For endless adventure, little-visited Guyana
offers those in the know an authentic chunk of untouched South American wonderland. With
colonial influences including all of the Netherlands, Britain and France, some pretty post-colonial
town centers and a wild and untouched backcountry that goes from mist-topped tepuis to wild
virgin rainforests, it’s hardly surprising there’s so much to see and do. 1.Georgetown Georgetown, the country’s crumbling colonial capital, is distinctly
Caribbean, with an alluring vibe, happening nightlife and some great places to eat. The
interior of the country is more Amazonian, with its Amerindian communities and unparalleled
wildlife-viewing opportunities tucked quietly away from the capital’s noise and bustle.
From sea-turtle nesting grounds along the country’s north coast to monkeys and jaguars
in the rainforest, and giant anteaters down in the southern savannas, Guyana’s natural
wonders are well worth the mud, bumpy roads and sweat. Miners, plantation builders, architects, statesmen
and more all flocked to this corner of Demerara-Mahaica to play their part as the city went from Dutch
to French to British rule, imbuing the town with the likes of Stabroek Market and whitewashed
St George’s Cathedral as they went. The Parliament Building is also worth a stop-off,
while the national museum is a great place to get acquainted with local history.
2.Kaieteur Falls Kaieteur Falls are without a doubt Guyana’s
most highly prized natural wonder. Watching 1140 metric tons of water shooting over a
250m cliff (the world’s highest single-drop falls) in the middle of an ancient jungle
with few tourists in sight, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Depending on the season, the falls
are from 76m to 122m wide. The trail approaching the falls is home to scarlet Guianan cock-of-the-rock
birds, and miniscule golden frogs (best seen in the rainy season and/or in the morning),
which produce a potentially fatal poison. 3.Surama The Amerindian community of Surama is set
in five square miles of savannah which is ringed by the forest covered Pakaraima Mountains.
Surama’s inhabitants are mainly from the Macushi tribe and still observe many of the
traditional practices of their forebears. Surama shares a common border with the Iwokrama
International Centre for Conservation and Development along the Burro Burro River where
you can canoe allowing opportunities to observe a diverse abundance of wildlife. This isolated
and idyllic location offers a serene and peaceful environment. Dawn hikes, led by Surama guides
across the savannah and up Surama Mountain, reveal a multitude of birds and fantastic
views. The guides have lived their entire lives in the rainforest, and have an extensive
understanding of nature and how to utilise its resources. 4.Iwokrama
The Iwokrama Forest is in the heart of one of the four last untouched tropical forests
of the world. It is located 300km south of Georgetown and
encompasses 3,700 square kilometres of lush, pristine tropical rainforest. It was established
as a living laboratory for tropical forest management and is now a protected area.
The Iwokrama Canopy Walkway is based at Mauisparu, near the southern boundary of the Iwokrama
Reserve. The walkway is owned by the Iwokrama International Centre and is managed by the
Community and Tourism Services (CATS). This is a partnership of the indigenous Makushi
community of Surama and two private sector companies providing a unique model for ecotourism
business development. With 80% of forest dwellers living in the forest canopy, the walkway provides
the ideal opportunity to join the birds and experience the wildlife of the rainforest
canopy. The walkway is a series of suspension bridges
and observation decks of up to 30 metres (98ft) in height and 154 metres (505ft) in length.
The unique construction allows trees to grow normally by using cables that are adjustable
along with braces throughout the support structure. The four observation decks enable you to view
the canopy from the mid and upper level forest canopy whilst allowing wildlife to remain
relatively free from human intrusion. 5.Linden For almost a whole century, the settlement
of Linden has been Guyana’s primary mining hub, with thousands of prospectors and miners
making their way to this tropical spot to pull bauxite from the hills that line the
Demerara River. Today, the history and development of this
mining past is chronicled in the Linden Museum of Socio-Cultural Heritage in the centre of
town, revealing the evolution of the place from tented outpost in the early 1900s to
mechanised industrial center today – even if many of the shaft mines have now shut down.
Other travelers will want to make a beeline for Gluck Island on the Essequibo to the west,
with its red howler monkeys, colossal lily pads and tropical bird watching.
6.The Kanuku Mountains The great peaks of Kanuku are divided in two
by the long and winding water channels of the Rupununi River, separated into a duo of
diamond-shaped highland regions that are both famed for their wealth of mammalian species
and old growth forests. It’s actually rather rare that travels will
make their way this deep into the southern recesses of the nation, passing the tepui
peaks of Potaro-Siparuni and traversing great stretches of savannah and lowland forest to
get here. Those who do come, however, can spy out the
rare harpy eagle, giant otters in the riparian habitats and the colossal (though now rare)
pirarucu fish. 7.Baganara Island
Baganara Island is a well-kempt luxury resort island in the midst of the Essequibo waters.Located
five miles south of Bartica, at the junction of where the Essequibo and Mazaruni Rivers
meet, Baganara Island is the perfect getaway to unspoilt rainforest.Within its 187 acres
of colourful tropical flowers and lush green foliage, this wonderful little island paradise
has the beauty of nature surrounding your every move. You will have lots of space to relax and be
alone at one with nature. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to undertake a variety
of activities. These can range from water sports to exploring one of the nature trails
into the rainforest. However you decide to spend your time, the pristine white sand beach
set against the backdrop of the rainforest provides the perfect environment to unwind. 8.Shell Beach
From March to August, Guyana’s endless swathe of unspoilt Atlantic coastline known as Shell
Beach becomes the nesting ground to hordes of prehistoric-looking marine turtles. These
turtles comprise four different species of the world’s eight most endangered turtles.
The totally undeveloped seaside setting and the opportunity to experience this rare sighting
makes the tropical coastline a natural paradise. 9.Lethem
As the gateway to Brazil, Lethem makes a popular pit stop for those crossing the border
by land and boat. Skirting the South Rapununi area and Kanuku mountains, it’s a rugged
land of sweeping plains dotted with mango and cashew trees and the ranches of local vaqueros or
cowboys. With its low-slung buildings and sense of remoteness, Lethem has its own charm.
It also makes a good jumping off point for exploring the savannah further.
10.Dadanawa At Dadanawa ranch, 6,000 cattle roam free
on 1,700 square miles while vaqueros attempt to tame wild horses and tackle anacondas.
It’s a place where wildlife shows are frequently filmed and researchers and scientists congregate
to study the local ecosystem. Visitors can come and enjoy life on the working farm, joining vaqueros for
rides, birdwatching expeditions, and learn about the age-old leather tanning process
that makes up local production.