Guyana is a small country located in the northern part of South America, nestled between Suriname and Venezuela. It's also the only English-speaking country on the continent. The local Amerindians also speak Creole, a mix of English, African, Arawakan, and Dutch. This beautiful jungle-rich country has increased its safe tourism and is relatively inexpensive to travel through, but travelers are advised to seek the guidance of local tour operators.
Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, is full of colorful Caribbean culture. Be sure to visit Stabroek Square; it's a lively place to learn the local culture, try new foods, and buy souvenirs. If you're looking for a fancy boutique hotel experience, try Cara Lodge, known for being the best hotel in Georgetown. For a less expensive option, try the Armoury Villa Hostel, located just outside the city center. A middle-range option would be the Guyana Marriott Hotel, which has an outdoor pool.
Georgetown has a few rum distilleries that are fun to visit. There are several tours available, but the Demerara Diamond Distillery tour is the most popular. The cost is reasonable and includes transportation and a guide. El Dorado rum distillery also has a great tour that includes a visit to a rum museum and several tasting options.
Many travelers will attest to the awe-inspiring experience of standing in front of Kaieteur Falls. It's the fourth tallest waterfall in South America and is nestled in the jungle. The falls are located on the Potaro River, which sits in a small section of the Amazon rainforest. The best way to get there is by small aircraft from Georgetown. Book early and be flexible with your dates, as planes only leave when full. The other option is to participate in a 5-day overland journey. This is more costly, but you get to experience the jungle and local culture at the same time.
Guyanese food is a fusion of Indian, Asian, Caribbean, and African dishes. It's full of flavor, spice, variety, and is relatively inexpensive. Ask the local people or fellow travelers for restaurant recommendations. The top two moderately priced places are Aagman Restaurant and Maharaja Palace. For top-recommended cheap eats, try Shanta's or Nicky's Fish Shop. Additionally, you'll quickly learn some of the popular local dishes such as a cook-up, which is like a stir-fry with random ingredients added. Pepper-pot, a meat and cassava stew, is the national dish.
Rewa, located in the Rupununi region, is surrounded by breathtaking jungle and wildlife. The only way to get there is by small aircraft and then a short boat ride, both of which boast incredible views. The Rewa Ecolodge is isolated and helps sustain the local economy and environment. All power comes through solar panels, and food is locally sourced. This is the place to go if you want a true immersion into the jungle. You'll get a chance to see rare wildlife as well as learn about local plants and trees.
The botanical gardens are located in Georgetown and are accessible by foot. Along with viewing the local flora, you can do some excellent birdwatching and visit a few ponds that are full of manatees. They also have a few animal exhibits showing local jaguars, owls, toucans, giant otters, and capuchin monkeys. The Botanical Gardens are not as lush or fancy as some botanical gardens located in other countries, but it's a great way to spend an afternoon. Best of all, admission is free.
If you're into museums, politics, and local history, Georgetown has a few places that may interest you. Admission is usually inexpensive and you can learn a lot about the culture, history, and economy of Guyana. The Georgetown city hall and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology both hold their European colonial history in the architecture. The Roy Geddes Steel Pan Museum will give you a neat look into the steel band music culture of the country. Lastly, don't miss a visit to the Parliament Building of Guyana. You can visit the public gallery whenever the House is in session. However, be sure to check in with security and arrive 30 minutes before the session.
This is another attraction for nature lovers. The Essequibo River is home to many species of wildlife. Tourists have a good chance of seeing local sloths up close and personal along the river edge. Hook up with a group tour to give you the best and most inexpensive experience. Some tours include lunch and a dip in Baracara falls. Best of all, you will learn about the history of Dutch occupation along the river and may have the chance of visiting the Sloth Island nature reserve, which is brimming with wildlife.
To get a unique view of the rainforest, check out Iwokrama Canopy Walkway near the Iwokrama River Lodge. The series of walkways above the forest floor will give you a cool bird's eye view above the trees. From there, you can get a glimpse of sloths and howler monkeys feed and hanging out at the tops of the trees. If you're a bird lover or photographer, you'll be able to set up a tripod and get some great shots of the diverse birds in the region. Each walkway connects to platforms where you can relax and take photos.
Marshall Falls is located on the Mazaruni River. You'll need to go with a tour group and a guide to reach this paradise. You can get to the falls on a 20-minute car ride to Bartica, then an hour boat ride followed by a 30-minute hike into the jungle. The views are spectacular, and at the bottom of the Falls lies a large pool where you can swim and take in the surroundings. The water in the Mazaruni river is black, a phenomenon caused by rotting jungle debris that gives the water a mysterious color.
Shell Beach, close to the border of Venezuela, was once the home of a turtle sanctuary. It has since eroded, but it's still a stunning place to visit and remains a popular nesting site for over eight species of sea turtle as well as many sea-birds. You'll need to contact a tour agency to set up the visit, as the area is remote and only inhabited by some local Amerindian people. In recent years, conservation efforts by both government and indigenous groups have helped to preserve the area as much as possible. Tour groups are kept small to help protect the delicate area.
Along with great food and restaurants, Georgetown has some excellent bars complete with delicious drinks, great music, and plenty of dancing. Palm Court is one of the oldest bars and charges a cheap cover for DJ nights. Nightcap is a sophisticated Bogart-like bar run by former Miss World contestant Candace Charles; it has a garden area and serves creatively crafted drinks. Lastly, the most popular bar is the Vintage Wine Bar and Lounge; local people gather to dance, drink, and meet up with friends.