Guyana’s got it going on

Guyana’s people can trace their roots back to Africa, India, Portugal and China

Aerial view of the Potaro river on the way to Kaieteur Falls. Photograph by Terry KuetAmerindian child. Photograph by Terry KuetChannel-billed toucan at the Guyana Zoo. Photograph by Terry KuetChildren at the Surama Primary School on break. Photograph by Terry KuetSt George’s Cathedral interior. Photograph by Terry KuetSt George’s Cathedral. Photograph by Terry KuetThe magnificent Kaieteur Falls. Photograph by Terry KuetThe spectacular High Court building in Georgetown. Photograph by Terry Kuet

Discover Guyana

Guyana is an amazing combination of the Caribbean and South America, and the only English-speaking country in South America.

If you’re visiting for a short time, there is enough to keep you occupied in Georgetown, the capital, with its wide tree-lined avenues, parks, and historic wooden buildings that hark back to its colonial past.

But, if you have time on your hands, then consider venturing further afield to discover Guyana’s many outstanding, unspoilt natural attractions.  Here are a few ideas to help you plan a trip you’ll never forget.

Georgetown sightseeing tour

Book a one-hour aerial tour over Georgetown, the small but densely populated capital of Guyana. Alternatively, take a three-hour bus tour to visit the many monuments, places of interest, and historic colonial buildings.  Experience the hustle and bustle of Stabroek Market, with its huge four-faced clock. Nearby, are City Hall, Parliament Building and the High Court, three 19th-century buildings.  Important churches include the magnificent St George’s Cathedral, one of the world’s tallest free-standing wooden structures, Brickdam Cathedral, and St Andrew’s Kirk, the oldest church in the city.

If you prefer to walk, take a relaxing stroll along the Dutch-built seawall, which protects the city’s northern shores from the Atlantic Ocean. The seawall is a popular place for kite-flying, jogging or liming with friends. It’s also within walking distance from a number of important buildings such as the Umana Yana (a large, thatched Amerindian benab used for cultural events), the Red House (former residence of Guyana’s first Premier) and the State House, the official residence of the president.

Art galleries and museums

The National Art Gallery, at Castellani House, near the zoo, was once the official residence of Guyana’s first president.  It now houses the national art collection and showcases the works of Philip Moore, George Simon, Ronald Savory, Stanley Greaves and Aubrey Williams, among others. The National Museum on North Road and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology on Main Street offer indigenous, excavated and general artefacts, including the world’s rarest postage stamp.

Eating out

Guyana’s cuisine is strongly influenced by its diverse heritage. For an excellent, filling breakfast, including bake and saltfish, and pepperpot, try Browne’s Café at the Pegasus Hotel, where you can also enjoy afternoon tea, fine dining and barbecue evenings.

Other worthy eateries include the Bottle Restaurant, Dutch Bottle Café, New Thriving Chinese Restaurant, Sidewalk Café, German’s (for the legendary cowheel soup), Shanta’s (delicious dhal puris), Nicky’s Fish Shop (superb fried fish and chips) and Maggie’s Snackette for cakes, pastries, black pudding and souse.

The Botanical Gardens and Zoo

The Botanical Gardens and Zoo are located near the imposing bronze 1763 Monument, commemorating Cuffy, Guyana’s national hero.  The zoo is not particularly large and some of the enclosures are woefully inadequate. However, if they are feeling sociable, you will see some of Guyana’s amazing wildlife, including birds, monkeys, rodents and a few members of the cat family.  You can also feed the manatees, steal a kiss on the Kissing Bridge and possibly have your picture taken with a boa constrictor.

Entertainment and nightlife

The enormous National Cultural Centre on Mandela and Homestretch Avenue hosts a variety of cultural performances and events but if you want to strut your funky stuff, head for one of the many popular nightspots, including Buddy’s (Sheriff Street); the Edge and Mojo’s (Main Street); the Loft (Third Street); Sidewalk Café & Jazz Club (Middle Street); Pegasus’ Poolside and Grill Bar (Seawall Road) and El Club Latino (Hadfield and Lime Street). Alternatively, chill out with friends, play pool or knock down some skittles at the Karma Bowling Alley in East Ruimveldt.

Jewellery shopping

Georgetown produces excellent craft and jewellery. Hibiscus Plaza in Robb Street sells hammocks, local craft, artwork and souvenirs. Try Topaz (Crown and Oronoque Streets), King’s Jewellery World (two locations: King’s Plaza and Middle Street), and Steve’s Jewellery (Church Street) among others, for good quality jewellery.

Distillery tour

The Demerara Distillers Ltd, at Diamond, about 20 minutes’ drive from Georgetown, offers a two-hour distillery tour, which demonstrates the processes used to create and store its award-winning premium rums, with generous samples at the end.

Day trips

There are several attractions and resorts outside Georgetown that can be visited in a day. Prices usually include road, river and air transport, meals, drinks, activities and guides, but may be determined by the number of participants.

Splasmin’s Resort is a water park about 45 minutes by car from Georgetown, and offers special events, camping, picnicking, swimming, jet-skiing, kayaking and sports.

A one-hour flight will take you to Guyana’s most famous natural wonder, the majestic Kaieteur Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in the world. This trip can be twinned with other activities such as lunch at Baganara Island Resort or Arrowpoint Nature Resort, where you can also enjoy swimming, nature walks, bird-watching and canoeing.

Alternatively, sign up for a boat trip to explore islands and places of interest along the Essequibo and Mazaruni Rivers, including Bartica, one of Guyana’s oldest settlements; the historical sites of Fort Island and the 17th-century Dutch-built fort of Kyk-Over-Al; Sloth Island Nature Resort; or Marshall Falls.

You can also drive across the Berbice Bridge to places like No 63 Beach, Orealla, Crabwood Creek or Corriverton, which are near the river border with Suriname.

The Rupununi

The North Rupununi and Rupununi Savannah are excellent for close encounters with caimans, jaguars, rodents, reptiles, insects, tropical birds, fish and incredible plant life. You will need several days to make this fairly costly and intense trip worthwhile. Visit the Iwokrama River Lodge and Research Centre in the Iwokrama Rainforest; observe animal and birdlife from above atop the Canopy Walkway (an aluminium suspension bridge amidst the treetops) and visit Surama Village, a small but well-developed Amerindian settlement. When you get to the Annai, in the Savannah, relax for a few nights at Rock View Lodge.

If you venture further afield, you can stay on working ranches such as Karanambu and Dadanawa, and learn about the Amerindian culture, animal rehabilitation (giant river otters) and ranch life.

Mashramani and other festivals

Mashramani, Guyana’s Carnival, commemorates its achievement of republican status on February 23, 1970.  It is a fun time to visit, celebrated by spectacular float parades with creative, colourful costumes, loud music, dancing, drinking, eating and general carousing in the streets.

Other festivals and events of note include Divali, the Festival of Lights (October/November), Rupununi Wildlife Fest (April), Rupununi Rodeo (Easter), Guyana Music Festival (August), and the Rockstone Fish Festival in October.

Advertorial

The magnificent Princess Hotel & Casino is the newest, and largest, addition to Guyana’s star attractions. Standing six storeys high behind a grand fountain in the forecourt, and offering 192 spacious, elegantly decorated and modernly equipped rooms, Princess also boasts an Olympic-size swimming pool, a fine dining restaurant, poolside restaurant and bar, fully equipped gym and conference facilities and – the jewel in the crown – a state-of-the-art casino featuring 300 various types of slot machines and 11 table games, including roulette, blackjack, stud poker and Texas Hold’em.

But if you’re looking for an absolutely perfect base for a family vacation of a lifetime exploring the wonders of Guyana, one of the most awesome eco-destinations in the world, then it’s the hotel’s planned final phase that will cement it as the best choice. With a scheduled completion date in time for the Easter vacation 2011, construction work has already begun on two cinemas, each with a seating capacity of 93, a six-lane bowling alley, an ultra-modern disco, an international lounge, and a kiddies’ corner for the hotel’s youngest guests.

Princess’s marketing manager, Liz Rahaman, says the intention is to make a sterling contribution to Guyana’s fledgling tourism industry whilst also providing clean and wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

Grand Coastal Inn

We are pleased to introduce to you the Grand Coastal Hotel, Guyana. With an international outlook and local flavours, we are conveniently located on the Atlantic Coast Roadways in a safe environment, only minutes from the city of Georgetown, with personalised services to meet or exceed your expectations.

The hotel offers a complement of 43 rooms, including one-bedroom suites, luxury suites with patio overlooking the pool and the Atlantic Ocean, executive and deluxe rooms, all with complimentary wi-fi. There is also a fitness centre, pool, gift shop, state-of-the-art conference room facility, bar, courtyard, restaurant, and a grill which offers authentic Guyanese and international dishes.

L Seepersaud Maraj & Sons

A local family-owned jewellery establishment, renowned for its quality handcrafted jewellery, personalised service and trusted prices. Since 1935, this establishment has offered a splendid array of jewellery, from the exquisitely unique to contemporary selections, meticulously crafted from gold and diamonds. Every jewel is an impressive signature of L Seepersaud Maraj’s tradition of integrity and exceptional craftsmanship.

This cornerstone of Guyanese jewellery is centrally located in the centennial heritage site of the Stabroek Market, under the clock. With its rich history and bold architecture, this is where the true Guyanese spirit dwells amidst the colourful bustle of genuine bargains and everyday low prices.

Buddy’s, the place to be

If it’s not at Buddy’s, it’s not hot! This is why Buddy’s is the place to be on Friday, Saturday, any day – it’s the Guyanese way. Located in the heart of Georgetown, Buddy’s is on Sheriff Street, the street that is known not to sleep because it’s always buzzing with activities, notably at Buddy’s.

Buddy’s incredible nightclub is known for its Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Club Nights. But it’s more than a club hall. The ambiance of sophistication, class and style complements any event, be it a private party, family reunions, birthday, anniversary, first date – whatever the occasion is, Buddy’s makes it complete.

However, it’s the pool hall and bar, coupled with its prestigious Mei Tung restaurant, that make it Guyana’s premier entertainment centre for all to experience.

Brandsville

This destination offers good Guyanese hospitality unmatched in this part of the world. We have established over the years, a home-like experience to offer our guests, who often come on business.

Brandsville is a great first stop to embark on adventures to the Amazonian forest, directly, by way of a resort, or to stay and enjoy city tours and one-day river expeditions. Our location treats you to a 15-minute walk to the Sea Wall to observe the waters of the great Atlantic Ocean to the north. Another 15 minutes takes you to downtown Georgetown.

We offer a bar at the poolside, a restaurant and a gym, along with guest amenities that include Internet access.