Guyana – In search of the Jaguar and other wildlife

                      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.

Kaeiter Falls

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.

Patagonia – Trekking and camping

Everyone has an Antarctica…………….whats yours?

That was the question asked by the Shackleton boys and its meaning is that you do not have to trek to the South Pole to find adventure, it is everywhere and your Antarctica can be anything or anywhere you want it to be, you just have to think about what you want to do or where you want to and make it happen.

I thought about this question long and hard and for me it is to continue travelling it’s this that keeps me feeling alive in having something to plan and aim for.

I knew from that meeting though that I would have to make Antarctica one of the places that I would get out to, so to quote Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean, “Theres not a moment to lose!!!”

This trip had to be within my financial and physical capabilities where I could photograph the wildlife at close range.

I also decided that as I was going all that way it seemed a shame not to stop and see Patagonia, so that is what I did, here is some blog/diary extracts from that trip.


The Preparation

Having read a lengthy checklist and bought all the technical ultra warm, waterproof clothing needed for Antarctica I figured that it would be good to ‘test it out’ so in a moment of madness headed off to Waitrose and asked if I could stand in their freezer in my lunch hour to see how cold I might get……

Surprisingly, they readily agreed, so I stood in that freezer for an hour in my balaclava, three pairs of leggings, etc. unfortunately they had forgotten to warn all members of staff that I was in there and a young lad aged about 17 walked in with a tray of yoghurts and stopped short when he saw me.

“Its ok” I said, “I’m just standing here” with that he dropped his tray of yoghurts and ran out of the freezer, I can’t say I blame him, I would most likely have reacted in exactly the same way.

I did some physical training and strengthened up my fitness by doing daily steep hill walks with a rucksack filled up with bags of granulated sugar as well as joining a gym.

I also got a cheap last-minute flight out to the Italian Alps in Cuneo to practice walking through very deep snow drifts and did some steep snow drift walking some of it waist height. It proved to be very good practice indeed as if you suddenly drop to waist height in the snow you must learn to dig yourself out of it, I found that this could sometimes be done by step kicking into the snow if it was not too compressed.

Me climbing up a frozen avalanche

In February 2010 I flew from London to Buenos Aires (18 hours) then got across to another airport to get a domestic flight out to Ushuaia (5 hours)