Introduction to Guyana

Guyana is the only English-speaking country on the South American continent and has a Caribbean feel. 

It is a destination for the nature lover looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination with many attractions. Guyana offers pristine rainforest, abundant wildlife, jaguars and the mighty Kaieteur Falls.

Start your adventure in the melting pot that is the country’s capital – Georgetown. Here Hindu, Muslim and Christian cultures blend in harmony.

Head off to visit the breathtaking Kaieteur Falls – the  world’s highest single-drop waterfall.

Then the interior beckons. Jungle and Savannah await. With luck you might spot the Cock o’ the rock or a harpy eagle.

Bigger mammals such as the ant eater might surprise you or if incredibly lucky the mighty jaguar. Travel by road or river and stay in rustic but comfortable lodges – all with an authentic Guyanese welcome.

Guyana will be an unforgettable adventure.  

Geography of Guyana

Guyana has five natural habitats to discover, the most famous of which is is its dense rain forest.

This ‘jungle’ is also known as the Forested Highland Region and is in the south of the country, and is very sparsely populated.

The majority (around 90%) of Guyana’s population lives in a marshy plain on the Atlantic coast, known as the low coastal plain.

 

Most of the country’s mineral deposits (bauxite, gold, diamonds) are found a little further inshore in that is called the white sand belt.

The south west of the country gives way to a desert savannah which then becomes an interior savannah.

From here, the grasslands and mountains of the interior highlands start to rise towards the borders with Brazil and Venezuela.

This is the largest of Guyana’s geographical areas and consists a series of plateaus, flat-topped mountains, and savannahs.

The Pakaraima Mountains dominate the western part of the interior highlands and include Mount Roraima, Guyana’s highest peak at 2,772m (9,094 ft) on the Venezuelan border.

 

The largest expanse of grassland, the Rupununi Savannah, covers about 15,000 square kilometres in southern Guyana.

Guyana has three large rivers, the Essequibo at 1,010km(628 miles), the Courantyne River (which forms a natural border with Suriname) at 724kms (450 miles), and the Berbice – 595kms (370 miles).

Weather in Guyana

Guyana is a hot and humid country. February and March are prime times to visit, along with Aug-Jan.

The mean shade temperature is 27°C, while maximum is 31°C and the minimum is 24°C. The heat is greatly tempered by cooling breezes from the sea.

There are two wet seasons in the north of the country, from May to June, and from December to January.

The south and the Rupununi region receive one wet season from May to July.

All wet seasons may extend into months either side.

Rainfall averages 2,300 mm a year in Georgetown.

Visas for Guyana

British nationals do not need a visa for Guyana for stays of 30 days or less. Extensions can usually be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown.

The Guyanese authorities are very severe on visitors who overstay or abuse the conditions of their stay.

You will also need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.

Non UK residents please check with the Guyanese embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

Vaccinations for Guyana

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Guyana visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.

 

Recommended vaccinations

  • Up-to-date diphtheria and polio.
  • Tetanus or tetanus booster. (These three are effective for ten years.)
  • ‘Havrix’ for Hepatitis A. The course of two injections protects you for ten years. Gamma globulin is cheaper butless effective.
  • Typhoid vaccine is recommended by some doctors although it will not provide total protection and being careful about what you eat and drink is your best defence. It is given in two shots, four weeks apart and lasts for three years. Unless at exceptional risk, people over the age of 35 who have received four or more courses of typhoid immunisation need no more.
  • A pre-exposure rabies vaccination is worth considering if you are going to be in contact with animals or morethan 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine. Hikers are at some risk from rural dogs, certain of which carry rabies, and those visiting coastal or rainforest areas could be exposed to rabid bats.
  • Yellow fever. Not effective until ten days after inoculation; not recommended for pregnant women. This is also effective for ten years.
  • Anti-malarial protection (if going on a jungle trip below 1,500 metres; not needed for higher altitude). It is important that you follow the prophylactic regime carefully. Atovaquone/proguanil OR doxycycline OR mefloquine is usually advised for those visiting risk areas. In the UK, contact the Malaria Reference Laborator. North Americans should contact the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Zika. Spread by mosquito bikes and also a risk of sexual transmission. People planning pregnancies / pregnant women are advised against all travel to areas reporting Zika. If you develop any feverish illness whilst travelling or on return medical attention must be sought quickly.
  • Dengue Fever. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain – hence its other name ‘breakbone fever’.

Quick facts about Guyana

 

Official name: Co-operative Republic of Guyana

Country population: 767,085 (2015)

Capital city: Georgetown

Largest cities & towns: Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam, Anna Regina

Languages: English

Latitude/Longitude: 6.8º N, 58º W

Official currency: Guyanese dollar

Major industries: Agriculture (sugar, rice), mining (bauxite, gold)

Time zone: GMT-4

Guyana Festivals

23 February 

Festival: Mashramani / Republic Day  

Music and arts comeptitions with float parade in Gerogetown 

Location: Gerogetown and Nationwide. 

 

March ( variable)  

Festival: Phagwah 

A Hindu spring festival of Colour which is celebrated by all Guyanese using water and powders in a rainbow of colours. 

Location: Countrywide 

 

March/April ( variable)  

Festival: Easter Monday  

Traditional day for family picnics where the skies are filled with hundreds of kites symbolising the rising of Christ. The Easter Weekend is also the time for the Annual Rupununi Rodeo! 

Location: Countrywide  

 

1st August 

Festival: Virgen de los Treinta y Tres 

Emmancipation Day commemorates the abolition of slavery in Guyana in 1834 and there is an annual festival held in the National Park in Georgetown where you can learn about the traditional African music, art, foods, dancing, games and culture on the whole with a focus on the history on Emmacipation. 

Location: Georgetown 

 

October / November ( variable)   

Festival: Diwali 

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Light which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil  and is celebrated for 2 nights with a Grand lighted Motorcade in Georgetown on the first night and with the lighting of hundreds of ‘Diyas’ on the second night. 

Location: Contrywide 

 

 

Flight advice

Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.

International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.

Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.

 

Flight connections

Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.

Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.

 

Tickets

Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.

The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.

 

How do I check in?

Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.

If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).

To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.

Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.

 

Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).

The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.

More information can be found on their ESTA website.

Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.

Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.

This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Communication

Dialling codes

The international code for Guyana is +592.

There are no regional codes in Guyana.

 

 

Internet

Free Wi-Fi can be found in Georgetown – hotels, restaurants etc. There are also internet cafes available.

Security in Guyana

Most visits to Guyana are trouble-free, however, like anywhere you need to take precautions, especially in the capital of Georgetown.

 

  • In Georgetown, crime levels are high. You should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
  • Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
  • Try to avoid showing obvious signs of wealth.
  • Take extra precautions to safeguard your passports, money, tickets, mobile phones and other valuables.
  • You should be particularly vigilant when leaving local banks to ensure that you are not being followed.
  • In Georgetown, avoid the Tiger Bay and Albouystown areas and take care in Sophia, all of south Georgetown, Buxton and Agricola.
  • Take particular care in the Stabroek Market area of Georgetown.
  • A number of assaults have taken place in the Botanic Gardens. Birding enthusiasts should be particularly vigilant. If possible go with an organised group and avoid taking valuables with you.
  • If you walk along the sea wall, avoid the more deserted stretches and walk at times when other walkers are most likely to be about (around 5pm to 6pm).

Food and drink in Guyana

Starters

Foo-foo                         Deep fried plantain cakes.

Split pea soup               Pea based soup with bacon strips, split peas, animal fat, chicken stock, yams, peppers and eddoes.

Guyanese style rice      Local take on Chinese fried rice.

Roti                              An unleavened bread-type food, made with flour, rolled thin, and cooked on a tava.

Metem                          Thick soup made with ground provisions (cassava, sweet potato–totally different from our sweet potato, eddoe and plantains) and a thick broth made with coconut milk.

 

Mains

Metagee                       Yam, plantain, breadfruit, cassava and salted meat or fish in a creamy coconut milk with extra tomatoes, palm oil, hot chilli, garlic and onions.

Pepperpot                     Meat stew with cassava extract and hot pepper sauce.

Cookup Rice                A one-pot meal with rice and usually peas/beans cooked with coconut milk . Often served with some type of meat.

Channa                        Chickpeas with onions and peppers.

Chow Mein                   Guyanese take on the Chinese dish.

 

Desserts

Salara… Red Cake       Coconut Swiss style roll.

Pone                             Cassava and coconut squares.

Sawine                          Vermicelli and dried fruits that are cooked in milk flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices and extracts

Pine tart                       Pastries filled with pineapple jam

Fat top                         A layer of coconut milk on top of a layer of cornmeal cake.

 

Drinks

Banks                           Locally produced cask and bottled lager.

Papaw Milkshake         Papaya milkshake

Mauby                          Bark-based fruity and spicy root beer.

Pineapple Wine            Fermented pineapple, mace, sugar and dried fruit mixture.

Peanut Punch               Peanut butter, milk and sugar mixed to form a smooth thick liquid.

Money matters

Currency & Money Exchange

Guyana’s monetary unit is the “Guyanese Dollar”.

Most of your transactions will be in Guyanese dollars, especially in the interior, but US dollars and GBP sterling (English notes only) are often accepted, too. Make sure they small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills. Try to take 5s, 10s and 20s.

It’s best to take cash into the country to change because while a credit card may help in an emergency, you cannot count on using it for most purchases.

ATM debit/credit cards can sometimes be used in Georgetown’s hotels and restaurants (with fees), but not in the interior.

Georgetown also has some ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines but not all accept foreign cards and there are no ATMs in the interior.

Cash can be exchanged in hotels, banks and cambios (businesses that specialise in exchanging). Cambios normally offer the best exchange rate. Ask your tour leader for help in finding the best cambios to use.

Ask for small notes as obtaining change outside towns and cities can be difficult. Count your Guyanese dollars carefully before handing over your US dollars/sterling, and look out for forged notes.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 210 Guyanese dollar (approx.), June 2018.

Guyanese banknotes: 20, 100, 500, 1,000 dollars

Guyanese coins: 1, 5, 10 dollars

Eating and drinking

Guyana’s diverse population is reflected in its very varied cuisine.

When in the interior, you will eat at lodges as there are no other options. Georgetown offers a variety of eateries.

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 2

Lunch: USD 8-12

Coffee: USD 2

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 3-5

Main dish: USD 15 upwards

Coffee: USD 2

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

Guyana uses 127 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz.

Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.

Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.

 

Plugs

Guyana mainly uses two-pin, flat-pronged Type A plugs, but you may also find Types B, D and G.

Type A plug

Type A plug

Type B plug

Type B plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type D plug

Type D plug

Type G plug (UK)

Type G plug

Responsible Travel - our ethos

Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.

Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.

We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.

We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.

With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.

Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.

Responsible Travel - travel tips

Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:

  • Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you are visiting.
  • Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
  • Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever possible – your support is often vital to local people.
  • Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the lowest price your bargain may be at someone else’s expense.
  • Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
  • Don’t undermine the local economic systems – we recommend you don’t give gifts, especially sweets as there are few dentists in the Andes. Much better to spend time chatting, playing and showing postcards of home. If you would like to donate clothes and shoes etc we are more than happy to do so through the relevant channels. Your tour leader can do this for you and some of the projects we support can be visited.
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
  • Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to experience.
  • Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about what you will do when you return home.
  • Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked routes, don’t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you bring.
  • Don’t pollute local water courses- use biodegradable products, and wash basins.
  • Slow down and enjoy the differences – you’ll be back with the familiar soon enough.

Our environmental policy

All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).

We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.

In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.

Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.

We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.

We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.

If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.

When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.

Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.

When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.

Health and Safety

A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.

You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

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