October 5, 2018

Travel inspired by sugar bound

We’re sharing some tips for traveling to breathtaking, off-the-beaten path Guyana.

By By Grace Gutierrez; Illustrations by Audrey Twigg

 

Illustration of Kaiteur Falls, the largest single drop waterfall on earth, located in the South American country of Guyana.

 

Suchitra Mattai’s sugar bound, now on view at the CVA until November 3, is a visual unfolding of an artist’s experience living in many different places. Guyana, Mattai’s birthplace, may have a dark past of colonialism, slavery and indentured servitude, but today the country is known for its vibrant mix of cultures and lush, gorgeous natural scenery. In other words – it is definitely worth visiting! To that end, we’re sharing some tips for traveling to breathtaking, off-the-beaten path Guyana.

 

Travel to Guyana: sugar bound Inspired Destination

Guyana is located on the northeast corner of South America (don’t worry, I had to look it up too) and was colonized by the Dutch, British and French. It is close both geographically and culturally to the Caribbean islands and is sandwiched between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. The country does not have the typical South American vibe you may expect, but instead infuses Caribbean, Indian and Creole customs with South American traditions. Although it is a bit more difficult to find information online about travelling to Guyana than it is for other Caribbean and South American countries, if you dig deep enough you’ll discover an adventure tourism paradise. So, when you finally decide to sell all of your belongings to backpack through South America, don’t forget to include this little gem on your itinerary.

 

The basics about Guyana

The official language of Guyana is English, so you shouldn’t have much trouble communicating with locals when you go, although a certain Caribbean twang is present so you’ll have fun learning some local slang. You won’t need a travel visa to go which is always awesome, and if you decide to fly to Guyana from the U.S., you’ll be looking at spending around $800.00 round trip depending on the time of year. The capitol, Georgetown, is home to only 200,000 or so people, making it a pretty quiet capitol city in comparison to the rest of this crowded world. The rest of the country will be very quiet and blissfully uncrowded too. As a former British colony, the Guyanese drive on the left side. The currency is the Guyanese Dollar (1 USD = 208 GYD). Some safety concerns are mentioned on the U.S. Department of State website. Be sure to take extra care in crowded areas as pickpocketing and tourist scams are common. Finally, it is recommended that you get a Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Yellow Fever vaccine before visiting. But, hey, what’s a few shots to discover an untouched part of the world?

 

Things to do

First off, the capitol Georgetown is not ideal for travelers craving an wild nightlife scene. Sure, there are restaurants and bars that stay open late, but all are described as, “cozy and casual.” Instead, plan to spend your time in Georgetown exploring its old buildings like St. George’s Cathedral and the Parliament Building of Guyana. Visit the Guyana Botanical Gardens to explore the foliage depicted in Mattai’s paintings, or visit the Guyana National Zoo. End your day eating Indian food from the Maharaja Palace Restaurant, The Publik’s famous Caribbean burgers while sipping rum drinks in fresh coconuts cut open in front of you with a machete. Talk to the locals – rumored to be a vibrant and hospitable bunch – about their favorite spots. Plan to stay a few days but not for your entire trip as a vacation in Guyana needs to include outdoor adventures in the lush surrounding rainforests.

Almost 70% of Guyana is rainforest! Guided hiking and camping trips are a great way to explore. The guides are locals who know the wildlife and can help you spot exotic birds, snakes, frogs and maybe even the rare jaguar. Featured in sugar bound’s mural “Clearing” are the famous Tepui or “table top” mountains. The largest Tepui mountain in Guyana is Mount Roraima, located on the west side of the country. This massive mountain houses a special microbiome which contains a mix of flora and fauna you will only find in this one place on earth. Guided trips will allow you discover special, hidden spots as you explore this mountain ecosystem. Guides will also know the proper safety precautions that need to be taken in specific areas.

Guyana is also home to Kaieteur Falls, the world’s tallest single drop waterfall and the country’s most popular adventure destination. Kaieteur Falls is five times higher than Niagara Falls and can be accessed by a short flight from Georgetown offered by various tour companies. Most of these companies offer the trip for $150.00-$300.00 with some add-on options for an extra 40 dollars here and there. But what’s an extra 40 bucks for one more once in a lifetime experience?

The possibilities for adventure are endless in Guyana. I recommend searching for trips catered to your interests which could range from hiking, camping, kayaking, off-roading to bird watching or city tours. There is something special to be discovered by everyone. For more inspiration, visit Suchitra Mattai’s sugar bound, to ignite the travel bug inside of you.

 


 

Here are some links for more Guyana travel adventures:

 

sugar bound is on view at CVA from August 30 through November 3. The gallery is open 5 days a week and admission is always free. Check out our exhibition page to plan your visit.