The third-smallest country in South America and only non-island nation in the Caribbean, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana is easily hidden when it comes to planning your vacation. ?Despite often being overlooked, this former Dutch and British colony is recognized as one of the most desirable locations for nature lovers, culture buffs and beachgoers alike. ?Here are the six must see places in Guyana:
In the western part of Guyana, as the Pakaraima Mountains give way to heavy rainforests surrounding the Potaro River, Kaieteur Falls provides a stunning view of nature’s power. Stretching to a height of more than 820 feet over sandstone cliffs, it is almost twice as high as Victoria Falls in Africa and close to five times the height of Niagara Falls in North America. More than 23,400 cubic feet of water pass over the falls per second, making it one of the waterfalls on Earth.
The heart of Guyana is made up of one of the world’s few remaining untouched rain forests. Named for the Iwokrama Mountains near the center of the national park, it is a destination which must be on the list of any eco-friendly visitor. The area is a haven for thousands of species, including more than 400 types of fish and 500 different birds. Play to spend a day walking along under the 100-foot-high canopy and taking in all its lush beauty.
This 90-mile stretch of coastline is the most famous of Guyana’s major beaches. Located in the far northwestern corner of the country, it is bounded by the Pomeroon and Waini Rivers and serves as a great spot to catch some sun on the Atlantic Ocean. It is best-known as a nesting site for sea turtles between March and July, being a home to four of the world’s eight recognized species.
One of the widest and longest rivers in South America, the Essequibo divides Guyana in half. It is the main link between the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, which led to it becoming a major trade route during Dutch and British colonization. Now, it mostly serves as a wonderful location for a relaxing cruise, allowing visitors to sail from the foot of the Acarai Mountains in the south all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in the north with stops at classic Dutch trading centers along the way.
The most famous of the swimmable waterfalls in Guyana, Orinduik Falls is said to have a spa-like quality. Some of this is true: tannins from rain forest leaves are dissolved in the water, giving swimmers’ hair softness when dry. The Ireng River gently crashes over a series of natural jasper steps, making this an ideal spot for a soothing afternoon dip surrounded by the green forests and tranquil foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains.
Once known as the “Garden City of the Caribbean,” Georgetown is the capital of Guyana. Laying at the mouth of the Demerara River, it is rich in cultural landmarks. The colonial architecture, reflecting Dutch, French and British influences, has led the government to seek UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The State House and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral are particularly well taken care of. And, if you’re looking for a little more of a family-friendly atmosphere, the Splashmins Fun Park has all thrill rides and beaches mixed in with flora and fauna.