Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Off The Charts In Guyana - Trip Up The River

Coming into the mouth of the Essequibo River

Dec 15th, 2016
We arrived at the mouth of the Essequibo River late afternoon but decided to anchor out versus going in.  By going in, I mean through a series of fishing nets, tall poles (some broken off at water level) and shoals. 
Poles with fish nets - can you see them?

We had waypoints from the guidebook and those that have gone before.  However….not our style to head into an unknown river in the late afternoon hours as the the sun is setting. 
Part of this pole is missing - gulp

NOTE - While it is very shallow (20ft or so) for many miles off shore, anchoring out there was no picnic.  The current pushed our bow off and this meant we were broadside to the waves most of the night rocking back and forth and back and forth.  Not fun!  Next time we will probably slow down and heave to in order to time the arrival to go in with the tide. 
Looking down the Essequibo River (north) back towards sea (pic by Kathy Nee)

The Essequibo River is the third largest river in South America.  Think Mississippi River sort of big and perhaps bigger.  The delta is probably three miles wide.   The river continues to be at least a mile wide if not more as we continue up the river .  I think the correct term is up river but it seems odd.  Why?  Because we are headed south, in my brain that is “down”.  In the continential USA going south is also going down…..towards the equator.....”We're heading down to Texas for the weekend.”  “Hey all y'all.  We are going down south to Geor-gia for a week on holiday.”  However, in the case of Guyana as we head south, away from the coast and up the river, we are in fact, also headed up in terms of the elevation – all be it slightly.  But we are also headed down in terms of latitude.  Confused yet?
Bustling port of Parika

The Essequibo should be called the chocolate river.  Because of all the run off, silt and such, the river is the color of chocolate milk.  I couldn’t help but think of the scene from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where the chubby German kid (Augusta Gloop) starts drinking from the chocolate river – “Augustus!  Augustus!  Sweetheart, save some room for later.  And then the kid falls in and gets sucked up the tube and thus we learn our first moral of the story.  Ompa, ompa, doppy-a-dee-do....   For those of you that are foo foo coffee drinkers, the Essequebo is the color of a good mochaccino.
Chocolate river

Ship parking?  Repair? 
The bulk of the population of Guyana lives along the coast and along the rivers.  It quickly became apparent that the rivers are a major source of transportation and for some, the only mode of transportation.  As we travel up river, water taxi's whiz by full of people with luggage and goods piled on top.  A huge ferry is docked at Parika but loading to go somewhere up river.  We pass a tiny (compared to its ocean going brothers) cargo ship headed into the heart of Guyana.  A couple of barges push across the river here and there, one is loaded with timber.  Small sawmills dot the shoreline and the air is thick with the smell of fresh cut wood. 
Lumber delivery
Parika river pirogues waiting to take people up the river

River pirogues are the main mode of transportation


  1. I noticed the color of the river before you even mentioned it. Kinda icky compared to the beautiful clear turquoise seas in the Caribbean, though I like the comparison to the chocolate river in one of my very favorite childhood movies! Makes it a bit more appetizing. :)

  2. Pirogues look better suited to Florida lagoons than Brilliant Star has been.