Today we split up into two groups for our tours, with the really early group heading off to the Mahaica River at 5:00 a.m. Given that it was a birding tour on the river, it made sense to avoid the worst heat of the day and also see more birds in the early morning. It certainly worked, as guests saw a variety of birds and also some howler monkeys and river otters. The birds included the National Bird of Guyana, the hoatzin, as well as the Maguari stork and the lesser yellow-headed vulture.
The more leisurely tour left at 8:00 a.m. for a tour of the city of Georgetown. The tour started right at the port, as National Geographic Explorer was docked at the sugar terminal. We learned a lot about the sugar industry that used to be one of the major economic drivers for the country. Then we took off for the National Park, where we all had fun pulling grass and feeding the resident West Indian manatees. After that, we went to see the seawall. Georgetown is actually six feet below sea level, and they needed help from the Dutch to construct the right sea defenses.
The tour continued through the city with visits to St. George’s Cathedral and a couple of museums, where we even saw the extinct giant sloth (or at least a stuffed, life-size version of one). We finished up at the Botanical Gardens, where dragonflies flitted around the pools even in the heat of the day.
The afternoon was spent at sea on our way to Suriname. We enjoyed a couple of interesting talks from naturalist and undersea specialist Carlos Navarro on the jaguar and from our National Geographic photographer, Frederico Pardo, who presented on photography and storytelling.