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Dadanawa is a place where visitors can join vaqueros on an overnight ride to round up cattle one day and birdwatch the next, seeing as many as 80 different species in a few hours around the ranch.
Once the world's largest cattle ranch, Dadanawa is still a working ranch and the biggest in Guyana © Courtesy of Wilderness Explorers
Dadanawa has a long and rich history in Guyana. At one point in time Dadanawa held the claim of being the world’s largest cattle ranch; fast forward a bit and the ranch was used as a home base for the filming of several episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, one of television’s first wildlife shows. Stan Brock, one of the show’s hosts and one-time manager of Dadanawa, captured America’s attention by wrestling giant anacondas in waters where black caiman and piranha lurked, and where jaguars were often spotted along the banks.
Today little has changed; it is a place where the past lives on in the present. There are still some 6,000 cattle that openly roam the 1,700 square miles; Dadanawa still holds the title of being Guyana’s largest cattle ranch. The ranch is also a favourite of wildlife film crews and it has served as a temporary home base for many scientists and researchers over the years. The wrestling of anacondas still happens from time to time as well.
Dadanawa is first and foremost a working ranch. Barefoot vaqueros frequently head out on cattle drives to round up steers and wild horses. Talk often lands on the problem with cattle rustlers coming in from the south. Vaqueros must also protect the cattle from jaguars and puma known to poach from the herd.
Sounds of a working ranch fill the air – sheep baa, kids laugh, roosters crow, motorcycles rev, pigs snort, frustrated men pound on engines, horses whinny and cattle moo. But then there are also sounds of the tropical forest – macaws screech overhead, small songbirds sing, beetles scream, monkeys scamper in the trees. And it all, somehow, comes together in beautiful harmony.
Dadanawa is a place where visitors can join vaqueros on an overnight ride to round up cattle one day and birdwatch the next, seeing as many as 80 different species in a few hours around the ranch. You can see the age-old process of tanning leathers and watch vaqueros attempt to tame wild horses one afternoon and then leave the next morning for some of Guyana’s most remote terrain, with some of Guyana’s best and most knowledgeable guides to lead you.
At Dadanawa, guests interact with the locals, the family and the history and are always treated as old family friends. Not because that’s part of the routine but just because that’s how life is. Dadanawa is a place rich in textures, from the people and lifestyles to the weathered woods and worn vehicles, and guests are invited to a place where time seems to have stood still, while still gracefully moving forward. An oxymoron surely, but it should be welcome in today’s modern world.