Georgetown, Guyana: 10 Things To See And Do To Make The Most Of It 

Georgetown, Guyana: 10 Things To See And Do To Make The Most Of It 

Georgetown, Guyana, is an interesting city and it would be a pity to miss it when visiting the country. I am a strong believer that visiting a foreign country without exploring the capital is a bit like eating pizza without mozzarella – you just miss out on a huge chunk of flavor.

Indeed, the capital is where the heart of the country is, where visitors can learn more about its history, its culture, and where they can find the best food and the nicest hotels. This surely was the case for Georgetown, Guyana.

I appreciate that most people who visit Guyana go there to explore the wild interior, but since all international flights to the country land in Georgetown, one may as well spend a day or two to visit it, right?

This post highlights what to do and see in Georgetown to make the most of it, and why it is worth visiting.

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

Some Background Information On Georgetown, Guyana

Georgetown sits on the east bank of the Demerara River, where this gets into the Atlantic. Along the coast line of the city a seawall has been built by the Dutch colonizers, along with a canal system that drains the town, which is actually over two meters below sea level.

The city is divided into several small districts: Kingston to the northwest; Cumminsburg; Alberttown; Queenstown and Newtown in the center; Robbstwon, Lacytown, Starbroek and Bourda south of Church street; Werk-en-Rust, Wortmanville, Charlestown and Le Repentir even more south; Thomas Lands to the east and Kitty further east.

Georgetown was founded in the 18th century, initially as the capital of the Demerara-Essequibo colony that was administered by the Dutch. The colony was subsequently captured by the British in 1781, and the mouth of the Demerara River was picked by Liutenant-Colonel Kingston for the establishment of a town.

Under the French, who colonized it in 1782, Georgetown became the capital with the name of Longchamps. The Dutch took it back in 1784 and renamed it Starbroek, after Lord Starbroek who was the president of the Dutch West India Company. That’s when Georgetown started expanding.

The name Georgetown was assigned in 1812, in honor of King George III and gained official city status in August 1842, under Queen Victoria’s reign.

In 1945 a large fire (known as “The Great Fire”) destroyed large parts of the city.

Georgetown, Guyana

Georgetown, Guyana, as seen from the plane

Why Georgetown, Guyana, Is Worth Visiting

With its roughly 250000 inhabitants (though the urban area gets to around 600000, making up around 80% of the entire population of Guyana), Georgetown glory days may be over. Yet, Guyana’s capital remains a charming city which is easy to navigate, and where the often dilapidated architecture and the urban parks give the impression of a really laid-back atmosphere despite all the chaos.

The infrastructure of Georgetown, Guyana, changed dramatically in 2007, once the city hosted the semi-finals of the World Cricket Cup: new hotels were built; better sport facilities; and a bunch of businesses catering to tourists’ needs started. Tourists remain few, but hotels are often busy thanks to NGOs workers and other businessmen who often visit the city.

Behind the crumbling exterior, the city has a bunch of interesting historic monuments, a thriving intellectual scene and some fantastic restaurants. The atmosphere is that of any other Caribbean country – which takes first time visitors a bit by surprise as they expect more of a South America feel! It’s chaotic, colorful and full of life. In other words, it is fun to explore it.

Georgetown, Guyana

Starbroek is one of the most iconic buildings of Georgetown, Guyana

10 Things To See And Do To Make The Most Of Georgetown, Guyana

Shop at the local markets

Whenever I get to a new place, I make a beeline for the local market. I love the energy of a good city market, and I think it is a great place to get a first feel for the local way of life and culture. Besides, much of a country’s culture can be understood by knowing what the locals eat. The same can be said for Georgetown, Guyana.

Sure enough, one of the nicest things to do in Georgetown, Guyana, is visiting Bourda Market. This is a great place to see, buy and try delicious fresh produce. Sellers are usually quite nice (though I have to say I met some grumpy ones too!) and are happy to offer tastings of the best fruit they have for sale.

Make sure to try the bananas: there are more varieties of bananas for sale at Bourda Market than I will ever remember. They all vary in size, texture, flavor and sweetness and they are all delicious. And to think that in Europe we only know one!

Another thing you should not miss on is fresh coconut. To me, drinking coconut water straight from the fruit is a sign I am in the tropics. There are several places around the market that sell really cold coconut, cutting it open for you. It’s a great way to stay fresh and hydrated!

Keep an eye out for other delicious tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and pineapple, and check out the avocados. I don’t think I have ever seen avocados as big as those I have seen at Bourda Market! All the produce, all the colors and the busy, friendly vibe make visiting Bourda Market one of the things to do in Georgetown, Guyana.

Another market to is Starbroek Market – this actually is one of Georgetown, Guyana, landmarks and one of its more famous buildings, thanks to its cast-iron structure, and the clock tower which dates back to the 1700s (although the current structure dates back to the 1880s).

Similar to Bourda Market in terms of what is sold, Starbroek is also a transportation hub, with vans, minibuses and commuter buses all gathering there. This means two things: there is a lot of traffic, and there are pick pockets. So make sure not to bring any valuables there.

Georgetown, Guyana

The interior of St. George’s Cathedral in Georgetown, Guyana

Visit St. George’s Cathedral

Georgetown St. George’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. It’s been included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. Thought to be the tallest wooden structure in the world, it was completed in 1892 and has pointed arches, vaulted ceilings and beautiful colonial architecture. The main structure is built from greenheart trees, native of Guyana, very hard and virtually fireproof and bug resistant (quite important, in this tropical country!).

The church is currently under renovation – the bits that have already been renovated are of a beautiful, sheer white!

Learn about Guyana’s Amerindian culture at the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology

Most people who travel to Guyana do so to appreciate its incredible wildlife and nature, as well as to get to know its indigenous peoples and cultures. Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is a great place to learn more about Guyana’s Amerindian heritage. There are artifacts, exhibits, photographs and a lot of reading material. The permanent exhibition is laid out on two floors. Keep in mind that as with most museums in Georgetown, Guyana, visitors are not allowed to take photos of the interior unless someone is posing in the frame.

To find out more about the Amerindian indigenous culture of Guyana, check this post.

Visit the National Museum of Guyana

Warning: if you are bothered by the sight of stuffed animals, this is not the place for you.

The National Museum of Guyana in Georgetown is a good place to learn more about the country and the bonus is that there is no admission fee. There are exhibits that cover the history of Guyana, with explanations about Amerindian culture; others about colonial expansion and finally about the post colonial times. For those who want to find out more about wildlife in Guyana, there are plenty of stuffed and preserved animals, as well as reptiles and birds. There even is an entire exhibit dedicated to the giant sloth, who lived in the region during the Ice Age and was more than 4 meters tall!

Learn more about the incredible animals that live in Guyana on my post “The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana.”

Georgetown, Guyana

One of the many crumbling yet charming buildings of Georgetown, Guyana

Walk along Main Street 

One of the unmissable things to do in Georgetown, Guyana, is taking a stroll down Regent and Main Street. Lined along them, there are some gorgeous old colonial buildings, among which the is the State House, which is where the President of Guyana lives, and the National Gallery, which was founded by Andrew Carnegie and is still a functioning library with lots of antique books inside!

Go to the Botanical Gardens

One of the highlights of visiting the Botanical Gardens of Georgetown, Guyana, is that even though it’s a city park it is an incredible place to bird watch. Another highlight is the Victoria Lilies, which are really huge water lilies that apparently can hold a weight of more than 45 Kg!

Stop at the seawall

To be honest, there isn’t much to see at the seawall other than the ocean, which sadly is of a brown, muddy color. Yet, as this is one of the first historical landmarks of the city, connected with its colonial past, and it runs for miles and miles along the coast, I feel a quick stop is at least a must.

Tour El Dorado Rum Distillery

If you plan to visit Georgetown, Guyana, make sure to go to El Dorado Rum Distillery. All Caribbean countries produce rum, and all of them claim that their rum is the best. Sure enough, Guyana is proud of its El Dorado Rum. After all, Demerara, where Demerara Sugar comes from, is right here! This is one of the finest sugars in the world: it has large grains; it’s fairly crunchy and has a natural caramel color and flavor. It’s easy to see why any rum produced with Demerara sugar canes is delicious!

A tour of El Dorado includes a short visit to the museum, where the old distilling machines are exposed, and of the enormous aging cellar. The best part, however, is the tasting – which includes three samples of different aging. My favorite was actually the youngest one, El Dorado Cask Aged 5 Years: I found it has the most delicate, yet full flavor.

Georgetown, Guyana

Delven Adams is the chef at the Backyard Café, one of the best restaurants in Georgetown, Guyana

Eat at the Backyard Café

One of the highlights of a visit to Georgetown, Guyana, is eating at the Backyard Café. Chef Delven Adams has established a tiny restaurant literally at his house backyard, in what used to be a neighborhood with high criminality rates. He made it a point to involve the local community in his project: he employs local people; he shops at the local market; he uses local ingredients.

More importantly so, the food at Backyard Café is simply delicious: from the appetizers to the main course; from dessert to the fantastic juices, everything is made from scratch and with the freshest produce.

To learn more about Guyanese cuisine, check out my post 21 Mouthwatering Guyanese Food And Drinks You Need To Try.”

Georgetown, Guyana

The lovely pool at Duke’s Lodge in Georgetown, Guyana

Stay at a fabulous heritage hotel

Georgetown, Guyana, has a few good hotels that range from international chains to boutique, heritage hotels. My preference always goes to the smaller boutique hotels. Anyways, staying in a lovely hotel is one of the things to do in Georgetown, especially if this is the last stop of a tour of the country which involved roughing it in the Amazon rainforest!

These are the nicest hotels in Georgetown, Guyana:

Practical Information

When to visit Georgetown, Guyana

Guyana knows two seasons: rainy and dry. This means that it’s always hot in Georgetown, Guyana, with the difference that it can be hot and humid; or hot, rainy and humid. I’d recommend avoiding the rain season (between May and August) and opt to visit between September and December. It will be really hot, but at least it won’t rain!

Guyana runs festivals throughout the year, as its population really is multicultural. So, why not go during Diwali or Holi?

How to travel to Georgetown

Cheddi Jagan International Airport is located 41 km south of Georgetown, Guyana. It’s a small airport, but there are several international flights connecting it with other Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago or Antigua, or to Brazil and Panama. Caribbean Airways has direct flights to New York.

How to move around the city

Unless you are on a guided tour, the best and safest way to move around Georgetown is by taxi. The minibus system seems less than reliable and difficult to use if you are not accustomed to it!

Other useful information

Proof of yellow fever vaccination is a requirement to travel to Guyana. Though Georgetown doesn’t nearly get as many bugs as the Amazon interior, I advice to cover yourself with long sleeve and pants or to apply a good mosquito repellent. I assumed that since I was in a city there wouldn’t be many mosquitoes around, but judging by the number of itchy bites I got, I was wrong!

I also recommend traveling with a good travel insurance. Allianz Travel Insurance is a great one. You can check deals, packages and prices here.

For tips on what to pack for your trip to Guyana, check out this post

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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Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Kaieteur Falls

Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Kaieteur Falls

A trip to Guyana is not complete without a visit to Kaieteur Falls. This is, quite simply, one of the most incredible natural wonders of South America, if not the world, and one of its best kept secrets. Part of Kaieteur National Park, this is the world’s widest single drop waterfall; a fabulous combination of height and volume of water that make it a top attraction of Guyana.

To read more about Guyana, check out my post “13 Absolutely Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”

I have seen many beautiful waterfalls in the world –  Iguazu Falls, between Argentina and Brazil; and Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe, among them – but there is something truly spectacular about Kaieteur Falls. And to make the overall experience of visiting even more incredible, people who venture to this remote part of Guyana usually have the entire place to themselves, as this really is off the beaten path.

Let me say it clearly: you should really go as soon as possible, before the world discovers this place!

This post explains everything you need to know before visiting Kaieteur Falls, and shares a few tips on how to organize a trip there. But before getting to the organizational bits, I will give some background information on this marvelous place.

Some Background Information On Kaieteur Falls

How Kaieteur Falls got its name

Kaieteur Falls were “officially” discovered by English explorer C. Barrington Brown in 1870, though the Patamona, an Amerindian indigenous people, had lived here long before he arrived and likely showed him the way to get there.

The name “Kaieteur” derives from the Patamona language, where “Kayik Tuwuk” means Old Man’s, and “teur” means falls – hence Kaieteur Falls means Old Man’s Falls. According to legend, the name is a tribute to a Patamona chief named Kai, who paddled a canoe over the falls and sacrificed himself to the Great Spirit Makonaima to save his people from the Carib tribe. As his people were finally safe, they named the waterfall after him.

This is only one of the many Amerindian legends that can be heard in Guyana. Many more are still passed orally by the indigenous groups that live in the country, in an effort to preserve their culture.

To read more about the impressive effort of the Amerindians peoples to preserve the indigenous culture of Guyana, read this post.

Kaieteur Falls

At the rear view of Kaieteur Falls, the National Park looks just stunning

Kaieteur Falls and Kaieteur National Park

Kaieteur Falls is located in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana, in the Guyana Shield – a massive geoformation covered in rainforest and savanna. The area is characterized by an impressive biodiversity, and it’s been the subject of mining interests. However, in 1929 the British government (who at the time was still ruling Guyana), realizing the outstanding natural value of the area, turned it into a national park. This was one of the first conservationist acts in the region of South America and the Caribbean.

Kaieteur Natural Park now counts almost 63000 hectars, and it is heavily protected because of its incredible tourism potential – which itself depends on the place remaining intact.

And intact it is, indeed. Nestled as it is in the Amazon rainforest, nature is pure here, especially when compared to other more famous waterfalls.

At Kaieteur Falls, the Potaro river plummets down a cliff of 250 meters, into Kaieteur National Park.  Depending on the season, the falls are between 76 and 122 meters wide.

The National Park is home to various wildlife species, so a visit to Kaieteur Falls is also an excellent occasion for wildlife spotting. Along the trail that approaches the waterfalls it’s possible to see the beautiful scarlet cock-of-the-rock bird. There are also various minuscule golden (highly endangered and just as highly poisonous) frogs that live at the base of the waterfalls. The best time to spot wildlife is actually the early morning, right around sunrise (so it’s an option for those staying there overnight).

It really seems that Kaieteur Falls is birdwatchers and wildlife lovers heaven.

Find out more about the incredible animals that live in Guyana on my post The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana.”

Among the flora in the area of Kaieteur Falls there is the sundew, a natural insecticide plant that apparently eats mosquitoes (so hopefully they don’t eat visitors!); the coula, a rubber plant that can hold 2 times its weight; the capadulla, which is a water vine (a life saver if you get dehydrated in the rainforest!); and the giant tongue bromiliad, which is part of the pineapple family and has huge leaves that can grow to over 2 meters tall.

Kaieteur Falls and the National Park are blissfully isolated. Home to a tiny population of Patamonia Amerindians, it’s a hard to reach destination. This, and the fact that the number of tourists allowed to visit is limited (no more than 6000 visited last year; on the day I visited there was only my group, of a total of 7!) make it completely pristine. It just is a show of nature at its best – one that I hope you get to enjoy.

Moving on, I am going to share some practical tips on how to organize a trip to Kaieur Falls, Guyana, and how to make the most of it.

Kaieteur Falls

Flying to Kaieteur Falls, the view from above is breathtaking

Everything You Need To Know To Plan Your Visit To Kaieteur Falls

When to visit Kaieteur Falls

I visited Kaieteur Falls in September, after the rainy season had ended. The vegetation was incredibly lush thanks to the recent rain, but the walkway was dry and mosquito free, and the weather as hot as in the rest of Guyana, though there was a pleasant breeze right at the waterfalls.

Prince Henry visited Kaieteur Falls in December 2016, even more into the dry season, and according to media reports there wasn’t that much water then.

Apparently, depending on the time of year you visit, the paths are flooded with water and can be very slippery.

TIP: Regardless of the time you plan to visit Kaieteur Falls, make sure to wear a pair of good hiking boots and to pack a rain jacket – it can rain any time of year, really (and though it didn’t in the two hours I was there, the clouds promised a lot of rain for the afternoon).

To find out what you need to pack for a trip to the jungle of Guyana, read this post.

How to get to Kaieteur Falls

The are two ways to get to Kaieteur Falls: on a small charter flight for an easy day trip from Georgetown (or other locations in Guyana), or on an overland journey that can last up to five days and that is way more adventurous but significantly less comfortable. In both cases, it’s better to look into Kaieteur Falls tours for organizational purposes.

By plane or on an organized tour

Most people reach Kaieteur Falls for a day trip, by flying to Kaieteur International Airport. This really is nothing more than an airstrip which is a mere 15-minutes walk from the waterfalls and which is beautifully located – the views approaching it are simply breathtaking.

Flying to Kaieteur Falls is not only a comfortable, hassle free way to get there, but it also affords fantastic views of the rainforest and of the actual waterfalls from above.

TIP: Make sure to sit on the right hand side of the plane on the way back, as this gives you one last view of the waterfalls from above.

Flights to Kaieteur Falls leave from both Georgetown’s airport – Cheddi Jagan International Airport and Ogle Airport, which is actually much closer to the city. It takes around 45 minutes to get there.

Although there are many companies that fly to Kaieteur Falls (among them Trans Guyana Airways, Air Services Limited and Air Guyana), it’s important to keep in mind that the aircrafts generally require a minimum number of passengers to operate the flight (it could be anything between 4 and 12). In other words, flights don’t depart if there aren’t enough reservations, or if the weather conditions are not good.

TIP: Make sure to be a bit flexible and prepared for a change of plans, so schedule a few days in Georgetown just to make sure that you do get to Kaieteur Falls (there is plenty to do there: stay tuned as I will be writing more about it!). Or else, be ready to charter an entire plane!

There are also flights departing from other locations in Guyana. I traveled from Rock View Lodge, in Annai, which has its own airstrip. The flight took around 90 minutes.

The best way to book the trip is via a local agent in Georgetown. It costs between $120 USD and $220 per person. There also are organized tours that include extra stops at other sites and other amenities such as a nice packed lunch. The prices vary between $300 and $500.

Various companies organize Kaieteur Falls tours, including the operators of Guyana’s Tourism Authority. Otherwise, you may want to opt for a full tour of Guyana that includes a stop at the falls.

These are some good tours of Guyana that all stop at Kaieteur Falls:

Kaieteur Falls

The sheer beauty of Kaieteur Falls is enhanced by the fact that there aren’t many visitors to the site!

Exploring the grounds

Kaieteur Falls day tours are pretty much all organized the same way, as the National Park only has one airstrip and each flight is allowed to two hours on the ground inside the park. It may sound like it is not enough time to explore, but since chances are that the only visitors to the park will be those on the flight (so really, there are no more than 12 people at the site at the same time!), this means that you won’t have to dodge any crowd, making it way easier to explore (and immensely more enjoyable).

Furthermore, a guide meets visitors and takes them around the park, so there is no such thing as getting lost or wasting time finding the way to the viewpoints.

There are 5 viewpoints overlooking Kaieteur Falls, though two have been closed as they are too close to the waterfalls. I really enjoyed the views from Boy Scout View (named after the boy scouts who arrived there and camped at the exact spot after a strenuous overland trip) and from Rainbow View (from where it’s possible to see the rainbow inside the waterfalls).

The view changes ever so slightly from each lookout point, but it’s always impressive.

TIP: Make sure to take in the view of Kaieteur Falls, and then turn around. The view of the valley below, with the Potaro River making its way through it, is simply impressive!

SAFETY TIP: There are no guardrails to stop falling off the cliffs, so make sure to stay safe and don’t get too close to the edges!

The guided visit also includes a walk in the forest, to spot the famous cock-of-the-rock (I got to see four!) and go in search of other wildlife, and to get to know the local flora too.

On an organized overland expedition

The overland expedition to Kaieteur Falls is meant for hard core adventurers, and involves a boat ride upstream, tough hikes and overnight camping in the jungle.

It takes around 5 days to get to Kaieteur Falls from Georgetown, where the trip start with an 8 hours (but it could be more, depending on the road conditions) bus ride via Linden to reach Mahdia, a mining township, and then onto the Pamela Landing on the Potaro River.

On the second day, the boat departs to travel upstream towards Amatuk Falls and then Waratuk Falls, famous for the beautiful natural pools. Then, it will be a couple of days hike to get to the base of Kaieteur Mountain, and a final three to four hour hike to get to the final ascent leading to Kaieteur Falls. The return journey to Georgetown is by charter flight.

This is probably a more rewarding way of getting to Kaieteur Falls, and the adventurer in me says I would enjoy it, but after having been on 3 short hikes (you can read about them here) and having literally melted in the heat of Guyana, I’d have to think about this challenge quite carefully before embarking on it.

Various adventure tour operators organize overland trips to Kaieteur Falls. Among them, Wilderness Explorers and Dragon Tours.

Final Remarks

Whichever way you pick to visit Kaieteur Falls, make sure that you are covered by the yellow fever vaccination (it is required to enter the country, anyways), that you apply sunblock and mosquito repellent, and that you have a good travel insurance cover. I recommend Allianz Travel Insurance. You can check out deal, packages and prices here.

Visiting Kaieteur Falls is a once in a life time experience: the sheer beauty of the site, the fact that it’s such a private experience, the fact that it is so unspoiled make it special!

Have you ever been to Guyana and visited Kaieteur Falls? What did you enjoy the most about it?

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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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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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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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