I have to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Guyana. This so off the beaten track country, filled with vast amount of dense forestry, this land is so untouched by man and I love that. The vibe is very Caribbean, very relaxed and laid back. People go with the flow and thats an understatement really. For the majority, that’s really a nice way to live, but frustrations came through when trying to organise something through Tourism agencies for instance.
People – My experience they were truly humbling and joyful. I didn’t feel a sense of anger towards tourists nor dangers really. I felt that they were proud for me to be there, a tourist, and wanted to show me the good sides of Guyana. Always talking, asking questions, it was a utter delight to be surrounded by Guyanese people. I met alot of friends at Jerries bar in particular, and felt almost a close bond with these lads. If I needed something they would help me. We would drink, eat and laugh together. Really couldn’t of asked for a better relationship in such an unknown country.
Cost – Well, it’s a mixed bag really. 1000 Guyanese Dollars is 5 US/AUS dollars approximately. SO a beer would cost around 600. That’s about 3 dollars. Pretty cheap. Food was about 1100, and that’s like a standard meal, chicken rice and salad. So that is around 5.5 Dollars. Yet, going to Shell Beach, a 2 day stay which was the attempt to find giant leather-back turtles, was $420 for one person. Truly extortionate. This included a 1 hour small aircraft flight, transfers via taxi and boat, accommodation and food. Now, that seems alot included. But it’s definitely not worth that amount of money, even if you see turtles. We unfortunately didn’t. Kaieteur Falls was $145. That’s a 4 hour trip, 2 hours flight time return and 2 hours at the falls. This was worth it for the experience alone, however, in some peoples book, a 4 hour tour at 145 dollars, that’s 3 days budget as a backpacker in alot of places. Accommodation is roughly around 10-20 dollars a night.
Food – Alot of chicken, cooked and fried, with rice. Some of the spices and herbs mixed are truly delicious. Curries such as Pepper Pot which is Wild Cow, Deer and Fish are also on the menu. Relatively cheap and you can eat at a local place for around 5-7 dollars which a small drink. Wild Cow, Deer and Catfish were all new to me. Cooked locally and fresh was what every backpacker loves to taste.
Experiences – Flying in small aircrafts is an adventure in itself, and for some, including me, a not so regular event. It was my first time flying in one ( I flew 4 times, in 8 seaters, 13 seaters, 17 seaters and 5 seaters). I managed to get into the cockpit on my first flight. I thought this was incredible. Just having the added view of the window at the front of the aircraft, that extra lift when take off occurs, and for me I got to fly the plane albeit for a few minutes steering and swerving, it was one of them experiences you don’t expect, but treasure forever. Even just flying on a small plane its more personal, you see more below you, it’s an adventure in itself.
Kaieteur Falls was incredible Flying over for me was amazing. To see such a natural wonder, pitted in the middle of natural jungle, not made or developed by man, accompanied by the sheer size and drop( Being the largest drop waterfall in the world at 821ft ), I have to admit, this was definitely up there with my all time and so far travel experiences. Getting my photo took on a ledge close to the waterfall puts things into perspective. It is mesmerizing and titanic at the same time.
The journeys – Lethem to Georgetown via minibus was definitely grueling. The roads are not laid with tarmac, full of pot holes and are generally tough sand on mud. Adding driving through the jungle, at unsafe speeds, and squashed in like a sardine, it’s a real backpacker journey. I enjoyed it more than it sounds, putting it down to an experience that is Guyana and just accepting it.
Georgetown – There isn’t many other towns to visit in Guyana really. The tourist attractions are trips away and have to be done via tours. I enjoyed Georgetown. I had a really sense of relaxation there. Nothing is too rushed and you don’t feel you are missing out on anything. That doesn’t mean to say there isn’t nothing to see, but the atmosphere it incorporates is very much ‘ Do your own thing, enjoy yourself, no real worries’. Visiting some of the museums are interesting, Walter Roth and National Guyana are intriguing. The national stadium is nice too, even though a bit small. It’s a cricket ground normally but I managed to watch a Football game there and also a Air show as part of the Guyana Festival. There are incredible markets, beer distilleries and nightlife. Even just walking around Georgetown the style of the houses and buildings whether domestic or commercial are vastly intriguing. They have the old styled decorations, with wooden window doors, mansion like doors and wall patterns, signs for shops look handwritten like in the 50’s and the size of the markets are stupendously cute.
Transport – Taxi’s are frequent everywhere, registered or not. If the registration plate begins with a HC, then they are official. Others are not and will try bargain a price with you. They are quick and know the area so its fairly easy to get around. There are no trains or trams, however they are minibuses with a number stuck on the side, which is the only real public transport facility available. Even then they look as though it’s not run from the government but by locals.
Music – As you can imagine, very Caribbean, Hip Hop, Soul and Jazz like. Some of it is ear wrenching and trashy, especially when car stereos are on at night. I sleep through almost anything but some of the bizarre over the top mixes are just not music for most peoples ears. Other than that, the music meets the atmosphere and the vibe of the place, and it’ll be drumming through your ears like a soundtrack to a television series or movie.
Nightlife – There are bars and clubs around Georgetown. Finding them is key. There is no real main strip so you have to know where you are going. I was lucky to be with locals for the majority, we hit local bars. However there are popular clubs called Buddys, Palm Court and Gravity. I just enjoyed the social side of interacting with people at Jerries bar. Alot of people come in and out, and for me it had enough life to enjoy rather than some possibly half busy nightclub which no real theme or identity.
I loved Guyana and I will be back. I’m determined to see the gigantic turtles on Shell Beach again, ride to the Savannah and see more of the lush dense forestry. Hopefully, in the future, the legend of El Dorado will be incorporated into some sort of tourist attraction. Also, despite the brutality of it, something also for the Jonestown Massacre would be interesting, to teach us few tourists that do go to Guyana what happened there.
I have to thank the people of Guyana which made my stay amazing and really eye opening. Special mention to the people at Jerries, they were awesome!