The vibrant character and graceful beauty of Georgetown reflects much of the city's exceptional cultural history and diversity. Designed by the Dutch (and first known as Stabroek), Guyana's capital has wide, tree-lined avenues, lily-covered canals, and many fine examples of 18th and 19th century colonial buildings. Georgetown's tropical botanical gardens, as one might expect in a country of such incredible natural beauty, are considered to be among the very best in the world. Throughout the city are colourful East Indian markets, indicative of the country's largely East Indian population. Because Georgetown lies below sea level at high tide, it is protected by an amazing masonry wall, or mole. The city is situated at the mouth of the Demerara River, one of the many rivers that flow down from the Guiana Highlands and across the coastal plain to the Atlantic.
Situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the great Essequibo, Kaieteur Falls is one of the world's natural wonders. Flowing over a flat, sandstone tableland into a deep gorge, Kaieteur has a single drop of 741 feet (the largest single drop waterfall in the world). It then plummets downward for another 101 feet for a total of 822 feet--five times the drop of Niagara. The unusual conditions created by the falls support a fascinating micro-environment, which includes some species identifiable only to this area. Lucky visitors may catch a fleeting glimpse of the Kaieteur Swifts, or Makonaima Birds. Swifts are the most rapid fliers among living creatures, a property that allows them to snatch up insects while on the wing. The Kaieteur Swifts nest under the vast shield of rock hidden behind the curtain of falling water.
The Orinduik Falls lie on the
Ireng, a highland river that thunders over steps and
terraces of jasper on the border divide with Brazil
before merging with the Takutu and then heading down into
Brazil to join the great Amazon. The falls are situated
amid the rolling, grass-covered hills of the Pakaraima
Mountains, one of the most beautiful regions of Guyana's
hinterland. In contrast to the dramatic gorge at
Kaieteur, Orinduik is ideally suited for swimming.
The Rupununi is a vast area of dry grasslands, with sparse trees, termite mounds and wooded hills in the Southwest of the country. The savannah is divided into the North and South Rupununi by the Kanuku Mountains; it is scattered with occasional Amerindian villages and a few large cattle ranches which date from the nineteenth century. Every year the rains flood the savannah. In many areas it is possible to move about only by boat during this season, allowing for exciting water tours of the Rupununi's beautiful forest areas.
The Kanuku Mountains in Southwestern Guyana rise out of the grasslands to form a stunning backdrop to the Rupununi savannah. With wind-sculpted crowns rising to just below cloud level, the range is notable for its exceptionally diverse bird and mammal species--approximately 80% of the known species of mammals in Guyana are found here. The Kanukus are bisected by the Rupununi River, one of the primary tributaries of the Essequibo.
Iwokrama is located in central Guyana, between the Essequibo, Siparuni and Takutu Rivers and just north of the Rupununi savannah. Approximately 360,000 hectares of pristine rain forest have been set aside, in a pioneering effort by Guyana to demonstrate that tropical rain forests can provide social and economic benefits without compromising the ecological integrity of the forest. The town of Iwokrama is a hive of activity, as a steady stream of miners pass through on the way to their claims, which lie further in the interior.
Just 35 minutes by boat from Bartica, past the ruins of the ancient Dutch Fort of Kyk-Over-Al and up the Cuyuni River, are the picturesque Marshall Falls. At the falls, visitors can bathe in a natural Jacuzzi created by the tumbling waters, talk with the locals in the nearby bush camp, or take a stroll through the surrounding rainforest. Gold dredges can sometimes be seen working in the area.
Once the seat of the Dutch Government of the county of Essequibo, Kyk-Over-Al was built in 1616 to guard the junction of the Mazaruni and Cuyuni Rivers. After almost four hundred years, only the ruins of this former stronghold remain, evoking something of the spirit of Guyana's early Dutch adventurers.
Shell Beach extends for about 90 miles along Guyana's northwestern shore, in the area between the Pomeroon and Waini Rivers. True to its name, this remarkable strand consists of uncounted numbers of tiny shells, a composition that makes it an ideal nesting site for sea turtles. Four of the world's eight sea turtle species come here each year between March and July, struggling ashore at night to dig nests among the shells, lay as many as ten dozen eggs, and return again to the water.
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