North Rupununi District
I spent two days relaxing at the Karanambu Lodge.
How better to relax then a morning ride across the savannah in search of the Giant Anteater and an afternoon river cruise in search of the Giant River Otter?
Here is the description of Karanambu from my Wilderness Explorers itinerary:
Karanambu, a 110-square mile former cattle ranch, was the home of the late Diane McTurk, conservationist and a world-renowned expert on giant otters. Karanambu is located in the North Rupununi, a region of south-western Guyana known for its expansive wetlands and savannah, as well as its biological and cultural diversity.
Settled in 1927 by Tiny McTurk, Karanambu was once a working cattle ranch and Balata collection station (a tropical American tree which bears edible fruit and produces latex). It is now an eco-tourist destination known as The Karanambu Lodge. Karanambu encompasses savannah, marshy ponds, riparian forest (wooded area of land adjacent to a flowing body of water), and a 30-mile stretch of the Rupununi River.
The North Rupununi of southern Guyana is an extraordinary natural and pristine area. The landscape is an integration of four ecosystem types: wetlands, savannahs, rivers, and forests.
The number of species found here is much higher than expected given its size. There are at least 600 species of fish, along with 600 species of bird, and over 200 species of mammals.
Karanambu is located roughly in the middle of this beautiful and fascinating biological hotspot where endangered species like the Giant Otter, Black Caiman, Jaguar, Giant Anteater, and Arapaima can be found. The seasonally flooded savannahs and forests also draw substantial fish migrations. There may be as many as 700 species of fish at Karanambu — more than anywhere on Earth.
This region is rich in history, too. The North Rupununi is the homeland of the Makushi and earlier peoples dating back almost 7,000 years ago. Village neighbors include the Makushi villages of Kwaimatta, Massara, Yupukari, Toka, and Simoni.
Several prominent explorers and naturalists have written about their experiences here, including Robert and Richard Schomburgk, Charles Waterton, Evelyn Waugh, Gerald Durrell, and David Attenborough. Lake Amuku, not far from Karanambu, was once considered by Sir Walter Raleigh, and later by Alexander von Humboldt, and others to be the location of Lake Parime on whose banks the golden city of “El Dorado” was said to be located.
The romance of the Rupununi pioneers lives on at Karanambu. The compound has the flavor of an Amerindian Village. Because of the remoteness of Karanambu, staff live on site and the children can be seen and heard on the weekends and holidays when they come “home” from schools in the nearby villages of Yupakari, Kwaimatta and Massara.
This feeling of community is further enhanced by the accommodations, which are traditionally made clay brick cabins. Each private cabin can accommodate two people and includes private bathroom and veranda with hammocks.
Karanambu may not be “El Dorado,” but the lodge is certainly a pleasant stop on my tour through the interior of Guyana.