After spending almost a week in Georgetown, and for myself seeing alot what that city has to offer, we decided we wanted to head to see some wildlife. Giant Turtles lay their eggs on a place called Shell Beach, a 2 hour journey away. We paid an extortionate amount to go on this two day trek, $420 each. 3 of us. We got on the 7am place from Ogle Airport, with myself having too many El Dorado’s at Jerries downstairs I decided to stay up. The flight was by Air Services. We were late for our flight due to some slight problems with immigration, yet we were the last ones on the flight. I was lucky enough to go shotgun and be co-pilot for the ride. I have to say, this was an incredible experience. It was an experience that I didn’t expect, nor pay for more, and was free. It was a 13 seater aircraft. Two propellers each side, a short runaway and a light plane. This ride certainly kept me awake for the excitement of it, the amazing views above the clouds and down onto the jungle below. I took countless photos and a nearly 3 minute long video of the take off. To be next to the co-pilot, to be able to look over the nose of the plane and side by side, to even feel what the pilot felt was incredible. It was like a surreal vortex of clear blue sky and clouds coming towards us at a pleasant speed. The freedom it brought to me was incredible. To be able to see and experience drifting through the air with beautiful tropical untouched land was certainly one of the best travel experiences yet for me. I had never been on a smaller aircraft to when I had then (currently on the way back to Georgetown on an 8 seater, although this time not in co-pilot seat, the size of this one it feels like you are anyway). I had seen action movies, computer games clips of characters flying through tropical airs and countries through these kind of flights. Honestly, I had always looked forward to getting on one. It felt more personal, more real and definitely more of a close up view. Prior to about 5 minutes before the pilot decided to descend for the landing, I asked if I could drive the plane. He happily obliged, letting go of the aircrafts manual steering wheel, and letting me balance the plane. I swerved it gently left and right and even dodged a cloud coming towards us to prevent any form of minor turbulence. I definitely had the feel of this and it excites me to do flying lessons in the future that I’ve been thinking about doing over the last couple of years.
We landed in Marumba air strip, a small muddy piece of land perfect for the taking off and landing of aircrafts of this size. After some confusion on land with who was picking us up and taking us to Shell Beach, we made our way to small village of Marumba and waited for our guide. Our guide turned up, must have been in his 70’s. Such a nice and polite man and well travelled too. After waiting around for him to do his shopping for the family,(which at one point took that long I had to try usher him to come get us on the powered fishing boat), we were on our way.
Another hidden gem of an experience, not knowing that was coming was the boat ride. Or at least the first20 minutes. We soon left the village to turn into a huge river with forest, local people’s wooden homes and natural reserve parallel to our position in the middle. It was incredible. I have taken many boat rides, but the nature surrounding us was just awe inspiring. I actually took off my cap and just stared around and took all the experience in. Luckily for this I was at the front of the boat, making it again a little more personal to be surrounded by such beauty. I mean, one of the best things of travelling I think, is actually going somewhere new. Well, if you can have an amazing journey to get there, how good can it get?
After we hit the open shark invested sea which had incorporated off the river and only 30 minutes away from the Venezuelan border, we arrived in our battered and bruised wooden boat. It had stopped a couple of times prior to our arrival, but I was already happy from the journeys by plane and through the river I’d had. Remembering also, I had no sleep prior and a stomach with Rum still sitting there.
We stayed with our guides family. Beautiful big family. Amerindian descent. I met the guys similar to my age. The women of the house, a mother and grandmother, and a few local children and friends. One curious 9 year old was so pleasant. Her passion for life was amazing. Her manners and English very polite. She was quiet but happy. Always doing something, always within nature. We got to our hut where there were a selection of beds for us. Clean bed sheets and mosquito nets. We were so tired. We slept until lunch, which was fish and rice. Caught locally, prepared and then eaten. Amazing sauces and spices to go with, washed down with water or tea.
We attempted to go see some turtles that night. Although, the family told us it was out of season and they hadn’t seen one for 2 weeks. Our tour agent had guaranteed us to see some. We were disappointed but still in hope. That night we walked left from our stay, about 1 mile to where the turtles would appear. The beach itself was full of odd and washed away tree’, plants, coconuts, sea plants. It was like a lost world. It reminded me something that you would see on a Dinosaur documentary, how the lands would be there. Very unique and interesting to see. Also, everything looked circular shaped, which had us thinking we’d always thought we could see a turtle. We were wrong. Unfortunately nothing was there. To rub salt into the wounds, the next morning a local ranger told us that one turtle came out that night, but only the opposite way of our explorations took us, right from our home stay rather than left.
That day I went fishing with the guys briefly, who caught some Catfish using heir nets. They had caught two baby black fin shark earlier that morning. A note on the food that was provided. Everything was with rice. It was fish or chicken. Freshly caught. Catfish, Snapper was delicious. The local Guyanese sauces and spices even better. 3 meals a day prepared by the women. Very humble at their work, and we were very appreciative of the flavours we were discovering.
We went out again that night to find turtles. We went right this time. I had previously walked 40 minutes up the beach to find tracks or something that could point us in the way of where the turtles might be coming back to. A nest or eggs, but nothing found.
We sent two ranges left to see if they could find anything we could hope for with the turtles, but we soon realised we were out of luck. At a last ditch attempt we took the quad bike, me and James, one of the locals there, to search up and down the beach for any clues. All we got was mosquitoes and stray dogs barking and chasing us down.
On not finding the turtles and just getting a picture with them, or even see how they operate, was hugely disappointing. I have to say. These gigantic turtles were around in Dinosaur times, and the size of them shows how much they’ve stuck about. We were just a little too late with our visit here. But, this makes me more determined than ever to see them. And I will visit in real season for this. I’ve been lucky so far with any tour or exploring adventure I’ve done when travelling to find what I came for, this time was just one of them times.
Overall, the trip was good. The first plane journey was one of the best experiences so far. In fact that for me cut half the bill worthwhile, despite the amount we paid being too much anyway. To get away and live with locals, deserted in nature was surely a memorable one. My mind was at easy and despite the annoyance of mosquitoes, everything was cosy and calm. It even reminded me of being part of a close knit family again. The first night we watched an Asian movie called Naked Weapon, and all the family gathered around one small TV in a hut to watch it. To be part of that even just for the films duration, well, that was special. It was heart warming.
I’ll be back Shell Beach, just a matter of when. And turtles, next time, I will be seeing you.