Lethem to Georgetown


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South America » Guyana » Lethem
July 6th 2010
Published: October 15th 2011
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Orange, Green and Blue.
Orange ground, blue skies, and green jungle ties them together. Oh, and I forgot golden rivers.

Going bananas in the Guyanas

It is definitely not an ideal country for backpacking, but perhaps exactly that attracted me to visit... and Kaietuer Falls too of course. Being on a limited entry visa I was in a rush so this is the first rule when coming to Guyana - no rush, because here Time is in the hand of God.

It is funny to say that - after being travelling for more than 9 months when coming to Guyana - and even funnier after coming from the jungles of Brazil and Peru. Perhaps it was me facing a limited time, or maybe indeed there was something in the vibe, for me however, the locals appeared more lazy than laid back.

Reading this note again, a year after, I guess I was no longer attuned to backpacking. To my defense I say, I was rushing, to catch a plane in Cayenne (French Guiana). In my mood I was yearning for orderly life style again with routine and schedules, the kind of I ran away from... hmm... it is a lesson. Yet I would definitely give this country another chance, because I think I missed something of its beauty.
- I feel itchy feet now ; )
For the next time I visit there I will obtain a long enough visa and more than enough money. Hopefully this day comes soon.

I came from the south, from Lethem, and wanted to visit Kaietuer Falls. At the time of writing these notes I thought that the only reason to come here is for Kaietuer Falls, but I must add that visiting the Amerindians villages is also interesting. Anyway, It is not possible to access Kaietuer from the south, only from the north. It is possible to hike there independently but one need to be brave and also to allow more time than the five days it should take with an agency because it would probably be difficult to get someone who would be willing to move his ass for money...
It is better to set dates and book in advance via tour agencies, or you wait and live in limbo.

The main problem is lack of communication, nobody seems to know or care

For transportation it
Bridge accros Takatu riverBridge accros Takatu riverBridge accros Takatu river

Guyanese workers return from Brasil
would be wise to allow double the time than scheduled, especially for the interior.

Too many times in my short stay I felt an attitude of slaves, which I didn't like. The fact that I am white doesn't mean that I am a Master, but the fact that they are black doesn't mean that I cannot ask for customer service (because they are not your slaves anymore). If I wanted to buy a phonecard or ask for a bus I got such look as if I offended someone.

Crossing the border from Brazil to Guyana

The bus from Boa Vista takes you to the border point after a short stop at Bonfim's bus terminal. At the Brazilian border point there is no problem, only perhaps a sleepy clerk that needs to be awaken.

Then one needs to go along the bridge across the Takatu river to get to the Guyanese immigration control. It is possible to get a taxi to cross the bridge, but it was costly, at least in my opinion for the 2.5km distance, therefore I walked.

Israeli passport holders can process a visa at the immigration office in the border, but you need to show some kind of document suggesting that you are going to leave the country. Also have a passport photo or two available for the application document and if you can - show some kind of a bank statement advising that you have sufficient funds for your stay. I managed all that in Manaus, so the authoritative immigration officer was satisfied.

From the border it is another 2.5km to Lethem. This time I took the taxi because I couldn't see the road clearly and I was drenched with sweat. Two taxi drivers were awaiting next to the immigration office. They watched me like hyenas watching dinner being served. Between them they decided who was going to change my Brazilian Reais into Guyanese Dollars, and who was going to charge 5000 Guyanese dollars for the ride.

If you decide to take a taxi I think it is better to stop first at the Takatu hotel because they have Internet and can help with phone calls.

Lethem

Can be a base to some day excursions like to the Moco-Moco falls and the Upukuri area.

There are not many tourists

For sleeping it seems that the
Artist at workArtist at workArtist at work

Shame I cannot remember his name
Takatu hotel is the best. This place can also be helpful re phone calls.

The hotel is about 2-3 minutes walk from Don and Shirley (Did I say that I didn't like their attitude?); it is about 2 minutes diagonally opposite Carly (Gran Braz)

You will need to use the phone to ask questions re transport. Don't expect a firm answer. Most likely that you need to ask more than one person because the first one will not know and so on...

Time is none existing and times can change frequently thus two can turn to five and today can turn to tomorrow.

Although there is only a once a day bus service from Lethem that leaves at the morning-ish there are many private companies that do transport from Lethem to Annai and even up to Georgetown.

I would recommend to go to Carly/Cindy of Gran Braz - Cindy was most useful and helpful.

But there are other companies. Mathew Abrahams is another contact for transport information - you need to ask to call him.

There is a peace keeping force not too far from the village, maybe ask for transportation to there, but make sure you can have one back.

Annai

If you have money and you want to travel I think it would be better to head on to Annai (unless you first arrive in G/town), about three hours north, and to stay overnight at the Oasis - it may be even possible to get a good deal so don't be afraid to ask the owner. Another option is to camp or to hang a hammock. I arrived there at midnight and the guy who welcomed me offered a room with no electricity. I asked him if I could hang my hammock so he took me to a shed opposite the rooms. On this season torrential rain falls in the mornings so it is recommended look for some shelter if camping outdoors.

Rock View, under the same ownership is more expensive but the service there is par excellence.

When at the Oasis you would be introduced to Colin Edwards - the man behind the Oasis, Rock View Lodge and other (eco) initiatives at this part of the country. He and his team can help you a lot to organise trips and transportation.

If you don't have
Inside the village's Benab Inside the village's Benab Inside the village's Benab

Community meeting place in Annai
a problem to obtain a visa or if you have fixed days in your mind it is much advisable to contact him in advance via his website.

The trail opposite the Oasis is free of charge but can also be done with a guide for bird watching and botanic explanation, depending on how keen you are.

Next to the Oasis there is a small village Rupury that has some Arawak and Macushi artists - in order to respect their privacy it is better to arrange with the Rock View stuff for their permission

The Intraserv bus pass by the Oasis and stops there

It is possible to purchase a ticket with the assistance of Rock View stuff who will book it via the Internet and so the bus driver will know to stop there. However don't count on the driver's memory - wait outside. Ah, and don't expect it to arrive on time... or anywhere nearer

Rock View can confirm that the bus has left and accordingly you can plan your last hours there.

Just like in Lethem there are private mini buses that run north and south - the problem is to know
Cuffy monument in memory of the African slave revolt of 1763Cuffy monument in memory of the African slave revolt of 1763Cuffy monument in memory of the African slave revolt of 1763

located in the heart of Georgetown, this is a tribute to the history of the proud Afro-Guyanese people
about them.
If you are patient you can sit by the road and wait for a passing car; but that may take few hours.
Alternatively ask in the lodge if they know of someone going out - somehow they know

Georgetown

Don't sleep at Jerry's Hotel. Although it is conveniently located just by the Intraserv terminal it is unclean and there is a pub/disco beneath, on the ground floor. I didn't want to believe I saw a mouse running freely in the room until it jumped on me as I was trying to sleep. Even though I was hazed by fatigue and hunger after a six hours bounce in the bus from Annai
I packed and left. There was no stuff so there was nobody to complain to except a security guy at the pub/disco who bounced me out of the premises. I stayed there maybe two hours but I didn´t get my money back.

Georgetown is ugly - really. Looking at the people's faces I felt like I could be robbed any minute. It was not comfortable to walk in the street. I felt like an ex-colonialist hated by all ex-slaves black men. When I went to the only café near my hotel it was an oasis of white people what enhanced that colonialism feeling - I didn´t like it but the food was good.

Yet, Georgetown has most of the travelling agencies and if you want a trip to Kaietuer you need one of them, even if you wish to take the five-day hike to there because you need a boat. I do wish to do it myself if I return there and have more time available.

In my experience the lazy attitude is the same as in the interior, perhaps only if you stay in a five-stars hotel you get a better approach

Stay at Rima's Guest house which is clean and can give you breakfast and even cook for you supper if you ask in advance.
It is not far from the intraserv stop so don't go to Jerry's. If you arrive in the Intraserv bus terminal, at the junction in front of you turn left and walk along Promenade Garden, cross the road and continue half a block ahead. If you arrive at night take a cab, that will rip you off, but it is better than a bullet or a knife.

From Guyana to Suriname
I arranged a collectivo via the guest house, it didn't cost more than I expected
The attitude was nice - Indian people, with probably some Suriname vibe


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