Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, is almost fairy tale in appearance, thanks to the tree-lined streets (photo) and avenues and the quaint Dutch colonial and Victorian architecture stemming from its days as Dutch and English colonies. Georgetown lies below the high-tide level, protected by a seawall ( photo) with a series of canals crisscrossing the city. When rains are heavy, flooding, as occurred in early 2005, is a risk.
Located on the mouth of the Demerara River fronting the Atlantic Ocean, Georgetown, originally called Stabroek, was an ideal location for European presence in the Caribbean. Orient yourself with this map of Guyana
. Rich in timber, bauxite, gold and diamonds, the land supported sugar cane plantations and enriched the colonial governments. The Spanish, Dutch, French and English all had their eyes on this region and for years each struggled to possess it.
The Dutch initially gained the upper hand and established Stabroek on the lines of any tidy, Dutch city. The British occupied the Dutch colony during the Napoleonic Wars and renamed the capital, and largest city, in 1812 as Georgetown in honor of George III. This was convenient for the British who were also fighting what they termed the “American War” and what is known in the US as the War of 1812.
British Guiana, as it was then called, was the center of border conflicts with its neigbors, Venezuela and Suriname. These conflicts continue, making it difficult to travel between these countries without first passing through another.
Getting There and Around:
International flights from the US or Europe fly into Georgetown's Cheddi Jagan International airport mainly via Trinidad. Bogotá or other locations in Colombia.
Getting to Guyana by boat is an adventure the Guyanese tourist board hopes to encourage.
Getting Around in Guyana is mostly by road, river and air.
There are a number of hotels, resorts and interior resorts and lodges to choose for your accommodation needs.
Browse also this list of hotels.
Weather and Climate may affect your travel plans, but they maintain the interior forests and river systems that Guyana is developing for eco-tourism. Guyana has immense falls, vast tropical jungle and savannas teeming with wildlife. Called the
Land of Many Rivers, Guyana's interior is best reached by river boat. There are almost 1000 km of navigable rivers to enjoy.
Check the current weather conditions and the 5 day forecast.
Things to Do and See:
Places to See include attractions in Georgetown as well as in other cities and the interior of the country. Note the unique features of the local architecture, such as the lovered shutters with window boxes and the combination of Dutch and English touches.
Umana Yana - erected by the Wai Wai Amerindians, for the Foreign Ministers Conference in August 1972 this plam thatched structure is now an honored attraction. Umana Yana is an Amerindian word meaning Meeting place of the people
Liberation Monument - on the Umana Yana grounds, dedicated to Struggle for Freedom everywhere.
St. George's Cathedral - "reputed to be one of the world's tallest wooden buildings. Its spire rises over 132 feet." Photo.
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology - housed in an elegant wooden building and displays an interesting collection of artifacts and relics of Amerindian culture.
St. Andrews Kirk - built it 1829, it is the oldest
building continually in use for religious purposes.
Museum of Guyana - exhibitions of Guyanese paintings and sculpture.
The Botanic Gardens - with Victorian bridges, pavilions, palms and tropical flora, including the huge lily pads of the Victoria Regia Lily, Guyana's national flower, first discovered in the Berbice River and named for Queen Victoria.
Parliament Building - built in 1833 in a neo-classical style. Here Guyana's emancipated slaves purchased for the first time their own land. Parliament still meets here, and was addressed by Queen Elizabeth during her state visit in February 1994.
Old Stabroek Market - historic cast-iron building with a striking clocktower offers a wide variety of goods but is unfortunately known for its muggers. Be careful.
Kaieteur Falls - on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo River, the falls flow over a sandstone table and drop 741 feet into a deep valley. Five times the height of Niagara, the falls vary in width from 250 feet in the dry season to 400 feet at the height of the wet season. Photo. The falls are difficult to reach but several tour agencies in Georgetown offer 4 day trips.
River Trip to Bartica - by bus, ferry or speeboat, the river taxi. You'll cross the the very long pontoon bridge on the Demerara river and perhaps take the ferry boat laoding bananas and vegetables back to Georgetown.
Shell Beach - see endangered giant sea turtles on one of Guyana's few beaches.
Timberhead Resort - rainforest resort near the bank of the Demerara River, reached by river through Amerindian villages, forested areas and savannas. Queen Elizabeth and US President Jimmy Carter have stayed here.
Have you been to Guyana? If you have comments or questions about Guyana, please post them on the South America for Visitors Forum.