Home » 10 reasons Guyana is South America’s secret superstar

10 reasons Guyana is South America’s secret superstar

written by Intrepid Travel March 4, 2015

Did you know that it’s entirely possible to visit South America and have one of the world’s tallest waterfalls all to yourself? If you make tracks for Guyana, nestled in the continent’s north-east corner between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, it is.

The likes of Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia often top travellers’ ‘must visit’ lists when they decide to head to South America. Guyana, on the other hand, seems to attract a far smaller crowd. But the abundance of cultural and natural sights, the lack of other travellers and it’s general ‘off the beaten track’ vibe help make Guyana a rather unmissable stop. Here’s the lowdown on the stuff that makes this spot an adventure traveller’s dream. Guyana is one of the least-known corners of South America and truly off the beaten track with both a rich culture and a pristine environment.

1. It’s oh so quiet

guyana guide tours - Anna M

Image c/o Anna M, Flickr

Guyana currently only receives about 3,000 tourists a year, which, to put it in perspective, is about the same as Machu Picchu receives in a single day. It’s the same size as Britain but has a population of fewer than 750,000 and is comprised of an incredible 80% virgin rainforest.

2. Caribbean x South American fusion

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Image c/o David Stanley, Flickr

Not only is Guyana a South American country of cowboys, rich wildlife, waterfalls, tepuis and flooded savannahs (in the Amazon Basin) but also a Caribbean country of great rum, cricket and music. It’s neighbours include Venezuela, Suriname, Brazil, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, which means you can create a pretty exhilarating itinerary for yourself.

3. History and culture? Check.

guyana guide tours -David Stanley

Image c/o David Stanley, Flickr

Once colonised by the Dutch, then the British, then the French, then the Dutch again, Guyana is now made up Amerindians, Africans, Indians, Europeans, and Chinese. All this has led to Guyana becoming a fascinating mixture of religion, culture and cuisine that you can’t find anywhere else in South America.

4. Hablan Inglés!

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Image c/o Rustom Seegopaul, Flickr

Luckily for us, Guyana is South American’s only English-speaking country; so chatting with the locals is a breeze.

5. Total. Cultural. Immersion.

guyana guide tours -David Stanley_edited-1

Image c/o David Stanley, Flickr

The nine Amerindian tribes that call Guyana their home means that exceptional community tourism experiences are possible. On the Intrepid itinerary, for example, visitors stay in community-run lodges rather than international chain hotels, allowing for some pretty sensational immersion in local village life. There’s nothing quite like learning some traditional rainforest knowledge from a native.

6. Really wild life

guyana guide tours -Rustom Seegopaul

Image c/o Rustom Seegopaul, Flickr

Wildlife and wildlife watching in Guyana is second to none, owing to the fact that it’s mostly made up of pristine rainforest. Jaguar, giant anteater, giant river otters, black caiman, tapir, eight species of monkey, tiny frogs, turtles, snakes and over 800 species of birds (including the harpy eagle – one of the world’s largest) are all on offer for wildlife enthusiasts.

7. The quietest waterfall in the world

guyana guide tours -Soren Riise

Image c/o Soren Riise, Flickr

The fact that Guyana only receives 3,000 tourists a year means that it’s not uncommon to have places such as Kaieteur Falls – the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall (five times the height of Niagara Falls) – completely to yourself. Where else in the world can you make that claim?

8. It’s a gateway drug…

guyana guide tours -David Evers

Image c/o David Evers, Flickr

Guyana is a gateway to Suriname with its UNESCO World Heritage capital, Paramaribo and its fascinating culture, scenery, history and wildlife as well as to French Guiana, an overseas department of France with its attractions of Cayenne, the European Space Agency and Devil’s Island, which was the setting of the famous story of Papillon.

9. Destination, Georgetown

guyana guide tours -Ian Mackenzie

Image c/o Ian Mackenzie, Flickr

With an impressive cathedral, colonial buildings, botanical gardens full of birds, museums, and Stabroek Market, a visit to Georgetown is a treat. It’s a perfect blend of South American and Caribbean influences. The hum of reggae is never far away, and makes the perfect soundtrack to accompany your exploration of the many street stalls, food carts and handicraft shops.

10. You can be a trailblazer

guyana guide tours -Inti

Image c/o Inti, Flickr

There aren’t many countries left in the world that you can genuinely be one of the first to visit. How many people do you know that have been? With Guyana, you can be the one telling the story.

Feature image c/o Allan Hopkins, Flickr 

Inspired to explore a new pocket of South America? Visit Guyana with Intrepid Travel.

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16 comments

Bobbi December 18, 2020 - 3:26 am

Are we just going to ignore the fact that there were 114 homicides and 498 armed robberies in 2019?

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Pamela Spearman February 16, 2019 - 11:58 am

I would love to learn more about the Guyanese culture and the beautiful sights

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Bohra September 30, 2017 - 5:30 am

I will go visit this place- less people more nature, beautiful.

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Pamela August 6, 2017 - 2:01 am

Beautiful country..the culture,people,food I took my husband there in 1995..he loved it so much he wanted us to move there. I was fortunate to travel with my parents when I was younger..i hope to visit again

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Bela January 13, 2017 - 10:03 pm

I am a Guyanese living in Guyana. It is a beautiful country indeed, especially the Hinterland regions which I love- Hakuna Matata. 🙂 We’re also a land of hundreds of species of birds, animals, fish etc.
Like any other country we have our share of crimes but we survive. In my opinion Our Politicians/Government ( whichever is in power as it matters not) isn’t all that when it comes to boosting our economy and generally running a country as over the years we’ve been experiencing the same problems over over again, eg, drainage, roads, control waste, etc.
But I am not here to discourage you as our culture is flamboyant – rich and diverse-with six beautiful races. 🙂 Our Indigenous people, The Amerindians, many. Of which live in the Hinterland, peaceful, happy and simple people without the luxury of most of us I have spent time in a couple of their villages; my visit alway brings me peace and awareness.
You must visit to sew for yourself. 🙂 cheers.

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Anonymous January 13, 2017 - 2:58 am

The comments about crime are misleading. There are certain places and times in the Capital that you have to be careful visiting as in any city. Once out of the city and especially in the savannahs and Interior it is very safe. I lived for 7 years in the savannahs and never locked my door, in fact it did not have a lock.
Guyana is a very different place. None like it. It is a blend of Carribbean and south American that speaks english but the number one dish is curry, and it comes every which way you can imagine. Thanks to the large [over 50%] population of East Indians that were brought to replace the African slaves in the sugar plantations. But we get so few tourists that we treat you like family and are really happy to “show off” our country. Come try it.

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The Blueberry Trails June 20, 2016 - 8:06 pm

Guyana is, indeed, a place to explore. Thanks for sharing.

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Mrs Davies April 30, 2016 - 2:04 am

Beautiful pictures of Guyana, but sadly one that not even Professional Genealogists wish to visit. My Meerten family came from Demerara, Guyana and the embassy in Toronto even took my money for a requested birth certificate, knowing that it was NOT AVAILABLE due to the year (1829). So, crime is rampant and that is what holds anyone from visiting. It is said my Meerten family were connected to the former Dutch governor from 1802-1803 Anthony Meerten and that his wife Johanna was part French and Arawak. In early 1900s my grandfather wrote to an elderly Aunt at the time – and I have not been able to trace any family descendant from this Aunt or another Aunt in Guyana. It is sad, as my Meerten was sent to England in 1835 as a very young boy of about 6 years of age. I would have paid for someone who was trustworthy to search the ARCHIVES for any information on my family but to this point, 116 years later crime prevents all genealogists from expanding into Guyana. I would love to have a DNA reference sample from Guyana to prove both my Guyana heritage, my Dutch heritage and possibly my Arawak heritage. I pray one day everyone in Guyana will become trustworthy and caring people. Thanks for reading my plight.

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Brian July 27, 2015 - 8:21 am

My wife grew up in Guyana, left at age 18 and was followed by most of her family. I can’t get her to show any interest in adding her crime-ridden birthplace to our travel bucket list. Maybe there are natural wonders to see, but not much else, apparently.

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Zarena Ali January 15, 2017 - 12:31 am

Brian, you have to go now to make such a comment! Guyana is BEAUTIFUL! It is not the Capital of Georgetown only!

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Warren R. Goss November 6, 2020 - 4:46 am

Maybe you can allow people to write their own opinions without policing them.

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mycaribspot June 13, 2015 - 3:28 am

Amazing, Guyana is definitely a destination to visit, especially the wild interiors .

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Violet June 7, 2015 - 8:41 pm

I am a guyanese living abroad, I’ve still got loads of families and friends back home and would like to visit at least once a year but there are things that need changed. Now that there’s a new government we don’t expect things to change overnight but gradually we need our own airlines which would encourage us to visit and also tourism.

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Br May 15, 2015 - 11:44 am

As someone who has lived here for the majority of their lives, the capital is flawed and dangerous so much that it takes away from natural beauty

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Anna Smith March 16, 2015 - 6:03 pm

I do not believe that that should stop people from visiting my country dear…. It is a flaw that every country has and I do not believe that it will be happening to every tourist that comes through… It is an internal flaw and has nothing to do with our tourism and hospitality or eco tourism…. Guyana is a beautiful slice of paradise and should not be judged by our internal flaws…. Note that case is being thoroughly investigated….

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Maya Trotz March 12, 2015 - 1:41 pm

This is all wonderful and great, but one must recognize that as this land gears up for May 11th elections all is not safe and quiet and on March 10th Courtney Crum-Ewing was murdered with a bullhorn in his hand as he walked through is neighborhood encouraging Guyanese to vote on May 11th. Shot in the back of the head at close range. He had led a one man protest for 2 months outside of the Attorney General’s office calling for his resignation after a tape of the AG was released via social media implicating him in activities that would bring shame to any AG’s office. An independent inquiry into his untimely death is required and all who love this country or wish to visit this lovely country should support calls for such an inquiry.

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