From bird watching in the dense rainforest to pirana fishing to taking a puddle jumper to the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, the adventurous things to do in Guyana will certainly wow you. The lessor known South American country sits between Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname, and actually sees its fair share of tourists each year. The main city of Georgetown is definitely the most popular place to visit in Guyana, but if you are looking for outdoorsy adventure and wildlife, head outside of the city center for epic activities and breathtaking attractions.
So, if exploring rainforests, going on exciting hikes, and interacting with the locals is your thing, then immediately put the English-speaking country on your bucket list. Warning: this country is not the place to visit if all you want to do is unwind at a fancy resort pool sipping a fruity cocktail.
1. Stay at an Eco Lodge in the Rainforest
How often do you get a chance to stay smack dab in the middle of a rainforest? Some of the best places include the Rewa Lodge situated at the meeting point of the Rupununi and Rewa Rivers (that’s where I stayed!). Stay in traditional benabs (native huts) or a rustic cabin with good facilities. But, be warned, you may get some unwanted visitors. As a matter of fact, we had a tarantula hanging out in the rafters above our bed, another guest had a monkey visitor and one neighboring cabin had a mouse in their house.
Surama Lodge is located on the north Rupununi savannagh surrounded by the forested Pakaraima Mountains is scenic with opportunities to observe wildlife. Not too far away is the Rock View Lodge which also has comfortable private rooms with fully equipped restrooms. Due to its secluded location, most visitors arrive (and/or leave via plane) to this lodge. Caiman House Field Station in Yupukari Village, central Rupununi is yet another interesting place to stay and also help in conservation and research projects. Whichever lodge you choose will be able to assist in organizing all the adventures for your trip in Guyana.
2. Go on an Overnight Rainforest Mountain Hike
You can start the adventurous Awarmie Mountain hike from the base of the mountain, which most people arrive to by boat (booked through their lodges). The first fifteen minutes of the hike are an easy walk where, if you are lucky, you will pass by the Makushi people who will be cooking up some traditional cassava root for lunch.
From there be prepared for about an hour and a half strenuous hike to the top. What is strenuous? Typically that length of trek is nothing to worry about for me, but this is a HARD hike with a seriously steep and rocky incline (to the point we were practically rock climbing). Plus, it is even more challenging if you add in hot weather with high humidity with carrying a 20+ pound backpack. With all that said, the sweat is handsomely rewarded with superb views from the top.
Once you make it to the peak, your guides will set up a camp that has a makeshift toilet and hammocks (which were surprisingly comfortable!). Next morning, make your way back to base in half the time.
3. Go Pirana Fishing
If you are looking for a seriously adventurous thing to do in Guyana, then pirana fishing is absolutely it. About 90% of the rivers and lakes in South American country have pirana (piranha) and fishing for them is not only a sport, but a way of life. The freshwater fish are infamous for their very sharp triangle-shaped teeth and strong j
aws that produce a forceful bite (have you ever seen the scary movie of the same name?).
A pirana fishing tour will typically have you start by making your own rod from local tree branches, then finding live grub (a little beetle) that is found inside of a kokerit seed. A canoe will take you out to the middle of the river where you can cast your line to see if you can get a bite. All your catch will be eaten for lunch!
4. Search for Turtles on Shell Beach
Imagine seeing the giant leatherback turtle, many of which have a length of over six! You can spot four endangered species of sea turtles including the leatherback, hawksbill, green, and olive ridley turtles at Shell Beach on the Atlantic coast of Guyana. The beach is a nesting ground for turtles who come here to lay eggs between
February and August. Go with a local guide to the beach at night, the preferred time for turtles to dig holes on the shore and lay eggs. The eggs take around two months to hatch, then baby turtles make their way to the waters to start the cycle of life all over again.
If you are looking for a Guyana Tour, Dagron Tour’s Big Game Safari includes a stop at shell beach and many other Guyana attractions on this list!
5. See an Arapaima (The Largest Scaled Freshwater Fish in the World!)
It’s a fact that Guyana’s birds, animals and marine life will constantly surprise you–the Arapaima is one such impressive creature. Usually found in the Ripunni, Essequibo and Amazon River Basin, these fish often grow up to eight feet in length. Unfortunately, fishing has led to dwindling numbers, so conservation efforts are now in place.
The staff at Rewa Ecolodge will take you through the Grass Pond by canoe where you just may get a close-up views of this large scaled freshwater fish.
6. Enjoy Bird Watching
One of the best things to do in Guyana is to go bird watching as there are more than 800 species of these winged wonders in all shapes, sizes and colors. I promise you, it won’t be boring! Among the most popular places to view them is the Iwokrama rainforest that has a superb concentration of birds. You are likely to spot many different species such as the harpy eagle, black throated ant shrike, red-and-green macaws, olive green tyrannulet and cock-of-the-rock.
Wildlife specialist/tour operator Leon of Leon Moore Nature Experiences can take you on an unforgettable birdwatching adventure.
7. Explore the Capital City of Georgetown
From a quaint cathedral to a distillery to a memorable farmer’s market, Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown has so much to offer. Don’t miss getting a taste of the local rum at Guyanas last remaining distillery, El Dorado Distillery. Stop by the St. George’s Cathedral, a gothic beauty built in 1842. Peruse dozens of booths at the farmers’ markets that line the streets. And when you are ready to relax with a delicious Guyanese meal, head to the Backyard Café. Chef Delven Adams and his partner Malini Jaikaran will make you feel at home with their warm hospitality and scrumptious local food. Sit under a canopy of trees with the fragrance of herbs in the air as you dig into fresh, organic food.
PS: there’s also nothing wrong with just randomly exploring the streets to take a peak into the life of the Guyanese. It truly is fascinating!
8. Visit an Indigenous Village
Understanding the local way of life is something I enjoy while visiting any place. In Guyana, places such as Rewa and Surama are villages inhabited by indigenous people. The eco-lodges here are operated by Amerindians, and the community consisting of tribes such as the Makushi people are actively involved in the eco-tourism business.
They have a simple way of life and live in harmony with nature. You can take a tour of the villages and stop by places such as the school, small stores, medical centers and a few houses. Plus, you may see activities such as making cassava, basket weaving and working in gardens or farms.
9. Walk the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway
For wildlife sightings (and a little adventure), visit the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, situated 33 meters (100+ feet) above the rainforest floor. You have to climb around 200 steps to reach the walkway of suspension bridges in the tree canopies with viewing platforms. Get a bird’s eye view from this height and a chance to spot animals, birds, insects, reptiles, and tree and plant species. Dawn walks on the walkway and night walks in the area are ideal times to see some amazing species. If you are really lucky, you might spot a jaguar on the dirt road outside!
FYI: Iwokrama Canopy Walkway is a few minutes walk from ATTA Rainforest Lodge.
10. Go Nightspotting
Would you like to see a few creatures of the night in the rainforest? Head to the Iwokrama Reserve to see some wildlife after dark. You might see a jaguar, reptiles and critters (we saw a tree boa!). You have a choice to go nightspotting by boat, by 4×4 vehicle and by foot. Either one you choose will take you to different night places to visit that are sure to have some critters lurking about.
Another creature found in Guyana is the caiman from the alligator family. You can go on a creatures of the night tour from the Caiman House Field Station to see caimans, tree boas, frogs and birds or participate in an overnight caiman capture and release research activity on the Rupununi River.
11. Marvel at Kaieteur Falls
While Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls are all more popular on things to do before you die lists, Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is off-the beaten-track but just as amazing. It is the world’s widest single-drop waterfall and one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls with an immense volume of water from the Potaro river plummeting down a cliff at a height of more than 700 feet in the Kaieteur National Park.
You have two main ways to reach this isolated spot—one is on a small aircraft and other is a 5-day overland journey. The plane lands on an airstrip near the falls from where you proceed on foot to viewing points. An overland trip involves land transport, hikes, boats and a final ascent on a mountain called “oh my god”. Yes, you will probably utter this as you make the steep climb.
12. Eat Cassava
A trip to Guyana is incomplete with tasting a staple food of the locals, cassava—something I ate regularly. It is a shrub with an edible root transformed into pulp to make the sauce-like cassareep. Usually, cassareep is used as a condiment to make dishes, especially the popular pepperpot served with bread.
Two other food items made from this plant are cassava bread and farine. The residue from cassava juice is dried and baked to make cassava bread. Farine is also made from the residue and can be added to sugared milk for a healthy drink or to thicken soups. Bonus bucket list points for trying all three!
All of these wonderful places to visit and things to do in Guyana will not only quench your wanderlust but also teach you about a different culture and way of living.
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More About Guyana
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Piranha Fishing in the Rainforest Rivers of Guyana