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South America


Guyana In Iwokrama’s 1,250 square miles (3,250 km2) of newly protected rain forest are rare gray-billed goshawks, harpy and crested eagles, ocelots, and one of the world’s largest freshwater fish—arapaima, up to five yards long (4.5 m), weighing up to 900 pounds (400 kg).

Guyana Map
Guyana has only one national park but it’s a wonder, named for Kaieteur Falls, a stunning drop 820 feet (250 m) down and nearly 400 feet (122 m) wide during wet seasons, with fascinating wildlife.Tiny intrepid Kaieteur swifts dart through the sparkling torrent to roost and nest on drenched but protected cliffs surrounded by pristine tropical forest with silver foxes, tapirs, ocelots, scarlet Andean cocks-of-the-rock, armor-plated armadillos, anteaters, and monkeys.

flamingoFlamingos feed anywhere their long legs can take them, bending over until box-like “upside-down” bills touch the water’s bottom and built-in filtering mechanisms go to work. Tongues pump water back and forth through membranes sifting out a constant flow of watery organisms that supply not only nutrition but ingredients that help maintain their brilliant plumage, feeding over northern South America up through the West Indies.

On the northern edge of Guyana’s Rupununi savannah to the southwest is Iwokrama, 1,250 square miles (3,250 km2) of newly protected primary rain forest, a reserve for research into sustainable forestry and home to rich birdlife—rare gray-billed goshawks, yellow-knobbed curassows, harpy and crested eagles, along with scarlet macaws, six species of iridescent jacamars, spangled and pompadour cotingas, also ocelots, black spider monkeys, brown and weeper capuchins, tapirs, two-toed sloths, giant anteaters, gray foxes.

Also in Rupununi are arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, up to five yards (4.5 m) long, weighing up to 900 pounds (400 kg), now rare from overharvesting.

Neither reserve is easy to reach. Planes can be chartered and cars rented (but roads are poor) in the capital, Georgetown (“garden city of the Caribbean” fronting on the Atlantic Ocean), where there are accommodations and tours can be arranged. Best avoid January–February and August– September, the main wet seasons (when, however, the falls are most spectacular). Threats include inadequate government protection of natural areas and destructive logging by multinationals.

Guyana Average TemperatureGuyana Average Rainfall

Ministry of Home Affairs, National Parks Commission, 6 Brickdam, Georgetown, Tel: (+592) 225-9142.

 More about the Reserves

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