Guyana is South America's only English speaking country, the size of the England with only 750,000 inhabitants most of which live in and around the capital Georgetown on the coast.
Guyana is a unique and diverse South American country with lush natural environment, waterfalls, friendly and welcoming people. Guyana with its several natural wonders is now fast emerging as a premier destination for eco-tourism. So whenever you are looking for something different, then consider making Guyana your holiday destination next time. Here are just a few details why you should visit Guyana:
1. Visit Georgetown – the Garden City
Georgetown is a charming and exciting city in the world. Though a modern city and the capital of Guyana, it is devoid of skyscrapers usually found in other capital cities around the world. You will mostly find wooden buildings here. Georgetown, also popularly called the Garden City, is home to St. George Cathedral, which is the largest wooden structure in the world. The capital city is Guyana’s prime attraction. It’s an absolutely thrilling experience visiting the city. As you stroll down the streets here you will find horses pulling carts, parrots flying overhead, and people buying their essentials from small markets. There are some good restaurants and cafes in the city as well.
2. Explore the Amazon Rainforest
Nearly 80 percent of tropical virgin rainforest exist in Guyana. In fact, the tract of Amazon Rainforest in the country is truly one of the last unspoiled stretches here. In recent years, the Amazon Rainforest in Guyana has started opening up to eco-tourism. Why not visit the rainforest and enjoy the thrills of hiking through the jungle, see majestic waterfalls, and go on excursions at the Asa Wright Nature Center situated nearby Trinidad to spot more than 800 bird species. You can also enjoy your stay at the three eco-lodges here – Rock View Lodge, Atta Rainforest Lodge and Iwokrama River Lodge.
3. Visit Amerindian communities and see their cultures
Guyana is home to many Amerindian communities such as Wapisiana, Waiwai, Macushi, Warao, Arawak and Caribe just to name a few. All these communities have their customs, languages and cultures. These communities can be found mostly living in the mangrove coast and wild interiors such as rainforest and savannahs in the country. Your visit will remain incomplete if you don’t visit these fascinating and intriguing Amerindian communities.
4. See earth’s largest reptile at Shell Beach
A visit to the Shell Beach is a thrilling and exciting experience. Here you will get opportunity to see the leather-back turtle, one of the largest reptiles on the earth. These huge turtles are awesome to look and can weigh up to 750 kg. While strolling on the beach you can also see the frequently-visiting green and Hawksbill turtle as well. Swimming at the Shell Beach, which is among the last wild beaches in South America, is though not recommended. You will also discover few small Amerindian settlements amid rainforest and mangrove. Jaguars have been spotted prowling the beaches during the night.
5. Amazing vast wilderness of Rupununi Savannah
The vast wilderness of the Savannahs of the Rupununi is simply amazing. Exploring the Rupununi Savannah is a great experience. You will discover Amerindian cowboys, also called Vaqueros, roaming the plains. The world’s largest ranch was once situated here. It’s an excellent place for bird watching, fishing, wildlife spotting and enjoying horse riding holidays.
6. Participate in the annual Rupununi Rodeo Festival
The 3-day annual Rupununi Rodeo Festival is simply fascinating. It’s a joy to watch cattle and wild horses rounded up out of the huge wilderness of the Rupununi Savannah and performing various acts and tricks. You will undoubtedly find the festival quite exciting.
7. Take a fascinating look at Kaieteur Falls
If you are disappointed to see Niagara Falls in the middle of the city or irritated by huge deluge of tourists at the Victoria Falls or totally unimpressed by Angels Falls and little drip of water from here, then just take a look at the Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, which you will love seeing again and again. This world’s largest single drop waterfall in volume and height is marvelous to see. It is located in the midst of a vast wilderness and drops from over 800 feet.
Guyana is world renowned for its gold
In places like Lethem (a remote inland village on the border of Brazil and Guyana), due to previous floods in the Rupannuni, red dirt flood-stains could still be seen in the reception area almost a meter up the wall at the guest house where I was staying. They used milk crates during the time of the flood to try to continue a sense of normality even during the chaos. People are living life to the fullest regardless of what has happened in the village. The people are eternally happy. I enjoyed watching the children running and playing outside of the guest house.
These are some of the important reasons why you should think of visiting Guyana and its capital city Georgetown. It will make your vacation to this South American nation quite memorable.
Most of the few tourist visiting Guyana are either birders or fishermen. Guyana has great opportunities for both. The rivers of Guyana are some of the richest in the world with many different species fish including the above Pairama and its cousin the Black Piranha. If you do decide to go on a fishing trip to Guyana, we would ask you to think about the environment and to release the fish you catch.
Guyanese love to talk (they are known to use their hands while they are talking)! Their storytelling ability is a true gift!
Colonial architecture and parks in Georgetown
- Rupununi Savanna with its incredible wildlife
- The splendid falls of Kaieteur National Park
Guyana is the size of Idaho and is situated on the northern coast of South America, east of Venezuela, west of Suriname, and north of Brazil. A tropical forest covers more than 80% of the country.
English is the official language of Guyana. In addition, Amerindian languages are spoken by a small minority, while Guyanese Creole (an English-based creole with African and Indian syntax) is widely spoken. Grammar is not standardized. In addition to English, other languages of Guyana include Guyanese Creole, Akawaio, Wai-Wai, Arawak and Macushi.
Credit cards are accepted at Georgetown's better hotels and restaurants, though not at gas stations, most stores or anywhere else. Credit card advances can be made only at the Scotiabank. The currency is Guyana Dollar G
The climate is subtropical and rainy. The average temperature at Georgetown is 27°C (81°F); there is little seasonal variation in temperature or in humidity, which averages 80–85%. Rainfall averages 229 cm (90 in) a year along the coast, falling in two wet seasons—May to July and November to January—and 165 cm (65 in) in the southwest, where there is a single wet season, extending from April through August.
There can be found many influences in the Guyanese cuisine, due to the country’s position and historical background. The most important cooking styles have been adopted from the East Indian, Caribbean, African and Chinese cuisines, but there are also many European influences, as Guyana is basically a harmonic blend of these all. Most of these cuisines are based on seafood and fish dishes which include the traditional stew called pepper pot, which contains cassava juice, meat, hot pepper and various seasonings. The Guyanese cuisine is also curried and this characteristic belongs to the Indian people, which have roti and various spices. In the region of Danemara, there are many sweet local delicacies, as this region is famous for the Sugar that it produces and as well, for the traditional rum. In the capital Georgetown, the variety of foods is wide, as all Guyana’s influences, belonging to various countries, can be found in this city.
The first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500. Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.The State House, Guyana's Presidential Residence.Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured labourers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.During World War II the United States arranged for its air force to use British airports in South America, including those in British Guiana.Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time. They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to pro-western Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham's People's National Congress to the detriment of the Cheddi Jagan-led People's Progressive Party, mostly supported by Guyanese of Indian descent, which had ties with the Soviet Union. In 1978, Guyana received considerable international attention when 918 almost entirely American members of the Peoples Temple died in Jonestown, Georgetown and at a Temple attack at a small airstrip which resulted in the murder of five people, including the only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in U.S. history, Leo Ryan.
According to the 2002 Census, Guyana's religions breakdown is 28.4% Hindu, 16.9% Pentecostal, 8.1% Roman Catholic, 7.3% Muslim, 6.9% Anglican, 3% Seventh-day Adventist, 16.5% other Christian denominations, 4.3% no religion, 0.5% Rastafarian, 0.1% Bahá'í, and 2.2% other faiths. Most Guyanese Christians are either Protestants or Roman Catholics and include a mix of all races. Hinduism is dominated by the Indians who came to the country in the early 1800s, while Islam varies between the Afro-Guyanese, and Indian-Guyanese.
Guyana, along with Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil, is one of the four non-Hispanic nations in South America. Guyana's culture is very similar to that of the English-speaking Caribbean, to the extent that Guyana is included and accepted as a Caribbean nation and is a founding member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and also the home of the Bloc's Headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat. Its geographical location, its sparsely populated rain forest regions, and its substantial Amerindian population differentiate it from English-speaking Caribbean countries. Its blend of Indo-Guyanese (East Indian) and Afro-Guyanese (African) cultures gives it similarities to Trinidad and distinguishes it from other parts of the Americas. Guyana shares similar interests with the islands in the West Indies, such as food, festive events, music, sports, etc. Guyana plays international cricket as a part of the West Indies cricket team, and the Guyana team plays first class cricket against other nations of the Caribbean. In addition to its CARICOM membership, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF, the international football federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Another aspect of Guyanese culture is its rich folklore about Jumbees.
Guyana is a South American country whose musical traditions are a mix of Indian, African, European and native elements. Important American, Caribbean, Brazilian and other Latin musical styles are popular. Popular Guyanese performers include Terry Gajraj, Mark Holder, Eddy Grant, Dave Martins & the Tradewinds, Aubrey Cummings and Nicky Porter. The Guyana Music Festival has proven an influential part of the scene.
Guyana abounds with plant and animal life. Each region boasts unique species.The following habitats have been categorized for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savannah, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests (NBAP, 1999). About 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as possible hotspots for a National Protected Area System.More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to montane and lowland evergreen rain forests. These forests are home to more than a thousand species of trees. Guyana's tropical climate, unique geology, and relatively pristine ecosystems support extensive areas of species-rich rain forests and natural habitats with high levels of endemism. Approximately eight thousand species of plants occur in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.Guyana is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Guyana, with 1,168 vertebrate species, 1600 bird species, boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world.The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine.The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.