Karanambo: No?
Iwokrama: Yes!

This web page comes to you from the delightful Iwokrama Field Station on the Essiquibo river near Kurupukari in Guyana.

The road north from Lethem to Georgetown used to be in very poor condition. Some time in the last few years a "new" all-weather road has been built. On the most recent ITMB 1:850,000 map of Guyana, this new road is shown as passing to the east of the Iwokrama mountains and crossing the Essiquibo river near Awartun Island. This is the road we intended to follow when we left Lethem.

We hoped to spend our first night at the well known Karanambo Tourist Ranch, found in many guide books and shown on our maps at the end of a dirt track about 25km to the east of the main Lethem-Georgetown road.

"This ranch is run by Dianne McTurk. Dianne is very warm and welcoming and full of character and personal anecdotes. The ranch is now dedicated to wildlife conservation and is located in an extremely remote and beautiful part of the Rupununi, encompassing parts of the Rupununi and Sipuruni rivers.

Dianne has raised and continually cares for Giant River Otters, which are an endangered species. Whilst at the ranch you can meet wild otters that occasionally turn up to be fed, or to play. Those intrepid enough can swim with the otters and help at feeding time."

When we arrived within 10km of where we thought the turning to Karanambo should be, we started looking for signs of a track to the east.

After 17km we decided that we must have missed the turning. So we turned around and started asking the very few people we could find if they knew where the Karanambo Ranch was? They did, and they confirmed we had missed the turning.

All we had to do was "go back and the turning was on the left just after the bridge". There was a track to the left just after the bridge, but it seemed only suitable for walking, not driving. So we continued looking.

Eventually we found another person to ask and they told us that we had missed the turning yet again! All we had to do was "turn round and drive back five miles and it was on the right, before the bridge. You can't miss it". Knowing that we had already searched this section of road twice and failed to find the turning, we asked for a little help in identifying it.

Our informant confirmed that the turning was a gap in the fence that ran parallel to the road, and it could easily be identified by the fact that the fence posts were slightly higher (see below)!

This time we found it! (You can find it easily at N03.861330 W59.439880.) There is no sign and very little track. We confirmed that this was indeed the way to the "McTurk place" with a motorcyclist (who came to see if we were cattle rustlers).

Given the absence of a defined track, we decided to give the Karanambo Tourist Ranch a miss. If you are passing and do make it to the ranch, it would be good to hear from you.

The road north was generally good with a few slightly suspect wooden bridges, one with a 10 tonne weight limit.

Our second objective was the Iwokrama Field Station.

Unfortunately, whilst the old road (the cattle track) had gone passed the field station, the "new" road is shown as going no closer than 25km, with no connecting track!

Luckily the map turned out to be wrong! The "new" road is in fact the "cattle track" greatly upgraded.

To get to the field station you have to park at the police check point near the exit to the Iwokrama Forest Reserve (N04.659837 W58.684127). The police will then contact the field station who will send a boat for you.

Tourist accommodation at the field station is in five pleasant thatched huts with toilets, showers and wired Internet access (not WiFi).

The field station is used to house people doing research on the ecosystems of the forest, rangers being trained and a few tourists. There is a fine two-storey dining room and excellent meals.

Accommodation, including three meals a day, costs about $80USA per person per night. Excursions on foot or by boat are available at between $6 and $15USA per person. Recommended but see below.

Price Warning: Although we asked for and received a detailed breakdown of the costs of staying at the Iwokrama Field Station it was only when we came to leave that we were told that there would be:

  • An additional 10% administration charge on all the costs already given to us.
  • A $15 USA charge per person for entering the forest (we had already driven thru it.)
  • An additional "boat" charge for an excursion that could only be made by boat.
  • A $10 USA charge for the initial boat trip to the field station.

After our protest some of these charges were dropped. But by then the damage to good-will had been done.

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2006-10-07
This page contains the latitude and longitude (from GPS using WGS84 Datum) of places of interest.