Originating in the thick central rainforests of Guyana, the Demerara River flows more than 340km north to spill into the Atlantic Ocean. Georgetown occupies the left bank of the river during the last part of its journey to the sea. Tan in colour, the river is full of silt and tints the blue ocean for miles at its mouth. Along the way, it channels into different tributaries and creeks, creating islands that are inhabited by different communities. The banks of the river ring with birdcalls and local life, a mere sample of the rich inland biodiversity.
Want to pull the breaks on hectic sightseeing days to unwind? The retreats on the banks of the Demerara and its tributaries are perfect to ‘do nothing’ for a couple of days. You are smack bang in the middle of the rainforests in no time from Georgetown. Arrowpoint Resort is an eco-resort option perfect for nature lovers. During the day, guests can enjoy canoeing, walk through nature trails and visiting Santa Mission village close by.
The Pandama Retreat and Winery, on the other hand, is geared to excite wine connoisseurs. One can choose from the tropical flavours of Guyana and a host of other tonics, herbal wines and even natural vinegars – pineapple, jamoon, noni, cherry, malacca pear, duka and sorrel. In short, a healthier alternative to regular alcohol.
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Birding around Demerara
You don’t have to fling yourself into the thick rainforest to gaze upon exquisite birdlife of Guyana. Just travel 45 minutes to a tributary – Mahaica River – from where you can take a boat into nature’s wonderland – both rainforests and savannahs. The main draw lies in spotting Guyana’s national bird, the hoatzin, found near the banks. Even if you’re not an ardent birder, the green canopy and fresh air can never disappoint.
Plenty of Amerindian villages dot the banks of the Demerara and its tributaries. You can stop and chat with the locals, watch basket-weaving and stroll in the villages dotted along the river. For a close look at the life in a typical Arawak village, head south of Georgetown to St. Cuthbert’s Mission. Located at the banks of the Mahaica River, the 200-home village is blessed with the best of nature.
Demerara Harbour Bridge
As the main thoroughfare between the East and West banks of the Demerara River, this floating pontoon bridge is a staple on the itinerary during a trip to Georgetown. While travelling over the mile and a half long bridge, get on one side and see small and large vessels sail through. Retractor spans in the centre of the bridge open up and allow vessels to sail through. If you want to experience the bridge at its most atmospheric, try to visit it at dusk and see the Starbroek Market light up in the distance.
Linden & Around
Historically a bauxite-mining town, Linden’s travel draw lies in its vantage location. The town is the gateway to the central rainforest region of the country. As the second largest town of Guyana, it houses several interesting museums and spots of heritage value. The Linden Museum of Socio-Cultural Heritage is particularly good at throwing spotlight on the Amerindian life and the bauxite history of the region. Linden’s industrial heritage comes alive in the Christianburg Waterwheel. This was part of a hydro-powered sawmill to increase logging efficiency. Stroll through the town to gaze at the remnants of the colonial architecture in St. Mathew’s Church, Watooka House and St. Aidan’s Anglican Church.
The beguiling beauty of the blue lakes of Linden is not a secret to those who love nature’s drama. The region is dotted with several emerald water-bodies, thanks to the mineral rich composition of the terrain. Of these, the Wisroc blue lake has the closest access to Linden and is popular with local tourists.
Cruising along the Demerara also offers a peek into the history of the region. Stop to see the many monuments along the way that commemorate former slaves and freedom fighters of Guyana. The Enmore Martyrs Monument, Emancipation Monument, Plaisance Monument and Kuru Kururu Independence Monument are poignant reminders of the years of servitude and struggle that was spent by the African and Indian communities in the plantations.
Churches and Tombs
There are a number of notable churches and tombs situated along the Demerara which have become historical landmarks. The Wilberforce Congregational Church lies in the unforgettable location of Victoria, the first village in the country to be bought by former slaves in 1839. It was named after William Wilberforce, the abolitionist. The Hermanus Post Tomb is a memorial to the Dutch plantation owner, who opposed slavery and worked to provide education to the slaves.
Guyanese Heritage Museum
A window into Guyana’s history, Garry Serrao’s private museum is a passionate collection of utensils, stamps, Dutch and British glassware, books, objects of daily use and other artifacts. The two-floored museum makes you time travel to follow the trajectory of the country through the objects. Being located in a private home makes it all the more fun as you saunter around.