Perched on the north-eastern corner of South America, bordering Venezuela to the east, Brazil in the south and Suriname to the east, Guyana is a trove of hidden delights. The country has preserved the majority of its pristine rainforest; unspoiled mountainous jungle, sweeping savannahs and meandering rivers make up the topography of South America's only English-speaking nation.
Emerging from a rocky political past, Guyana is fast becoming a leader in ecotourism The necessary forsaking of creature comforts reaps ample rewards for the intrepid traveller, away from crowds, tour buses and touts; few places can offer such raw, authentic experiences as the densely-forested Guyana.
Built with the profits of a once booming rum and Demerara sugar trade, the country's crumbling colonial capital is distinctly Caribbean in character. Georgetown is situated at the point where the Demerara river meets the Atlantic Ocean. By far the nation's largest city, the entire urban area is home to close to eighty percent of the Guyanese population. Charming if unkempt, behind the dilapidated wooden, stilted facades, the city has an alluring vibe, happening nightlife and some great places to eat. Markets are a lively place to experience the culture and see the amazing selection of fruits and vegetables grown in Guyana; two must-sees include the historic Stabroek Market and Bourda Market. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, Georgetown is far from a tropical backwater town, Caricom Caribbean Community headquarters itself here, placing the city at the centre of Caribbean economics.
Move over Iguazú, Niagara and Victoria Falls! Watching 1140 metric tons of water shooting over a 250m cliff (the world's highest single-drop falls) in the middle of an ancient jungle alongside just a smattering of fellow tourists is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As well as the stunning falls, the park is home to a tiny population of Amerindians and the incredible biodiversity of the Guiana Shield.
Covering 80% of the country, yet home to just 2% of the population, Guyana’s rainforest is some of the most pristine on earth. In this well-preserved jungle there is a real chance of seeing wildlife that would be endangered elsewhere, such as jaguar, various monkey species, armadillos, tapirs and red-rumped agoutis. Local Amerindian villages have found that opening up to small-scale tourism can reap very real benefits for the community and provide authentic opportunities for cultural exchange with travellers.
Stretching south from the Pakaraima mountains, the Rupununi is an endless savannah interspersed with rivers, whose banks are lined with gallery forest. The southern part of the Rupununi is the wildest, most remote and least developed part of the vast grasslands, and any trip here is a guaranteed adventure. Accommodation is in local homesteads, often ranches run by authentic cowboys. Aside from the local characters who are happy to share their traditions, travellers can hope to spot giant anteaters and giant otters, hike to local waterfalls, and enjoy the rich birdlife of this wilderness.
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