As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts, there does not appear to be much of a tourist industry in Guyana. Still, the few things that do exist are quite enjoyable. At the top of any list of things to see in Guyana must be Kaieteur Falls.
The falls are situated roughly 150 miles from the capital city of Georgetown but they are a world away in terms of the environment. The vast majority of civilization in Guyana lives within 50 miles of the coast. Further inland huge swaths of the country are dedicated as national parks, protected from development and from the timber and mining industries. It is in one of these parks that Kaieteur (or Kaiteur, depending on which version you believe) Falls is located.
The falls have a single drop of 226 meters (741 feet), roughly double that of Victoria Falls and more than five times the height of Niagara Falls. Combined with its rather impressive width (roughly 113 m/370 ft.), the falls have a volume of 23,400 cubic feet/second (663 cubic meters/second). This incredible combination has Kaieteur listed as one of the largest waterfalls in the world by folks who keep such lists.
Oh, and it happens to be rather beautiful, too.
Getting to Kaieteur is either a 5-7 day land trek or a one hour flight from Ogle airport, the smaller field near downtown Georgetown. Given my limited time in Guyana and the fact that I was not particularly interested in the bus/boat/hike plan involved I chose the plan. Getting on a tour to the falls is a bit more dumb luck than science. There are about a half dozen tour companies offering trips but each of them will only make the trip if they can fill up the plane. This often results in companies combining trips at the last minute or not being able to actually make a trip happen. I communicated with three or four different agencies and could get none of them to commit for a tour on the weekend I was in town. Until I finally made it to town I actually had nothing confirmed.
I was in the Pegasus Hotel – the nicest in town and not particularly luxe – and noticed that there happened to be a tour company on the property. I poked my head in and inquired about their Kaieteur schedule. “Fully booked,” came back the response. Unwilling to be shut out on the tour, I pushed the issue. The woman made a couple calls and next thing I knew I was handing over my credit card and getting a seat on the flight. Turns out that I managed to convince the tour company to overbook the flight by one passenger to accommodate me which meant that they filled the co-pilot’s seat on the Cessna Caravan. And I got to sit in it for the flight from Ogle to Kaieteur.
Once in Kaieteur the hike down to the falls is rather quick, maybe 15-20 minutes. There are three different viewing areas along the way, each one progressively closer to the falls. The final viewpoint is actually at and above the falls. Wading in to the water upstream is possible and I had my hand in the water running over the edge, though that’s a bit more of a daring move.
The trip also included a stop at Baganara Island for a couple hours on the way back to town. The island houses one of the nicest resorts in the country, right in the Essequibo River. The island has a private air strip – no IATA nor ICAO code – and has a sand beach as well as a couple guest houses and a rather spacious dining and recreation area. I spent the couple hours relaxing with my new friends – Phil, Julie and Samuel – and putting back a few Banks beers while swimming and thoroughly enjoying the high that being so close to the amazing falls gave me.
- Around town in Georgetown, Guyana
- The Georgetown, Guyana Sea Wall
- Basketball under the lights in Georgetown, Guyana
- Shopping at Stabroek Market in Georgetown, Guyana
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