Sunday, September 18, 2016

What is Next - Guyana

Did you figure it out on your own?  Yes we are headed to Guyana.  For our American readers educated in public school we will wait a minute while you look that up on the internet. Go ahead.  I will give you a clue, we are NOT going to Africa.  Did you find it?  Guyana is on the northeast corner of South America.     

The idea came about in the fall of 2015 while we were still in Trinidad.  Our good friends on sv Ocean Rainbow returned from the Nereid's Rally to Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana.  They had a spectacular time.  "Hum?" we thought.  Then fellow cruiser and dockmate Bruce on sv Wild Matilda came over for dinner.  During the evenings one of the many of the interesting things that came up was Bruce's previous trip to Guyana.  A group of 9 cruising sailboats went there four or five years ago.  "I am thinking of going back." he said. " Really?" we thought.  As often is the case after an evening with Bruce, we added Guyana to our list of Sail To And Explore places.  *Oh man, is that list growing!  I believe this is how most cruising plans are made, you hear first hand from another cruiser about some really kewl cruising grounds and BOOM now you have to go.  At least that is how our plans seem to develop.

Soon everyone sailed off to different points on the compass.  Around February, I had to do some major flag repair to our Caribbean courtesy flags.  While I had the material out I went ahead and made the courtesy flags for Guyana and Suriname, just in case.  When I finished I said to Tom "Shall we go next fall?"  He said "Why not.  We've got the flags now."   While we are not big rally people, we were interested in the Nereid Rally based on the report from sv Ocean Rainbow about all the fabulous side trips.  However, that rally was leaving Sept 2nd 2016, with my parent's 60th wedding anniversary in late Aug, there was no way we would be back in time to have the boat ready to join that rally.  Oh well.  We would just go later by ourselves. 

On a whim and I emailed Bruce pics of my Guyana courtesy flag asking "Are you still thinking about going?  We're are leaning that way."  He replied "I don't know.  I hadn't given it much more thought."   Further inquiry discovered that others were thinking of heading back to Guyana - sv Liahona,  and sv Persephone as well as some newbies like us.  So here we all sit in Trinidad prepping to head to Guyana at the end of September or beginning of October.  The excitement is building as we count down the days and cross things off the Must Do list.  The big items for us are:  New boat insurance and thus survey and thus hauling, immunizations and malaria meds, new chartplotter installed and rain catcher.  Of course there are many other items as well but those are the biggies.

Now I am going to give you some basics.  This info comes from the cruisers that have been there before, and the internet.  I also got a ton of good info from fellow cruiser Sarah off sv Cape.  Thank you Sarah!

The trip from Trinidad to our destination is approx 350nm.  We will motor east along the top of Trinidad and then once we clear the corner of Trini, we will head SE.  We will be heading up the Essequibo River approx 45 nm to the town of Bartica.  I take it the Essequibo is big like the Mississippi and similar in color.  Reports are that charts of this area are not very accurate - sailing over land type inaccurate - yikes!  Luckily, those that have gone before have charted the waypoints.  We plan to anchor off Bartica and base out of there.      

Why are we going?  Guyana is reported to have one of the last remaining untouched jungles in the world.  On travel writer called it the "Lungs of the World" kewl huh?  They are trying their best to preserve and protect that.  However, they are a poor country with immense pressures for development of the jungle.  Who knows how much longer it will be there.   

So the basics - this is for you dad.
Guyana is approximately the size of England (83,000 sq miles) with a population of 750,000 to 800,000 people.  Or slightly smaller than Idaho.  The third smallest country in S America behind Suriname and Uruguay.  Georgetown is the capital.  The bulk of the population lives along the Atlantic coastline with the bulk of the interior of the country sparsely populated.  43.5% of the population is east India, 30.2% is black (African), 16.7% mixed, 9.1% Amerindian, .5% other.  It is the only English speaking country in South America.  While they were previously an English colony as British Guiana, they have been their own country of Guyana for 50 years.  FYI - 2016 is the 50th anniversary celebration of self rule as a country.  The same is true for me as I will be celebrating my 50th bday in Oct.  Religions 30.5% protestant, 28.4% Hindu, 8.1 % Catholic, 7.2% Muslim, 1.1% Jehovah's Witness, 17.7% other Christians, 1.9% other, 4.3% none, 0.0% Jim Jones Peoples Temple.  55% of Guyanese live abroad.  Gold, diamond, and bauxite mining, and sugar are the main industries with hardwood timber, rice and fish/shrimp as well.  But according to all the research, the natural wonders are the real gift of Guyana.  75% of the country is covered in rainforest. 
  • A birder's paradise with more than 800 species of birds from 72 different families.  High on our list is to see the Cock of the Rock bird.
  • The Giants of Guyana:  Jaguar -S American's largest cat, Giant River Otters - world's largest and rarest otters, Harpy Eagle - S American's largest eagle and most powerful raptor, Arapiam - world's largest fresh water fish, Giant Anteater - worlds largest anteater, False Vampire Bat -largest in S America, Capybara - world's largest rodent, Green Anaconda - world's largest snake, Black Caiman - world's largest of subfamily Alligatorinae (alligators and caimans), Giant S American River Turtle - world's largest freshwater turtle and finally the Victoria Amazonica Lily - world's largest lily.  Whew!
  • Kaieteur Waterfall is the world's widest, single drop waterfall, falling 741 feet - four times that of Niagara Falls.  However only one of 300 waterfalls in Guyana.
  • Many, many, many other "creatures" can be found in Guyana - howler monkeys, golden frogs, red-billed toucans and blue morpho butterflies just to name a few.
  • Terrain is mostly rolling highlands, coastal plains and savanna in the south.
  • Elevation mean is 207 meters.  High is Mount Roramia at 2,835 meters 

I am not sure how much internet we will have while there but rest assured that I will be blogging our adventures the whole time we are there and posting as internet allows.  So stay tuned and follow along as we make our first trip to South America and Guyana. 


  1. So incredibly cool! I am excited for you. I want to see a Cock of the Rock too -- they look so crazy, but in a good way. If you get to see one, I will hate you forever (just kidding!) Can't wait to follow along as you explore this fascinating spot!

    1. The more I read about all the birds, the more I keep thinking of you two. I still remember coming back over to Juniper after you moved in and seeing two sets of binoculars and two bird books on the dining room table. :)

    2. LOL...that's right. I totally forgot we kept them there in case of any backyard sightings while we were eating. :-)