There is an abundance of wildlife in Guyana, which explains why Guyana tourism has been flourishing in recent years. This is a country where the jungle is so thick that it is impossible to get any phone connectivity, let alone internet, in good parts of it. But much like in Botswana, here thick vegetation and no phone signal are only the other side of the coin of something significantly more interesting, from my point of view: the increased chance of wildlife encounters.
Wildlife in Guyana benefits from the river system and the dense jungle, which create its perfect habitat. Among Guyana animals, there are the elusive Jaguar, Capibaras, Black Caimans, the Giant Anteater, and one-of-a-kind birds such as the Harpy Eagle and Cock-of-the-Rock. There are more than 900 species of birds in Guyana; 225 species of mammals; 880 species of reptiles and more than 6500 different species of trees and plants.
The incredible abundance and diversity of wildlife in Guyana contributed to giving the country the reputation of being one of the best destinations for wildlife sightings in South America. Much like travelers have been frolicking to Argentina in search of penguins, sea lions, orcas and wales; or they have been going to the Galapagos of Ecuador to admire the marine life; they now head to Guyana to encounter animals, and to do so in a completely responsible way.
The most unique wildlife in Guyana has been given the moniker of “giants,” which is why Guyana is called “Land of the Giants”and it’s every adventurers’ dream to explore it in search of these amazing creatures.
This post highlights the most incredible wildlife in Guyana and gives some final tips on how to make the most of this country.
The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana
Jaguar – AKA the King of the Jungle
Among the most incredible wildlife in Guyana, there’s the jaguar. This elusive animal may well be the most famous animal in South America, one many travelers would love to see in its natural environment. This is one of the largest cats in the world, and the top predator moving on land to stalk the continent. The Audubon Magazine suggested that Guyana’s very own Iwokrama Forest could be the best place in the world to spot a wild jaguar.
Jaguars can be seen all around Guyana, especially along the rainforest belt that is at the heart of the country. Among the best things to do in Guyana to see jaguars, there’s staying at one of the local eco-lodges and joining a safari with a trained local guide, heading into the jungle at night to test one’s luck to get a glimpse of this mighty animal.
Arapaima – AKA the World’s Largest Scaled Freshwater Fish
Wildlife in Guyana is not limited to mammals. The country is home to the giant arapaimas, a fish that lives in the network of Essequibo, Rupununi and the Amazon River Basin. Arapaimas are typically found in the southwestern part of the country, where the tropical weather creates the perfect living conditions for them.
One of the most fun things to do in Guyana is trying to catch (and obviously release immediately afterwards) one of these epic fish. The best places to give it a try are the isolated pools and rivers, where fishing enthusiasts can engage in a battle to catch this water monster. Travelers hoping to catch an arapaima should carry the right equipment and follow the advice of local guides during fishing expeditions.
Rewa is a prime location for such fishing, not to mention one of the nicest places to visit in Guyana. Even I went fishing in Rewa, though not for arapaimas. Read more about my fishing experience on this post.
Harpy Eagle – AKA the Most Majestic Bird in Guyana
Among the most beautiful wildlife in Guyana there’s the harpy eagle. This is by far the most powerful bird of prey in the world, and one of the largest birds of pray in South America. Harpy eagles can be spotted in the Kanuku and Iwokrama mountains, where the untouched tropical rainforest proves to be their perfect living environment, as there’s a lot of preys they can feed on.
The North Rupununi Region is one of the top places to visit in Guyana. Here, the Iwokrama River Lodge, the Surama Eco-Lodge and the Rewa Eco-Lodge are perfect starting point to go in search of the harpy eagle. On the Essequibo Coast, these birds can be spotted at Warapoka and Sloth Island!
With so much wildlife in Guyana that includes birds of prey, it’s easy to see why this country has quickly become a top destination for bird-watchers!
Giant Anteater – AKA the World’s Largest Anteater
One of the most unique wildlife in Guayana is the giant anteater. This animal is characterized by tiny eyes and ears, which are a great contrast to its long snout, body and tail. Needless to say, it is a really interesting animal to admire from up close.
These Guyana animals can be found in the Iwokrama Forest and the Rupununi Savannahs. They are not easy to spot, so one of the best things to do in Guyana if hoping to spot giant anteaters is to hire a local trained guide, as these will know where to spot them and how to localize them. Ranches like Saddle Mountain or Karanambu are great starting point to go in search of anteaters. From there, it is possible to head out several times during the day into the forest, in search for the perfect opportunity to take a photo of this gentle giant. Don’t forget to get a good travel camera for that!
Giant River Otter – AKA the World’s Largest and Rarest Otter
One of the most unique Guayana animals is the giant river otter. Of all the otter species in the world, this is by far the largest, and possibly the hardest to spot. These animals where first documented in detail at the Karanambu Ranch, in the region of North Rupununi, in 1988 by the conservationist Diane McTurk.
She was the one who started the rehabilitation work of the otters at the Karanambu Lodge. Since then, otters have thrived in the area, making this one of the best places to see wildlife in Guyana. It’s a place many tourists travel in order to observe these rare and incredible creatures in their natural environment.
Black Caiman – AKA the World’s Largest Alligators
One of the nicest things to do in Guyana is cruising along its waterways, and the reason for that is that this provides an excellent opportunity for wildlife spotting. Caimans are a common sight here, and a mighty one. Black caimans are the biggest members of the alligator family. These reptiles, that live along slow-moving rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats around the country, are carnivorous.
Caimans are the largest predators in the Amazon, and they prey on a variety of fish, other reptiles, birds and mammals. They can be spotted on any river in the heart of the country. The best place to stay to see wildlife in Guyana, if wanting to spot caimans, is the community-owned Caiman House. From there, it is possible to go caiman tagging – which is done for conservation purposes.
Capybara – AKA the World Largest Rodent
When it comes to wildlife in Guyana, as far as statistical superlatives go, the country holds the first place even when it comes to rodents. Indeed, it is home to the world’s largest rodent, the capybara. This is found in the savana, dense forests and near rivers and lakes. Capybaras live in family groups, and that’s how they are usually spotted. They look like a huge rat or groundhog.
There’s More Than Wildlife in Guyana
Those that think that animals are the main reason to visit Guyana should think twice. There are many more things to do in Guyana other than admiring its incredible wildlife. There’s more than just wildlife in Guyana: the country is indeed home to Victoria Amazonica — also known as the World’s Largest Lily. This is Guyana national flower, and it can be found in oxbow lakes and in the shallow waters of the Amazon Basin.
The leaves of Victoria Amazonica sprawl up to 3 meters in diameter – they are so big that they can actually hold a baby. The night Victoria Amazonica bloom, their flowers are white. Yet, it is interesting to observe that they turn pink on the second night. Witnessing this process is just one more of the amazing things to do in Guyana.
Other Reasons To Visit Guyana
Responsible tourism should be the only way to travel, and Guyana is proving to be one of the top ecotourism destinations in the world, with the local authorities making an effort to protect the vibrant wildlife in Guyana, as well as its culture and heritage.
In line with this effort, the government has put together a series of Visitors Guidelines for Sustainable Travel, where it invites all travelers, adventures seekers, culture curious and all tourists to follow a few simple rules to leave as little impact as possible on the country and the world. It’s just one more reason to support Guyana tourism.
Have you ever been to Guayana? What wildlife in Guyana did you see?