This week’s dream
Bushwhacking through Guyana’s rain forest
“Forget about the well-trod tourist trail through Costa Rica, Peru, and Brazil,” said Andrew Evans in Thrillist.com. “Guyana’s untouched interior offers the ultimate nature fix.” The English-speaking nation sandwiched between Venezuela, Suriname, and northern Brazil might be “the least visited corner of South America”—but mostly because it’s off the beaten path. Nearly three-quarters of Guyana remains primary growth rain forest that’s protected by the country’s nine indigenous nations. Before I trekked into the jungle, though, I wanted to experience Afro-Indo-Caribbean culture in the colorful capital.
To picture Guyana’s Georgetown, “imagine New Orleans and Jamaica had a baby.” Long boulevards run past ornate white colonial façades, with lush gardens in between. A warm but steady sea breeze keeps the weather pleasant year-round, and I enjoyed simply wandering, “rubbing shoulders with the extroverted Guyanese.” I cheered at local cricket games, browsed unfamiliar fruits at outdoor markets, and listened to live chutney music—a blend of Indian Bhojpuri music and Trinidadian soca characterized by big calypso beats and “soul-stirring” Hindi folk melodies. The food, meanwhile, reflects the “rainbow of people” who live in Guyana. Expect lots of curries, but you’ll also fit right in if you order a “tennis roll” with a “mango swank” (a nonalcoholic drink that “tastes exactly like it sounds”).
The Arrow Point Nature Reserve offers an easy way to explore the rain forest. “Kayak under the canopy, fish for your lunch, or just grab a rum cocktail and chill on sandy beaches.” You’ll want to see Kaieteur Falls, the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall. For mountaintop views of the cascade, I hiked for three days through a rain forest humming with the calls of 783 bird species. Bathing under waterfalls, spotting pregnant anacondas, and following my machete-wielding guide as he hacked through vines all added to the adventure. Prefer a less strenuous stay? Try one of the tribal-owned eco-lodges that dot Guyana’s interior. “Where else do you get to stay as a guest of the tribe, explore nature with the people who know it best, and contribute directly to a conservation project?”
At Surama Eco-Lodge (suramaecolodge.com), two-day stays start at $229. ■