Enjoy incredible grass-root experiences and fall in love with Guyana. The country’s true ethos can be felt in the many community-based tourism initiatives, where villages have pooled their resources and come together to invest in tourism as one of their main sources of income. Guyana is a leading pioneer in community driven, owned and led tourism in the Caribbean and South American Regions. Stay in village eco-lodges, have meaningful interactions during hikes and river trips, and learn about the rhythm of life of the indigenous Peoples of Guyana. Your experience here will be both fulfilling and transformational and will have a positive and direct impact on the lives of the people you visit.
The village of Surama was one of the first indigenous communities in Guyana to invest in and embark on community-based tourism initiatives. Led by First Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs in Guyana, Mr. Sydney Allicock, Surama Eco-Lodge took its first steps to become a community that welcomed visitors in the late 1990s; this is probably why it is regarded as one of the best in Amerindian hospitality. Surama Eco-Lodge lies at the edge of the Burro Burro River in North Rupununi. Entirely managed by the local community and a wildlife club run by kids, it offers a chance to stay in benab-styled huts and have access to nearby action-packed nature trails. Fill your days fishing in the river for piranhas, treading the forest trails, trying to spot Guyana’s giants, and eating excellent local meals. The amazing birds and wildlife around Surama gives you reason enough to linger here for a few extra days.
If you are a nature lover, then Rewa Eco-Lodge is a dream come true. Stay amidst 300 Makushi natives who are extremely passionate about preserving their rainforests and the arapaima, the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world. Consider yourself lucky to be able to learn more about over 100 species of birds, jaguars, tapirs, giant river otters and other wildlife from the people who know these creatures the best. Get breathtaking views of the rainforest from the Awarmie Mountain, and cruise along rivers and ponds in a dugout canoe. Sport fishermen consider the waters around the lodge as one of the best! Filled with piranhas, tiger fish, peacock bass and much more, the Rewa River offers you an unforgettable fishing experience. But what stays with you most of all is the warm hospitality of the Macushi and the insight that they share about their culture.
Aranaputa’s reputation is linked to the delicious peanut butter produced by a local factory here. Of course, this is only one of the many community initiatives of the village. Others include nature trails, hikes and an eco-lodge, where you can stay in a thatched roof benab. At the end of an adventure filled day celebrate the Makushi traditions, culture and cuisine – all in one place.
Konashen is Guyana’s southernmost Amerindian village and the largest protected area run by a local community. Reason enough for you to follow in the steps of the Wai Wais and see the region through their eyes. Guided treks, overnighting in the community’s eco-lodge and nature immersion are some of the options in this dynamic rainforest that promises an unforgettable experience.
Spend a few days on the Essequibo River’s shore and enjoy village life at Rockstone near the mining town of Linden. The village does an admirable job of marrying traditional living with the needs of modern travellers. You can stay at the Arawana Lodge on stilts, cruise the river in dugout canoes and stroll on the three nature trails with local guides. Trips to Gluck Island, isolated beach time and Arapaima fishing add to the fascinating and diverse array of activities. Time your trip to see the action at the annual Rockstone Fish Festival.
You don’t have to travel too far from Georgetown to experience a slice of Arawak life. Santa Mission, on the Kamuni Creek on the Demerara River, is a wonderful place to see weavers and other artisans at work, sprawling farmlands and simply stunning nature. The value of community-owned and led tourism is apparent when you see the busy handicraft shop, or travellers enjoying the nature trails around the village. Combine this with a visit to the Arrowpoint Nature Resort to experience some of the best the region has to offer!
St. Cuthbert’s Mission
Recognized by many as the cultural centre of the Amerindians, St. Cuthbert’s Mission is surrounded by savannah and dense vegetation. Local craft, hoatzin-watching, river trips on the Mahaica and staying in the local accommodation lie at the centre of community tourism here. Imagine time slowing down to give you ample hours to see baskets being made of liana or joining local children in splashing games along the river. You may never want to leave.
The only way to feel really alive when you travel is to experience truly authentic slices of local life. Expect just that in Victoria Village on the East Coast of Demerara. It was the first village in Guyana to be bought by former slaves, who won their freedom in 1800s. Passion for the land runs deep amongst its inhabitants and before you know it you will be meeting the locals. Take the Mangrove Heritage Tour and see this natural wonder in action. To add on more to the experience, visit the Victoria Honey House and get a bottle of locally-made honey as your take home souvenir!
For the intrepid explorer an authentic travel experience is more important than anything else. The Makushi village in the heart of the country allows you to realise this travel dream. Lying at the edge of the untouched Iwokrama forest, it gives you a chance to witness the harmony between the villagers and the forest. Cassava farming, weaving and the cock-of-the-rock birds are some of the many highlights of this village.
Yupukari’s terrain of grasslands and forests is just as gripping as the village’s cultural rhythm. Home to the Makushi people, Yupukari Village is best known for Caiman House Lodge. This research centre focuses on preserving and measuring the growth of the black caiman population in this part of Guyana. Caiman tagging is a favoured activity among visitors to the village, and one you would not want to miss out on! If you’re lucky, you might catch a monthly village campfire where a stage is set for the Makushi, Parishara and Hummingbird dances in colourful costumes. Take a delightful departure from the usual and venture to Yupukari.