Unadulterated fun and adventure in Guyana is the hallmark of the country’s attractions. One such compelling reason to get here is the 4X4 safari in the undulating Pakaraima Mountains that lie on the western edge of the country. The idea first came to life in March 2003, when a troupe of four Land Rovers and two tractors and trailers journeyed from Karasabai in Region 9 to Orinduik Falls in Region 8, and set the tone of adventure for the years to come. Today, this is one of the most coveted activities for travellers, who can choose from 4 safaris that cover the length and breadth of the country. Of these, the Pakaraima Safari is timed just before Easter for an 8-day adventure from Georgetown, all the way to Lethem. It traverses high mountains, thriving wildlife, dense forests, hilltop villages, stunning campsites and ends in the Rupununi Rodeo festivities.
Here are top reasons to book yourself on the Pakaraima Mountain 4X4 Safari in Guyana:
- Pulse-quickening experience: The 4X4 safari in the Pakaraima Mountains offers an ample dose of action since the convoy crosses rivers, steep hillsides and muddy trails of the rainforests. There are parts with over 60-degree incline, which are exhilarating to cross in one swift move. Expect a lot of grunt, grind and thrilling moments to maneuver the cars. Travellers can choose to hire their own SUVs, or be accommodated in other cars going in the safari.
- Varied landscapes: A long trip from the northern edge of the country to the belly of Guyana means that one gets to traverse through a lot of different landscapes at every turn. Expect to be flanked by towering 100 feet tall trees in thick rainforests, stop at stunning waterfalls like Orinduik on the edge of Brazil and grasslands teeming with birds and animals. The safari passes through the Karasabai Village, which is a veritable birding destination in Guyana. The safari is a delight to the senses. The best of part of the trip is camping out in tents or swinging asleep on a hammock under the stars.
- Community tourism: The safari is designed in a manner that everyone gets to see an alternative side of life in the far-flung villages Guyana. The convoy crosses over 15 villages, making some of them their home for the night. It’s an excellent way to see local life, their tribulations and celebrations if you happen to arrive on a festival. Some of the communities are also able to sell fruit or handicraft on these trips, making sure that there is a small organic contribution to the local community. Households who pitch in to cook for the group at night are also paid a small amount.
- Meeting local and tourists: The most thrilling part of the safari isthe bonhomie and eternal friendships that are made on a trip like this. Sharing the hardship on the road and helping each other out of difficult situations (including the correct way to hang a hammock), sharing a cold beer by a waterfall and endless photographs of each other, frame not just the moment but also a memory of a lifetime. Not only do you get to travel with local adventure enthusiasts, but other travellers from all over the world. The safari helps to get a peek into the local life of Amerindians at the same time.
- Lethem and the rodeo festivities: The Pakaraima Safari is timed in a manner that the convoy reaches Lethem on the border of Brazil, just in time for the annual Rupununi Rodeo celebrations. The two-day festival lies on the Easter weekend and is a wonderful showcase of life in the Rupununi and their mainstay of farms and vaquero life. The Rodeo is a 48-hour party with a number of vaquero events in the day and nights of live music, dancing and drinking. The stands are packed to the rafters to cheer their favourite vaqueros from different ranches, enthralling the crowd with taming horses and bulls or riding them bareback bronco or saddles. There are lighter events for the audience to participate as well. The safari convoy reaches just in time for the festivities and is the perfect way to indulge after the rough and tumble of the road.