Key wildlife spotting regions

The extensive grasslands of South and Central Guyana, numerous river basins and the dense rainforests throughout the country make Guyana one of the wildlife hotspots of the world. With an estimated 87% of its forests intact, Guyana is well protected and home to megadiversity. The pristine ecosystems and abundant resources of the Guiana Shield create the perfect environment for some of the world’s most fascinating creatures.

Some of the key regions to spot wildlife in Guyana are the interior savannahs, the highland rainforests, the hilly, sand and clay area and the low coastal plains. The Rupununi grasslands in the country’s interior are home to giant anteaters, capybaras, caimans, tapirs, anacondas and hundreds of bird species, which have a high chance of being spotted, especially if you choose to stay at any of the best eco-lodges of the region.

The Iwokrama Rainforest of the Highland region offers great chances to spot caimans, Harpy Eagles, Jaguars, river otters, Arapaima, sloths, river turtles and many more species. Here too, jungle-flanked eco-lodges like Atta, Surama and Rewa, offer some of the best opportunities to experience the wildlife of Guyana. Hundreds of bird species call the high canopies of greenheart, crabwood, mora and purpleheart trees home.

Other key wildlife areas are the basins of Essequibo, Demerara and other major rivers of the country. The Mahaica River is another hotspot for birders. Kaieteur National Park is home to unique species like the Kaieteur Golden Rocket Frog and the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock. Upstream of the park, new species like the electric blue tarantula, known to the Indigenous Peoples, were still being discovered by Western scientists

Other biodiversity hotspots include Shell Beach Protected Area, the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area, the Pakaraimas and Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area.

Victoria Amazonica —World’s Largest Lily

Guyana’s national flower and the world’s largest lily can be found in lakes and the shallow waters of the Amazon Basin. The leaves extend up to three metres in diameter – which are, surprisingly big and strong enough to withstand some say the weight of a baby. The flowers are white on the night that they bloom and turn pink on the second night.

Black Caiman – World’s Largest Alligator

The black caiman is the largest member of the alligatoridae family. It is a carnivorous reptile that lives along slow-moving rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats of South America. In Guyana, they are found in abundance in the waters of the Rewa and Rupununi Rivers. These species are monitored and protected by Caiman House Field Station and Guest House in the village of Yupukari. Guests staying at the lodge can opt to join the research crew at nights for caiman spotting and tagging activities. This ongoing study is run entirely by locals.

Giant River Otter – World’s Largest and Rarest Otter

Guyana’s giant river otters are a surprise – the largest in the world.  They were first documented at the Karanambu Lodge in the North Rupununi in 1988. World famous conservationist, Diane McTurk, worked tirelessly on rehabilitating otters in this region. Since then, a stable population has been present in the area, providing wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to observe these rare and extraordinary creatures. Nowadays giant river otters can be seen along expansive stretches of the Rupununi River and tributaries like the Rewa River.

Giant Anteater – World’s Largest Anteater

With small eyes and ears that contrast its large snout, body and tail, the world’s largest anteater is truly an extraordinary animal to see.  They are found in the Iwokrama Forest and the Rupununi Savannahs. It takes a trained eye to spot these unique animals, but your chances increase if you stay at Karanambu Lodge, Waikin Ranch or Caiman House in the North Rupununi, or Wichabai and Saddle Mountain Ranch in the South Rupununi. They are known to have been spotted near these establishments more frequently than other sites.

Harpy Eagle-The Most Majestic Bird Of Guyana

Often on the wish list of many birdwatchers, the Harpy Eagle can be found in the untouched canopies of the Kanuku Mountains and Iwokrama Rainforest. Pristine tropical rainforest is the perfect home for this majestic beauty as it offers them ample prey to feed. The Iwokrama River Lodge, Atta Rainforest Lodge, Rewa Eco-Lodge and Surama Eco-lodge make the ideal launch pads to spot this species in the North Rupununi. Along the coast, the magnificent bird can often be spotted near the village of Warapoka.

Arapaima – World’s Largest Scaled Freshwater Fish

The network of Essequibo, Rupununi and the Rewa Rivers are home to oxbow lakes and ponds which house a healthy population of arapaima, the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish. Fishing enthusiasts from all over the world visit Guyana to try their luck at sustainable catch and release fly fishing for the species. As a protected species, this freshwater giant has to be constantly monitored by the village of Rewa and its partner organisations. This conservation effort has helped to restore the arapaima population to well over 4,000 in the area.

Jaguar – King of the Jungle

One of the more popular ‘giants’ and most famous animal in South America, the jaguar plays a vital role in its habitat by regulating other species’ populations and contributing to the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. The best places to spot these beautiful creatures are in Guyana’s Protected Areas and along remote rivers in the early mornings or late afternoons. While there is no guarantee that you may spot a jaguar on your first visit, excursions can be arranged to take travellers to the areas where the jaguars are most frequently seen.