Guyana – In search of the Jaguar and other wildlife
Guyana formally known as British Guiana is situated where the Caribbean meets South America and more than 80% of it is covered in Rainforests, it is still little explored which appealed to me and is packed with some fascinating endemic species including the Harpy Eagle and the Cock of the Rock bird.
Guyana is home to the Essequibo River that runs through almost the entire length of the country at approximately 600 miles long.
Guyana is a commonwealth state that regained its independence from Britain in 1966 and the spoken language there remains as English.
Early explorers such as Charles Waterton and Sir Walter Raleigh were drawn into the diversity of the wildlife to later be followed by Gerald Durrell and Sir David Attenborough. What was doubly exciting for me about Guyana is that Diane McTurk has her Karanambu Ranch there where she rescues and works with Giant River Otters, this is someone who I really wanted to meet.
In February 2011 I flew out to Guyana in South America to explore the rainforests there and look for the elusive Jaguar along with other wildlife and any unusual insects I could find, I saved up for this trip over a year and a half and also sold some of my bits and pieces on Ebay.
It took me three flights to get to Bridgetown in Guyana before then travelling by buses and getting a boat in order to get to the rainforest areas.
Flight 1 was British Airways; it took 81/2 hours flying from the UK to Barbados
Flight 2 I liked the airport there as it was friendly, I had to collect my main bag and then re-check it in for the next flight with Caribbean airlines, which was on a very small plane and took 1 hour from Barbados to Trinidad. I was asked to sit by the exit door and act as a flight assistant, should anything go wrong.
Flight 3 In contrast to the friendliness of Barbados airport I felt uneasy at Trinidad and got searched and questioned twice, all of my camera equipment was searched and searched again and they questioned my ‘army’ boots which I explained were walking boots and the dog tag I wore, which is my dads, worn for luck and I would not let them take it off me.
This tag is special to me as my Dad wore his dog tag in the Army in Burma many years ago and was shot at by a Gurkha, he was lucky as it missed him by an inch, the Gurkha of course was embarrassed as they were on the same side, it had just been so dark he had mistaken him for the enemy.