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A pretty spontaneous trip - we had booked this right around Christmas 2022, for early February. What is Guyana? Where is Guyana? Why Guyana? Most of our friends were pretty sure it had to be some obscure country in Africa when we told them about this. Everybody was surprised to learn it is not in Africa after all, but in South America. Obscure is fair enough though - even my more geography-attuned mates said, "Ah, wait a minute, that´s the French one, right?". Getting there, but no - not French Guyana (an overseas part of France actually) but the Westernmost of the three Guyanese countries French Guyana, Surinam and Guyana - and the Continent´s only English-speaking one.


And sorry, I won´t get into country details (size, history, ecology) much - really no need for that, since @inyathicovered all that in his excellent 2014 trip report. Go there, read it, and you will know everything there is to know.


What lured us to Guyana? Well, basically new places always appeal, that was reason enough. @AndMicreally likes waterfalls, so the Kaieteur Falls in the middle of unspoilt rainforest were a draw.




And plenty of birds were waiting for me.






The combination of vast rainforests ...






... and wide open grasslands sounded interesting.






And then there was that Anteater. :)


Our original plans to go with a private birding guide, Leon Moore, unfortunately did not work out because he was not avaible for the dates we needed. Bit of a pity, he seems like a very professional and good guide, he´s also Guyana´s Nr. 1 ebirder. So we used the main company everybody (including all Nature and Birding Travel companies) seems to use when visiting the country - Wilderness Explorers.


This was our itinerary:


Feb 10th:  Flight Munich - London - Barbados - Georgetown, o/n Cara Lodge

Feb 11th:   Georgetown Botanical Gardens, see a bit of town

Feb 12th:   Fly to Kaieteur Falls and back

Feb 13th:   Fly to Fairview Airstrip, o/n Iwokrama River Lodge

Feb 14th:   Iwokrama River Lodge, Boat Trip, Turtle Mountain hike

Feb 15th:   Road Transfer, Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, o/n Atta Rainforest Lodge

Feb 16th:   Atta, Rainforest and Canopy

Feb 17th:   Road Transfer, Cock-of-the-Rock Lek, o/n Rock View Lodge

Feb 18th:   Rock View, Savanna and afternoon boat trip on Rupununi River

Feb 19th:   Boat transfer on Rupununi, o/n Karanambu Lodge

Feb 20th:   Savanna and Rupununi boat trips

Feb 21st:    Drive to Karasabai for Sun Parakeet and onwards to Lethem, o/n Manari Ranch

Feb 22nd:   Birding around Moco Moco Village, fly back from Lethem to Georgetown, o/n Cara Lodge

Feb 23th:    Visit Mahaica River, Afternoon boat trip on Demerara River

Feb 24th:    Flight Georgetown - Barbados - London - Munich



Edited by michael-ibk
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Wow, what a start. I have been looking forward to this TR.

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gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. after seeing your photos, I think i'll only put up wordy TRs from now on. :huh:

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1 hour ago, wilddog said:

Wow, what a start. I have been looking forward to this TR.


Thanks Linda!


1 hour ago, pault said:

About time! :D


I´m sure you have been desperately waiting Paul! :P


20 minutes ago, Kitsafari said:

gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. after seeing your photos, I think i'll only put up wordy TRs from now on. :huh:


Thank you Kit, but please - we all know what you and Herman can do, I´m just a bloody amateur compared to that. And just wait for my rainforest efforts - taking "photos" there is not an easy task. :)

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We used British Airways for our internationals to/from Barbados. We were a bit nervous because we only had 90 minutes to change planes in Heathrow, and slightly more nervous when our flight from Munich landed about 30 minutes late. But we made it - not in the most relaxed way, but we made it. And the alternative would have been going via the States (more cumbersome when changing planes) or waiting 23 hours in London. I was quite surprised about Barbados - that´s quite a big Carribean hub, with big planes landing there.






Our last leg was with InterCarribean - a bit of an odd flight, quite small plane (3 seats per row), choose your own seat, and no service whatsoever, not even water. But it was only a shortish flight, and so we finally touched ground in Georgetown at around 19:00 local time after having departed in Munich at 07:00 am local time.


Immigration was a bit unpleasant. A second (much bigger) plane from Cuba had arrived at the same time, and there was quite a queue. When it was finally our turn we were thoroughly and harshly grilled why we were coming here, where exactly we were going, what our purpose of visit was, how we were related, who had organised this trip, why we had gone to so many countries before, whether we would take photos and publish them and so on and so forth. This whole "interview" lasted about 15 minutes and I was quite puzzled about it. The lady at the control counter was not downright rude but certainly not amiable. Since she did not take any notes whatsoever I´m quite sure she was just curious - all the people in line after us were definitely appreciating that.


It was a relief (as always) when both our bags showed up on the belts, and somebody with a plate showing our names was waiting for us. Hooray! Our driver told us that immigration is quite strict when people from Cuba arrive. Apparently Guyana is used as a gateway point for them to the States. So we might just have been a bit unlucky, others we met during the trip told us immigration had been fast and easy for them.


We crashed after the long travel in our hotel. But no rest for the wicked, very early next morning (before 05:30 am) we had to be ready. Not a problem, we were awake anyway because of jetlag. Our local guide for Georgetown arrived in time, and off we were to the Botanical gardens for some birding.




A very pleasant morning - Carlos turned out to be an excellent guide, we really enjoyed his company and picked up quite a bit. Some highlights:




Orange-Winged Parrot - the Parrot we´d see the most in Guyana.






Smooth-Billed Ani, another very common species.




The ponds were full of Jacanas.






Great Horned Owl - probably the highlight of the morning.






One of our target species - Blood-Coloured Woodpecker, an endemic to the Coastal area of the Guyanas.




Snail Kite




Should anybody be interested in seeing even more of the birds we saw no problem, each and every species about to be posted in my (quite miniscule) Big Year here.

Edited by michael-ibk
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I was quite surprised when Carlos told me we´d get back to the hotel at 9 o´clock. Well, Wilderness arrange trips like this mostly using different modules, and the Botanical Garden outing is sold as a 3 hour-thing, and that´s what Carlos had been booked for. I had not been aware of that and had expected to have some program at least until noon. Ultimately I paid Carlos (and a driver) a bit extra and asked to continue a bit. The weater was nice, and I know from experience that in countries like this it´s always a clever plan to make good use of that. Because rain will come! (And it did.)


We moved on to the Coast and the mudflats there. Good decision, because the tide was quite good for our purposes, and there was a bunch of waders and other seabirds around. (According to our itinerary we would have come here on our last day of the trip. Which we ultimately could not because - spoilers - of rain.)






Tricoloured Heron




Snowy Egret










Lesser Yellowlegs




White-Crowned Night Heron (juvenile)




And my highlight - Scarlet Ibis, a gorgeous bird I had really wanted to see. A bit too far out for really pleasing photos but still a delight to see this wonderfully colourful Ibis.



Edited by michael-ibk
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We enjoyed an absolutely delicious lunch at Cara Lodge - the food here was really excellent. In general it was as a good choice to stay - spacious rooms, working power, hot showers (no, definitely not the norm but the exception during this trip), and centrally located.






Interaction with staff was something we had to get used to. With the exception of our guides (most of whom were very friendly) service staff were not exactly rude but they did not make the least try to at least pretend to be delighted to interact with you. No smiles, no smalltalk, it was all very stern, a bit of "I know I have to work here but I definitely don´t have to like it and definitely don´t have to like you." There were exceptions to this, but it was true for most places we went.


A fellow traveller told us he asked a waitress if he could have some Ketchup. She did not even look at him, vaguely pointed to the other end of the room and said "It´s over there." I thought that summed up the usual guest - service interaction perfectly. :D


In the afternoon we decided to take an (unguided) stroll through the city. If you read about Georgetown you will get the impression that one step on the road, and you will be hit on the head with a baseball club or worse and robbed. Which really is highly exaggerated, as in any big city there are ways to behave and not to behave and places to go and not to go. It was absolutely fine for us, we did not have one unpleasant situation. Since we had decided we´d take at least one camera along (which is of course the same as wearing a huge "I´m a tourist, come rob me" sign on you back) we asked where we could go and where to stay clear off. Harbour and Market area better not, we were told, and kept to that.




St. George´s Cathedral, a wooden church and the seat of the Bishop of Guyana. Completed in 1899.






Typical street.




As so often the number of cables and wires was just mind-boggling.




The Supreme ... well, I guess you can read. :-)




I liked the many beautyful wooden houses - we were mostly in the "posh" part of the city.






St. Andrew´s Church




The clock tower at Stabroek Market - since we had been recommended to stay clear from it we did not enter the market.




The City Hall was unfortunately under repairs.






The city is quite clean, and the walkways (at least in these parts) are looked after and well kept.


In the evening we had booked a table at the Backyard Cafe and went there by taxi (quite cheap in Georgetown) - a very nice and small restaurant with only four tables or so.






Food was very good but given the rave reviews for the place slightly underwhelming. We probably should have done it "properly" - one can attend the market together with the chef, and then he will buy and prepare what you like best.


But still, definitely to be recommended.


A long (jetlagged) day finally over - we fell asleep immediately.


Kaieteur Falls tomorrow.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Great start to your TR @michael-ibk


The wooden buildings are quaint and thanks for sharing those shots of the Scarlet Ibis, such a stunning bird.

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Definitely looking forward to reading this report, Guyana has been on our short-list of birding destinations! Off to a good start, fun to see all our summer shorebirds down there in winter (except of course we don't get the Scarlet Ibis!)

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Gorgeous photos from the start of your trip!

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Great that you have started your TR.

I am pleased you saw the Anteater, and the Ibis is stunning 

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I’m interested to see a little of the Botanic Gardens as, I never got to go there, glad you got see Scarlet Ibis on the coast, they are such amazing birds, being that colour, they almost don’t look real. It looks like Cara Lodge has had a fresh coat of paint or maybe it is just that the sun is shining, I don't think it was when I photographed the lodge, as it’s 9 years since I was there, I assume it has been repainted. Good to see a bit more of Georgetown, and some of the other old wooden buildings. 


Looking forward to more.

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Fantastic trip Michael which I discovered just now being too busy with my BY ; fabulous pictures as always ;)

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Great report and photos so far Michael.  That scarlet ibis is gorgeous!  Looking forward to more.



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What a stunning report, Michael ...... From all the wonderful bird life to the architechture to the colourful culinary delights!! Thanks for writing this up.

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Really shouldn't read these reports. I now want to go here!!


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Thanks @Treepol, @janzin, @Atravelynn, @TonyQ, @inyathi, @BRACQUENE, @Atdahland @AndrewB!


We had the next morning "off" - our pickup for the flight to Kaieteur was only at 11:00. So we enjoyed a "sleep-in" (which getting up at 07:00 definitely is for trips like this :D) and an excellent breakfast at Cara Lodge. The Hotel garden is not big enough to really go "birding" but I still picked up a few nice ones.




Red-Shouldered Macaw




This Plain-Bellied Emerald was coming and going for the Bottlebrush flowers (if they are, my botanical knowledge is not even lacking but non-existent). A nice subject for trying to get a shot. While there are plenty of Hummingbirds in Guyana they don´t really seem to do the feeder things at wildlife lodges which can be so much fun and are a huge draw for photographers in the Neotropics.


It´s only a relatively short (20 min) drive to Ogle Airport International, the "main domestic hub providing commercial passenger and cargo air transport services, primarily between Georgetown and the hinterland of Guyana". Two planes were scheduled to go to the Falls today - it was a Sunday. We were a bit bummed that we were not among the passengers called for the first plane. And became a bit nervous - the clock was ticking, and time on the ground was surely getting shorter and shorter the longer our departure was delayed.




As it turned out we still were very lucky. After a while all the passengers from the first plane had to disembark and come back into the waiting area. We were then called to board. As we later learned the second plane never left because of technical difficulties, and would remain grounded for at least two weeks. We met other travellers who had their (booked and paid) Kaieteur trip cancelled because of this. So we were fortunate we were able to go after all, it would have been such a shame to travel to Guyana and then miss its most famous sight.




The weather was okish when we departed but soon got worse. Very soon after we passed the Demerara River we saw very little below, and just got a faint impression of the vast rainforests we were flying over.




It did clear up a bit when we approached Kaieteur after about an hour or so.












The Potaro River




The landing strip




It was already past 14:30 when we finally had touched ground, so we had less than two hours on the ground.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Two rangers led our group (about 12 pax) to the Falls - via a relatively easy path, it did not take much more than 15 minutes until we reached the first viewpoint. Unfortunately there really was no time to stop and enjoy the general area a bit. This is very remote, unspoilt habitat, far away from any settlements. It would have been great to have a few hours here to properly explore everything but that´s just not the way it is done here.




Despite the hurry it still was a very cool experience to see the Falls. Quite a spectacle - the view from the first ("Johnson") viewpoint.






The cool thing about the Falls here is that there are no man-made structures whatsoever, no barriers, no fences, no steps, no metal, nothing. While I don´t think they can really rival the sheer power of more famous falls like Victoria or Iguacu Falls the absence of anything artificial makes this experience very special. When you stand on the edge it´s just jungle, river and sky all around.




Red-and-Green Macaws flew by with their unmistakable loud squawking.




Next stop - the "Boyscout Viewpoint".




Stealing some fast facts from Wiki:


"Kaieteur is 226 metres (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres (822 ft). While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second (23,400 cubic feet per second).

Kaieteur Falls is about four and a half times the height of Niagara Falls, on the border between Canada and the United States, and about twice the height of Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. It is a single drop waterfall."




Cliff Flycatcher - perfect habitat for a bird named like that of course.


Just to prove that there are even lazier ways than pasting from Wiki:




"Rainbow View Point" - the closest one can get to the Falls. There used to be a fourth viewpoint right at the edge. Closed nowadays unfortunately, apparently there were a few incidents there, including suicides.






It IS a long way down way from the edge here - really not a place for people with vertigo issues.




We deliberately waited for the whole group to move on and enjoyed a few perfect moments having this powerful place all to ourselves.




All too soon we had to move back to the airstrip.




Although there was really no time for birding here I asked about (Guianan) Cock-of-the-Rock. And was quite surprised when one of the rangers told me, yes, there was indeed a lek place, just two minutes from the main path. But surely we did not need to go there? Not need to go there?


Not on my watch, buddy, of course we had to. After a short discussion they gave in and led the whole group there. Very much worth it, in no time we saw something very orange pop up, and soon about six males were seen very well.






Very puzzling that the two rangers would not have gone there without me insisting. This surely is a bird even non-birders just love to see, and the whole group was very much in awe.


When we got back to the airstrip a snack was waiting for us. Which I found insanely stupid - why waste 20 minutes of our precious time at this magnificent site eating sandwhiches at the airstrip when we could have stayed longer at the falls?


Less than two hours after we had landed we departed for Georgetown again. A great experience despite the time pressure - but again, it´s totally incomprehensible to me why they don´t fly people there a bit earlier, before noon at least, in order to enjoy this natural spectacle in a more relaxed, unhurried way.


But like I said, we were lucky to have gotten there at all, and were even more happy about that when we realized that the second plane had never arrived after us. Kaieteur was one of the main reasons @AndMicespecially had wanted to visit Guyana, and it really would have felt totally wrong leaving the country without seeing it.


We celebrated our successful Kaieteur trip with an excellent dinner in one of Georgetown´s most popular restaurants - if you believe Trip Advisor: Aagman Indian Restaurant.




It was fantastic - but a challenge. There are a lot of peope of Indian heritage in Georgetown, and the restaurants here don´t prepare their meals with Western tourists in mind. So if you order spicy (which I did) it is REALLY spicy. And if you don´t order spicy it still is way spicier than most "spicy" dishes you would  get when ordering in an Indian restaurant in Europe. I soon looked like a cartoon character, tomato-red head and steam blowing out of my ears (at least I felt like that.) Had to order a lot of yoghurt and eat an insane amount of Naan to survive. :D

Edited by michael-ibk
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Kaiateur is something.... It appears that travelling from Chile (where I live) to French Guyana, Suriname or Guyana is nearly imposible. It's just different. It is more connected with the Caribbean than with South America.

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Great reporting Michael. Very strange state of affairs with the timing. Are they worried people will get bored? :D  And who wants to see a fabulous bird when they could be getting a sandwich? The others were lucky you were along and stubborn.


I am pretty sure you could conveniently commit suicide from the viewpoint you were at. Love the view down but happy someone else took the picture. My theory is that the sandwiches are why they closed the other viewpoint. Too many complaints that they had to be rushed.


Who needs feeders for hummers? Not you, it is clear.


Nice t-shirt @AndMic

Edited by pault
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I would be very surprised if the other guests were not grateful for your determination to see the magnificent 'Cock of the Rock'.


Just glorious.

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wonderful report so far- often wondered about visiting so thank you @michael-ibk

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On 5/24/2023 at 1:38 AM, jeremie said:

It appears that travelling from Chile (where I live) to French Guyana, Suriname or Guyana is nearly imposible. It's just different. It is more connected with the Caribbean than with South America.


Indeed, quite puzzling how cut off Guyana is from the rest of South America.


On 5/25/2023 at 10:15 AM, pault said:

I am pretty sure you could conveniently commit suicide from the viewpoint you were at.


Agree, it would work just fine. Even better than the last viewpoint because less water would await you at the ground. Wouldn´t want to stumble here. ;)


On 5/25/2023 at 1:20 PM, wilddog said:

I would be very surprised if the other guests were not grateful for your determination to see the magnificent 'Cock of the Rock'.


Just glorious.


Thanks Linda. It IS one of South America´s most iconic birds, and just this once absolutely nobody complained about "OMG, Michael wants to see a bird again." :D


On 5/25/2023 at 1:36 PM, Towlersonsafari said:

wonderful report so far- often wondered about visiting so thank you


Thanks and you´re welcome. :)

Edited by michael-ibk
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Next morning the proper "wild" part of the trip started - after a relaxed breakfast we were driven to Ogle Airport again for our flight far inland into the rainforest. This was the part of the trip we had worried about the most - there is a 9 kg (total!) weight limit for all internal flights in Guyana. Quite a nightmare. Each of our camera gear (including binos) does not weigh much less than that. We knew it would probably be possible to pay for excess luggage but were also warned this could not be guaranted if the plane was fully loaded.


So we really tried to go with only the absolute necesitties and nothing more. And had insisted that a Wilderness representative would stay with us at the airport until we were cleared to go. Because the thought of just having to leave stuff at the airport was not very appealing.


We both wore as much of clothes as we could bear and put a lot of stuff in all pockets. 3 Shirts, two trousers, (I won´t mention how many undies :D), travel washing gel, medication, sunscream, insect repellent, charging devices, we really felt like we travelled with barely anything. Still we were not able to meet the 9 kg but we were not over it much. We had to pay USD 25,-- and were good to go. Quite a relief. (On the way back we faced the same issue. It was a different airline, and this time we got away without having to pay up.)


I really think this absurd weight limit is scaring off potential visitors. Most people who´d visit Guyana would also like to take photos of wildlife, and would therefore bring a lot of camera stuff. It would be less of an issue if you were guaranted to have the option of paying for excess luggage. And I would be surprised if they would really refuse to let you do that, but I´m not quite sure.


Anyway, on with the trip. It was raining heavily while we were waiting for our flight, and only once  the downpour intensity decreased a bit we could depart. Again, because of the weather we did not see too much during the flight but it got better when we were landing at Fairview.






The Essequibo River




Our plane. We were the only passengers getting out here, all the others were (probably) heading to Lethem, the biggest town in this part of inland Guyana. "Town" is a very relative term - less than 1,500 people live there.


We were picked up and driven to Iwokrama Lodge from here - a short 20 minutes drive.




Iwokrama is a lovely place.  A generous clearing in the middle of rainforest right by the river banks  - we really liked the setting.




The cabins are spacious and comfortable - the best we had in the Rupununi.




This was also the only inland place where we had hot water for showers. Yes, cold water is the norm - lodges in the Rupununi are pretty basic. I had thought we would not mind, thinking the water could not really be cold in a country so close to the Equator. Kinda true on a relatively sunny day, but again, a lot of rain in the rainforest, and when we had a cold and grey day it took some courage to use the (sometimes) open-air cold shower. :)




The view from our veranda - great to sit here with a cold beer.




And Blue-Grey Tanagers for company.




Pied Lapwing, quite a common bird.






Lots of birds on the logde premises - a Silver-Beaked Tanager here.


TR_0158_Guyana_0379_Common Tody-Flycatcher-Bearbeitet.jpg


Common Tody-Flycatcher




TR_0154_0300_Iwokrama River Lodge.jpg


The main building where all meals are served and you can get a drink. Food was ... well, let´s call it ok. Canteen-style, got the job done of nourishing you, but really nothing more. Unfortunately they have quite a weird system in place where all the guides and researchers use a separate area of this building, so there´s no interaction whatsoever with them. Bit of a pity, since it would be cool to have communal dining and hear a few stories about what they are doing here and what kind of wildlife they encounter.




I had no expectations of seeing big mammals in Guyana (and we did not). Stuff is around, and if you are very lucky you might pop into a Deer, a Tapir or even a Puma or Jaguar crossing the road, but you have to be extremely lucky. All the animals are very, very shy, so one should really not expect Pantanal-style sightings in Guyana.




Swallow-Winged Puffbird




Chestnut-Bellied Seedeater






Interesting behaviour here - this Yellow-Rumped Cacique was grooming a Giant Cowbird. Cowbirds are brood parasites particularly fond of Caciques, so I guess that explains the interspecies bond demonstrated here.




The river looks inviting - but probably not the best idea to take a swim.




Black Caimans are doing well in the river - and they are much more dangerous than their docile Yacaré cousins in the Pantanal. It´s one of the largest predators in the Amazon basin.  "Although rare predations on Pumas or even jaguars have been reported, very little evidence exists of such predation, and cats are likely to avoid ponds with large adult black caimans, suggesting that adults of this species are higher in the food chain than even the jaguar."






We had booked a "private" trip- the way it generally works here this does not mean a private guide accompanies you all the way. We were "handed over" from lodge to lodge, and had different guides everywhere. Our first one here at Iwokrama, Alex Honorio, was excellent - very knowledgable, passionate and easy-going. Highly recommended.


Our first outing into the rainforest was a letdown however. The weather had deteriorated again, it was very dark - and quiet. We did see some monkeys high up in the canopy and a handful of birds, but all in all it was a bit boring. Although the rainforest itself is just an awesome place to walk in.








This Black-Throated Trogon was one of the very few worthwhile photo opportunities.


At least the weather was starting to look a bit friendlier again when we had completed the trail.






After dinner we had a 90 minutes nocturnal boat trip. Caiman eyes were everywhere.






I was delighted to see this Emerald Tree Boa - a really beautiful snake.




Gladiator Tree Frog. It gets its name “gladiator” from the sharp spikes on its hands and combative behavior during reproduction.




Ladder-Tailed Nightjar - perfectly blending in.




Amazon Tree Boa - at first I thought this was a fairly small snake since we only noticed its head.




Not really, this is another quite powerful constrictor.





Edited by michael-ibk
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