Do you know where Guyana is? You might not realise that Guyana is on the northern coast of South America and its coastline in on the Caribbean Sea. Guyana is the proverbial country of contrasts. Its towns look decidedly sorry for themselves but the landscapes and physical features of the countryside are breathtaking. The country has become a popular spot for eco-travellers in recent times as well as holidaymakers just looking to take in the scenery.
While the capital Georgetown will not win any beauty prizes, there is enough to delay the visitor here for a couple of days at least. One of the most interesting features of the city is its number of wide canals
left over from Dutch occupation in the 17th century. British rule from 1814 until independence in 1966 has also left an indelible mark on the city and the country in terms of its population.
The abolition of slavery saw a large number of black settlers set up homes in the city and a large Indian population also arrived, many of who were servants for their British employees. This rich cultural mix is not without its problems and tensions between the two often run high. Add to the mix the indigenous Amerindian people and you have an incredible culture clash, but one without too many major problems. For the visitor, the array of cultures means that the food fan can enjoy a huge range of authentic dishes, from curry to African dumplings, with Amerindian dishes to try as well.
The Kaieteur Falls must be seen on a visit to Guyana. They shoot out 30,000 gallons of water a second from the 250 metre-high cliff and the incredible natural setting is, unlike that of Niagara, unspoilt by tourist related shops, museums and motels. It is truly breathtaking and a flight over the falls from Georgetown’s airport is also well worth the expense.
The Iwokrama Rain Forest, which is a 916,760 acre ecology project, is another fine part of the country to explore. This unique habitat is looked after by the Amerindian people and is home to to a huge variety of species, including South America’s largest cat, the jaguar, caimans, a wonderful array of fish and anteaters.
In the south-west of the country lies the Rupununi Savanna, home to enticing freshwater creeks, forests and huge grassland plains. There are also a large number of welcoming Amerindian villages to discover and many cattle ranches that once were owned by 19th century Scottish settlers. Permits are necessary to enter the Rupununi although a tour operator would be able to do this for you.
The country has a fair bus service although things can get a little busy. Hiring a car is not recommended but is possible if you’re feeling brave enough.