The longest river in Guyana, the Essequibo, has a long and winding journey stretching 1,000 miles from the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil border to the Atlantic Ocean. En route, its many tributaries enrich an unrivalled ecosystem of countless waterfalls and thriving forests and wildlife. After circling around hundreds of islands, this remarkable river skirts the town of Parika for the last few miles before draining into the ocean at its 20-mile-wide mouth. The quiet strength and beauty of the river can be felt as you traverse along it.
Historical Pit Stops
The Essequibo’s massive water highway is littered with many of Guyana’s 365 islands along its path. Fort Island, built by the Dutch is ideal for a casual stroll. Visitors to the island should visit the museum housed in the 18th-century Court of Policy. A short walk from here is the well-preserved Fort Zeelandia, a brick fort on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list, which was one of the very first buildings constructed in the country by the Dutch.
Stop at the Hogg Island to see the 36-foot-tall windmill built with clay bricks on what used to be Plantation Luyksberg. At Leguan Island, the highlight is the 200-years-old St. Peter’s Anglican Church. Fort Kyk-Over-Al, the Dutch fort that kept its European rivals at bay, has now been reduced to a brick arch on a grassy patch of the island but is perfect to take in the views. A trip on the Essequibo is a great weekend getaway from Georgetown.
Numerous resorts occupy many of the islands on the lower Essequibo. Ideal for a weekend getaway from Georgetown, they offer options in pristine surroundings to suit any traveller’s taste. Stay in rooms that overlook the river, laze by the emerald-tiled swimming pools or get some exercise exploring the islands on foot. All the resorts offer multiple dining options and activities for kids. Adel’s Rainforest Resort, Baganara Island Resort, Aruwai Resort White H20 and Hurakabra River Resort are some of the most popular and definitely worth a visit.
For Nature Lovers
Some of the islands on the Essequibo are ideal for the nature lovers. The romantic Sloth Island on the Essequibo River is a perfect getaway for soft adventure. The days here are filled with birdwatching, nature walks, wildlife spotting, swimming in the creek, canoeing, fishing or just sinking in a hammock at Sloth Island Resort. Naturally, spotting one of the many pale-throated sloths is the top priority for most visitors.
Plan an evening visit to Parrot Island, to see thousands of colourful parrots come to roost here at night. The untouched forest of the small island, with ancient fruit bearing trees with thick canopies is a thriving nesting ground for the birds.
At Gluck Island find caimans lazing around on river shores, the Victoria Regia Water Lily ponds carpeted in the plant and over 200 species of birds on treetops.
The town of Bartica lies at the confluence of the Essequibo, Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers. Often known as the “Gateway to the Interior”, Bartica is the first spot and entrance to the gold and diamond mining regions of Guyana. No wonder its main market street has entertainment hotspots in several pubs and shops for the mining community. Bartica’s standout event is the annual Easter Regatta where powerboat racing, street jams, music and a pageant make for a lively weekend.
Waterfalls, Lakes and Beaches
The county of Essequibo has an abundance of waterfalls to help cool you down all the exploration. Baracara on the namesake island and Marshall Falls close by, are a favourite with locals. It takes less than 30 minutes to reach these crowd-free falls and swim in soothing pools. Baracara is a tiered waterfall with a mellow mood, while Marshall Falls is slung over a 30 feet high escarpment. Both are perfect natural jacuzzis to cool off in the tropical weather.
One of the best swimming beaches along the Essequibo lies along Lake Mainstay – complete with white sand and inviting warm water. At Moro Point, the beach is secluded and ideal for couples to find romantic moments together.
Life Around The Essequibo
Atmospheric villages are scattered on the banks of the Essequibo. Explore Guyana’s largest weekly market at Parika or stop at Saxacalli to see cassava bread making. Stop at Rockstone to visit the handicraft centre and take in its rustic ambience. The backdrop of savannah glinting in the sun, ancient rainforest and riverside beaches are hard to resist at Capoey Lake and Mission.
If you’re on to hunt down the most faraway spots, then Charity should be on the list. Off-the-beaten-path Moruca is a fascinating cluster of several Indigenous villages. You can base yourself here for a couple of days and explore the local villages like Santa Rosa Mission, Kumaka and Kabukali. Only 10 miles from the Venezuelan border, the villages of Hosororo, Mabaruma, Kumaka and Warapoka are a great base to explore the hilly regions of northwest Guyana.
The town has the best of both waterfronts – the Atlantic Ocean along its eastern edge and the Essequibo running along the north. The breezy town is perfect for wandering around. Step out to explore the Anna Regina High Bridge built by the Dutch, a memorial to commemorate the arrivals of the East Indians and the 19th-century St. Bartholomew Anglican Church. Two memorials – Damon’s Cross and Damon Monument – pay homage to another hero of the slaves’ uprising of 1834.