Last May, Shelly and I traveled to the infrequently traveled country of Guyana. Located SE of Venezuela and NW of Suriname it’s truly a gem off the beaten path.
We visited our friends who live in the capitol and only major town in the country, Georgetown. Upon our arrival we were greeted by them and drove to their house. On our way they gave me the lay of the land and said most people classify poor, under developed countries as 3rd world… As our Guyanese friend said, “Nate, Guyana is the ’4th World’.” It’s the second poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere (next to Haiti) and is more like Africa than South America. There were more 3-legged dogs (apparently caused by being hit by cars) and people wandering the streets than Shelly and I had ever seen.
When we arrived at their house, the gate leading to the driveway was opened by an armed guard, where protection is provided 24×7. Their house was warm and inviting and came equipped with pirated cable from Denver, CO. No joke, the first morning there, I turned on the T.V. and watched the local news in Denver… too funny.
With the poverty, crime, and pirated T.V. one might think this is not a hospitable place to visit. On the contrary, it’s exactly the opposite. Guyana receives approximately 1,000 travelers a year and so everything you see and do is authentic. There are no tourist traps, English is the national language (former English colony), and the people are poor but grateful for what they have.
For the first three days we traveled to Bartica via Land Cruiser and stayed in a fully equipped “hacienda” with a 3 person staff for $50 a night! The road was long and hard as we plowed through sections of dirt road that were 2 ft. deep in mud. We ferried across rivers, which were “serviced”, by pirates for $40 dollars one-way… a small fortune in this country. In Bartica we took a guided jungle tour and learned about the culture and nature unique to this country.
When we arrived back in Georgetown we spent a few days recovering from our Bartica adventure. We visited the main shopping center in town where everything for sale was stolen from The States, shipped to Guyana, and sold at a discount… what a deal. A person also had the opportunity to buy new movie releases (MI3 at the time) which had only been released in U.S. 2 days before!
On our last full day in Guyana, we took a private plane to Kaieteur Falls, which is one of the largest single drop waterfalls in the world (over 700 ft.). This is the main natural attraction in Guyana and we were the only people at the falls for the entire day. There are no park attendants charging admission at the gate. It was wide open and we were free to roam around at our leisure.
Overall, I would highly recommend Guyana if you’re looking for a place off the beaten path, with areas that are truly untouched.