Guianas

Georgetown

Guyana's capital, and chief town and port, is on the east bank of the mouth of the Demerara river. The climate is tropical, with a mean temperature of 27°C, but the trade winds provide welcome relief. The city is built on a grid plan, with wide tree-lined streets and drainage canals following the layout of the old sugar estates. Parts of the city are very attractive, with white- painted wooden 19th century houses raised on stilts and a profusion of flowering trees. In the evening the sea wall is crowded with strollers and at Easter it is a mass of colourful kites.

Getting there

From the airport, take a minibus to Georgetown (from Georgetown leaves from next to Parliament building); for a small charge they will take you to your hotel (similarly for groups going to the airport).

Getting around

Minibuses run regularly to most parts of the city, mostly from Stabroek market or Avenue of the Republic. It is difficult to get a seat during rush hours. Collective taxis ply set routes at a fixed fare; they stop at any point on request. Certain hand signals are used on some routes to indicate the final destination (ask). Special taxis at hotels and airports, marked 'special' on the windscreen, charge US$2 for short journeys around town, US$3.50 for longer runs, stops and waiting time extra, or you can negotiate a 'by the hour' deal, usually US$6.

Security

This is a beautiful city, but check with your hotel, tour operator, the police or government authorities about unsafe areas. Don't walk the streets at night: always take a taxi, especially if going to Sheriff Street for the nightlife. At all times, avoid Albouystown (south of the centre) and the Tiger Bay area, just one block west of Main Street. Leave your valuables in your hotel. These problems are restricted to Georgetown and nearby villages; the interior remains as safe as ever.

Sights

Although part of the old centre was destroyed by fire in 1945, there are some fine 19th century buildings, particularly on or near High St and the Avenue of the Republic. St George's Anglican Cathedral, which dates from 1889 is 44 m high and is reputed to be the tallest wooden building in the world (it was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield). Above the altar is a chandelier given by Queen Victoria. The Gothic-style City Hall dates from 1888; its interior has been recently restored and may be viewed. Other fine buildings on High St are the City Engineer's Office, the Victoria Law Courts (1887) and the Magistrates' Court. The Public Buildings, on Brickdam, which house Parliament, are an impressive neo-classical structure built in 1839. Opposite is St Andrew's Presbytery (18th century). State House on Main St is the residence of the president. Much of the city centre is dominated by the imposing tower above Stabroek market (1881). At the head of Brickdam is an aluminium arch commemorating independence. Nearby is a monument to the 1763 slave rebellion, surmounted by an impressive statue of Cuffy, its best-known leader. Near Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel on Seawall Rd is the Umana Yana a conical thatched structure built by a group of Wai Wai Amerindians using traditional techniques for the 1972 conference of the Non-Aligned Movement. The National Museum has exhibits from Guyana and elsewhere, including a model of Georgetown before the fire and a good natural history section. The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, www.sdnp.org.gy/wrma/waiwai.htm, has artefacts from Guyana's nine Amerindian tribes and serves as a research centre for indigenous people.

The
Botanical Gardens
(20 minutes' walk from Anglican Cathedral, entry free), covering 50 ha, have Victorian bridges and pavilions, palms and lily ponds (undergoing continual improvements). The gardens are safe in daylight hours, but keep to the marked paths. Do not go to the gardens after dark. Near the southwest corner is the former residence of the president, Castellani House, which now houses the
National Art Collection
(open after extensive renovation), and there is also a large mausoleum containing the remains of the former president, Forbes Burnham, which is decorated with reliefs depicting scenes from his political career. Look out for the rare cannonball tree (
Couroupita Guianensis
), named after the appearance of its poisonous fruit. The Botanical Gardens offer great birdwatching. The city has 200 bird species from 39 families many of which can be seen in the gardens. Flycatchers, tanagers, hummingbirds and many migrating species such as Peregrine Falcons and warblers can be found around the capital, but the true stars are the Blood-coloured Woodpecker, which is endemic to the Guiana Shield, and Festive Parrot. Both are regularly spotted in the gardens. Tour operators offer birdwatching tours.

The
zoo
, is in very poor condition but is supposedly being upgraded. It carries the WWF logo and has educational programmes. It hss a collection of local animals including manatees, which usually surface around 1730. The zoo also boasts a breeding centre for endangered birds which are released into the wild. There are also beautiful tropical plants in the
Promenade Gardens
(frequently locked) on Middle St and in the
National Park
on Carifesta Avenue, which has a good public running track. Near the southeast corner of the Botanic Gardens is a well-equipped
National Sports Centre
. Nearby is the
Cultural Centre
, an impressive air-conditioned theatre with a large stage. Performances are also given at the
Playhouse Theatre
in Parade St.

The
Georgetown Cricket Club
at Bourda was one of the finest cricket grounds in the tropics. For the
ICC World Cup
in 2007, a new stadium was built at
Providence
on the east bank of Demerara right next to Buddy's International Hotel (8 km from the city on the airport road, take bus 42 or a taxi). It has fine modern stands but not enough protection from sun and rain.

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
Products in this Region

South American Handbook 2016

South America is epic. Home to the world's highest waterfall, the longest mountain range and the...
PDF Downloads

  No PDFs currently available

Digital Products

Available NOW!
Read more...