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Bordering Venezuela, Suriname, Brazil and over 200 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, Guyana is a little-known gem in northeast South America, and one of the few Caribbean countries that isn't an island, giving it a fascinating blend of South American, Caribbean and Anglophone culture. From its vibrant colonial capital to its seemingly unending acres of unspoiled rainforests, golden beaches, stunning savannahs and truly outstanding wildlife and biodiversity, this off-the-beaten-track destination is undoubtedly one of the continent's best-kept secrets.
Beyond exploring the colonial charms, vibrant nightlife, stunning Botanical Gardens and many culinary gems of its capital Georgetown, this is a country for exploring nature - thanks to its exceptional biodiversity and over 70% of its natural habitat still remaining pristine. From soaking in the sights at the spectacular Kaieteur Waterfalls and the sweeping Rupununi Savanna, trekking through the Kanuku Mountains and encountering thrilling wildlife within the verdant Iwokrama Rainforest or turtle spotting on the incredible Shell Beach, this tropical corner of South America is a real treat for the more adventurous traveller.
Not sure how to choose which of Guyana's many highlights to fit into your trip? Don't worry, this is where Latin Routes can help! Our friendly Travel Specialist have travelled extensively through Latin America and know the continent like the back of their hands, so they will be able to make the perfect recommendations - and plan your perfect itinerary - based on all the things that are most important to you. We take care of all the little details as well as the big, meaning we'll create a Truly Individual Holiday to Guyana just for you, taking out all the worry and ensuring you're able to make the most of every moment.
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The Kaieteur Falls are on its own, reason enough for anyone to visit Guyana. Why? These falls are not only one of the tallest and most powerful waterfalls in the world, they are also the largest single-drop waterfall by volume on the planet. Impressive right? This is why most visitors say that the Kaieteur falls are the highlight of their Guyana trip as well as an overall must-visit when in South America.
To find the falls all you need to do is schedule a day to visit the Kaieteur National Park which is located in the Pataro-Siparuni region of Guyana. The park was created with the purpose of preserving the natural scenery of this area so even before you arrive at the falls, you can expect to see incredible natural beauty all around you. No wonder this is the case as the Kaieteur falls actually sit in a section of the Amazon rainforest!
Visits to the falls are usually made in small groups, which is great, as this means the area is never really crowded, giving you enough time to not only admire the beauty of the falls, but to also take as many photos of it as you would like (without being interrupted)!
Once at the falls visitors usually described the experience as dazzling as it is terrifying. The falls’ impressive combination of height and force make it a fearsome sight, nonetheless, it is one that no dares to miss as the bliss found in this place completely surpasses any fear. After all it is not everyday that you can witness a fantastic single drop waterfall falling over the Potaro River in a wide, coffee coloured flow, that runs for 140 miles.
Shell Beach is the country’s best-known and most beautiful beach. Still, this is not the most interesting aspect of this place. Truth is, most people come here not only to see a stunning beach, but mostly to view one of earths largest reptiles: the leatherback turtle.
Surrounded by a beautiful mangrove forest, Shell beach boasts 90 incredible miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, located in northwest Guyana. It is a perfect place to relax and be in touch with nature specially because here can spot several endangered sea turtle species - the Green, the Hawksbill, the Leatherback as well as the Olive Ridley sea turtle.
Still, the one sea turtle that, naturally, is everyone’s favourite to behold on this beach is the leatherback turtle. These giants can weigh up to 750 kg and really are as impressive as they sound, so getting the chance to spot them is the cherry on top of every Guayana trip.
Sadly, an opportunity like this wasn’t always possible around here, as some time back in history, these turtles used to be slaughtered for their meat and eggs. Thankfully today, they are all under a non-governmental conservation program called ‘The Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society’ (GMTCS) founded by Dr. Peter Pritchard and Romeo De Freitas. Dr. Peter Pritchard relevant work and efforts to conserve the turtles in the region has been so crucial that he was even dubbed "Hero of the Planet" by Time magazine.
Another interesting fact about this place is that Shell beach is also one the last remaining wild beaches not only in Guyana, but also in the word! It only has a few small Amerindian settlements here, making it possible to maintain the area’s diverse ecosystem. Here you can spot a variety of birds such as flamingos and parrots; manatees; and monkeys. In fact, this place is still so pristine and wild, that jaguars still prowl on the beach at night!
Imagine a place with nearly one million acres where you are; surrounded by more species than you could ever count, more plants than you ever knew existed, and more fresh air than you ever imagined possible. Is there such a place? Yes. It is called Iwokrama Rainforest and it is one of the last four pristine tropical forests in the world.
Located between the beautiful Amazonian and Guyanan landscapes, the Iwokrama rainforest, is an extremely important corner of our world as it is home to a vast number of unique species. Examples of this are - the extraordinarily high bird diversity (more than 500 species have been found here); the several unique plant families (including Lecythidaceae and Chrysobalanaceae); as well as the easily spot (be it at dusk or dawn) felines, among which - the jaguar - everyone’s favourite. Interestingly this rainforest is also famous for being richer in fish - 420 species have already been identified - and in bats - it counts 90 species- more than any other area of comparable size in the world. Isn’t it fascinating?
Due to its incredibly rich biodiversity, the Iwokrama Rainforest is the perfect set for anyone who loves nature, but also, for anyone who always loves making time for more adventurous activities while on holiday. Among the several outdoorsy activities that you can do in the Iwokrama Rainforest there is one that stands out and that everyone loves doing. What is it? A night time boat trip, of course! This experience is fantastic not only because it is more adventurous and exciting than the usual daytime boat trip, but also, because it is the perfect way to spot several nocturnal species. - Drink an extra cup of coffee in the day and be ready for some serious wildlife spotting! You can spot anything from - black caiman, tree boas, pacas, nightjars or hula tree frogs, and more.
Guyana’s Botanical Gardens are just another landmark that you can’t miss. First established back in 1878, these gardens may be old (140 years old!) but surely aren’t boring. With an exceptional plant collection, stunning butterflies, unique bird species and, not forgetting, the endangered West Indian Manatee - these gardens - are a true treasure of this land.
While you stroll around these beautiful gardens you can relax at sight of some of the most beautiful nature in the world. Here you can easily spot a vast array of tropical flowers, fruits, and plants (some of which are even of cultural significance). There are also several palm trees gracing the grounds, and at one point, it was even believed that these included more than 100 species.
Still, palm trees are not all that you can view here. Other tropical trees that can be found within the gardens include; the monkey pot species, the saman, the jacaranda as well as the night blooming Water Chestnut (Pachira aquatic).
Nature is not the only interesting part of the gardens, housed in the compound of the gardens are several monuments such as a statue of Mahatma Ghandi, or the Arya Samaj Monument with was erected recently, in 2011. There are also several fountains, an arched walkway as well as the kissing bridge. - This bridge is one of two curved iron bridges which were imported back in 1884 to span both lakes in the gardens. Nowadays this bridge is quite a favourite among newlyweds as many brides and grooms have posed for photographers on this bridge after making their wedding vows.
It is easy to spend hours on these gardens and even easier to fall in love with all its details. Especially, the flowers. Amongst of the gardens vast collection are lotus and the immense Victoria Regia Lily, which is Guyana’s national flower. Whatever you do, don’t forget to smell them. They are divine!
Designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield and opened on 24 August 1892, Georgetown is today the capital city of Guyana, and a lovely destination to visit in South America.
Located on South America’s north Atlantic coast, the city is famous for its British colonial architecture which can be easily recognised on the 19th century stilted wooden houses. But colonial charm is not the only charming characteristic of this city. Georgetown is also filled with old Dutch canals, trendy and fashionable shops, distinguished restaurants, museums as well as lively nightlife corners. In addition to all that it is also culturally connected to the English-speaking Caribbean region which can be easily felt everywhere, adding up an extra exotic vibe to the town.
There are several places that you can visit here including; the Parliament Building, the City Hall, the Light House, Demerara harbour Bridge (the longest floating bridge in the world), the famous Stabroek Market (popular for its local goods), as well as the Guyana National Park which is perfect for whenever you feel like laying low.
Even though there are plenty of beautiful corners in this town, there is one location that is considered by most visitors to be the highlight of the city. - St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. - This church is very special because it is considered the tallest wooden church in the world, reaching an incredible height of 43.5 metres. Don’t miss it!
We all know that Guyana (just like most South American countries) has a wealth of natural life that goes way beyond anyone’s imagination. The Kanuku Mountains are just another proof of exactly that.
Located in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region, this group of untouched mountains brings to Guyana a sense of peace and undeniable balance, making a visit to this place, an absolute trip of the heavens. In the Kanuku Mountains you will find all types of unique animal species as well as plants, so you need to make sure to bring your most comfortable clothes as you will want to explore the area for as long as your feet will allow you.
There is also a river - the Rupununi River - which separates Eastern Kanuku Mountains from Western Kanuku Mountains. It’s astonishing how many species live here. The lowland forests for example sustain 60% of all the known bird species in Guyana. Also, from all 150-mammal species found in the country, 80% can only be found in the Kanuku Mountains. Some of these prominent species include; the Giant otter, the Harpy eagle, and the Arapaima. The natural world is so extraordinary around here that the name ‘Kanuku Mountains’ in the Wapishana language is even a reference to the rich diversity of wildlife found here.
It will be impossible for you to visit the whole area as it comprises approximately 1930.511mi² and rising up to almost 3,000 ft. Usually a day trip here is most advisable especially because that way you can combine trekking the mountains with visiting the Macushi and Wapishana people. These communities live either in or near to the Kanuku Mountains and have no more than a total of 7,144 persons. When in contact with them, it is interesting to observe how wisely they use the natural resources around them by doing everything in the most traditional way. It is a true lesson of respect for nature.
For those of you who can’t go on a holiday and not include a few good museums in the itinerary, the Guyana National Museum, is one to add to your ‘museum bucket list’.
Founded in 1951 and located on North Road in a building complex in Georgetown, this museum has a collection of flora and fauna of the country, archaeological findings, minerals, soils, timbers, fruits, seeds, gums, resins, dyes and drugs, as well as examples of Amerindian arts and crafts. It is also the largest museum in Guyana and houses most of the country’s general artefacts.
The museum was founded by the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society and throughout time it has counted with the management of several great curators among which - Dr. H Witlock (the first curator), followed by Mr. Fresson, and later on by Everard im Thurn - who was appointed by the government in 1877. He was a qualified curator who travelled frequently in search of relevant specimens for ethnology and other exhibits for the Museum. Other curators who made noteworthy contributions were John Quelch, James Rodway and Dr Walter Roth.
Today the museum showcases a beautiful collection of exhibits ranging from the print press of Black Magenta to the Rolls Royce once used by the late President Forbes Burnham. When visiting it you should know that the museum is divided into three different sections - natural history, social history and industrial history. Some of the artefacts that can be found in the National Museum are: a model of the government fire boat (Lady Woolley); a wide variety of Dolls that includes Indian dolls and Hindu Guyanese dolls; cars from the twentieth century; a model of gold and diamond mining; a natural section; a giant anteater section; model of fruits and vegetables; an economic and mineralogy (Industrial) section; as well as a lovely collection of different types of minerals.
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is considered the oldest museum in the English-speaking Caribbean region, having been first established back in 1974, even though it was not opened to the public until 1982. The museum is located at 61 Main Street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown, and is open Monday to Thursday between 8am-4.30pm, on Friday, the museum closes one hour earlier.
Why should you visit the museum? It is the perfect way to get acquainted with Guyana’s history as you would be seeing artefacts that date back to the ancient cultures of Guyana! The museum exhibits and conserves these artefacts and afterwards conducts anthropological researches with the aim to bring more knowledge to the country about Guyana’s ancient indigenous people.
The museum has exhibited lots of different historical artefacts but the very first collection showcased here belonged to the Guyanese archaeologist Dr. Denis Williams. The ethnographic collections of Dr. Walter Roth, Mr J.J. Quelch and Sir Everard im Thurn, were also once found here, but in 1980 these were all transferred to the Guyana Museum giving space for new things to be showcased. Another highlight of the museum was back in 1991, when an ethnographic collection of the Waiwai people presented at the museum by the Guyanese Cultural anthropologist Dr George P. Mentore.
As a cherry on top, the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology also has a journal which is published annually. The subscribers of this journal might surprise you as they include leading universities and libraries of the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the Caribbean. Other publications include monographs by renowned scholars in the sub-disciplines of anthropology, and also children's books on prehistoric Guyana.
Originally built as a residence for the government botanist George Samuel Jenman, Castellani House, is a lovely nineteenth-century building that today acts as a national art gallery. The property was designed and constructed by the Maltese architect, Cesar Castellani, between 1879 and 1882, and resulted in a beautiful, large, wooden house, that has been the home of Guyana's National Art Gallery since 1993.
Even though originally built for George Samuel Jenman after he died the house was also used as the official residence for the county’s directors of agriculture. The house’s original design was also altered in 1942, making it a three-storey property instead of a two storey one. In 1965, further changes were made to the structure of the house by the Guyanese architect, Hugh McGregor Reid, which was a preparation for what would come next.
From 1965 to 1985, the Castellani House was transformed into the official residence of the Prime Minister Forbes Burnham and his wife, the First Lady, Viola Burnham. During this time the house wasn’t called Castellani Hous but rather "the Residence". Later on, in 1993, the house was open to the public as an Art Gallery for the first time along with its inaugural collection which was curated by Everley Austin (1994-1996).
Nowadays the museum holds over 700 works of art and is being curated by Elfrieda Bissember who first started back in 1996 as Everley’s successor. Elfrieda has done a fantastic job with the museum’s collection, and there is no bigger proof of that, than the names of the artists whose work is being displayed at the museum - Frank Bowling, E. R. Burrowes, Stanley Greaves, Bernadette Persaud, George Simon, Denis Williams and Aubrey Williams.
Guyana is characterised by its all year round hot and humid weather which as a result of its location. Guyana not only overlooks the Atlantic Ocean in the north, but also touches the Equator in the extreme South.
As the temperatures don’t vary much throughout the year there isn’t much that you need to worry about. If you are looking for the hottest period though, September and October tend to register relatively higher temperatures during the day, while December, January, February and March are usually the slighter colder months. The average temperature in Georgetown in September can reach 28°C (82°F) and you will never feel too hot as during the day the heat is tempered by sea breezes. During the coldest months such as in January temperature won’t be any lower than 27°C (81°F).
Even though the weather in Guyana is generally quite mild there are still two rainy seasons that go from December to early February and from late April to mid-August. In terms of duration or intensity of the rainfall it will always depend on where exactly you are in Guyana. Still, May, June, July and August tend to be the rainiest so do bring a good pair of boots if you plan to travel to Guyana during this time!
In the areas that don't have a real dry season, and where the equatorial climate prevails, rain mainly occurs in the form of heavy showers or even thunderstorms and this usually happen in the afternoon or evening.
The warmest temperatures in the country are usually experienced in south-west Guyana, towards the border with the Brazil. This area is occupied by savannah, and the climate here is tropical, with a dry season that goes from October to March, and temperatures that can reach 33/35 °C (91/95 °F).
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