A paradise for nature lovers, adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts
Welcome to Guyana – the Caribbean’s best kept secret. Pristine, undeveloped beaches in the north, staggering mountain ranges to the west, rainforests bursting with life and never-ending savannahs in the south, Guyana has it all. Located where the Atlantic Ocean the Caribbean Sea meet, and bordered by Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela, Guyana has emerged as a playground for travellers seeking out authentic nature, culture and adventure experiences. It is the only country in South America where English is the official language.
Of the country’s population of less than 750,000, a full 90% lives along the coast, leaving the country’s lush interior untouched, and ripe for exploration. This gives rise to the opportunity to have some extraordinary travel experiences that are virtually unheard of today. Like the opportunity to travel great distances without seeing another human—or any sign of one; or the opportunity to have a national icon like Kaieteur Falls all to yourself; or the opportunity to interact with indigenous people in their villages without an interpreter. Here, every traveler feels like a pioneer.
Guyana’s pristine rainforests, immense waterfalls, vast open spaces, mountains, and rivers are home to a density of biodiversity found nowhere else on the planet. Known as the ‘Land of the Giants’, you are sure to spot several giant species in the animal kingdom including the Jaguar, the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish – the arapaima, the giant anteater, giant otter, the endangered black caiman, and maybe an anaconda.
Guyana aims to become one of the leading nations for sustainable tourism thanks to a clear vision and Green State agenda on sustainability and conservation. It encourages low impact travel and has guidelines towards protection of its cultural heritage and natural ecosystems.
Nature in its Original Form
Spanning over 16 million hectares, Guyana’s pristine rainforest is part of the last remaining stands of untouched neo-tropical forests in the world. These forests are valuable reservoirs of biodiversity and provide habitat for approximately 8,000 plant species and more than 1,000 species of terrestrial vertebrates. Many of these animals and plants are endemic species, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. It is estimated that 5% of all plant species in Guyana are endemic.
Guyana is a bird watchers paradise! With over 900+ species of birds, opportunities abound for birders to glimpse the Hoatzin, Guyana’s National Bird, the magnificent Harpy Eagle, the Sun Parakeet, the Cock-of-the Rock and other numerous species of tanagers, parrots, toucans and other star birds.
Choose to venture where few have travelled before or enjoy one of many time-tested adventures, Guyana has it all! From scenic day hikes and relaxing horseback riding to canoeing tranquil rivers and wildlife spotting, numerous options exist for soft adventure enthusiasts.
For those looking for high adventure, opt to raft or kayak raging rapids, explore one of several multi-day wilderness treks, or playing vaquero in one of the working cattle ranches. For those who want to notch up the fun, abseil from the jaw-dropping heights of Mount Roraima, fish for piranha in the Caiman infested Burro Burro River, or experience days of jungle survival training in the remote rainforests.
No matter which avenue you choose, this adventure haven is bound to excite and satisfy! Best of all you’re likely to have the experience all to yourself. It’s unlikely that your travel party will encounter any other groups when you’re travelling in the wilderness.
Cultural Diversity and Culinary Delicacies
Six peoples make up Guyana’s ethnicity including Amerindians, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese, and Portuguese. While Guyana is South American geographically, it is culturally Caribbean. This is reflected in the country’s music, art, architecture and especially its cuisine. With an abundance of seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables and the bounty of the sea, Guyanese cuisine is a unique Creole-Indian-Caribbean fusion.
Nine indigenous peoples call Guyana home. They are proud to share their cultural traditions with their guests, and doing so helps them preserve their heritage. Visitors are able to communicate directly with their indigenous hosts, and experience their culinary delights and rich cultural practices. For an immersive experience, opt to stay in community-owned and led lodges, and rest easy knowing the fees you pay will benefit the whole community.
For those interested in the nightlife scene, there are popular corner shops and bars to choose from, or opt for live entertainment at a variety of hotels, pubs and lounges. Among the most popular weekend hangout spots is the Georgetown seawall, which is a must do. If you’re travelling with children, enjoy taking in a movie and fun filled games at the Giftland Mall or Princess Ramada Hotel or have an ice cream stop at the giant Igloo shop.
Multiple air carriers connect Guyana to leading destinations around the world. New York, Miami, Kingston, Aruba, Barbados, Port of Spain, Panama City and Toronto are some of the major cities from where direct flights are available to Georgetown via Cheddi Jagan International Airport or Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
North America: Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica fly directly from New York City and Toronto. Caribbean Airlines and Surinam Airways fly from Miami. American Airlines is also now offering a direct flight from Miami leaving at 6pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Caribbean: Caribbean Airlines and LIAT offer flights from Trinidad. Fly Jamaica offers flights from Kingston. LIAT offers flights to Barbados and Antigua. And Surinam Airways and Trans Guyana Airways offer flights to Suriname.
Europe: Flights via Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad, and Suriname connect with flights from the United Kingdom, Frankfurt, and other cities in Europe via British Airways, Candor, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic among others.
A valid visa and a passport with six months validity is essential to enter Guyana. Over 60 countries are exempt from obtaining a visa beforehand and can opt for a visa on arrival instead. Many countries of the Caribbean Islands, USA, Canada, other South American nations and parts of Europe care not required to secure a visa an avail of this facility. The latest details can be found on www.minfor.gov.gy/visa-entry-requirements-countries.
There are numerous activities for adventure-oriented travellers in Guyana. These include hiking and multi-day trekking, visiting remote indigenous villages, horseback easy to difficult single to multi-day river trips, sport fishing, wildlife spotting and birding, riding at the ranches, camping trips deep into the forest, culinary tourism, heritage tourism such as Dutch ruins including Fort Island, agro-tourism at rice and sugar estates, photography and more.
Wildlife spotting – Guyana’s reputation as one of the leading wildlife destinations of the world has been ratified by world famous naturalists and authors, David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell, amongst many others. Here you can find 900 plus species of birds, 225 species of mammals, 880 species of reptiles, over 200 of fish and more than 6500 plants. Guyana is specifically known for a few spectacular species, often known as the ‘Giants of Guyana’. These are the jaguar, giant river otter, arapaima, harpy eagle, giant anteater, black caiman, Victoria Amazonica and capybara. The large tracts of rainforests and savannah allow spotting in various parts of the country. The Rupununi is especially great for wildlife spotting due to diversity in the landscape.
Birding – With over 900 plus species of birds in the country, this is truly a dream come true for a birder. Many enthusiasts have the Red siskin, Harpy eagle, Cock-of-the-rock and Hoatzin (national bird) on their lists, but Guyana has so much more to showcase. The low coastal plains are known for egrets, ibises, gulls, herons, hawks, tanagers, flycatchers, finches, blackbirds and orioles, while high forests are likely to have an impressive clutch of harpy eagles, toucans, parrots, macaws, cotingas, woodpeckers and trumpeters. Red-breasted blackbirds, the buff-necked ibises and the little blue herons amongst many others occupy the hilly sand and clay areas. If you’re travelling to the interiors, then keep a look out for hawks, falcons, caracaras, quail, flycatchers, harpy eagles, cock-of-the-rocks and red siskins.
4×4 Safaris – A variety of off-road adventures are available via motorbike, ATV, or 4×4. If you want to go big, look no further than a multi-day self-drive safari with a tour operator, covering villages, waterfalls, streams, forest trails and steep hills. The annual 4X4 Pakaraima Mountain Safari, for example, leaves from Georgetown and ends in Lethem, just in time for the Rupununi Rodeo during Easter. It is essential to have a 4×4 to navigate the rough patches, but the thrill lies also in stopping at far-flung villages, sleeping under the stars and camping in the wilderness. Stunning waterfalls and forested trails with abundant wildlife are the other reasons to be on the safari.
Abseiling – Another highlight for action-oriented travellers is abseiling down cliff-sides of rocky escarpments. This essentially includes rappelling down steep rocks with the instruction of trained instructors and high performing gear. Abseiling takes place in different parts of Guyana.
Jungle Survival – A one of a kind experience, jungle survival ups the game in outdoor adventures in Guyana. Instructors teach you how to survive in one of the most remote and wildest jungles on earth – it truly takes special skills and some guts. Jungle survival camps in the Iwokrama and Rupununi forests of Guyana are made for ultimate adventures. Get trained by the local survival expert and then spend days in the jungle with a machete as the only tool. The survival course teaches you how to make a shelter, fish and find other sources of food, along with protection from wild animals. The activity is extremely popular, making Guyana one of the few locations to shoot an international reality show.
Ranching – The South and Central Rupununi region of Guyana is the veritable answer to America’s wild west. It was once home to the world’s largest and oldest cattle ranches, Dadanawa and still boasts of scores of small and big ones. You can stay at one of the working ranches and saddle up to help the cowboys shepherd the cattle from a horseback and help in cleaning, feeding and milking the cows. The ranching tradition of the Rupununi has also resulted in an annual rodeo that takes place in the largest town of the region, Lethem.
Hiking and Trekking – The forest clad mountains of Guyana offer great beginner to expert level trails for hiking enthusiasts. Apart from the challenge of conquering a mountain, this is a great opportunity to see wildlife and birds. The Kaieteur Overland trek, hikes around Iwokrama, Clarence Mountain Trail, Panorama Nature Trail, Awarmie Tour, Makarapan Tour, MocoMoco Mountain and hikes near Shulainab in the Rupununi are popular. Once you’ve walked through the dense forests, the sweeping views from the top of thousands of feet tall hills are mesmerizing.
Sport Fishing – Guyana is often called the ‘Land of Many Rivers’ making anglers travel from all parts of the world in hope of seeing few of the 1800 species of fish, including the largest freshwater fish, the arapaima. Others popular fish include payara, arowana, himara and lukanani. The two main fishing seasons are February to April and September to November. The Essequibo River, Kurupukari River, Abary River, Mahaica Creek, Simoni Pond, Luri Creek, Rewa, Apoteri, Rupununi and Burro Burro River are the most popular locations.
Canoeing, Rafting and River Trips – The Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, Rupununi Rivers and their many tributaries offer the traveller a chance to explore the country by water. You can opt for instructed river expeditions, shorter canoeing trips and even rafting. The view of the wildlife packed banks from the rivers is otherworldly.
With a strong indigenous culture in Guyana’s inland and a distinctive Caribbean feel on its coastland, Guyana truly is a melting of cultures and various activities to promote same.
Community Owned and Led Tourism – Several indigenous communities practice community owned and led tourism. Spend a few days immersed in the authentic and traditional Indigenous cultural experiences that Guyana has to offer. The friendly Indigenous Peoples (Arawak, Akawaio, Arekuna, Carib, Patamona, Waiwai, Makushi, Warrau and Wapishana) will share their traditions, culinary delights and rich cultural practices.
Georgetown City Tour – Coming out to the coastland you will meet the Dutch and English history that helped shaped the architecture of the capital city of Georgetown, and African and Indian traditions that have come together to form the Guyanese culture of its people. Explore the coastland cuisine and the rich city heritage in the famous Georgetown City Tour. This tour is not only a quick ride through the city, but a hands-on experience of the feel, scent and taste of Georgetown.
Events – Events form the heartbeat of Destination Guyana. From the Mashramani Float Parade celebrating Guyana’s republic status to the annual Diwali Motorcade as part of the Hindu Festival of Lights, there is something for everyone. Season events such as motor racing and themed parties also form a big part of our culture.
Persons are required to be 18 years old. Documents needed include Birth Certificates, Single Status Affidavit, Passport, and a Marriage License. Fees required US$25. In Guyana, you will have to wait 15 days before you obtain a marriage license.