Waterfalls


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South America » Guyana » Georgetown
January 8th 2014
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 6.80461, -58.1548

Today was a busy day, with lots of visits to spectacular waterfalls. We began the day, however, with a "panorama walk" from Rock View Lodge. The walk started through the farms of the savannah, then crossed the main highway (I did a cartwheel) to a high hill at the base of the mountains. There is a trail, built out of stones held together with rebar, which winds its way to the top. Really, it's a system of trails, although all seem to lead to the top. From the top, we had three vantage points from which to view the surrounding countryside. Despite some overcast, the view was gorgeous. We could see the layers and layers of mountains in the distance, and the many farms of the savannah in the foreground. Lovely!

We returned to the lodge for breakfast, bought jars of pepper and pepper sauce, and said good-bye to our hosts. Our plane was waiting, and we met our guide for the day, David (who was very good, very funny, and as fascinated by geology as I am – though he knows a lot more) climbed in (me taking co-pilot again, Paul and Keegan in the middle, and Kyla and David at the tail). Our first stop was Orinduik Falls, on the Brazil border. The flight was wonderful – a little bumpy and times, but it provided such a great view of the surrounding countryside. The rainforest stretches for a seeming eternity and is seldom broken, and then only by small mining camps or homesteads. Few roads were visible. As we approached the border, we could see the river, with several small cataracts, then Orinduik in the distance. The airstrip – hard packed dirt – sits right next to the falls. We were, of course, the only plane there.

The Falls are lovely. The river runs along a high plateau, where rain forest creeps up the canyon but the table tops are all bare. A few buildings sit nearby, and the village is very isolated, and the only radio is at the police station. The students cross the river on boats and go to school in Brazil. After the falls, the river makes and abrupt turn and begins descending through a series of cataracts until it disappears into the forest.

These falls are not spectacular, but we really enjoyed them a lot. They are broad falls, consisting of three or four tiers and in several sections. None of the drops are particularly high, but the overall impression is beautiful. The rocks that form the riverbed are red jasper, a very ancient stone that probably hides rich diamond deposits. It also provides a beautiful background for the river. The water is the color of coca-cola, but that hue comes from the decaying vegetation, not from the rocks themselves.

We started by hiking to the bottom of falls and looking back at their expanse. Then, we climbed to the base, to wade in the river. The rocks were incredibly slippery, but it was still pleasant. A man came over to talk to David – David later told us the man was border patrol, whose job was to make sure no one came over illegally from Brazil. To us, it was funny that someone in this official capacity to wear a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. But it's probably a good use of government funds.

Flying from Orinduik to Kaiteur, we passed a number of huge waterfalls in the distance, but none of them seem to attract notice. Or maybe there are just not good landing strips near by. Kaiteur has a paved landing strip – very posh. There is a small lodge at the strip, with a couple of guest rooms and lots of places to sling a hammock. We parked our Cessna and tromped off into the woods. The area around Kaiteur is flat, and the rocks show some sign of volcanic flow. A thin layer of water – enough to dampen the bottom of your shows but not much more – runs throughout the region. The trail is sometimes open, with high shrubs and bromeliads surrounding it, and sometimes enclosed as in the rainforest. There are four main view points, and we stopped at all of them. In general, it sounds like the tours start at the most distant site, then move more closely. The view of the falls is plenty spectacular – it's a huge distance the river falls, and the boiling pot below is highly turbulent. We understand the riverbed is another 100 feet below the top of the river. (Apparently in the dry season, when the water barely flows, they have been able to measure it.) Almost (almost) equally impressive is the gorge through which the river continues to flow. Like a Yosemite, with walls entirely covered by rain forest.

We walked slowly and admired all of the views. I freaked a bit when the kids got too close to the edge, although I didn't mind so much looking over myself. We took 200 photographs, trying to capture the grandeur of the falls or the beauty of the rainbow that forms below.

Finally, we had enough, and we returned for the lodge for a huge, delicious lunch. We had been expecting the usual sandwich fare, but, instead, we had salads, chicken, and various creole foods. Nummy.

Then, we flew home, passing over many gold mining regions. Sometimes, it is impossible to see how the equipment was brought in to mine the gold, as the sites exist away from both roads and rivers, We understand that sometimes what's needed is airlifted, but it's hard to imagine that can be done on a large scale.

We were dropped at our hotel (the Cara Lodge again), then we went for a brief walk. Georgetown is not too crowded, and the traffic is usually not too insane. We had no difficulties crossing roads. But the streets are muddy and dirty, and there is a lot of trash around. We didn't stumble over any donkey droppings, which was a bit surprising, as we saw quite a few donkey and carts around. We went to see the Cathedral, which was a little more run down than expected. Then we returned to the hotel for dinner. After we had finished eating, we were invited to join a trivia game, for charity. We said sure … and our competitors were not other guests at the hotel but rather four sets of expats and Georgetown elites who appear to be regulars. We were the only “first timers” … There were seven rounds, which was exhausting. we didn't win, but we came in second … and we had perfect scores on two of the rounds. Unfortunately, we didn't do well on the “name the person in this picture” round. Actually, it was probably good, because the team that won received an bottle of rum, which they opened and shared with the entire group. We would have packed it up, and that is clearly not cricket.

But it was much later when we went to bed than we had planned. And all because of trivia. For charity.


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