Iwokrama River LodgeMay 3, 2018 in Guyana ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C
After an afternoon tour of Georgetown, we jumped into a crowded mini-van for the 12 hour overnight drive to the Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve. The road quickly transitioned from well-maintained tarmac near the capital, to potholed tarmac, to potholed red mud with more-than-occasional deep, water-filled craters that the driver seemed to instinctively know whether it was safe to drive through. It was impossible to sleep during the trip, so we arrived exhausted to our accommodation situated on the banks of the Essequibo River.
The lodge was very rustic. A simple wooden building with small rooms and a shared toilet block in the middle. No hot water (gulp).
We had a few activities planned while here. First, we were to canoe up river then drift back to the lodge. Sounds simple. Long story short, we had an event with some small rapids and a semi-submerged mangrove…capsized and ended up in the water, but managed to make it to shore. Fortunately, our dry bag with passports etc. was clipped securely to the canoe and remained dry, but our camera could not be resuscitated. The rest of the trip will rely on iphone photos. We were bruised (especially our pride), but luckily we didn’t die on the river. Phew!
In the evening we went out on the river (in a motor boat) looking for nocturnal creatures. We’re pretty sure the boat driver was drunk and he drove without a light (there was a spotlight our guide was using to find wildlife, but sometimes the boat driver was racing down the river without any lights). The stars were amazing and we saw lots of critters: frogs, caiman, a snake with a very full belly, tons of birds and we rescued a cute possum that was, for some reason, trying to swim across the river (he probably fell in the river or was fleeing a predator).
On our second night we went on a night drive trying to find more critters. We didn’t see much, but it was interesting to be out at night, surrounded by the unique sounds and smells of the jungle. Luckily we’d seen toucans, macaws, a woodpecker and agouti (a small mammal that looks like a cross between a guinea pig and deer) earlier in the day.
For our return trip we were up at 5:30am to catch the minibus back to Georgetown – an 11 hour trip (an hour shorter in daylight). We broke down a few times, but the drivers were able to fix the van within a couple of minutes and get us going again. This included changing brake pads and repairing leaking brake fluid in record time. We asked how long these vans last doing this drive up and down the jungle road and suggested ‘4-5 years maybe?’ They laughed and said ‘maybe 4-5 trips!’ One of our drivers was a fan of the Fast and Furious movies and drove like he was in a chase scene. He turned on the GPS (which you totally don’t need given Guyana has very few roads) just so everyone could see his speed (110 km in what was likely a 60 or 80 km zone – not that we ever saw a posted speed limit…). All of the passengers were asking him to slow down, but he smiled and went faster at some point saying ‘I live for this shit!’. We made it back OK (we had some doubts during the drive), but exhausted again.
Oh…we almost forgot to mention, to accompany our journey there was a CD being blasted on the stereo. It was a 1 hour selection of the worst 80’s hits (apart from one Meatloaf song – what is it I won’t do for love?) that looped the entire trip and is now burned into our subconscious.
We both agreed that we felt we were experiencing a frontier-type environment complete with odd truck stops to serve the many logging truck drivers and minivans traveling between Georgetown and the Brazil border.Read more