Guyana & Suriname wildlife small group holiday
Description of Guyana & Suriname wildlife small group holiday
This Guyana and Suriname wildlife small group holiday will take you to two small and little-visited South American nations, rich in natural beauty, indigenous culture and colonial heritage. Guyana is particularly well-known for its wildlife spotting opportunities, which were brought to prominence by the BBC documentary series ‘Lost Land of the Jaguar’. As well as jaguars, notable species found here include tapir, giant river otters and caimans.
After a day acclimatising in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, you’ll make your way to the rushing waters of Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall at 741 ft, before transferring to Karanambu Lodge, which lies deep in the wilderness. The landscape here varies from savannah to wetlands to forest, where birds, giant anteaters and monkeys make their home. Following the Rupunini River towards the Amerindian village of Surama, you’ll learn about the local way of life, and perhaps climb Surama Mountain, before moving on to Iwokrama, a stunning rainforest region and one of the best places to spot jaguars.
In neighbouring Suriname the focus is on history and heritage as you visit traditional Maroon villages, take in the colonial architecture of Paramaribo and explore the abandoned Commewijne Plantations. There will also be time for outdoorsy action with a trip on the Suriname River to look for freshwater dolphins
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PlanetThis tour focuses largely on the natural wealth of Guyana and Suriname, concentrated in parks, reserves and conservation areas. By visiting these regions we contribute to crucial conservation and research projects designed to ensure the long term well being of the wildlife that lives here. We work with local guides in the parks who know the areas well – these are from the communities that surround the parks and this therefore ensures that these vital areas are seen not just as the preserve of wealthy western tourists but as a valuable source of employment and income for local people, thus further contributing to conservation and acting as a discouragement to unsustainable use of the parks’ resources. We issue guidelines to our travellers about the importance of leaving these parks as they were, and taking all litter out when we leave.
We spend two nights at Karanambu as guests of Diane McTurk, an almost legendary figure in Guyana and well known for her conservation efforts. Diane frequently cares for orphaned giant river otters and nurtures them until they are able to return to the wild – your stay here provides vital funds to enable this important work to continue.
At Iwokrama we stay at the research station, set up to conduct research on rainforest environments. Again, this allows money to be channelled towards an important project.
Where appropriate and feasible we will always incorporate walking tours of cities rather than being reliant on private transportation - not only reducing our carbon footprint but we believe leading to a more enjoyable and intimate experience for our clients.
PeopleOur philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.
We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Our local partner in Guyana is particularly passionate about helping remote communities realise some of the benefits that tourism can provide and has been instrumental in pioneering community led projects within the country.
On this trip we spend two nights at Surama. Surama is a village inhabited by Makushi Amerindians on the edge of the rainforest – it is very isolated and many miles from other settlements. The Eco-Lodge here is a community initiative that has been set up to allow local people to benefit from tourism, and the villagers take an active part in all aspects of the lodge, from managing it to acting as guides along the nearby trails. While here we are taught about the customs of the indigenous people of Guyana and shown their local traditions – not only is this a fascinating experience but it shows younger generations, who previously might have been tempted to leave the village and migrate to the capital, that there is value in maintaining these traditions. The employment that this lodge provides means that it is now a more viable option for younger people to remain in their home community.
Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.
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