While there are many places around the world that boast luxury hotels and fine-dining restaurants, Guyana is quickly making a name for itself as the ultimate destination for the curious traveller. With the majority of the population living along the coast, the country’s pristine rainforests, immense waterfalls, savannahs and mountains are ripe for exploring and offer a travel experience like no other. Imagine covering vast distances without seeing a trace of another human, or exploring primary rainforest, home to a rich biodiversity unique to this pocket of South America. Well, welcome to Guyana.
Kaieteur all to yourself
If witnessing jaw-dropping natural attractions is part of your plan when visiting Guyana, a guided tour of the Kaieteur Falls should be your first stop. One of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in the world, Kaieteur is a true force of nature. Located in the Kaieteur National Park, it not only features the majestic falls, but also offers a world-class wildlife adventure. Here, on the trail leading towards the falls, you can catch a glimpse of the vibrant Guianan cock-of-the-rock or the tiny golden frog.
It’s just you and nature. No barriers separate you from the impressive view that is Kaieteur – 30,000 gallons of water cascading over a 223-metre sheer drop. Kaieteur is among one of the world’s few attractions where crowds aren’t an issue, as day trips to the falls cater for very small groups. This makes it feel as if you have this magnificent space all to yourself. Even getting to Kaieteur is an incredible experience – the only way is via a small aeroplane or, for those seeking a more rugged adventure, a three-to-five-day trek.
Indigenous way of life
It is not just the promise of nature and adventure that entices travellers to visit Guyana. Tales of community-owned eco-lodges and enterprises also attracts those in search of an authentic cultural experience, and a visit to one of the many indigenous communities is vital to understanding the many aspects of Guyana’s culture. Most of the indigenous communities that are open to visitors can be found in the Rupununi region. The North Rupununi boasts pristine rainforest, fantastic wildlife and the traditional ways of the Makushi People. Enjoy bird watching at Surama Eco-lodge, fishing at Rewa Eco-lodge and wildlife spotting at Karanambu Lodge.
While the indigenous people have their own dialect, many of the residents converse in English and will be able to share a conversation without the need for an interpreter. You’ll learn all about their culture, customs, traditions, and craft making, as well as cooking cassava bread and farine and benefit from their wildlife-spotting skills. The region is referred to as the “Land of the Giants” and if you’re lucky you might see a jaguar, the largest cat in South America. Or maybe a giant anteater, giant otter, black caiman, anaconda, or even an arapaima – the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish.
The best part is spending a night under the stars listening to local folklore and stories of their ancestors. It gives you a rare insight into their history, way of life and how the land has shaped their entire existence.
The communities and locals are always happy to interact with travellers. If getting back to nature and immersing yourself in a new cultural experience sounds like the perfect getaway, then the Rupununi is for you.
Taste of heaven
Guyana’s history has provided a melting pot of cultural diversity reflected in its unique cuisine, which is a Creole-Indian-Caribbean fusion. Food is an integral component of the Guyanese culture. Wherever you travel across the country, a wide array of dishes showcase influences from the East Indians, Africans, Chinese and indigenous cultures.
The scent of the rich curries seasoned with exotic spices, steaming pots of the local “cook-up”, and a wide variety of organic local fruit, free-range meat and fresh seafood are just a taste of what’s to come.
Stalls and shops in the nation’s capital Georgetown are teeming with exotic fruit and vegetables, and they can also be picked in almost any village you visit. You’ll also find that most of the drinks are made with seasonal fruits. Free-range meat and seafood are also widely available in the local markets and are prepared in a variety of ways that will make each dining experience unique. One thing that is for sure – you’ll never be without good food in Guyana.
Modern travel is all about being immersed in the experience. When did you last visit a world-class attraction without any crowds? Or share a conversation with an indigenous local? Or even sample truly fresh local produce? So, when the world all begins to feel the same, come to Guyana – it truly redefines the 5-star experience.