As one of the trio of small countries located in the North East of Brazil, Guyana is unique in that it is the only English speaking country in South America. Dragoman's Guyanas Explorer will take you on an overland trip from Boa Vista to Cayenne.
The capital Georgetown houses a number of incredible architectural treasures from St George’s Cathedral, reputedly the tallest wooden building in the world at 143ft to The High Court, which has a rather battered statue of Queen Victoria outside, The Stabroek Market is also an interesting building, first designed to be a railway station, but following the removal of the railway line (it was sold to Nigeria after independence) it was decided that it should house the main market - check out the four-faced clock tower. The famous Georgetown lighthouse built in 1817 was designed to guide ships into the Demerera River from the Atlantic, however when the Marriot Hotel was built, it obscured the lighthouse, so the beacon had to be moved to the roof of the hotel.
Georgetown was built below sea level, so is protected from the Atlantic ocean by a 280 mile sea wall, and drained by a canal system designed by the Dutch, which releases excess water from the city’s Canals into the ocean at low tide and just one of the many fascinating points of interest. Also worther checking out are Georgetown’s National Park and Botanical Gardens to see some birdlife and watch the local kids feeding grass to the resident manatees (water cows), who used to be kept in the Canals to help keep them clear.
Guyana’s big claim to fame, is its spectacular waterfalls - Kaieteur Falls, which are one of the worlds highest single drop waterfalls, made even more impressive by their remoteness - the only ways to get there is a 5 day hike and boat or a 1 hour flight in a light aircraft. On arrival you’ll spend two hours walking the short trail to the viewpoints, search for the tiny Golden frogs in the Tank Bromilieads and hopefully catch a glimpse of the Cock of the Rocks - we were lucky to see all three - but as the rainclouds rolled in, the waterfalls were covered and we got a complete soaking. Top tip - bring a dry bag to leave in the lodge so you have a change of clothes, bring an umbrella and a waterproof pouch for your phone, passport and wallet.
Guyana is all about the interior, with only a dirt road to cross from Linden to Lethem and nearby Brazil so you will get truly off the beaten track. This pristine tropical rainforest is kept wild and undisturbed. No trip to Guyana would be complete without spending time exploring the jungle and savannah lodges. Guyana has a thriving Community Tourism initiative, with many lodges being run and managed by indigenous Amerindian communities who offer guided bird walks, community visits and wildlife spotting. Each lodge has its own appeal and claim to fame and differs from the next, so they are not in competition, but rather complement each other. So, from visiting the Caiman House to Giant River Otter research, from Community projects to bird watching, there’s a wide variety of activities.
Dragoman recommends a visit to Surama Eco-Lodge, which is based in a small Savannah area surrounded by Surama Mountain on one side and Burro Burro Mountain on the other, the open communal area has stunning views and guests are kept company by the rather boisterous bright yellow and black weaver birds. En route to Surama, it’s even possible to trek a short trail to hopefully catch a glimpse of the iconic bright orange Cock of the Rock. Everything is solar powered here, even water is purified using solar power.
Another must do in the Interior is the Iwokrama canopy walkway, 100ft above the jungle floor, it’s possible to sight Tucans and Macaws, and just soak up the atmosphere at bird level! It’s possible to see evidence of the big cats in the area with the aid of Camera traps here, Jaguar, Puma, Ocelots, all wander the jungle, but of course they are extremely elusive. Another rare sight is the Harpy Eagle, which hunts below the forest canopy for monkeys. Guests at the Atta Rainforest lodge will be taken on a jungle trail, with a couple of keen eyed guides and telescope to try to spot the bird life, despite the volume and diversity of the rainforest it is still remarkably difficult to spot the birds and monkeys, so when you do catch sight of a Red Howler Monkey or a Black Spider Monkey, it’s really very exciting. Even relaxing in a hammock around the camp, there are regular visits from Red Brockett Deer (we saw two and one youngster) as well as Red rumped Agoutis (a little like a giant Guinea pig.
To bring - Being in the rainforest, there’s one thing you’re sure to encounter even in the dry season is a lot of rain. The rains lower the temperature a little which is always welcome. Things to remember are:
- Waterproof Poncho.
- Powerpacks, with all the solar energy here, be aware that there is not always electricity at the lodges.
- Flip flops / waterproof shoes.
- Waterproof pouch for phones and cameras.
- Even an umbrella will be useful here.