Guyana is a unique and fascinating destination which offers a different form of tourism – mainly Eco Tourism - which is focused on its ecology, wildlife and pristine rainforest. While historically, culturally and economically aligned with the English–speaking Caribbean, Guyana is geographically found on the continent of South America. About 80% of the country’s land mass is covered by Amazon rainforest teeming with various species of flora and fauna. These are unique characteristics in relation to the rest of the Caribbean.
INSIGHTS TO GUYANA'S PARADISE FOR TOURISTS
Come to the land where the sun is always outside your window and nature gently awakens you with the sound of birds welcoming the new day.
Come and feel the warmth of a people who live in the sunshine of a land of many waters. To the east, south and west of the capital, Georgetown, lay vast rivers and waterfalls, high mountains and rolling savannahs, stretching away to the borders of Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname - an area as big as Britain.
The wide variety of pristine eco-systems within Guyana supporting a large bio-diversity is a unique aspect. The 270 miles of Atlantic coast has long shell beaches and extensive mud flats protecting large mangrove swamps teeming with fish, birds and animal life.
Behind this, the Amazon jungles, mountains and savannahs rise above 9,000 feet, with a multitude of large waterfalls, creeks and rivers.
At the edge of the Amazon, in a lost world where nature reigns supreme, a natural paradise awaits you. It is here that you can find mile after mile of lush, uninterrupted rainforest where 1,000 tree species grow, and where over 700 species of birds and species of mammals and reptiles are offered a haven. Should you venture into this natural world you would be sure to catch a glimpse of the Olivier Ridley, a sea turtle species on the verge of extinction and the giant Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green turtles as they share a nesting site.
In the blue distance above, the Harpy Eagle spreads its wings in freedom over the Rupununi, where savannahs stretch forever and mountains thrust into the sky. Stand at the edge of the Kaieteur Falls , the highest single-drop waterfall in the world as it spirals down onto mist-covered boulders and follow its course through mountains, forests, savannah and lakes.
Of its three counties (Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara), the Essequibo, named after Guyana's mightiest river, is the largest, occupying the whole of western Guyana. It is in this county that you can visit Fort Island, once the headquarters of the Dutch; Itanami Falls once feared by travellers; and Lake Mainstay Resort. Lake Mainstay Resort, taking its name from the lake on which it is located, is a paradise for fun, relaxation, love, peace and happiness. It offers swimming, jet skiing, fishing, paddle-boat and canoeing, golf, interior trips, trail hikes, beach volleyball, and lawn tennis. Facilities include an indoor games room, conference room, and self-contained cabins.
Tours of the capital Georgetown and Guyana's vast hinterland can be arranged by tour operators. Contact details for these operators can be found here.
The cultural diversity in Guyana is unique in the Caribbean and has made significant contributions to the country and the region. A unique, yet growing market in tourism is that of Culture and Heritage tourism.
Guyana has one of the most rich and varied heritage in the region, beginning with the arrival of the Amerindians and developing and consolidating with the arrival of the Europeans: (Dutch, French, English and even the Spanish) along with the Africans, Chinese, Portuguese from Madeira and Indians. The legacy became increasingly cosmopolitan and polyglot. Each group brought to Guyana its cultural traditions and made its imprint on the Guyanese cultural landscape. The variety of these contributions provides the plural tapestry of which Guyanese are so very proud.
Guyana's history is quite visible, as one only has to look at the colonial architecture of Georgetown, the rural landscapes and historical sites. Perhaps more than any other city in the English speaking Caribbean, Georgetown evolved with a distinctive architectural style that combined elegance with practicality.
Guyana is a multicultural society – a melting pot of various ethnicities and culture. The influence of this society is seen throughout the population on a daily basis and touches all aspects of life – social, religious and cultural. The people are open, friendly and hospitable.
Guyana is the mecca of craft production in the Caribbean. The country's huge reserves and variety of natural resources married to an Amerindian population which has been making use of these materials for centuries have led to an incredibly vibrant and diverse craft industry.
In Guyana nothing is imported for craft production. Materials include tanned hides of cattle, sheep, goat, snake and caiman skins, woods of every hardness and colour (e.g. purpleheart, mahogany, samaan, silver bali et al), straws, vines and palm leaves such as tibisiri, nibbi and mukru, balata (rubber tree sap), calabash, coconuts, beads, stones (precious and semi-precious), and gold.
Crafted items include furniture, footwear of all kinds, belts, handbags, jewellery and jewel boxes, masks and sculptures, paintings, rolling pins, letter openers, hammocks, bowls, walking sticks, mortars and pestles and the list goes on. The prevalence of materials and the favourable exchange rate of the Guyana dollar to the US also make a veritable bargain emporium. There is even a promising fine arts industry among many contemporary Guyanese, not least the Amerindian artists.
If you're looking for original hand-made art, you can't do better than a trip to Guyana. Some of the main craft selling points in Georgetown are the Amerindian Hostel, Guyana Stores, Hibiscus Plaza, Fogarty's, House Proud, Stabroek Market and on many pavements around the city, including the GPO Building. You might also want to visit Amerindian settlements such as St. Cuthbert's, Santa Anna Mission and the Pomeroon. Also check out the many reputable jewellery outlets that make use of local gold, diamonds and semi-precious stones set at very reasonable prices.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE CAPITAL – GEORGETOWN
Made entirely of cast iron, it extends into the Demerara River. The Market covers an area of 76,728 square feet. Designed and erected by an American engineer Nathaniel McKay, this structure bears the former Dutch name of the city of Georgetown. It was opened for business on 1st
St. George's Cathedral
Designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield RIBA, the Cathedral was named after Saint George, a soldier saint who had been selected by the Norman Kings to be their patron. It is the mother of the Anglican Diocese in Guyana and reputedly the tallest timber church in the world. The Cathedral itself was
completed in 1892.
Parliament Building (The Public Buildings)
Designed by Joseph Hadfield, this brick structure which was constructed from 1829 to 1834 rests on a foundation of greenheart logs.
It is a model of 19th century architecture and is one of two domed buildings in the city. Today this building is home to the National Assembly.
Regarded as the most elegant edifice of Georgetown, this building was designed by Father Ignatius Scoles. It was officially opened on 1 July 1889 by Lord Gormanston the then Governor.
Originally constructed as an ornamental Garden for Government House, it was extended to its present proportions in 1884. The Garden is laid out in Victorian style without lawns and vistas.
In 1878 American John Frederica Waby arrived in Guyana and spent thirty-five years landscaping one of the finest tropical gardens in this part of the world. Included in this garden is the National Zoo which has a cross-section of most of the country's indigenous animals.
This conical palm thatched structure was erected by one of Guyana's indigenous peoples - the Wai-Wai tribe. Members of this tribe inhabit Guyana's deep interior regions and the Umana Yana is patterned after dwellings in these regions. In fact the word "Umana Yana" comes from the language of the indigenous peoples and means 'meeting place of the people'. The Umana Yana was constructed in 1972 as a V.I.P. lounge for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference. It is 55 feet (16.78 metres) high and occupies an area of 460 square metres.
This magnificent water-fall width varies from 250 feet in the dry season to 400 feet in the rainy season. It has a perpendicular drop of 741 feet. Kaieteur is twice as high as Victoria Falls and almost five times as high as NiagraFalls in Canada.
The Ireng River on which this Fall is located thunders over steps and terraces of solid Jasper. However, unlike the mighty Kaieteur this Fall is ideal for swimming and picnicking.
Begins at the Ayanganna Mountain Range in the North Rupununi Savannahs. It extends 140 miles to the Essequibo River. Located on this river are nine water-falls. The most notable are Kaieteur and Tumatumari. A 1930 Suspension Bridge called Garraway Stream Bridge as well as Two Islands are also located on the Potaro River.
This river is 21 miles wide at its estuary and approximately 270 miles long. There are 365 islands located on this River. This is the largest of the three major rivers. The other two are the Demerara River and the Berbice River.
This mountain is located in Guyana, Venezuela and Brazil. Guyana's Roraima is 9,094 feet in height and was conquered in 1973.
An unusual outcropping of igneous rocks in the South Rupununi Savannahs, it can easily be seen for miles and thus is a well known landmark.
THE LAND OF THE LAKES'
Many regions in Guyana have their own special features, history and character. Those who are familiar with Guyana would readily associate a region with a particular set of attributes. The name Essequibo quickly conjures up images of spectacular waterfalls, rivers and landscapes that stretch to the horizon, rolling rice fields and serene, expansive lakes. The Pomeroon-Supenaam region of the Essequibo County (commonly known as the ‘Cinderella County’) is awakening to a new identity as 'The Land of the Lakes'.
One of those lakes possesses an almost eerie quality that has been the subject of much local and national speculation, theorising and legend. That lake is called Ituribisci or the 'hot and cold lake.' It is nature itself gone schizophrenic, waxing hot this minute, then cold the next. It is normal experience for bathers in the lake to find themselves the victim, in an area no wider than 20 metres, of nature's contrasting moods. Essequibians have come to accept this phenomenon as a normal, if not, mysterious part of their creation in the lake; rarely even taking the trouble to seek answers to this riddle of nature's moods. But visitors often become giddy with excitement and curiosity, wanting explanations, conjectures, legends, anything that would bring the inexplicable closer to the realm of comprehension.
The lake District of the Pomeroon-Supenaam area also boasts a recreational center in Lake Mainstay - one of the more picturesque and scenic in the 'land of the lakes.' Lake Mainstay is the venue of the annual August Regatta, an event of growing stature in Guyana's calendar of events. Thousands flock to the 'Cinderella County; in the month of August and trek to the Mainstay lakeside for a weekend of daredevil speedboat racing, jet skiing and beach activities. The famous Mainstay Resort spreads elegantly beside the lake, offering comfortable accommodation, fine cuisine and conference facilities. Lake Capoey although differently accessed, is linked to Lake Mainstay and is part of the axis of beauty in the Pomeroon-Supenaam region.
TRAVELLING TO GUYANA
All visitors to Guyana are required to have a valid passport with at least six (6) months validity and proof of return/onward journey. Visas are necessary for all visitors except those who are exempt. The list of visa exemptions can be accessed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website or on this website under the Information Section.
Those requiring visas can make contact with the closest Guyana diplomatic or consular representative (list accessible at http://www.minfor.gov.gy) for guidance on the visa process. Alternatively, persons residing in countries where there is no Guyana representative can apply for visas on arrival. The guidelines on doing so can be accessed at the following link: http://www.minfor.gov.gy/images/minfor_docs/consular_services/New_Immigration_Procedures_Visa_Fees.pdf.
Persons travelling from yellow-fever countries are required to present a yellow fever vaccination card as proof of vaccination. It is necessary that the vaccination be administered ten days prior to travel to allow for inoculation.
Guyana’s main international airport, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, is located at Timehri, two (2) miles south of the capital. Flights from Europe are routed through Antigua, Barbados or Trinidad. There are direct flights to Guyana from Miami, New York, Toronto, Brazil and Suriname.
Visitors can travel over land to Guyana via Suriname or Brazil. There is a twice-a-day ferry service across the Corentyne River between Guyana (Moleson Creek) and Suriname (Nickerie) to facilitate travel. Discussions are currently ongoing on the bridging of the river.
The Takutu River Bridge links Guyana (Lethem) and Brazil (Bon Fim) and facilitates cross border travel. Customs and Immigration facilities are found at both crossings.
Visitors can also enter Guyana with Suriname, Brazil or French Guiana registered vehicles. Further information can be found here.
Visitors travelling to Guyana on yachts are required to sail up the EssequiboRiver to the town of Bartica, some 35 nautical miles from the Atlantic for Customs and Immigration clearance. The Customs and Immigration Departments are located at the Police Headquarters in First Avenue and open from 08:00 am to 16:30 pm. Further information on sailing into Guyana can be found on the website of the Guyana Tourism Authority: www.guyana-tourism.com.
Lightweight, casual clothing can be worn throughout the year. Public Offices and some business entities however have dress codes and business attire is usually required for meetings/conferences.
There is a risk of malaria in certain parts of the Guyana interior. Consult your doctor for the required precautions if you intend to travel to Guyana. Georgetown and coastal areas are malaria-free. Visitors may prefer to drink bottled water; there are several local brands which are inexpensive and widely available.
There are numerous health units, both government and privately owned, in Guyana.
There is a wide range of accommodation facilities throughout Guyana to cater to every kind of traveller. Details and contact information on the various facilities can be accessed at this link.
110V in Georgetown; 220V in other places, including parts of suburban Georgetown. Some places are equipped with both 110 and 220V.
Shopping in Guyana is an adventure worth embarking upon as you discover unique treasures that are Guyana's claim to fame. A vast number of boutiques, jewellery and craft shops are available to be explored.
Normal shopping hours are 8.30 am until 5.00 pm (Monday-Friday and noon on Saturday).
Market hours are 8.00 am until 4.00 pm Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri and Sat.
9.00 am until 12.00 pm Wed.
8.00 am until 10.00 am Sun.
The unit of currency is the Guyana dollar which floats against the US dollar, Check for daily rates. US dollars are widely accepted. British, Canadian and some other bank notes may be accepted as well. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, finance houses, and cambios. Many hotels will also change money but generally give less attractive rates.
These are licensed currency exchange houses. Most cambios are open Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, and on Saturdays from 8.00 am to noon, sometimes to 2.00 pm. In order to exchange Guyanese dollars on departure, cambio receipts should be produced.
Major credits cards and traveller's cheques are accepted by most hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies and tour operators. Scotia Cards and Master Cards can be used to obtain cash from the Bank of Nova Scotia during banking hours. American Express cards can be used at Demerara Bank. Foreign credit cards cannot be used at ATM machines in Guyana.
Banking Hours at most banks are relatively short - from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. On Fridays, the banks operate until 2:30 pm. However, Bank of Nova Scotia is open until 2:30 pm, and until 4:30 pm on Fridays.
Guyana's country code is 592, followed by a seven digit number for all areas of the country. Direct dialling is available from Guyana to any country in the world. Collect calls can be placed however to Canada, the US and UK using the numbers below:
Canada Direct 161
USA Direct 165
UK Direct 169
The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Company office in Georgetown has public facilities for overseas calls. Some local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer walk in internet service at their facilities.
Free internet access is available to guests at selected hotels. Completion of the Americas II cable has provided an international fibre optic link. The country has 100% digital switching, and a full range of value-added customer services such as voicemail. Fibre network reaches most of the coast, as does a seamless digital cellular service. This service is provided by two companies – GT&T and Digicel Guyana. Prepaid SIM cards can be acquired from any of their outlets.
Wi-Fi is also available at certain locations.
Food in Guyana is representative of the ethnic and cultural melting pot that Guyana is and has been influenced by the various ethnic groups. Guyanese are particularly proud of their dishes – arguably the most popular and identifiable being pepperpot, cook-up, metagee, curry dishes, roti, and fried rice. A number of restaurants and corner shops provide a variety of these dishes. A listing of restaurants can be found at:http://www.guyanatourism.com/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=15.
A wide array of fruits and vegetables are always available at the markets.
Traffic drives on the left hand side. Seat belts are compulsory by law. If travelling to Guyana and you wish to drive, please enquire with the Customs Officer upon entry for a local driving permit. Be sure to have in your possession a valid driving licence and provide details of your local address. Once issued, the permit is valid for the period of one (1) month and is free of charge.
Taxis and Buses
Georgetown and some parts of Guyana are well served with taxis and buses. Taxis are easy to find outside most hotels (some of which operate their own service) and throughout Georgetown. Enquire as to rates before embarking on travel since it varies depending on whether the car is from a taxi service or a private hire car. Taxis afford freer movement around the city and can also be easily arranged through your local hotel or by contacting one of the recommended taxi services.
Mini-buses present a cheaper alternative for travelling to and from various parts of Guyana – around the capital and along the coast, or to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and Linden. Check and confirm fares before entering the vehicle. These buses are privately owned and operate in allocated zones for which there is a fare structure.
River Boats and Ferries
To reach certain areas of Guyana, like Essequibo, it is necessary to also use river transport. The fares for the use of speed boats and ferries vary. Speed boats however provide a quicker travel option as against ferries. Such transportation can be hired to take passengers as far as Bartica or other hinterland resorts and back in a single day.
Domestic Air Service
Air transportation is available for travelling to several interior locations, such as Lethem, whether for business or pleasure. Airlines that provide this local service depart from the Ogle International Airport on the East Coast of Demerara. Information on their availability and movement is easily obtainable from their office and tour operators. Private charter companies also operate flights to the interior from Ogle Airport.
All are welcome to experience the Land of Many Waters. Further information on visiting Guyana can be accessed at any of the following links:
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Guyana High Commission
3 Palace Court
London W2 4LP
Tel: +44 207 229 7684
Fax: +44 207 727 9807