, and slowly make our way back to Leonsberg. Transfer back to Paramaribo to your hotel. Overnight in a standard room at Eco Torarica.

Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname, has been placed on the UNESCO “World Heritage” list of historical monuments since 2002. You receive a guided tour, by car and on foot, along the most prominent historic locations in downtown Paramaribo during which you will be impressed by the unique architecture.  The guide gives you extensive information about the former “Fort Zeelandia”, the Presidential Palace, the Independence Square and many other monuments. The monumental buildings are a true representation of the colonial history of Suriname. After a stroll pass the Waterkant, along the bank of the Suriname River and through the Palms Garden, you will also enjoy other interesting sites such as a mosque right next to a synagogue.

We proceed to the Commewijne district which is situated to the east of Paramaribo across the Suriname River. The tour takes us along the former colonial plantations, most of which are now abandoned.  We make a stop at plantation Peperpot where the old coffee and cocoa factory, deputy-director’s house and the old office are located.  This former plantation is one of the oldest plantations in Surinamese history.  Peperpot was established by the English and already existed before Suriname was conquered by the natives from Zeeland under command of Abraham Crijnssen in 1667. This is one of the last plantations still in its former original state. On the plantation you can still see coffee and cocoa plants as well as an ancient shed and factory, the manager’s residence and a kampong (workers’ living area). Peperpot is renowned for the many birds which can be spotted.

From Peperpot, we make a stop at the mini-museum of Marienburg, a former sugar plantation before enjoying a delicious lunch in a typical Javanese restaurant (warung) in Tamanredjo. We then continue to the confluence of the Commewijne and Suriname Rivers at Nieuw Amsterdam.  Here we will visit the outdoor museum Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. The large fortress was built as a defence for the crop fields that were situated along the upper parts of both rivers.   After the tour we will transfer you by car or bus to Paramaribo.

 

Overnight in a standard room at Eco Torarica.

After breakfast we make an early start to comfortably pace ourselves through the journey. The first leg of our travels takes us eastbound along Suriname's coastal road, to Albina border station. Formalities here rarely take more than a few minutes, and soon we find ourselves on the Ferry crossing the Maroni River headed for French Guiana or "Guyane" as it is frequently (and confusingly) called locally.

Arrival at St. Laurent du Maroni is relatively uncomplicated, and our French guide will be on hand to help us navigate the usual customs and immigration formalities. Guyane Francaise is a Department of France, so technically you have entered the EU. Evidence of this connection to the "1st world" is immediately evident: every car seems to be a late-model Mercedes, Volkswagen or Peugeot, the roads are in near perfect condition, espresso coffee is on tap nearly everywhere, and the Euro is the currency. We will continue our journey to Kourou. Visit the Center Spatiale Guyanaise (Guyana Space Center) for a tour.

Launch schedules are a closely-held secret so our schedule today may be amended on short notice. The usual tour includes a motor coach tour which criss-crosses the centre’s mammoth facility, including stops at various assembly buildings, launch pads and control centres. The entire tour is offered in French, but your guide will supply translations as often as possible.

Hotel Atlantis is a modern business hotel on the edge of Bois Devil Lake with air-conditioned rooms, telephone, WiFi, satellite television and refrigerator.  The spacious open lobby includes a patio overlooking the pool, lake and tennis courts. The trendy restaurant offers French and Creole cuisine and has an excellent selection of wines.

Overnight in a standard room at Hotel Atlantis. (Check in time 1400hrs, Check out time 12 midday)

What is commonly referred to as “Devils Island” is really a triangle of three islands - Îles du Salut, or the Salvation Islands - seven miles off the coast of Kourou. After a breakfast buffet at the hotel, we set sail aboard a fine motorized catamaran towards our first stop, Île Saint-Joseph.  The islands played a central role in French history as far back as 1792 when they were first employed as a transit point, first for explorers, then slaves and later for political prisoners and convicts.

Île Saint-Joseph is the southernmost island and was known as the silent island as inmates were not allowed to speak with other inmates or the guards. Papillion claimed to have spent two years in solitary on St Joseph. It was called the ‘man eater’ for obvious reasons. Île Royale is the site of the oldest buildings on the islands, featuring an old church, administration buildings, officers' quarters, and today, a good restaurant, café and lodging facilities. Ironically, the actual Île du Diable (Devil's Island) is inaccessible to visitors due to dangerous shoreline conditions. This is the island where the prison's best-known occupant, Alfred Dreyfus, was famously secluded and where Papillion said he was able to escape on a coconut raft.

You will spend most of the day on Ilse Royale. Visit the children’s cemetery behind the old hospital which was used for the children of the guards. Land was at a premium so only the children were buried. The inmates were buried at sea to encourage the sharks as a deterrent to prisoners wanting to swim off the island.  Make sure to back at the dock by about 1530hrs as the boat leaves promptly at 1600hrs. There are plenty of shady trees with benches under which you can catch a cool breeze. Keep an eye out for sea turtles that like to scavenge among the rocks by the dock.

Return to Kourou by Catamaran and transfer to Cayenne and to your selected hotel. Hotel Central is located in the heart of Cayenne close to the historic Palmistes Square just a short walk from the shopping streets and the business district. Overnight at Central Hotel in a standard room.  (Check in time 1400hrs, Check out time 1130hrs)

Early morning to explore Cayenne before mid-morning transfer to the border of St. Laurent du Maroni. On our way we will make a brief stop in St Joseph’s church, in Iracoubo. The entire inside of the church was hand painted by one of the convicts from a nearby penal colony.

Upon arrival of St. Laurent enjoy a mini city tour of St. Laurent du Maroni where we will pay a brief visit to the well-preserved Transportation Centre. The facility once served as the Arrival station where convicts were processed to the various penal colonies in Fren1ch Guiana.

Starting in the mid -18th century the majority of convicts were transported to French Guiana and served their various convictions. They then had to spend the same amount of time here as their sentence before gaining their freedom. This was a way to try to populate the colony. One of the most famous inmates was Papillion whose initials are carved in one of the cells.

Continue to the immigration and then cross by Pirogue to Albina and onwards to Paramaribo.

Overnight at Eco Torarica.

Pickup and transfer from Eugene F. Correia International Airport to your hotel.

Our host, guide and culinary master, will guide us around Bourda Market, the largest of the four markets in Georgetown. We will first stop at the Guyana Store which has all the local products produced and packaged in Guyana before heading over to the market where we will meet some of the vendors who Chef buys from daily.

We will visit the fish market, the meat section and the haberdashery section - where one can find anything you can think of from thread to bolts of all kinds of fabric. Dry goods like rice and of course demerara sugar are abundant. A stop at the bush medicine stalls is always educational. Heading outside you can see, touch and taste a variety of local fruits and vegetables unique in this part of the world. Chef will make his purchases with your suggestions of what you would like to try and will then head home to start preparing while we continue on a tour of the city of Georgetown with an experienced guide who will give you the history, rumour and facts on Georgetown and its citizens.

During your visit to Georgetown there are a number of interesting sights that should not be missed such as Stabroek Market - once described as a “bizarre bazaar, and St. George’s Cathedral which is one of the world’s tallest free standing wooden buildings. Other historic buildings along this promenade are the Public Library, City Hall, the Victoria Law Courts and St. Andrews Kirk. Visit the National Museum, which contains a broad selection of our animal life portrayed in taxidermy in beautiful old glass cases, and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which houses a wonderful collection of artefacts and explains Amerindian history and life style. We will also pay a visit to a pond either in the gardens or the National Park, to feed the endangered West Indian Manatees.

After our city tour we will go to the Backyard Café for lunch. This, as the name suggests, is a backyard that Chef has turned into an exclusive little hidden gem of a restaurant. If you are interested, Chef will welcome you to join him as he prepares a wonderful meal prepared from the fruits and vegetables we bought in the market in the morning. Or you can just sit under the arbour and sip unique blends of juice or enjoy a cold beer, while taking in the sounds and smells of a delicious meal in the making. Once he is ready, we will start eating our way through the courses, remember to pace yourself as you will want to try it all.

After lunch we will visit the Botanical Gardens, home to an extensive collection of tropical flora.

We will take a drive through the heart of the city to the Stabroek Market area. Here you will join the afternoon commuters using the old ferry stelling to board the river taxis which are used to cross the Demerara River. The river taxis are an alternative route to using the Demerara Harbour Bridge.

0545hrs pickup and transfer to the extensive Georgetown Botanical Gardens where, if we are lucky, we will have views of the Blood-colored Woodpecker. This colorful Veniliornis is found only in the Guianas and even there almost wholly limited to the narrow coastal plain. The gardens host Snail Kite, Gray Hawk, Pearl Kite, Carib Grackle, Red-bellied and Red-shouldered macaws and the rare festive parrot. We will walk on trails in the back of the gardens and may see Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Silver-beaked Tanager, Buff-breasted Wren, Golden-spangled Piculet and Ashy-headed Greenlet. Return to your hotel.

1130hrs pickup and transfer to Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

From the Eugene F. Correia International Airport take a scheduled flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. Kaieteur which was first seen by a European on April 29, 1870 is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo.  The water of Kaieteur flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge - a drop of 741 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls.

Pickup and transfer to Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

Board schedules flight for journey over hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Fair View Airstrip. (Check in time 0700hrs, Departure 0830hrs) Pick up from Fair View Airstrip and transfer to Iwokrama River Lodge.

After your orientation you will depart the lodge by boat, birdwatching along the way, for the hike to Turtle Mountain.  A well maintained trail winds through the forest before an exhilarating climb up the mountain to its summit at 935ft (approx. 360m). It takes 1 3/4hrs to walk up the mountain, but the effort is more than worth it for the breathtaking views over the forest canopy when you get there and chances of Green Aracari, White Bellbird or a fly-by of one of five types of eagles.  This trail is also a great location for seeing Black Spider and Red Howler Monkey.  If you think this hike may be too strenuous you can take an alternative boat trip to Stanley Lake to search for Giant River Otters and Black Caiman.

Return to the lodge for Lunch and then transfer by 4 x 4 along the trail that is one of the best places to see the elusive Jaguar. No promises, but many have been lucky! This road is the only north – south access in Guyana and links the country to Brazil.  Even so traffic is only very occasional and wildlife is often seen along the road, such as Agouti, Tayra, Tapir and Black Curassow.  The journey concludes at the Atta Rainforest Lodge home of the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway.

The Iwokrama Canopy Walkway is situated near the southern boundary of the Iwokrama Reserve. The walkway has four suspension bridges leading to three platforms, the highest of which is over 30 metres above the ground, and these allow great looks at a range of canopy species, many of which you would struggle to see well from the forest floor.

Another area where we will want to spend some time is the clearing around the lodge, as this is one of the best places to see another of Guyana’s “must see” birds, the Crimson Fruitcrow.  This species is seen here on a reasonably regular basis, as it often comes to feed in some of the nearby trees.  The clearing is also a reliable site for Black Curassow as there is a family party which has become habituated to people and regularly passes through the clearing.

Atta Rainforest Lodge is 500 metres from the base of the Canopy Walkway, offering comfortable private-room accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, delicious home-cooked meals, and traditional Amerindian hospitality.  The main building is open sided with views across the gardens to the towering forest on all sides and houses the bar, dining area and kitchen. The Gardens have a wonderful collection of Heliconia flowers that attracts humming birds. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge.

Before dawn return to the canopy where you will welcome the dawn chorus.  From this tree top vantage you can sometimes see Red Howler and Black Spider Monkeys.

Apart from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway itself you can enjoy wildlife and birdwatching walks on the trails around the area. For those interested in botany many of the trails have the key tree species marked. Many bird species, stunning insects, noisy amphibians, and playful primates make the surrounding forest their home. Deer, Tapir and agouti are also regular visitors to the lodge. Serious birders will want to search the undergrowth for the rarely seen Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo.

As darkness falls on the canopy walkway, you may see the White-winged Potoo.  Night walks are also possible and something interesting or new always seems to pop on to the scene including one of the six different cats to be found along the transnational road near the lodge.

Welcome the dawn chorus from the canopy walkway and then return to the lodge for breakfast before departure.

Transfer from Atta Rainforest Lodge through the rainforest to Corkwood in the Iwokrama Forest.  Here there is a comparatively short trail to hopefully see the amazingly brilliant Guianan Cock-of-the-rock.  This trail is through interesting and pristine rainforest and the guides can explain how the plants are used for medicine and other purposes. Continue to the community of Surama.

The Indigenous community of Surama is located in the heart of Guyana.  The village is set in five square miles of savannah which is ringed by the forest-covered Pakaraima Mountains.  The villagers of Surama are mainly from the Macushi tribe. The Surama Eco Lodge is owned and operated by the entire community. The Village Council serves as the Board of Directors and through consultation, they decide how the profits from the tourism business are to be spent to benefit the entire community.

On arrival in Surama you will receive a warm welcome and settle into your accommodation. A guide will escort you for a short walk on trails to observe the forest and bird life.

As the afternoon cools take for a three-mile walk across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro River.  This is the best time to observe bird and wildlife along the trail.  Your guides will then paddle you on the river for opportunities to observe Giant River Otters, Tapir, Tayra, Spider Monkeys and many more species.

Tonight, enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark. Make sure to bring your flashlights to look for the eyeshine of the creatures of the night.

Rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah and then climb up Surama Mountain for incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains.  This is not a technical climb but can be arduous, especially after rain, and not for everyone. Your guides will happily offer alternative activities if you prefer not to do this climb.

Pick up from Surama Eco Lodge and transfer to airstrip for a scheduled flight to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

Pickup and transfer from Eugene F. Correia International Airport to your hotel.

Optional Services (not included in prices below)

Guyanese 7 curry dinner:

Number of Pax: 2 - 12

Rate p/p in US$: 50.00

 

We head over to the Backyard Café for seven curry to celebrate a wonderful Guyanese tradition; the Seven curry.

Seven curry is a staple at all Indo-Guyanese weddings and religious functions.  It is served in a freshly picked lotus lily leaf with rice and seven different curries. Traditionally the curries are all vegetarian. Most commonly served are pumpkin, bagee (spinach), catahar (breadnut), potato/channa (chick peas), boulanger (eggplant), eddoe and dhal. You hold the leaf with the curries in one hand, and use your other to eat the food. Definitely a challenge to eat gracefully, but so much fun and delicious!!

Overnight in a deluxe room at Grand Coastal Hotel.  (Check in time 1600hrs, Check out time 1100hrs)

Pickup and transfer to Cheddi Jagan International Airport for your departing flight.

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