Situated in South America’s northeastern corner, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are mysterious, fascinating and wild, and deserve a second (or first) look.
Still little known, Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America. It is also one of the most pristine. Over 90% of its one million residents live along the coast, while the lush interior is nearly untouched. The country’s greatest attractions are natural—pristine rivers, vast savannah and huge rainforests; over 80% of the land mass is shrouded in primary forest, and only 2.5% is cultivated. This unspoiled interior is home to Amerindian tribes, jaguar, giant river otters, tapir, arapaima, caiman and over 700 exotic bird species.
Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters”. Life here is dominated by mighty rivers, including the Demerara, the Berbice and the Essequibo. These essential conduits will transport you back in time, to a world of primeval rainforests where man has made little impact. Nearly a century ago, the remote Mount Roraima area near the border with Venezula and Brazil was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World. Today, Guyana remains one of the world’s best destinations for eco-adventure travel, birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
In the west, majestic Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest single-drop waterfall, plunges 741 feet from the Pakaraima Plateau. Other remarkable falls include thundering Orinduik in the Pakaraima Mountains and picturesque Marshall Falls near the ruins of the Dutch fort at Kyk-Over-Al.
In southern Guyana, the broad Rupununi Savannah is a magnet for wildlife watchers. It is here that some of the continent’s most endangered species, including the enormous Harpy Eagle (also known as the Flying Wolf), survive.
In the country’s center, the Iwokrama Forest encompasses about almost one million acres between the Essequibo, Siparuni and Takutu Rivers. This pristine rain forest has been protected in a pioneering effort to demonstrate that such forests can provide social and economic benefits without environmental damage. PanAmerican Travel Services can arrange wildlife viewing tours to this present-day Eden.
On the northern coast near Venezuela, sparkling Shell Beach stretches for nearly 90 miles. This beach, composed of innumerable tiny shells, is an ideal nesting site for sea turtles. Each year between March and July, olive ridleys, giant leatherbacks, hawksbill and green turtles lay their eggs here.
Guyana’s climate is fairly constant, averaging between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The driest months are August, September and October. A trip to Guyana can be easily combined with a visit to Venezuela or Brazil.
Although Guyana is an emerging ecotourism destination, some new lodges near the coast provide deluxe accommodations in pristine forest settings. In the south, several ranches offer comfortable quarters close to the savannah habitats, and also serve as points of departure for camping expeditions to truly remote areas of the interior.