The Tropical Hotchpotch of Guyana

With few tourists, fantastic wildlife, a unique hotchpotch culture and miles of undisturbed rainforest, Guyana should be top of your travel list, says Claire Antell of Wilderness Explorers.

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Guyana is truly one of the last frontiers of South America, tucked away between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. A unique hotchpotch, Guyana, while English-speaking and culturally Caribbean with world-class rum and great cricket, is also a South American land of cowboys, waterfalls, tepuis, flooded savannahs and Amazonian rainforest. Located in the heart of the Guiana Shield, one of the four last pristine tropical forests in the world, Guyana is the size of Britain but with a population of only three quarters of a million and only a couple of thousand international tourists a year.

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A margay - Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

Come here for its amazing biodiversity, with over 800 species of birds and hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles and of course insects. Here it is possible to see the Neo-tropical Big Five- jaguar in Iwokrama, giant river otter at Diane McTurk’s famous Karanambu Ranch, giant anteater in the Rupununi savannahs, black caiman at Caiman House where you can go out and be involved in one of the world’s most important caiman research projects, and occasionally harpy eagle at a protected nesting site. 

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Kaieteur Falls is fives times higher than Niagara Falls and twice the height of Victoria Falls.

Other wildlife delights are fishing on the Rewa River, location for much of the BBC’s Lost Land of the Jaguar series, monkey-watching from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway and observing the brilliant orange Guianan Cock of the Rock at Kaieteur Falls where you can also see the Tiny Golden Frog and hundreds of swifts darting behind the Falls which at 741 feet high are five times higher than Niagara and the tallest single-drop waterfall in the world.

Its capital, Georgetown, is situated on the Demerera River and was chosen as a site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements. Laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree-lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss-cross the city, this ‘Garden City’ has many attractive wooden buildings including St George’s Cathedral, one of the world’s tallest free-standing buildings. 

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One of many market stalls at Stabroek Market, Georgetown.

Stabroek Market, once described as a ‘bizarre bazaar’, contains every conceivable item from Guyanese gold jewellery to household goods to fresh fish to hot pepper sauce. The Botanical Gardens are laid out with kissing bridges, a bandstand, canals and even a manatee pond as well as being home to nearly 200 species of  of birds including the Festive Parrott and the Blood-coloured Woodpecker.

Accommodation on a journey through Guyana is based on simple community lodges and hotels, with tasty home-cooked food prepared from local produce and friendly service. Activities include trekking, boat trips, wildlife trails, camping in hammocks, fishing, community visits to schools and villages plus the opportunity to visit pristine rainforest and remote Amerindian villages.

Be one of the first real travellers to experience this little-known outpost of South America where there is an intoxicating combination of wilderness, nature, scenery, wildlife, ranches and old-fashioned hospitality.

Visit if you love... wildlife, rainforest, cricket, rum, community tourism, trekking, boat trips, spectacular waterfalls, being completely off the beaten track.

When to go... any time except May-July when they have the big rains.

How to get there... via Barbados or Trinidad on BA or Virgin and then onwards with LIAT or Caribbean Airlines. Alternatively fly on Delta via New York.

For more information... contact UK Rep Claire Antell at or 020 8417 1585 or 07958 218784 for a list of operators who cover Guyana. Alternatively, contact the head office at or visit

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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