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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pin It For Later
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pin It For Later
Not many travelers make the effort to visit Guyana. It’s a real pity, because there are many unique and incredible things to do in Guyana that make it a fabulous place to explore.
Why You Should Travel To Guyana
There are many reasons to travel to Guyana. Nestled between Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname, in South America, this country has a lot to offer to anybody who loves raw adventure. It is incredibly authentic – and that’s perhaps what I enjoyed the most about it. In a way, it reminded me of Nicaragua, for it has yet to be polished up for mass tourism. And that’s a good thing, in my opinion.
This is the kind of place I’d recommend exploring before the masses discover it – and that is bound to happen soon, for it is breathtakingly beautiful. Guyana tourist attractions are just incredible, and the best part of it is that there are so few tourists (no more than 250000 people per year visit) that those who visit Guyana literally have the country and the best sites all to themselves – yes, even the most famous ones. No need to fight your way to the best spot for photos!
Another reason why I loved Guyana is its unique mixture of cultures – Caribbean on the coast, Amerindian and indigenous on the Amazonian interior. If Georgetown, the busy capital, is the place to be to party, the interior areas such as Rupununi are perfect to appreciate the untouched nature and wildlife of Guyana – actually, this is one of the ultimate things to do in Guyana.
The bonus? As it is an English speaking country, visiting Guyana is incredibly easy. No need to worry about communicating with the locals – who, by the way, are truly kind and welcoming!
If these aren’t already good enough reasons to travel to Guyana, read on to find out more about all the amazing things to do in Guyana that will have you pack your bags!
Visiting Georgetown market is one of the unmissable things to do in Guyana
13 Unmissable Things To Do In Guyana
I feel that any trip to a foreign country should start with a visit to its capital. That’s where its heart is; where it is possible to learn more about the country’s history; where to find the biggest mix of cultures, and typically the best food. One of the unmissable things to do in Guyana is visiting Georgetown.
Facing the Atlantic, Guyana capital has an incredible Caribbean atmosphere, which actually (yet pleasantly) caught me by surprise. It is chaotic, colorful, loud and full of life. Georgetown definitely is one of the places to visit in Guyana.
If exploring local markets is one of the unmissable things to do in Guyana, Georgetown is the place to do it. I went on a market tour during which I had the chance to try delicious local fresh produce – several kinds of bananas; mango and watermelon; and a fantastic coconut. The best markets in town are Bourda Market, perfect for fresh produce, and Starbroek Market.
The best part of the market tour is that we were accompanied by the owner and chef of the Backyard Café, who while explaining everything about local produce, bought whatever he was going to use to prepare the most delicious meal. His restaurant literally is in the backyard of his home, in a neighborhood that was once known for crime. There, he worked hard to involve the local community and to keep the youth away from crime. Visiting his restaurant is a must when visiting Guyana!
Georgetown St. George’s Cathedral is one of the top Guyana tourist attractions and a must see. It quite possibly is the most impressive building in the capital, for it is a sheer white (especially now that it’s being renovated), and it is in Gothic style. It’s a massive wooden building (thought to be the tallest wooden building) that was completed in 1892.
Other things to do in Georgetown include visiting Stabroek Market, famous for its cast-iron building and the clock tower and which dates back to the 1700s (though the current structure was built in 1880); exploring the Botanical Gardens; and visiting the small but interesting National Museum and Anthropology Museum.
I have written a more detailed post about Georgetown, which you can find here.
These are the best places to stay in Georgetown:
Visit a rum distillery
Rum is produced in most of the countries of Central America and the Caribbean. Cuba is possibly the most famous rum producing country, exporting it all over the world. I came back from a recent trip to Antigua with rum in my suitcase. But people in Guyana swear that their country produces the best rum in the world. So, sure enough, on of the things to do in Guyana is going to a rum distillery and having a few samples – just to make sure it really is the best rum.
Demerara Distillers is located in Georgetown. The Demerara Rum Heritage Center is one of Guyana tourist attractions, and a visit includes a guided tour of the El Dorado distillery – with old machinery and a walk through the storage rooms – and a sampling of various kinds of rum. After several tastings (what’s a girl got to do!) I determined that my favorite is the El Dorado Cask Aged 5 Years, for it has the softest flavor.
Rewa is a lovely village in Rupununi. Visiting is one of the things to do in Guyana
Go to Rewa
Rewa is located in the North Rupununi region of Guyana. Getting there is no joke – the only way to do it is taking an hour and 15 minutes flight on a 13 seater (from where there are amazing views, by the way) and a one hour boat ride along the Rupununi River. The place is blissfully isolated: there are no cars; no phone and by all means no internet connection. In fact, even electricity is provided by solar panels. Yet, visiting Rewa is one of the things to do in Guyana.
Rewa Ecolodge sits at the confluence of the Rupununi and Rewa rivers, in one of the most beautiful places to visit in Guyana. It is a community project started in 2005 by the local community in an effort to protect the local environment and its wildlife from poachers and exploitation. It is run in as much an eco-friendly way as possible by the people of Rewa village, who take turns in working there (they have 2 weeks shifts).
Rewa is the kind of place to visit in order to appreciate the wild nature of Guyana. Activities on offer include wildlife spotting, fishing (usually catch and release) and hiking. Read on for more about these and other fabulous things to do in Guyana.
Surama is one of the nicest places to visit in Guyana. This is the morning view from Surama Ecolodge.
And to Surama
Also located in North Rupununi, Surama is another tiny indigenous village at about 2 hours boat ride and one hour by car from Rewa (so it is not surrounded by water). Despite being in the same region, the experience one gets in Surama is completely different from that of Rewa. Thus visiting is one of the things to do in Guyana.
Much like Rewa, Surama is an extremely quiet place. Here, the local indigenous community has a dignified, proud approach to tourism, which sees visitors invited to learn and experience traditional dances and daily chores such as the production of cassava. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about this part of the country, and a must for anyone visiting Guyana.
Surama Ecolodge is the first community lodge created in Guyana. It’s an extremely basic place to stay, but the atmosphere is wonderful thanks to all the staff, and the views on the surroundings are incredible. It gives access to a variety of hiking trails and boat rides. Spending a few days at Surama Ecolodge is definitely one of the things to do in Guyana.
Read my post about the villages and culture in Guyana.
Enjoying a boat ride to appreciate the local flora – one of the things to do in Guyana
Go on a boat ride
With so much water, the best way to move around Guyana is by boat. A boat ride along the Rewa and Rupununi rivers is a must, to enjoy the local flora and fauna, but also to simply appreciate the quiet atmosphere and the beauty of the place. It’s one of the best things to do in Guyana.
One of Guyana tourist attractions is its incredible wildlife. This is an anteater spotted in Surama
Spot the local wildlife
I have traveled to South America multiple times, and Guyana has always been on my travel list – despite knowing little about it. When I did a bit more research and learned that it is a fantastic place to admire wildlife I was hooked – I made it a point to travel there as soon as I could. Indeed, one of the things to do in Guyana is admiring wildlife.
I was quite lucky with the sightings, and I saw a lot of animals. Among them, an anteater, two giant river otters, a harpy eagle, various cock-of-the rock birds, black caymans and even a jaguar (which we saw at night, after a lengthy search).
Check out my post on The Most Amazing Wildlife in Guyana.
Fishing is one of the most fun things to do in Guyana – obviously eating the fish afterwards or catching and releasing!
One of the most popular activities offered at Rewa Ecolodge is fishing. The most ambitious fish to catch is the Arapaima, the largest scaled freshwater fish (as the fish is highly protected, it is a catch and release kind of fishing), but as I am hardly into fishing I opted for something less challenging. Having spent two hours on a boat pulling up various piranhas and even a vampire fish, I can wholeheartedly recommend fishing as one of the most fun things to do in Guyana.
Here is a post about my fishing experience in the Rupununi River.
Walk through the thick forest
With so much jungle, it is quite obvious (and actually inevitable) that one of the things to do in Guyana is walking through the forest. This is a great chance to admire the local wildlife – and especially to do some birdwatching. Keep in mind that insects thrive in the forest and that the terrain is very muddy, so make sure to wear hiking boots and apply mosquito repellent.
Walking the Canopy of Iwokrama is one of the things to do in Guyana
Then admire it from the canopy of Iwokrama
One of the reasons to travel to Guyana is to be immersed in nature. There’s no better place to admire the jungle than the Iwokrama Rainforest. Managed by the Iwokrama Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, this part of the country is a great place for wildlife spotting (it’s where we caught a glimpse of the jaguar).
The Canopy Walkway of Iwokrama, which is best accessed from Atta Rainforest Camp (a wonderful ecolodge completely isolated in the thick forest), is a great way to appreciate the nature of this incredible country. This is a series of suspension bridges hoisted 30 meters above the forest floor from where there are incredible views of the jungle. The starting point is located at about 1 km from the lodge, via a walk in the forest and a staircase of around 160 steps. Walking the canopy bridges is one of the ultimate things to do in Guyana.
Not so obvious, yet I think hiking is one of the things to do in Guyana.
Guyana isn’t exactly a hiking destination. I suspect this may be due to the fact that the weather is unbearably hot and humid to be able to appreciate a walk up a mountain. But I am a hiking junkie, finding places to climb anywhere I go. Having been hiking in the Dolomites last summer, I was ready for another challenge. After having puffed (and inwardly cursed, but don’t tell anyone!) my way up a couple of very steep mountains, I can actually say that hiking is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things to do in Guyana.
This is a more detailed post about the hikes I did in Guyana.
Sleep in hammocks
One of the ultimate things to do in Guyana is sleeping in hammocks. It’s how most of the indigenous communities sleep, after all. I had the pleasure to try sleeping in hammocks one night that I spent camping near Rewa. I can hardly say I enjoyed it, to be honest. But hey, I was all up for the experience and at least now I know that, despite some initial difficulties (I move around in my sleep a lot, and I can only fall asleep if I lay flat on my stomach), I am actually able to sleep in a hammock.
Getting an aerial view of Kaieteur Falls – by far one of the top things to do in Guyana
Be mesmerized by Kaieteur Falls
I have seen many waterfalls in my travels. I have visited Iguazu Falls when I went to Argentina, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and a bunch of smaller ones around the world. Yet, the view of Kaieteur Falls gave me goosebumps. This is one of the top Guyana tourist attractions for a good reason.
I suppose it is the whole experience that made it amazing (though let me clarify, the falls are actually stunning). I got there on a 13 seater plane (apparently that’s a thing in Guyana!), and enjoyed the most spectacular view from above. Once I got to the actual site, I went to three different viewpoints, each offering a splendid view. The cherry on the cake was that the only visitors that day was the small group I was traveling with. That’s crazy for a place so beautiful!
For sure, visiting Kaieteur Falls is one of the things to do in Guayana. The best and easiest way to do it is on a day trip from Georgetown leaving on a small plane, though keep in mind that planes typically leave when full (so make early enquiries and be a bit flexible on the dates). Otherwise, if you are up for the challenge, you can opt for a 5-day overland journey that requires going up river and a steep (but I bet incredibly rewarding) hike.
Read my post “Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Kaieteur Falls” for more information.
Eating local specialties is one of the things to do in Guyana.
Try the local food
Guyana is a melting pot when it comes to cultures, and the local food reflects this. It is the kind of place where it is possible to eat rice and beans (which here is called cook-up rice), much like in the Caribbean countries; or chicken curry and roti, like in India (around 30% of the country population is originally from East India). Add to this the abundance of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, and it is easy to see why one of the things to do in Guyana is eating!
Those who travel to Guyana will quickly learn that a “bake” is anything but baked (it’s actually fried dough of bread and it is delicious). Pepperpot (a meat and cassava stew) is one of the national dishes, along with farine which is made from cassava, looks a lot like cous cous and is typically used as an accompaniment.
By the way, here’s my post about Guyanese food.
Five Things To Know Before You Travel To Guyana
Guyana is a destination like no other – and you should know I have traveled wide and far. Though it is breathtakingly beautiful, traveling there can be challenging, given the conditions. It’s better to go prepared knowing what to expect. So, here’s a few things you should know before you travel to Guyana.
It is always, inescapably, incredibly hot
There is no escaping the heat in Guyana. The weather varies between hot and dry (and humid) and hot and rainy (and even more humid). The temperatures hardly go down at night, and considering that most lodges run on solar power, fans (let alone air con) is not a thing. Add to this the fact that long sleeves and full length pants are required (see more below) and it’s easy to guess that one of the things to do in Guyana is bearing the heat.
Here is a post I wrote to help you packing for a trip to Guyana.
There are bugs and more
It’s the jungle baby! A place with such thick vegetation is bound to have a thriving life in terms of bugs. Cockroaches, spiders (including tarantulas), flies, chiggers and mosquitos are common and they often are unwanted guests in rooms, along with the occasional mouse, bats and frogs. It’s all part of the jungle experience, and I think it adds to the adventure aspect. I guess these are all enough reasons to understand why one of the things to do in Guyana is wearing long sleeves and long pants!
Internet is not a thing (and that’s a good thing)
After my digital detox in Botswana and Namibia, I knew I wasn’t going to miss social media while in the jungle. Wifi is hard to get hold of in Guyana: most ecolodges don’t have it at all, and those that do charge a fee for that as it is tremendously expensive for them to get data. If you are planning to travel to Guyana, be prepared to be offline for a while, and to fully enjoy whatever the country has to offer.
People are truly welcoming
It may be because it is an English speaking country; it may also be because tourists are such a rare thing that the locals feel appreciative of them. One of the things to do in Guyana that I enjoyed the most is getting to meet and talk to the locals. I found them to truly kind and generous.
Those who travel to Guyana had better be prepared for its stunning beauty.
It is an up and coming ecotourism destination
Guyana is finally opening up to tourism, and it is doing so in the best possible way, making it a point to respect its environment, its wildlife and its cultures – after all, these are its biggest resources. Having said so, garbage disposal is still an issue in the most remote parts of the country (they are so isolated, after all!). So I recommend to those who plan to travel to Guyana to leave as little footprint as possible. An easy thing to do is taking your own water bottle to fill up at the lodges, instead of relying on plastic bottles.
How to travel to Guyana
The best way to travel to Guyana is by plane, as there really is only two legal land border crossings at Nieuw Nickerie (Suriname) and Bonfim (Brazil). There is no legal land crossing with Venezuela. There are direct flights to Georgetown from the United States (Miami and New York); Trinidad and Tobago (Port of Spain); Bridgetown (Barbados) and Paramaibo (Suriname).
How to move around Guyana
With so much forest and so many rivers, moving around Guyana is easier said than done. Traveling from one place to the other often requires a combination of charter flights (they typically depart from Ogle International Airport in Georgetown); 4X4 rides and boat rides. There is a minibus system in Georgetown and minibuses go from the capital to Lethem and to destinations along the coast.
Since it is so hard to move around in Guyana, the best way to travel there may well be on an organized tour. Several companies can help out to organize a trip. More information is available on the website of the Tourism Board of Guyana, which is also available to help with the organizational aspects of the trip.
Health and vaccinations
Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required to those who travel to Guyana. Furthermore, as malaria and dengue fever are still common, one of the things to do in Guyana is taking malaria medications and protecting from the bites by wearing long pants and long sleeves, and even shoes at all times, and regularly applying a good good mosquito repellent with deet. I also recommend traveling with a good travel insurance. I recommend using Allianz Travel Insurance.
Visa on arrival is provided free of charge to visitors from North America and Europe, who can stay in the country for up to 90 days.
The local currency is the Guyanese Dollar (G$). At the time of writing the currency exchange is G$ 209 to $1 USD. US dollars are widely accepted.
Are you planning to travel to Guyana? What are the things to do in Guyana that you are looking forward to?
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.
Pin It For Later
There is an abundance of wildlife in Guyana, which explains why Guyana tourism has been flourishing in recent years. This is a country where the jungle is so thick that it is impossible to get any phone connectivity, let alone internet, in good parts of it. But much like in Botswana, here thick vegetation and no phone signal are only the other side of the coin of something significantly more interesting, from my point of view: the increased chance of wildlife encounters.
Wildlife in Guyana benefits from the river system and the dense jungle, which create its perfect habitat. Among Guyana animals, there are the elusive Jaguar, Capibaras, Black Caimans, the Giant Anteater, and one-of-a-kind birds such as the Harpy Eagle and Cock-of-the-Rock. There are more than 900 species of birds in Guyana; 225 species of mammals; 880 species of reptiles and more than 6500 different species of trees and plants.
The incredible abundance and diversity of wildlife in Guyana contributed to giving the country the reputation of being one of the best destinations for wildlife sightings in South America. Much like travelers have been frolicking to Argentina in search of penguins, sea lions, orcas and wales; or they have been going to the Galapagos of Ecuador to admire the marine life; they now head to Guyana to encounter animals, and to do so in a completely responsible way.
The most unique wildlife in Guyana has been given the moniker of “giants,” which is why Guyana is called “Land of the Giants”and it’s every adventurers’ dream to explore it in search of these amazing creatures.
This post highlights the most incredible wildlife in Guyana and gives some final tips on how to make the most of this country.
Jaguars are by far among the most amazing wildlife in Guyaba
The Most Amazing Wildlife In Guyana
Jaguar – AKA the King of the Jungle
Among the most incredible wildlife in Guyana, there’s the jaguar. This elusive animal may well be the most famous animal in South America, one many travelers would love to see in its natural environment. This is one of the largest cats in the world, and the top predator moving on land to stalk the continent. The Audubon Magazine suggested that Guyana’s very own Iwokrama Forest could be the best place in the world to spot a wild jaguar.
Jaguars can be seen all around Guyana, especially along the rainforest belt that is at the heart of the country. Among the best things to do in Guyana to see jaguars, there’s staying at one of the local eco-lodges and joining a safari with a trained local guide, heading into the jungle at night to test one’s luck to get a glimpse of this mighty animal.
Arapaima – AKA the World’s Largest Scaled Freshwater Fish
Wildlife in Guyana is not limited to mammals. The country is home to the giant arapaimas, a fish that lives in the network of Essequibo, Rupununi and the Amazon River Basin. Arapaimas are typically found in the southwestern part of the country, where the tropical weather creates the perfect living conditions for them.
One of the most fun things to do in Guyana is trying to catch (and obviously release immediately afterwards) one of these epic fish. The best places to give it a try are the isolated pools and rivers, where fishing enthusiasts can engage in a battle to catch this water monster. Travelers hoping to catch an arapaima should carry the right equipment and follow the advice of local guides during fishing expeditions.
Rewa is a prime location for such fishing, not to mention one of the nicest places to visit in Guyana. Even I went fishing in Rewa, though not for arapaimas. Read more about my fishing experience on this post.
Harpy eagles are some of the most beautiful animals in Guyana
Harpy Eagle – AKA the Most Majestic Bird in Guyana
Among the most beautiful wildlife in Guyana there’s the harpy eagle. This is by far the most powerful bird of prey in the world, and one of the largest birds of pray in South America. Harpy eagles can be spotted in the Kanuku and Iwokrama mountains, where the untouched tropical rainforest proves to be their perfect living environment, as there’s a lot of preys they can feed on.
The North Rupununi Region is one of the top places to visit in Guyana. Here, the Iwokrama River Lodge, the Surama Eco-Lodge and the Rewa Eco-Lodge are perfect starting point to go in search of the harpy eagle. On the Essequibo Coast, these birds can be spotted at Warapoka and Sloth Island!
With so much wildlife in Guyana that includes birds of prey, it’s easy to see why this country has quickly become a top destination for bird-watchers!
Spotting giant anteaters is one of the coolest things to do in Guyana
Giant Anteater – AKA the World’s Largest Anteater
One of the most unique wildlife in Guayana is the giant anteater. This animal is characterized by tiny eyes and ears, which are a great contrast to its long snout, body and tail. Needless to say, it is a really interesting animal to admire from up close.
These Guyana animals can be found in the Iwokrama Forest and the Rupununi Savannahs. They are not easy to spot, so one of the best things to do in Guyana if hoping to spot giant anteaters is to hire a local trained guide, as these will know where to spot them and how to localize them. Ranches like Saddle Mountain or Karanambu are great starting point to go in search of anteaters. From there, it is possible to head out several times during the day into the forest, in search for the perfect opportunity to take a photo of this gentle giant. Don’t forget to get a good travel camera for that!
Giant otters are among the most unique wildlife in Guyana
Giant River Otter – AKA the World’s Largest and Rarest Otter
One of the most unique Guayana animals is the giant river otter. Of all the otter species in the world, this is by far the largest, and possibly the hardest to spot. These animals where first documented in detail at the Karanambu Ranch, in the region of North Rupununi, in 1988 by the conservationist Diane McTurk.
She was the one who started the rehabilitation work of the otters at the Karanambu Lodge. Since then, otters have thrived in the area, making this one of the best places to see wildlife in Guyana. It’s a place many tourists travel in order to observe these rare and incredible creatures in their natural environment.
Mighty caimans are among the most scary wildlife in Guyana
Black Caiman – AKA the World’s Largest Alligators
One of the nicest things to do in Guyana is cruising along its waterways, and the reason for that is that this provides an excellent opportunity for wildlife spotting. Caimans are a common sight here, and a mighty one. Black caimans are the biggest members of the alligator family. These reptiles, that live along slow-moving rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats around the country, are carnivorous.
Caimans are the largest predators in the Amazon, and they prey on a variety of fish, other reptiles, birds and mammals. They can be spotted on any river in the heart of the country. The best place to stay to see wildlife in Guyana, if wanting to spot caimans, is the community-owned Caiman House. From there, it is possible to go caiman tagging – which is done for conservation purposes.
Capybara – AKA the World Largest Rodent
When it comes to wildlife in Guyana, as far as statistical superlatives go, the country holds the first place even when it comes to rodents. Indeed, it is home to the world’s largest rodent, the capybara. This is found in the savana, dense forests and near rivers and lakes. Capybaras live in family groups, and that’s how they are usually spotted. They look like a huge rat or groundhog.
Admiring the gorgeous flora: one of the things to do in Guyana
There’s More Than Wildlife in Guyana
Those that think that animals are the main reason to visit Guyana should think twice. There are many more things to do in Guyana other than admiring its incredible wildlife. There’s more than just wildlife in Guyana: the country is indeed home to Victoria Amazonica — also known as the World’s Largest Lily. This is Guyana national flower, and it can be found in oxbow lakes and in the shallow waters of the Amazon Basin.
The leaves of Victoria Amazonica sprawl up to 3 meters in diameter – they are so big that they can actually hold a baby. The night Victoria Amazonica bloom, their flowers are white. Yet, it is interesting to observe that they turn pink on the second night. Witnessing this process is just one more of the amazing things to do in Guyana.
Other Reasons To Visit Guyana
Responsible tourism should be the only way to travel, and Guyana is proving to be one of the top ecotourism destinations in the world, with the local authorities making an effort to protect the vibrant wildlife in Guyana, as well as its culture and heritage.
In line with this effort, the government has put together a series of Visitors Guidelines for Sustainable Travel, where it invites all travelers, adventures seekers, culture curious and all tourists to follow a few simple rules to leave as little impact as possible on the country and the world. It’s just one more reason to support Guyana tourism.
Discover more things to do in Guyana and a series of tips on how to plan a trip to Guyana.
Have you ever been to Guayana? What wildlife in Guyana did you see?
Pin It For Later!