In December of 2013, I remember receiving my invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guyana. Immediately after I accepted, I opened my computer and did a quick Google search on the culture, things to do, and hikes that are in Guyana. One of the things that popped up was National Geographic’s Traveler’s List of 2014 of Place To Visit, which included Guyana because of its natural beauty, Kaieteur Falls, and all of the untouched jungle that covers nearly 90% of the country. I was immediately drawn in, and started doing research on off the beaten path hikes and things to do here in Guyana, and this blog post is about finally having the opportunity to hike Kaieteur Falls over Christmas in 2015.
Day 1 – 4:00 AM
Our day started early, around 4 AM as we were waiting for a cab to pick us up at my house in Region 3 to go to the Rainforest Tours (Contact Information at end of blog) in Georgetown. On the way, our cab driver got a flat tire right after he crossed the Demerara Bridge heading into town, we had to call a another cab company to take us the last 4 minutes to the office where we all boarded a standard mini bus heading to Mahdia, a small mining down in Region 8.
The bus ride lasted about 8 hours and went down the Lethem highway. It is the rainy season, so the road had lots of rain filled potholes, which made for a bumpy ride. We stopped at a small village along the way to have lunch, then about 15 minutes later turned off the main road towards Mahdia. We went down this road for about an hour before catching a ferry across the Essequibo River followed by another 3 hours in the bus through more dirt road with rain filled potholes before reaching another river where we boarded 2 boats to move to our first camp for the night, Amatuk.
We reached Amatuk mid-afternoon, and quickly set up camp before dark. Amatuk is a small island near Amatuk Falls, the word Amatuk means Love, and the island is named Amatuk because it is shaped like a heart. After setting up camp, we had dinner, followed by a good nights rest.
Day 2 – 5:30 AM
We rose early on the second day, had a quick breakfast and walked out to see Amatuk Falls. After looking at the falls, we took about across the river, and walked through a small trail for about 15 minutes where we were going to catch boats going down the Potaro River.
We took the boat for about 1 hour, before reaching a mining camp that’s deep in the bush. Our tour guides took us in to the camp so we could see what mining is like here in Guyana. After our quick visit, we went about another 30 minutes down the river where another small waterfalls was located. Because of the location of the waterfall, we all had to get out of the boat, take the boat out of the water, and walk the boat about a 1/4 mile through a trail that bypassed the waterfall. We then set the boat down on some sticks that were set up between the rocks, and it slid right into the river.
Once the boat was in the river, we proceeded up the Lower Potaro River in two separate groups to our next camp for the night, the Tukait Guesthouse. The Tukait Guesthouse is nestled in the trees, is extremely quiet, has 3 bedrooms with beds/sheets, plenty of hammock space, a kitchen, and solar panels that allowed us to charge up all of our electronics before our hike. Once everyone arrived, we had a quick lunch, then took a 1 hour hike to Stone Creek Falls, the trail consisted of 30 minutes on brush/dirt and about 30 minutes climbing over boulders while barefoot. Once there, we spent about an hour swimming underneath the water falls that stood about 200 feet tall. Definitely one of my most memorable Christmas experiences ever.
Day 3 – 9:00 AM
On Day 3, we all woke up between 6 and 7 am and started packing our bags for the last part of our trip, the hike to Kaieteur. We were told by our guides that the trail has several different parts, the easy part, the oh my god “OMG Trail”, and another flat easy part… We stopped at a couple smaller waterfalls along the trail, walked up and bathed quickly in them, and then proceeded up the OMG trail. The OMG Trail is pretty steep alongside the mountain that has roots, branches, and rocks that you are hiking through to get to the top of the falls. The trail wasn’t too bad, even with a pack on, it only took about 2 hours to hike to the top which included several breaks along the way.
Once you reach the Airstrip/Guesthouse sign, you know that you are close to the falls. You will then walk through and to three separate viewpoints of Kaieteur Falls, where you will have the chance to take photos and see the spectacular beautiful Kaieteur Falls. Words can’t describe how amazing it is to actually see the falls up close and in person… Pictures can’t even capture the moment and how you feel.
After we spent a little bit of time at the Falls, we all went to the Kaieteur Gueshouse where we set up camp for the night. The Kaieteur Guesthouse has 4 queen size beds, and hammock space. We all opted to share beds and get a good nights rest before heading back to Georgetown the next day.
Overall, I can say that this is one of my favorite trips that I have done since I have been in Guyana. This hike, although expensive, gives you the opportunity to see a side of Guyana you can’t get in any other villages. You can to see the untouched, natural beauty of Guyana’s Rainfroest, and you get the chance to stand on top of the worlds tallest single-drop waterfall, standing at 781′ feet. This is definitely something I recommend to ALL volunteers. I know it’s exciting and a lot of people will chose to do the flight because it’s much cheaper, but the flight only puts you on top of Kaieteur Falls for about 2 hours, the hike puts you there for a FULL night allowing you to spend a lot of time at the falls. Also, make sure you go during the rainy season (December-March) that way the falls is completely full.
You can play doing this hike two separate ways:
- Through Frank at Rainforest Tours, a local tour company that can be reached at +592 624-3298 and email@example.com.
Or you can plan everything yourself. To do this, you will want to call Frank from Rainforest Tours in advance, and book his property at Amatuk. Then you can call the following people to arrange transportation and guides for the last few legs of the trip. They are listed in the order you will need them. You will also need to bring your own food if you plan your trip this way.
- Frank – Rainforest Tours, Amatuk Camp +592 624-3298
- Kaieteur National Park for park permits and Guesthouse Reservations (Kaieteur and Tukait): +592 226-7974
- Bus from GT to Mahdia – Ion (Driver): +592 646-3158
- Transport from Mahdia to Pamela – Kalac (driver): +592 673-9459
- Boat/Tour Guide from Pamela to Falls – Roy: +592 677-3886
- Air Services Limited for your flight out of Kaieteur: +592 222-2994
Through Rainforest Tours, we had Roy as our Tour Guide. He was awesome, so if you need help with any of the planning I am sure he’d be willing to help or lead your tour. Not sure on pricing, you would have to call and discuss it with him, he can be reached at, Roy: +592 602-8851.
That’s it for now! Hope you all had an amazing Christmas, a had an even better New Years! Cheers to 2016!