Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List

Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List

Picking the right jungle clothes and deciding what to pack for a trip to the Amazon basin is easier said than done. That’s why I have decided to put together a packing list to make things easier for you.

With the amount of traveling I do, I have become a pro at packing, for just about any kind of trip. I have plenty of hiking clothes (I hike so much that my closet is packed with hiking pants and rainproof jackets!); safari clothes, thanks to a recent trip to southern Africa; and after having traveled to Guyana I also have a good deal of jungle clothing.

I have become so good at packing that it now takes me no more than one hour to pack before a trip, and I do it right before walking out the door to catch my flight. Gone are the days when I’d agonize over what to pack and I’d end up carrying my entire closet on my back (I remember once my backpack weighted 18 kg, and I literally bent over the weight!). I was so bad at it that I even admitted being an unsuccessful backpacker.

Read why I call myself an unsuccessful backpacker in this post.

The Challenge Of Packing The Right Jungle Clothes

A recent trip to Guyana, however, proved challenging in terms of packing. The trip organizers sent out a detailed packing list, but some items on it made absolutely no sense to me. I was asked to bring a 10 meters long paracord – which I didn’t bring because (errr!) I don’t actually know what that is (and thankfully I was never asked to use it!). I was warned to pack as light as possible (which I am ok with). And obviously, I was told to pack a good deal of jungle clothes.

But, for as detailed as the Amazon packing list I had was, I wish there were some items I took with me, and others I had left home. So, for all those of you who are planning to visit Guyana soon (which you will be, since it’s an absolutely incredible country), I have put together a packing list which includes all the jungle clothes you will need, and a few other essential items, and I have also listed what you really should leave at home instead.

However, before I tell you what to actually pack, let me go over a few things you need to keep in mind when picking your jungle clothes.

jungle clothes

I guess I picked the right jungle clothes! Wearing my Kuhl Kliffside Convertible Pants and carrying my 28 liters Cabin Zero bag.

What You Should Know Before Packing Your Jungle Clothes

You need to pack light

A trip to the Amazon basin in Guyana is not like any other. There’s no luxury involved, nothing fancy about it, and chances are you will get dirty, sweaty, muddy most of the time. So, don’t pack anything precious with your jungle clothes.

Furthermore, chances are that you will be moving around quite a bit, on a combination of tiny charter flights (for which weight restrictions are taken seriously, and prior to the flight every single item is weighted: bags, food supplies and passengers too), small boats and 4×4 rides along bumpy roads. Space is always limited, and there will be weight restrictions in place. This means that your Amazon packing list has to be kept to the absolute essentials.

It’s hot in the jungle

When putting together your Amazon packing list for Guyana, keep in mind the weather conditions. Guyana is pretty much located on the equator. There are two seasons: dry (from September to December) and rainy. I obviously recommend visiting during the dry season (though keep in mind there can be showers even then). What hardly changes throughout the year is the average temperature, which stays between a balmy 29 and 32 degrees Celsius during the day, and hardly decreases at night.

It wouldn’t seem so bad, right? Temperatures during the summer get even higher than that in southern Europe, after all. However, a factor that has to be considered is the humidity. It makes the air heavy, and the perceived temperatures much higher: the minute you get out of air-con (which by the way isn’t really a thing outside of Georgetown) the air becomes literally thick – even the slightest form of exercise results in profuse sweating. So much for keeping your nice jungle clothes clean!

Long sleeve tops and pants are a must

Bugs, mice, mosquitoes, chiggers and other small parasites love the jungle as much as we do (possibly more). Such thick vegetation and humidity provide the perfect environment for them to thrive. This means two things: no matter how hot it is, forget about wearing tank tops, shorts and flip flops unless you like the idea of itching like like a mad man (your jungle clothes should all be long sleeve tops and pants); and wear a good insect repellent on any inch of skin that remains exposed.

As well as the right (non) colors

I learned the importance of wearing the right colors when I went on a safari in Africa. Bright colors attract insects, whereas neutral colors such as mauve and khaki are best to view wildlife (there is a great deal of wildlife in Guyana – check my post to discover more) and are not as attractive to  bugs. The same reasoning should apply when picking the right jungle clothes for Guyana, for wildlife spotting is a thing there.

See what I wore in Africa on my post “What To Wear On Safari.”

Clothes take forever to dry

When I had to pack for my trip to Guyana, I was thorn between taking many changes of clothes, or just rely on washing whatever I wore daily. In the end, I washed most of my clothes at the end of every day, since I could rely on the fact that I’d spend 2 nights in most of the places I visited. However, keep in mind that with such high humidity, unless clothes are hang to dry in the sun, it take a good while for them to dry (do not expect them to dry overnight!). Make sure your jungle clothes are made with light, quick dry fabric.

Amazon packing list

A 28 liters Cabin Zero proved to be perfect for my trip.

Jungle Clothes And Other Essential Items To Add To Your Amazon Packing List

The Backpack And The Daypack

The first thing to consider when putting together an Amazon packing list is the kind of bag you want to carry. Having established that you will need to pack more or less light, what you travel with depends on the kind of trip you will be going on.

For a soft adventure trip like the one I did, a 40 liters Cabin Zeroor something similar, or a similar size trolley is just perfect: it will feet all your jungle clothes, shoes and other essentials and it won’t take too much space on the boat, or on the plane.

If, on the other hand, you plan to go on a hard core adventure, you will need a good backpack. Osprey is my go to brand. I am a fan of the Ariel 65 (the equivalent for men is the Aether 70). Kestrel 68 (for men) and Kyte 66 (for women) are excellent alternatives. All of them are spacious enough to hold all your essential jungle clothes and whatever else you may need for the trip.

However, keeping in mind you want to keep weight down as much as possible, I’d suggest going with the Tempest 40(for women) or with the Stratos 50 (for men). I have used my Tempest 40 on a recent trip to Catalunya, where I had to carry around my backpack for the whole day even when hiking, and found it comfortable and able to carry just the right amount of clothes. It probably is the best choice for an Amazon packing list.

With regards to the daypack, I traveled with a 28 liters khaki Cabin Zero, and found the backpack to be comfortable and to hold everything I needed. One thing I did miss, though, was having side pockets to keep bottles of water handy. So, it’s probably a good idea to opt for an Osprey Daylite Plus.

jungle clothes

A proper Amazon packing list shall include a camera

Camera Gear

One of the nicest things to do in Guyana is taking hundreds of photos of the unique, breathtaking landscape and of the beautiful wildlife. This is the kind of place where you will wake up to the call of howler monkeys; where if you may spot the elusive jaguar as it runs off into the forest; where the cock of the rock will show bright and orange against the thick green layers of the jungle. Make sure that your Amazon packing list includes the right camera gear that will allow you to take beautiful photos of what you’ll see.

Other than your smartphone (I am a huge fan of iPhones), which is perfect for taking quick videos while walking around in the jungle, make sure to carry a good DSLR camera (I have a Nikon D3300 which is nice and easy to use) and a couple of good lenses. I had an 18-105 millimeters which proved good for landscape photography (I used it to take photos of Kaieteur Falls, both on land and from the plane). I also took my 70-300 millimeters lens, which is best for shooting wildlife.

If you are into action, also take a Go Pro or a steady cam.

To fit all this camera gear and a few more accessories and things, take a good daypack. I am a fan of the Osprey Daylite Plus and of the Cabin Zero 28 liters.

For more things to do in Guyana, head over to my post “13 Absolutely Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”

Essential Jungle Clothes

This is an list of jungle clothes and a few other items that you must include in your Amazon packing list:

2 pairs of loose fitting hiking pants in neutral colors (remember what I said: bright colors attract insects!). I had my Kuhl Cliffside Convertible pants (which I never converted, by the way!) and my Hykr pants.

A pair of cotton pants. I like ali-baba pants, even though they are not the most flattering, because they are lose and comfortable. The bonus is that they are usually made with cotton, and they are easy to wash and dry.

3 or 4 long sleeve t-shirts, better if cotton and also in neutral colors. Make sure they are easy to wash and dry. I took my Kuhl Sora t-shirt which I have in several colors, and my Wunderer shirt.

3 or 4 tank tops – you can wear them under the shirt, to soak up the sweat (I know, gross!) and keep you cool.

4 or 5 pairs of underwear and the same amount of socks – make sure the socks are lightweight cotton. I had a pair that was rather thick and my feet almost exploded in them, as it was so hot.

3 sports bra for the ladies: they are more comfortable than the regular stuff, and in the heat all we want is to at least be comfortable, if not cool!

A long sleeve and long pants pajama – either that, or jungle clothes that you can happily wear to bed too. I know it sounds crazy to sleep in anything but your underwear in such heat, but insects and other creatures do get in the room when in the jungle (besides, what if you sleep in a hammock like I did after hiking?). Besides, despite mosquito nets anything can get in your bed (I had a small mouse in my bed one night, stuck inside the mosquito net with me!).

A rain jacket or poncho: even in the dry season, rain can suddenly come in the Amazon. I was walking along the Canopy Walk at Iwokrama Rainforest when it started pouring and I had to rush back to the lodge, getting soaking wet on the way. A good rain jacket or poncho is an essential item to add to your Amazon packing list. I have a fantastic Kuhl Airstorm Rain Jacket.

jungle clothes

My Kuhl Kliffside Convertible pants and my Sora t-shirt proved to be perfect jungle clothes

Leave At Home

Things you don’t really need to include in your Amazon packing list, on the other hand, are:

Shorts: there really is no use for them. I wore them in Georgetown thinking there would be less mosquitoes than in the jungle, and ended up being covered in bites and itching for days.

Leggings, jeans or tight pants: I brought a pair of leggings with me and literally melted in them. They really do not belong to an Amazon packing list. The same goes for anything tight (it’s too hot to wear tight clothes, and mosquitoes can pick right through it!) or jeans (they were included in my suggested packing list, but I am unable to wear them when it’s hot so didn’t bring them).

An extra cardi or light sweater: I used mine only during the flight. Other than that, it is always too hot to even conceive the thought of wearing something warm.

The Shoes

A pair of good hiking boots: a proper Amazon packing list can’t do without. I have been wearing the same Dolomite pair for ages (they aren’t really available outside of Italy). They are so comfortable that when the sole got completely worn out I had them resoled. You’ll need something with extra ankle support, especially if you plan to hike a bit, because the forest can get extremely muddy and slippery. Besides, you will want to keep your ankles covered to avoid mosquito and chigger bites (I only know too well!). Columbia makes some excellent hiking boots, like these ones.

Check out my post about the nicest hikes I did in Guyana.

An extra pair of shoes: this is totally up to you, but I was glad to have something more lightweight that I could wear around the camp at night. I took a pair of Converse All Stars but going back I would opt for a pair of light canvas shoes. They are much lighter to carry, and go well with jungle clothes.

A pair of sandals: I took my usual Hawaianas flip flops, which are great to get in the shower and I find comfortable to walk around, but a pair of Teva sandals are also great, especially as you can wear them with socks at night – your feet will get a break, and you won’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes and other insects. I know that wearing sandals with socks isn’t exactly glamorous, but when in the jungle, I hardly think anyone is bothered!

Beauty and Personal Care

A proper Amazon packing list needs to include a few essential items that will be much needed in the jungle. Other than the obvious stuff – which you do need to carry, because the lodges in the rainforest only offer soap in terms of toiletries, here’s what I recommend taking.

Sunscreen: the sun is intense on this part of the world, so you need to protect your skin accordingly. I opted for a SPF 100, though I tend to burn easily. A good quality SPF 50 should be plenty. In any case, make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

Sunscreen lip balm: we always protect the skin, but forget to protect the lips! They are delicate too, you know?

Sunscreen spray: when the temperature is too hot, the last thing we want on our face is a thick layer of cream. A goodsunscreen spray is lighter in texture but just as effective, and it won’t stain all your nice jungle clothes.

Water mist spray: seems futile, right? Believe me, when the heat of the jungle strikes, you will be glad to have this little Evian water mist spray that will instantly refresh you. I didn’t have one with me, but thankfully one of my travel mates made sure to include it in her Amazon packing list so I occasionally snatched it from her.

Face and baby wipes: they are light and easy to carry, and much needed after a hike. They are also perfect to remove the thick layer of insect repellent and sunscreen before going to bed, and a must if camping in the jungle overnight.

Hand sanitizer: it will come in handy any time you have to use the bush toilet, especially if camping overnight.

jungle clothes

The perfect jungle clothes are long sleeve shirts and pants

Insect Repellent And Itch Creams

If you are even remotely similar to me, mosquitoes are big fans of you. You want to avoid being bitten, not only because it gets itchy and annoying, but also because of malaria and yellow fever risks. Make sure to apply copious amounts of mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET. I opted for a 50% one, but it’s a bit oily. There also are lighter options. Either way, make sure that you include it in your Amazon packing list.

You may also want to consider a clothing treatment, whereby your jungle clothes get sprayed with repellent that stays for up to 30 washes (you can either do it yourself, or take it to specialized places to do this for you).

Other things I recommend carrying are mosquito repellent patches or bracelets – just so as not to leave any chances on those mosquitoes.

In case that, despite all precautions, you get bitten, make sure to have a good itch cream (preferably with cortisone) to treat the bites immediately. Chigger bites itch badly, but if you don’t want to make it worse, don’t scratch it (it will only inflame the bites) and apply a good cortisone cream. If you fear you may get an allergic reaction to bites, make sure to also pack some benadryl antihistamine tablets that you can swallow with some water. It takes up to 3 weeks for the bites to heal fully.

Another thing I’d take, just in case, is tea tree oil. Its smells keeps the bugs away, and its healing powers are well known: applying a drop on a bite will immediately soothe it.

By the way, remember that there are still malaria and yellow fever warnings for Guyana, so you will need to show proof of having a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country, and I also recommend you get a good travel insurance. Allianz has some good travel insurance packages. You can check them out here.

First Aid Kit

I take a first aid kit with me pretty much on any trip. Sure enough, I had to include one in my Amazon packing list. This should have: paracetamol or any other pain relief tablets; imodium or other diarrhea medications; bandaids and bandages; a good antiseptic cream and antiseptic wipes; a cortisone cream; steristrips; hydration tablets(ideally, you’ll be drinking plenty of water and juice throughout the day, but the heat is fierce and you may need extra help!)

Amazon packing list

Binoculars are a nice addition to an Amazon packing list

Miscellaneous Stuff To Add To Your Amazon Packing List

Other things you will want to include in your Amazon packing list are a good hat to protect your head from the sun – personally, I think I look silly in a hat, but I had to wear it as the sun was really getting to me! Besides, the right hat can match even the nicest jungle clothes.

Sunglasses are a must during the day, to protect your eyes from the fierce light. And another must to include in your Amazon packing list is a head lamp or a torch, which will be needed at night as there often is no electricity around the lodge, and even less so when camping in the wild. Make sure to take one with a red light option, to keep bugs away.

Make sure to take a power bank: there is no phone reception at all in the jungle, but if you plan to use your smartphone for photos and videos, it make come in handy to have a bit extra power, so I recommend adding it to your Amazon Packing list.

Binoculars are a nice add on, if you have room in your luggage. You’ll need them any time there is any cool bird around (which is pretty much every day) or if you are lucky enough to spot a jaguar (I was, by the way!).

A water bottle is a must. There is no garbage disposal in the Amazon basin of Guyana, and though the indigenous communities due their best to protect their environment, plastic waste is still an issue. A refillable water bottle significantly reduces the amount of plastic you consume, so make sure to include it in your packing list. I have a steel one which is wonderful, as it keeps my water cold for hours.

Read more about the indigenous communities of the Rupununi region of Guyana in this post.

If you enjoy reading, make sure to include a nice book (or a Kindle) in your Amazon packing list. You probably want to include it even if you are not much of a reader. Tv is not a thing in the Amazon basin, let alone the internet. You will want to keep yourself entertained once you are back at the lodge at night!

One last thing I’d include in an Amazon packing list (and which I regret not bringing) is snacks. Don’t get me wrong, food in Guyana is delicious (you can read more about it in this post), but on those long boat rides a snack such as a protein bar or a trail mix wouldn’t hurt.

Travel Insurance

I recommend getting travel insurance whenever you get out of the country. You definitely want to get a good one if you plan to visit a remote place as the jungle of Guyana, especially as there still are cases of yellow fever and malaria there! (Also remember that yellow fever vaccination is required to enter the country) I recommend using Allianz Travel Insurance. You can get a quote here.

Final Notes

A trip to the Amazon basin of Guyana is by no means a comfortable one. Forget about looking pretty, and make sure you actually feel comfortable. Pick jungle clothes that are, more than anything else, smart. Protect yourself against the heat and the insects; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to make sure you get a good dose of fibers and sugars.

By all means have fun!

Have you ever been to the Amazon? What are you essential jungle clothes?

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Find out all the jungle clothes you should back for your trip to Guyana - via @clautavani

 

 

21 Mouthwatering Guyanese Food And Drinks You Need To Try

21 Mouthwatering Guyanese Food And Drinks You Need To Try

Guyanese food is simple, earthy, tasty and comforting. It is quite similar to that of the rest of the Anglo Caribbean countries such as Antigua, thanks to a similar ethnic mix. Indeed, the food reflects the varied culture of the country, whose inhabitants are of African, Creole, East Indian, Amerindian, Portuguese, Chinese and even European (British) descent, and its colonial history.

By the way, you can read more about culture in Guyana on my post “How 3 Tiny Villages Are Helping To Preserve Indigenous Culture In Guyana.”

Sure enough, I didn’t miss the chance to try traditional Guyanese food when I visited, and I truly enjoyed its clean flavors. Yet, what I loved  the most about it is the freshness of the ingredients used to create seemingly simple yet delicious meals. This is the kind of place where chances are that what’s on your plate is locally sourced and seasonal, probably bought fresh at the local market – where there is an incredible selection of produce.

A trip to the food markets of Georgetown reveals more kinds of bananas that any European would imagine – they are different in shape, flavor, texture (one really has to try them to appreciate them, and by the way, they are all so good). Pineapple, papaya and mango are as sweet as one could hope for, and avocados are ridiculously big (I have a photo of one next to a pineapple, to give it perspective, and they are almost the same size!) and have the softest texture.

I know food isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Guyana (most think of its wild beauty, that really makes it a must when in South America). Yet, I do recommend trying at least some Guyanese dishes and sampling the local ingredients such as all the delicious fruit as one of the things to there. For anyone who is planning to visit, I thought I’d write a little something about the nicest Guyanese food – the one that you really should try when you visit. Keep in mind that my list is absolutely not exhaustive!

For more things to do in Guyana, check my post “13 Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”

Guyanese food

Cook-up rice is a staple Guyanese food

21 Delicious Guyanese Food And Drinks You Must Try

The Staples

Bake

Bake is a kind of bread that I have mostly seen served for breakfast. The most interesting thing about it is that it isn’t baked at all. This is a traditional Guyanese food: it is a plain white flour dough lightly fried. It’s usually served nice and warm. I tried it with peanut butter, and it was simply mouthwatering.

Cook-up Rice

Cook-up rice is a nice reminder of what part of the world you are in. In its various forms, this rice dish is seen in many Caribbean countries such as Antigua (they have something similar in Central America countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which however is saltier and more spicy). It is a one pot dish made with rice and pretty much any kind of peas available (can be pigeon peas, chickpeas, beans). Meat is also added to it.  As far as Guyanese food goes, this is an absolute must try.

Cassava Bread

Cassava is known in other countries as yuca or manioc. I was quite sure I could recognize the taste of it, and it was only when I read the international names that I finally understood why! Anyways – cassava bread is another staple traditional Guyanese food. It’s a kind of flat bread made with grated cassava, that is commonly used to accompany meals or to be eaten as a snack. It’s fantastic with peanut butter or with avocado.

Farine

Farine is a derivate of cassava – it’s basically made with the residue of what has been used to make cassava bread. It looks like a sort of thick cous cous in shape, color and texture, and it is used to accompany meals, much like rice and cous cous. It’s omnipresent on Guyanese tables, so it’s easy to see why this is a must try Guyanese food.

Salt fish

Another staple in Guyanese cuisine is salt fish. I have mostly seen it served for breakfast. It is made with salt fish, which is rinsed and boiled for an hour and a half, and then fried with oil, garlic, onion and pepper. Locals love to eat it with bake.

Guyanese food

When it comes to Guyanese food, pepperpot is a must

Pepperpot

This must be one of the ultimates Guyanese dishes. Whenever I asked any local about their favorite food or their comfort food, they’d mention pepperpot. Apparently, it’s a must for Christmas or any celebrations, too. It’s a dish made with stewed meat which is flavored with cinnamon, cassareep (a sauce made from the root of cassava) and other ingredients. Any kind of meat can be used to make it – beef, pork and mutton. Some also use chicken and a vegetarian version is becoming more common.

Pepperpot cooks for several hours and it’s meant to last several days thanks to the preserving properties of cassareep. It’s usually served with rice, roti or home-style bread (though I have a feeling most locals would eat it with farine).

Metemgee

Another popular sort of stew is metemgee. This is made with corn, dumplings, cassava, plantains, okra and hot peppery coconut milk sauce. Traditional Guyanese food is very earthy, and this is not different: it has lots of root vegetables such as potatoes, edoes or yam. It’s served with salt fish or fried chicken.

Guyanese food

Bake is among the must try food in Guyana

The International Flavors

Roti

Paratha or oil roti is a kind of flat bread that is made with flour, salt, water, baking power and lots of oil (sometimes pea flour is also added to the mix) and it’s used to accompany curries. It’s very fluffy and moist.

Curry

With such a large part of the population whose ancestors are from the West Indies, it’s only obvious that among the most popular dishes in Guyanese cuisine there is curry. This can be made with any sort of meat, though chicken is a favorite. It’s nice, thick, flavorsome and never too spicy (contrary to the food in India, which is sometimes unbearably hot for me!). It’s usually served with roti.

Guyana style chow mein

Chow mein is a Chinese dish made with noodles, lots of chopped vegetables and usually chicken, all fried in the wok with lots of oil. To be honest, as a complete amateur when it comes to Chinese food, I haven’t really noticed much of a difference between the original recipe and the Guyanese version. All I can say is that I liked it, and that I noticed it is quite common in Guyanese cuisine.

Fried chicken

Not a day went by when I visited Guyana without having chicken. It’s practically always on the table, in one form or the other. A favorite among Guyanese dishes is definitely fried chicken, whereby chicken is covered in a light batter and then fried until golden, crispy yet moist. It’s a common international dish, but Guyanese people definitely love it.

Guyanese food

Plantain chips are my favorite Guyanese snack

The street food and the snacks

Chicken Foot

There is actually no chicken in what may well be the most popular snack in Guyana. These are fried strips of a delicious dough made with flour, curry and cumin. It’s one of the most popular Guyanese food.

Plantain chips

A common snacks that is easily found in grocery stores and markets in Guyana, and that is often served freshly made to accompany a good rum punch, is plantain chips. As far as snacks, this is my favorite food from Guyana.

Methai

Methai sticks are prepared by mixing flour, sugar, margarine and baking power. They are then fried in vegetable oil and coated in custard power. They are very crunchy, on the sweet side, but good on the go.

Egg ball

The most popular fast food in Guyanese cuisine is egg balls. To be fair, the preparation isn’t that fast at all, but since it is a street food most people grab it on the go. A boiled egg is covered with a mix of boiled, mashed cassava and raw eggs, butter and pepper, and then fried. The result is, needless to say, delicious.

Pholourie

In the list of snacks among Guyanese food, there has to be pholourie. It’s (guess what) fried, spiced dough balls that are generally served with a chutney. Not the healthiest, but definitely yummy.

Guyanese food

Barbecued fish accompanied by farine, a staple Guyanese food

Other Delicious Guyanese Food

Real peanut butter

Ok, this isn’t exactly a dish, but since I mentioned it when I talked about bake, I thought I’d share a few more facts about it. Peanut butter in Guyana isn’t the industrial, sugary, added flavors one that people of the northern hemisphere get over the counter at the grocery store. It is real food, so much so that I want to classify it among the Guyanese food that has to be tried when visiting.

It is made in the most traditional way by the Amerindian communities of the North Rupununi region in Guyana. The bad news is that this delicious peanut butter is only sold in Guyana. The good news is that they are looking to export it. Either way, if I were you I’d stock on it at the local stores before traveling home!

Grilled fish

With so much water, it’s quite obvious that one of the staples in Guyanese cuisine is fish. A typical fishing expedition in the Amazon basin ends up in a fantastic impromptu barbecue: while the fire gets ready, the fish is washed and cleaned and seasoned with a fantastic spice mix, and then grilled to perfection. Any fish can be used, really. I tried piranhas and vampire fish.

Here are 10 unmissable tips for fishing in Guyana.

Guyanese food

Juice is the perfect thing to accompany Guyanese food

The Drinks

Rum

In the country of Demerara, it’s quite obvious that the spirit of choice is rum. Used to prepare fantastic drinks (the most popular one is rum punch), Guyanese rum is of exceptional quality. Several rum distilleries are located in or near Georgetown, Guyana capital, and they can be visited on guided tours that include also a tasting.

Banks Beer

One of the things I always to whenever I am in a new country is trying the local lager – I just look for the kind that is sold over the counter at local stores and in the local bars. Guyana beer of choice is Banks. It’s perfect when icy cold, and a fantastic way to accompany local snacks.

The juices

One of the things I enjoyed the most, and which is regularly used to accompany Guyanese food, is a good fruit juice. Other than my favorite – icy cold coconut water – I enjoyed trying lime juice and mixed juice and watermelon. They are usually made with the pulp of the fruit mixed with cold water and some sugar, and served with ice.

Guyanese food

The best Guyanese food is found at the Backyard Café

Where To Have The Most Delicious Guyanese Food

There is no doubt that the best Guyanese food is that served by the Backyard Café in Georgetown. This is not just a restaurant, it is an overall cultural and social experience. A visit can include a tour of the market in the company of the incredible chef, Delven Adams, who takes care to show all the best local ingredients (don’t ask him to cook pasta, though I am sure he can pull out the best arrabbiata sauce if you ask him!) and suggests the best ways to use them. Upon request, cooking classes are organized.

The restaurant is literally located in the chef’s back yard, in a small, cozy and lovely garden where the trendy looking furniture has been made using recycled materials, and passion fruit vines provide much needed shade.

In an effort to revive and give new life to a neighborhood that was burdened by crime, he made sure to involve all the local community in his project. And there’s more: this is the kind of restaurant where the staff keeps an eye on customers to make sure that, should they have too many celebratory drinks, they don’t drive home. It’s much in line with the rest of the country’s effort to increase community conscience, and deserves to be praised for this.

Needless to say, food at the Backyard Café is delicious: fresh, made to order, according to customers’s tastes and dietary requirements and using local ingredients, it really is the best place to try some Guyanese food, though cooked with a modern, creative twist.

Have you ever been to Guyana? What is your favorite Guyanese food?

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Discover the best food in Guyana and where to have it - via @clautavani

How Three Tiny Villages Are Helping To Preserve Indigenous Culture In Guyana

How Three Tiny Villages Are Helping To Preserve Indigenous Culture In Guyana

Culture in Guyana is an incredible combination of Amerindian, African, Indian, Chinese, British, Portuguese, and Dutch cultures, a reflection of the colonialist plantations past. Add to this already fantastic mix the fact that Guyana is considered the only mainland territory of South America to be part of the Caribbean region, and it is easy to see how this beautiful South American country is a fabulous melting pot with the most varied culture one could hope for.

As a former human rights lawyer, and having written my doctorate thesis and subsequently my book (and many more scientific publications) on the right to culture and the protection of cultural identity of minorities, I was intrigued to find out more about Guyanese culture and happy to learn about the involvement of the local indigenous communities in the preservation of their language, history and traditions, as well as of the environment and wildlife.

To find out more about wildlife in Guyana, check my post “The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana.”

During my time in Guyana I had the opportunity to visit 3 tiny indigenous villages in the Rupununi region and to get in close touch with the local communities. I loved to see the pride and joy with which the local communities embrace the comforts of modern life (for as little as they may be in this remote part of the country) and mix them with the most traditional Amerindian Guyanese culture.

I know that the indigenous communities of Guyana strive for their culture to survive, much like all indigenous and minorities groups around the world. So, they ought to be praised for everything they do for the survival of their traditions and for the preservation of the environment where they live.

Before I get into more details about the 3 villages I have visited and my experience there, let me provide some background information on the indigenous peoples and culture in Guyana.

culture in Guyana

Surama is one of 3 villages in the Rupununi region that’s been doing an outstanding job in preserving culture in Guyana

Some Background Information On The Indigenous Peoples And Culture In Guyana

There are 9 officially recognized indigenous peoples in Guyana. According to the 2012 census, there are around 78500 Amerindian persons in Guyana. This number marks around 10.5% of the total population of the country. Of these, around 90% live in the interior of the country, as opposed to the vast majority of Guyana population, which lives in the narrow Atlantic coastal strip.

The indigenous peoples have been largely integrated in the Guyanese culture. The Amerindian groups that live on the coast share many cultural features with the Afro-Guyanese and the Indo-Guyanese population, with intermarriage often occurring: Afro-indigenous children that are born in Amerindian villages (typically by an Amerindian mother) are accepted as Amerindians by the village.

Minority Rights Group International reports how the standards of living of the indigenous peoples of Guyana is generally lower than that of most citizens of the country. I have to say, having visited 3 indigenous villages, that indeed there are few modern life comforts there. Yet, these communities appeared to be happy, and they strive to make sure that their traditional culture is preserved and becomes a full part of the culture in Guyana.

In 1995 the government of Guyana designated September to be the national Amerindian Heritage Month. This heavily focus on sports, environmental activities and the Amerindian culture in Guyana and it was conceived to showcase nationally and promote (and as such protect) the Amerindian culture. It may be a great coincidence that I visited Guyana in September.

Of the 9 indigenous peoples of Guyana, I mostly got to know the Makushi group. These originally lived in the Rio Branco region of Brazil and started drifting to the northern Rupununi savannahs of Guyana at the beginning of the 18th century. More of them left throughout the century in order to flee the colonial resettlement policies of Brazil in the 1780s.

Much like the rest of Guyanese people, the Makushi show pride in their identity and traditions. This came across quite strongly when I visited 3 tiny villages, who are doing an outstanding job in preserving the indigenous culture in Guyana, which is constantly at risk of erosion given the difficult living conditions that the Makushi face.

Culture in Guyana

The main office in Rewa Village – where Guyanese culture is shown with pride!

How Three Tiny Villages Are Preserving The Amerindian Indigenous Culture In Guyana

Visiting indigenous villages is one of the nicest things to do in Guyana (read more about all that this country has to offer on my post “13 Absolutely Amazing Things To Do In Guyana”). Not only do they provide a vantage point to access some of the most stunning places in the country; but they also are perfect places to get to know Guyanese culture better.

I visited Rewa, Surama and Annai, all of them different from one another and each one offering a unique experience to the visitors they get.

Rewa and its effort to save the Arapaima

Rewa is a village of 312 people, mostly belonging to the Makushi indigenous community, and located in the Amazon basin of Guyana, at the confluence of the Rupununi and the Rewa rivers. It is an incredibly remote place, that is extraordinarily open to tourism, and that has been working hard to protect the indigenous culture in Guyana.

Visitors have the option to stay at Rewa Ecolodge, which was founded in 2005 thanks to a grant provided by Conservation International with the intention of protecting the land for future generations, of protecting the environment and the local wildlife from poachers, and to preserve the indigenous culture in Guyana.

The community smartly thought that if they opened up to tourism, they’d have more employment opportunities without having to leave their land, and they would as such be able to contribute to the protection of the local environment and to the preservation of their culture in Guyana.

And this is very much what’s been happening: taking 2 weeks shifts, pretty much everyone in the village is employed at the lodge. Women cook and clean; men tend to the garden and take care of the transportation; others guide the tourists into visiting the jungle and teaching them about the traditional lifestyle and Amerindian culture in Guyana – ie showing them how traditional fishing and hunting is done.

Even I went fishing for piranhas, and it was an incredibly fun experience. Find out more about my fishing experience on my post “Ten Tips For Successfully Fishing In Guyana.”

The lodge is extremely modest, much as the village next to it: there are five self-contained bungalows which have a private bathroom, and two “benabs,” each having two rooms and sharing bathrooms and showers, for a total of 18 beds. All bungalows and benabs are built in the traditional way, once again reflecting the Amerindian Guyanese culture: a small and plain wooden construction with plenty of gaps between the wooden boards and the walls and the thatched roof (to allow air from flowing through, but with air come also the bugs and, in the case of my bungalow, also a small mouse!); plain beds with the very much needed mosquito nets; and a basic bathroom with only cold shower (but really, in such heat that’s all one may possibly want!).

Since the culture in Guyana, at least in the Rupununi region, is to sleep in hammocks, all bungalows also have a hammock on the porch. I tried sleeping in one after hiking Awarmie mountain and wasn’t very successful, to he honest.

By the way, more about my hiking experience in Guyana can be found on my post “Three Short Yet Challenging Hikes in Guyana.”

All meals are home cooked by the women of the village and served in the dining benab, and even then there’s an element of Guyanese culture as along with international dishes such as pancakes for breakfast or mac and cheese for lunch, there’s also the local farine (a derivate of cassava) or the pepperpot.

The local community of Rewa not only has a mission to perpetuate its culture in Guyana, but it goes above and beyond in its effort to protect local wildlife. It was only two years ago that the people of Rewa realized that, following the dry season, a pond where the huge arapaimas lived was almost drying out, putting in danger the lives of 20 of these giant fish. That’s when they decided they’d do anything they could to save them, and sure enough they did! Over the course of two days, they loaded the fish on canoes, covered them in water so they’d continue breathing, and took them to the main river.

Of course, visiting the actual Rewa Village is a highlight. It is tiny, really: think just a few small huts, each with a garden and chickens roaming about, and a few dogs for good measure. There is a church; a village school (it was too late in the afternoon when I visited, so I didn’t get to meet any children, unfortunately); a main office and even two shops. Life seems to go by slowly and peacefully.

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Rewa to experience the pristine nature of this part of Guyana; and to appreciate the indigenous culture in Guyana. Whatever Rewa Ecolodge is lacking in comforts, it makes up for it with the kindness and the smiles of the local community.

How to get to Rewa

Those who wish to visit Rewa have two options. The first is to fly on a 12-seater Trans-Guyana plane from Georgetown to Apoteri airstrip (it really is nothing more than a strip of grass in the middle of the jungle) and then get a two-hours boat ride to Rewa. This is the way I got there.

The other option is to fly to the Annai airstrip (which is actually linked to a village, more about it below!) and then drive all the way to Kwatamang boat landing and take a two hours boat ride to Rewa (I did this journey in reverse to leave from Rewa).

culture in Guyana

Children at Surama Primary School participate in activities to help preserve Amerindian indigenous culture in Guyana

Surama and its tribute to mother earth

Surama is another tiny village in the Rupununi savannah region of Guyana, surrounded by the Pakaraima Mountains and not far from the Iwokrama International Center for Conservation and Development.

The village counts a population of little over 300 people, of which 55 are children attending the local school. The inhabitants of Surama are mostly of the Makushi indigenous group, though there are also some of African descent coming from Georgetown. There actually are a few examples of intermarriages among Amerindian and African Guyanese, whose children are considered to be Makushi, as I have mentioned above.

Travelers wishing to explore the savannah of the Rupununi have the option of staying at Surama Ecolodge. This actually was the first community lodge to be founded in Guyana, more than 20 years ago (in 1996 to be more precise), with the aim of using the natural resources and the traditional indigenous culture in Guyana in a socially appropriate manner, giving the locals the chance to be trained and later on employed.

The idea is that any money that gets into the lodge stays with the local community, to help preserve the local environment and the traditional indigenous culture in Guyana. That’s why the lodge is completely run by locals: from the guides to the cooks, from the drivers to the admin staff, all employees of Surama Ecolodge are members of the local community.

The lodge is built in a traditional way, reflecting the Amerindian indigenous culture in Guyana, much like Rewa Ecolodge: four plain bungalows, and a larger benab which houses four small bedrooms, each with its individual bathroom; a benab housing the dining room, and a larger one housing the office. The thatched roof are a great hiding spot for lizards and bats, so these are not an uncommon sight in the rooms at night (on the plus side, they eat bugs!).

Surama Ecolodge offers a wide range of activities, such as hikes to Surama Mountain, fishing and birdwatching. However, my favorite part of visiting Surama was experiencing the Guyanese culture of this part of the country.

Entering the village a totem welcomes visitors, immediately showcasing the indigenous culture of this part of the country. The local school makes for a fun stop: the children enthusiastically welcome visitors, inviting them to play, while the teachers proudly show the facilities, which though basic are colorful and joyous, providing for a great learning environment.

The same children and teachers that attend the school during the day are members of the Makushi Culture Group and of the Wildlife Club. Here, children are taught about their heritage and they put together a show of traditional dances and songs, proudly demonstrating the strict connection between the environment and the culture in Guyana. The group has gained popularity to the point that it travels around the country and even overseas, inspiring the creation of other similar groups having the aim of showcasing the indigenous Guyanese culture.

Surama is a fantastic place to visit. The setting of the village and the lodge, the surrounding nature, the wildlife (imagine waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and casually walking into an ant eater on your way to breakfast) are all great reasons to visit; but the personal touch of everyone that lives and works there makes it a truly special place.

How to get to Surama

Surama can be reached from Georgetown on a journey that can last anything between 4 and 8 hours, as the road is not paved and the journey can be bumpy even during the dry season. On the way to Surama, it is possible to stop at the nearby Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, which is at around one hour drive and one of the most fun places to visit in Guyana.

Guyanese culture

The local radio in Annai does a great job in promoting and protecting the indigenous culture in Guyana

Annai and the importance of education

For as small as it is, Annai has been doing an impressive job in preserving and promoting culture in Guyana. Little more than 300 people, most of them Makushi, live in this village, located at the edge of the Rupununi Savannah in the Upper Takutu – Upper Essequibo region.

Less of a tourist destination compared to Surama and Rewa, travelers who visit Annai usually do so in order to travel to other destinations, as there is an airstrip right at the back of Rock View Lodge, the only place to stay in the area that is geared to international tourists. It’s a pity, as this is a great starting point to explore more of this amazing part of the country and to enjoy its natural beauty.

Contrary to Surama and Rewa Ecolodges, Rock View is not a community lodge but it is owned by a private family: Colin Edwards, an English businessman, bought what used to be a cattle farm in 1992. Obviously, much of the local community is employed at this lodge, which like the rest of those I have mentioned is run in an eco-friendly manner and in complete respect of the local Guyanese culture.

One of the must sees in Annai is the local radio station. Located in the main square of the village, this frugally run radio station has been doing a great service to educate the local community about what happens in the region – any sort of social, political and cultural announcements are spread, along with a good deal of international and local music. But there’s more: this radio station constantly advocates the preservation of the local culture and way of life.

How to get to Annai and Rock View Lodge

Getting to Annai and Rock View Lodge is fairly easy: charter flights connecting it to Georgetown depart from the airstrip located right behind the lodge. Ground transportation is a bit more complicated, given the road conditions on this part of the country, but from Annai it is possible to reach Iwokrama Forest and Atta Lodge, Surama and Kwataman Landing, from where it is possible to charter boats to Rewa.

Have you ever been to Guyana? Which aspect of the culture in Guyana did you enjoy the most?

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Discover how 3 tiny villages are helping preserve culture in Guyana - via @clautavani

 

3 Short Yet Challenging Hikes In Guyana

3 Short Yet Challenging Hikes In Guyana

There are several nice hikes in Guyana. The most famous and challenging one is a 5 day hike to Kaieteur Falls. Most people who visit this beautiful country in South America do so in order to enjoy its nature and wildlife, and hiking is a great way to get closer to nature. The country, famous for its thick rainforest, does have some nice mountains that make for some great hikes. Roraima, with its 2810 meters and marking the border with Brazil and Venezuela, is the most famous one – though the hike can officially only be done via Venezuela.

To discover more about Guyana, head over to my post “13 Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.” And if you care to find out more about its wildlife, read my post “The Most Amazing Wildlife in Guyana.”

You know me, and how much I love hiking. I try to do that wherever I go. Sure enough, I didn’t want to miss on the opportunity to go hiking in Guyana, and despite the terrible heat and humidity I made the most of it and truly enjoyed the experience.

This post highlights 3 nice, short yet challenging hikes in Guyana that I have the chance to do when I visited, and provides some tips to make the most of the experience.

hikes in Guyana

The sunset view from Awarmie Mountain makes this one of the top hikes in Guyana

3 Short Yet Challenging And Rewarding Hikes In Guyana

Awarmie Mountain Hike

The one to Awarmie Mountain is one of the nicest hikes in Guyana, and a classic for anybody who visits the North Rupununi region. The overall hike is about 1.7 km long – which isn’t much at all; and the peak is located at around 300 meters above sea level – which, again, isn’t much at all.

Yet between the heat and the humidity, the steepness of the trail and the muddy, uneven terrain (which apparently is the normality when hiking in Guyana), I found this hike as hard as some of the hikes I have done at a good altitude, such as the hikes in the Dolomites I did last summer.

The trail starts at the bottom of the mountain, and it is fairly easy to follow. It goes through some agricultural land where some people of the Rewa community live and work – here it is possible to see how they cultivate cassava and how they prepare farine.

Most of the trail is in the shade, as it goes through the thick forest – but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t hot! The initial part of the trail is quite flat, but soon after crossing the indigenous settlement the trail becomes steep, and on several points it is necessary to to hold on to the railings.

The first view point, from where there is a stunning view of the river, is at about 20 minutes walk from the starting point. After that, the only other view is from the top. Once the view opens up, it becomes clear why this is one of the nicest hikes in Guyana. It is simply splendid!

It shouldn’t take more than one hour and 15 minutes from the starting point to the peak. It took me around 50 – but I sprinted up a bit because I was really looking forward to the view, which was nothing short of stunning (easy to see why to me this is one of the must do hikes in Guyana!). In one direction, there are uninterrupted views of the Rupununi River and the Kanaku Mountains in the distance. In the other direction, the view goes all the way to the Iwokrama Mountains in the distance, and the Makarapan Mountain, much closer.

Important things to note when hiking Awarmie Mountain

Classified as a moderate hike, this (as many of the hikes in Guyana) turns out to be more on the difficult side for anyone who is not accustomed to the heat of this part of the world. The overall hike (there and back) takes little over 2 hours.

Rewa Ecolodge organizes guided hikes to Awarmie Mountain, providing transportation (a boat ride) to the starting point; setting up a camp (hammocks, mosquito nets and a dug out toilet) at the top, so it is possible to spend the night there and waking up to a magnificent sunrise; and providing meals and water to drink. The overall experience is amazing, making this one of the most beautiful hikes in Guyana.

How to reach Awarmie Mountain

The best starting point to hike Awarmie Mountain is Rewa Ecolodge. From there, it is a short boat ride (around 20 minutes).

hikes in Guyana

As far as hiking in Guyana, Surama is one of the best!

Surama Mountain Hike

When visiting Surama, it is pretty much a must to hike Surama Mountain. It is one of the nicest hikes in Guyana. The trail is longer than the one to Awarmie Mountain – a total of a bit less than 7 km there and back; but like Awarmie, the peak (well, at least the highest point that can be reached on the trail) sits at a bit less than 300 meters above sea level.

Once again, between the heat, the steepness and the terrain the hike can be rather difficult. Virtually all of the hike is in the shade, as it goes through the forest. The first part of the hike is nice and flat, though the terrain is rather uneven as it follows a creek (where there is no water during the dry season).

However, at about one third of the way the path starts going uphill, and it becomes steep and more difficult as it is necessary to climb over several unsteady rocks, and there isn’t much to hold on to.

As opposed to other hikes in Guyana, such as Awarmie Mountain, there are no in between view points here. In order to get a view it is necessary to go all the way to the top. Once there, this opens up all the way to Surama, showing the village and the mountains in the distance.

Important things to note when hiking Surama Mountain

Like most hikes in Guyana, the hike to Surama Mountain is classified as a moderate difficulty one. Once again, it is the heat that causes most of the difficulty. The top can be reached in around one hour and 10 minutes, and it takes just as much to get back to the starting point (so calculate around 2 and a half hours for the entire hike).

Once at the top, there is a very limited space from where to enjoy the view and it is not possible to camp overnight.

As it is necessary to walk all the way back, make sure to keep track of the timing as there isn’t much light in the forest even well before the sun goes down. Make sure to carry a torch or a headlamp to be on the safe side.

How to reach Surama Mountain

The best starting point to hike Surama Mountain is Surama Ecolodge, where it is possible to hire a guide (it’s probably a good idea, because the forest is so thick that it is easy to get lost) and from where it is possible to catch a ride to the beginning of the trail.

hiking in Guyana

Iwokrama is one of the nicest nature walks in Guyana

Iwokrama Forest Trail

The Iwokrama Forest Trail is more a nature walk than an actual hike. However, since there is a steep part that requires some puffing up a hill, I like to mention it among the hikes in Guyana.

The trail goes through the forest to reach Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, and it is a fantastic way to appreciate the thick jungle of Guyana. It isn’t a difficult trail at all, save for the 160 steps that must be climbed to reach the starting point of the Canopy Walkway, and for the fact that the area tends to be very wet and muddy.

The trail is about 1 km long from its starting point at Atta Lodge to the beginning of the Canopy Walkway, though the actual trail goes on for much longer into the forest. I would have gladly walked some more of it, where it not for the fact that I was caught in a thunderstorm the minute I made it to the Canopy Walkway and had to run back to the lodge for shelter.

The trail is a great place to observe more of the local flora and fauna, with several kinds of trees clearly signaled for visitors.

Important things to note when walking in Iwokrama Forest

This is more a leisurely walk than a real hike, but the terrain gets muddy so it is easy to slip and fall. Wearing good boots is a must! The trail is fairly easy to follow, but keep in mind that as the forest is very thick, there isn’t much light as soon as the sun starts to go down. It’s better to carry a torch.

How to reach Iwokrama Forest

Iwokrama Forest can be easily reached from Atta Lodge, one of nicest community lodges in Guyana, which is actually set right in the middle of it.

hikes in Guyana

The best time to set for hiking in Guyana is the early morning

The Best Time For Hiking in Guyana

Guyana knows two season: the dry one is between September and December, and the rainy one in December and January and May to July. The main difficulty when hiking in Guyana is the terrible heat, and there is no way to avoid it. The best time to go hiking in Guyana, then, is during the dry season, when there are less chances of rain.

Tips For Hiking In Guyana

Go early in the day (or later in the afternoon)

The hikes in Guyana that I have mentioned can all be walked in a couple of hours or little more. As I have said before, the best time for hiking in Guyana is during the dry season. Either way, however, it will be hot. Having said so, even though the heat in Guyana is pretty much incessant, I still recommend avoiding the central hours of the day, when there is no escaping the sun. Make sure to go either early in the morning, or in the late afternoon.

Dress appropriately

Though one may be tempted to wear tank tops and shorts to get a little break from the terrible heat of Guyana, it is important to note that in this country malaria-carrying mosquitoes and other insects such as ticks and chiggers are an issue. It’s better to wear long pants, a light cotton long sleeve shirt, and good hiking boots that hold the ankle. Make sure to also wear a hat, and regularly apply sunblock and mosquito repellent.

Read my post on what to pack for Guyana, which includes plenty of tips on what you should carry should you intend to hike.

Drink lots of water

In the heat of Guyana, it is easy to get dehydrated. Make sure to drink lots of water during a hike – carry at least a liter even on shorter hikes, more for longer ones. Water gets warm quite fast because of the heat, so a flask that holds the temperature may be the best solution.

Other tips for hiking in Guyana

Most of the hikes in Guyana that I have described in this post are on the easy side for anyone used to hiking. However, save for Iwokrama, the trails aren’t well marked and between that and the fact that the forest is very thick, it is easy to get lost. I recommend hiring the services of a local guide to take you around, and to give back to the local community.

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Guyana, in South America, is a fantastic destination for nature lovers. Learn more about the most amazing hikes in Guyana | Guyana Travel #guyananice via @clautavani

10 Tips For Successfully Fishing In Guyana

10 Tips For Successfully Fishing In Guyana

Fishing in Guyana is a must. It is a great way to appreciate the nature and wildlife of this incredible country, not to mention it is a lot of fun. Arapaima fishing is one of the most popular activities for people who visit Guyana. It is a catch and release kind of fishing, as this – the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world – is a highly protected fish.

To discover more about all there is to do in Guyana, read my post “13 Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”

The Relationship Between Indigenous Communities And Fishing In Guyana

The indigenous communities pay close attention to make sure that poachers stay away from arapaimas – of which a new species was identified in 2016. In fact, they keep an eye on the local environment to make sure that arapaimas don’t suffer due to shortage of water in the dry season, and go through lengthy and laborious ordeals to save them if they notice that they are in danger (such thing happened in 2016 in Rewa, when the locals noticed that the level of water in a pond inhabited by arapaimas got dangerously low).

To discover more unique animals in Guyana, read my post “The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana.”

Fish in Guyana is a big part of the daily diet of locals, not only on the coast and in Georgetown, but even in the Amazon basin. Here, the indigenous populations often eat meals made of grilled or fried fish and farine (a cous cous looking meal that is made of cassava). Chicken is another common food, as it is easy to farm and get hold of. Beef, on the other hand, doesn’t have a strong presence in Guyanese cuisine, at least not in the Rupununi region: due to the lack of electricity (those who have it rely on solar panels or generators) there are no fridges to store it.

fishing in Guyana

One of the scary looking fish in Guyana: vampire fish.

My Experience Fishing In Guyana

I didn’t go arapaima fishing. I guess I am honestly too small to catch the largest fish in Guyana. Or perhaps when I visited it was not the right time to do it. However, I went piranha fishing and though I was initially reluctant to do it (the only other time I went fishing was in Bolivia, where I unsuccessfully tried to catch a piranha), I must say it was one of the highlights of my trip.

My fishing expedition was highly successful, probably because I was very lucky rather than because of my incredible skills. Anyways, I caught some 15 fish among piranhas and other crazy looking fish of Guyana I didn’t even know existed. Some of it was released immediately back after I caught it. Some other was subsequently barbecued and eaten.

Without wanting to be an expert on fishing in Guyana, based on what I learned in my time in the country, in this post I will share some tips for those who plan to travel to this incredible country and want to give it a try.

fishing in Guyana

Larvae have an essential role when fishing in Guyana

10 Tips For Fishing In Guyana

Go out bright and early

The climate in Guyana is unforgiving. It is unmistakably hot and humid, with the sun bright in the sky as early as 6:00 am (Guyana is pretty much on the Equator). The best way to enjoy fishing in Guyana is by going out nice and early, right after the sun is out. Though it is not nearly as hot on the water as it is on land, the sun is fierce and it is better to stay away from it in the peak hours.

Dress appropriately

Much like in the rest of the country, dressing appropriately is important when fishing in Guyana. If the jungle is home to all sorts of bugs, rest assured that they will be flying all over even on water. The only way to protect against them is wearing long pants, a long sleeves shirt or top, and applying mosquito repellent with deet. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen too.

Here is a detailed packing list for Guyana.

fishing in Guyana

Small fish has an essential role when fishing in Guyana

Ask the locals to show you how it is done

Unless you travel with your own fishing equipment, the best way to go about fishing in Guyana is by asking the locals to help and show how it is done in the traditional way. Rewa Ecolodge, in North Rupununi, organizes fishing expeditions for its guests. Part of the local culture is to fish, so it’s a nice way to get to know more about it.

Here’s my post about culture in Guyana.

The first stop actually is in the jungle, to go in search of a good stick or branch that can be used as a fishing rod. With a few touches, the guides apply a fishing line and a hook. They make it look gracefully easy. If you want to give it a try, make sure you carry your own knife or scissors.

The next step to go fishing in Guyana is getting the bait. The local Amerindian communities generally use some very small bait (typically a larva that nestles in the nut of fruits fallen from trees), which is used to catch small fish, which is then itself used to catch larger fish. The larger fish is then cut in chunks and used as bait for more fish.

Beat the water with the rod

Whenever fishing in Guyana, make sure to beat the water hard with your rod. I can’t quite explain why it is done – something to do with attracting the fish, who gets confused with the movement thinking that there is some good, easy bait there. I saw the locals do it and I can say it actually works. Make some good noise on the water, make it turn around.

Be a little bit patient

I am the least patient person in the world, but fishing in Guyana requires a tiny bit of patience. The good news is that there’s so much fish in the Amazon basin (I went fishing in the Rupununi River, near Rewa Ecolodge), that it doesn’t take long for it to bait.

The even better news is that the “be silent, don’t make a sound” recommendations that typically accompany fishing in most places (this is definitely the case in Sardinia) are not a thing in this country. I spent my time fishing in Guyana cheerfully chatting with my friends on the boat, encouraging each other to catch more fish.

fishing in Guyana

I was quite successful when fishing in Guyana!

When you feel a nudge, it’s time to pull

The key to successful fishing in Guyana is to pull without hesitation the minute you feel something nudging on your hook, and a slight yet persistent pull on your rod. Stand up and don’t be afraid to pull. Once you finally have the fish out of the water, pull it all the way to the boat. You may want to pose for a photo – I did: after all, it is not like I go fishing every day!

Check the size of the fish

Fishing in Guyana is done in a sustainable way, so only the biggest fish is caught and kept. Once you pull the fish out of the water, assess the size. If you determine the fish is quite big, pull it on the boat. On the other hand, make sure to release the small fish. Piranhas are full of bones and their meat is actually very dry, so there won’t be much to feed on if the fish is too small. The same goes for other kinds of fish like the scary looking vampire fish.

Release the fish on the boat

Once you assess that the fish is big enough to keep it, pull it on the boat and and release it from the hook. Be extra careful as both piranhas and vampire fish have very large and sharp teeth! (I admit I had the local guide do this for me, as I wasn’t too keen on touching a piranha with my bare hands!).

Keep using fresh bait

Piranhas are voracious eaters. More often than not, they manage eating the bait off the hook without getting caught. The key to being successful when fishing in Guyana is to continuously use fresh bait, as this gets either eaten or consumed by the water. Piranhas can smell blood and thus having fresh bait is the key to continue catching them.

fish in Guyana

Fishing in Guyana always ends with a delicious impromptu meal.

Eat what you fish

As I have already said, fishing in Guyana is done in a sustainable way. Most of the time it is catch and release, and if this is not the case, the fish is eaten. I would have never accepted to do it had I not known that I would at least be eating what I caught.

At the end of my fishing expedition, we found a really good spot and Rewa Ecolodges guides prepared a very traditional barbecue, using wood they found in the forest to create a grid and to then light a fire to cook the fish, which was seasoned with local spices. It was a superb, tasty, light and healthy lunch at the end of a fun morning. The best way to celebrate fishing in Guyana.

To find out more about food in Guyana, check this post. 

Have you ever been to Guyana? Do you think you’d enjoy fishing in Guyana too?

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Learn 10 useful tips for successful fishing in Guyana via @clautavani

Guyana, in South America, is a country that has a lot to offer to its visitors. One of the best things to do there is fishing. Find out ten tips to do it successfully | #guyana #southamerica via @clautavani