A Day Trip to Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

Though Suriname came to be the real star of our recent trip to South America, we actually started our trip in the country of Guyana, just to the west of Suriname.  We were there as flights were more convenient to Georgetown than to Paramaribo from Miami – and as an excuse to check another country off our list.  There isn’t much information on traveling in Guyana in the blogosphere, but the one place we knew we needed to visit in the country was Kaieteur Falls – the highest single drop waterfall in the world.

The falls were first discovered by non indigenous peoples in 1970, when a British surveyor and geologist assigned to the territory stumbled across it on a routine interior scouting mission. Since then, the falls have been featured in several mainstream media, from the Werner Herzog film, “The White Diamond,” to the less intellectually stimulating Animal Planet program, “River Monsters.”  To be completely fair, I was more familiar with the latter prior to our visit.

Kaieteur Falls is the most frequently visited tourist destination in Guyana.  Though the name, Kaieteur Falls, is actually redundant: Kaieteur actually means Kai Falls, a point made on several non consecutive occasions by our Amerindian guide, Max, during our tour of the area.

Our tour started at Georgetown’s domestic airport at Ogle.  David and I opted for the absolute cheapest available tour – four hours with Guyana’s Air Services Limited, at $130USD per person.  There are other options available which combine Kaieteur with other sights in the Guyanese interior, specifically Orinduik Falls on the Brazilian border, or Roraima, at the meeting point of Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil.  As we’d had some rather expensive senior dog related incidents leading up to our trip, Kaieteur was all we opted to see.  Adding others on to our tour would have easily doubled the price.

Along with us on our “budget” tour were several interesting folks: an American finishing a global tour of the “Top Ten Waterfalls” (I’d be keen to see the metrics in judging the top ten, to be honest), a mother and son in Guyana on a lark, and another pair venturing further inland once arriving at Kaieteur.

The ride on the tiny plane only took about 45 minutes before arriving at the Kaieteur airstrip, and afforded some magnificent views over the pristine Guyanese rainforest, albeit punctuated by illegal gold and bauxite mines.  Once landed, we were met by Max, our Amerindian guide, who started us on our brief hike to the best viewpoints of the falls.

First stop was the Boy Scout view – perfect for my Eagle Scout husband.  At the viewpoint we were shown some of the endemic flora and fauna of the area.  Most impressive were the Giant Tank Bromeliad and the Golden Poison Dart Frog, which spends its entire life cycle in the water pools between the bromeliad’s leaves.  The view of the falls wasn’t too bad, either.

From there, we ventured to the Rainbow Lookout – I mean, seriously, could they have come up with better names for me and my gay boy scout husband?  The views of the falls were incredible.  Some in our group opted to lay down and dangle their cameras over the edge to get the best shot possible. I personally was content anxiously tip toeing fifteen feet away from the precipice.

We hung out for a bit, admiring the view, before a horde of other tourists arrived with their equally annoying camera habits.  Our time expired, we trundled back to the Kaieteur Lodge, eating mediocre mandated snacks by Air Services Limited.  We were then shuttled onto our tiny plane, which circled the falls a few times to give us tour goers some additional photo ops, before heading back to Georgetown.

Kaieteur Falls is certainly an amazing destination.  It is also certainly the most mainstream destination in the entire nation of Guyana – the folks on our tour, for the most part, had no interest in exploring Georgetown or other parts of the country.  Most were in Guyana to see the falls and leave without learning anything substantive about the nation, its history, or its  culture.

If you find yourself in Guyana, go to Kaieteur Falls – its sheer size is amazing, and you won’t be disappointed by the views.  But also don’t go to Guyana JUST to see the falls.  Instead, let Kaieteur be a reason to get you to the country, and the entire region. You’ll find that Kaieteur may only whet your appetite for this, the wild coast of South America.

 

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6 thoughts on “A Day Trip to Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

  • February 28, 2017, 12:33 am

    Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a waterfall in real life. I’ve seen tiny ones, but nothing that big. I mean, I haven’t even been to Niagara Falls and it’s only a few hours drive from my hometown. I love the little frog!

  • Travlermb
    February 28, 2017, 4:45 am

    Very nice, thank you!

  • Alison Bennett Christie aka Cookie
    March 13, 2017, 8:12 pm

    Hi Nick & David:

    Cookie here. The Cookie who has known you, Nick, since you was a young’en.

    Nick – how did I first hear about your very cool, very unique Blog? Why, the typical way, the roundabout way, that’s how. Via Mary M who told me you two were in Suriname.

    I instantly heard a wonderfully haunting song ‘Surabaya Johnny’. It’s a beautiful song from the musical ‘Happy End’, written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

    ‘Surabaya’
    ‘Suriname’

    I don’t know what or where Suriname is. At first, I thought it was the same word.

    I wondered if you and David were where Surabaya Suriname was. Is it the same place named in the song? No, it isn’t.

    When I asked M where Suriname was, she told me I could read all about it on your Travel Blog. What travel blog?

    I logged onto your site and read about a slew of exotic, unique trips you and David have been taking. Who’d a thunk?

    I dug down further and was startled by the strange, weird concrete structures. BEYOND unusual concrete structures, accompanyed by your reports.

    I’m shaking my head in surprise, then I see the link to Villnus, Lithuania. Now this is special.

    Two very good friends of mine are Lithuanian Americans, one of whom Toni, married a Lithuanian after a few trips to Villnus. She was first taken there by her uncle to see where the family came from. Her trip took place before ‘the wall’ came down. She and her Uncle traveled to Villnus when all visitors HAD to route themselves thru Moscow first. Then travel on to Villnus.

    While seeing the sights with her Uncle, Toni met someone who ended up proposing to her. She returned to Villnus three times via Moscow, then they married. Their ceremony took place in The PALACE OF MARRIAGES.

    M knows both of my Lithuanian-American friends. Toni, was in Portland with me this weekend, both of us visiting my sister.

    I said to them, “You won’t believe this travel web site I’ve just this second learned about. It has the most interesting photographs and text on it. I told Toni there were even all kinds of photos and interesting info about Villnus on the site.

    My sister and Toni poured over your photo’s of Villnus. They got a huge kick out of them. Toni pointed out the huge cement building where she and Antanas were married. I pointed out the building which ‘talked’ to me the most. It looks like the prow of an enormous Viking ship pointing up towards the sky.

    We all were very engaged. Toni commented, ‘Nick writes really well.’
    ‘Yup, that he does’, I replied. And you do, Nick.

    I loved being your blog. Please keep on doing what you do.

    I read your report of your visit to the main town in Suriname. It would make a terrific place for someone with a little cash to go ‘off the grid’. It’s inexpensive and real interesting. It would be the perfect town for a place where a character could hide, and meet unusual people while there.

    Nick – kudo’s over your blog. More, more. Onward.

    All the best to you and David. Cookie

    • March 14, 2017, 8:42 am

      Thanks for the lovely note, Cookie!

      Interesting tidbit about Surabaya – it is the third largest city in Indonesia, on the island of Java. And people from the island of Java (once the Dutch East Indies) make up a significant portion of the Surinamese population, as they were both part of the Dutch Colonial Empire. So, really, Surabaya and Suriname are closer than one might think! Small(ish) world, eh?

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