$1US = $200 Guyana Dollars
Exchange can be made at the “Cambios“. Major tour operators accept US dollars and credit card. Many companies will add a 4% surcharge when you use your card. We had trouble accessing money through the local banks but Canadian Scotiabank has numerous branches in Georgetown.
- Getting here is very expensive. Hotels and transport are also very expensive due to the lack of infrastructure. I would say that prices for most things – like food and hotels – are comparable with the cost of the same in Canada, but the quality is much poorer.
- There is no more public transport in the country. (See Transportation section below for more options.)
- Applicable tax is 16%.
- Couchsurfing hosts are mainly peacecorps workers living in Guyana.
- Hitchhiking is not recommended though our jungle guide did indicated that sticking your thumb out like we do in most of the world won’t work here. If you really wanna try to catch a lift, try sticking your hand out with your pointer finger out. More than likely it will be the mini-bus that stops and they will charge you.
Chapter I: Getting into Georgetown
- Airport is 40 min away from Georgetown
- Buses are available during the day
- Taxis are lined up outside and it’s $5000G to get anywhere in the city.
- We arranged pick up through hotel for $35US because we would be arriving very late at night and had no idea how far from the city we would be or how much it would cost.
Chapter II: Georgetown
Georgetown has a definite Caribbean island feel to it with the ocean constantly keeping a cool breeze. There is no actual beach as the sea wall protects the city which sits 7 feet under the sea level. Remnants of colonialism by the English and the Dutch means gorgeous wooden homes with elaborate window shutters and porches on stilts. Few have been cared for or restored to their glory. Most are completely dilapidated and barely standing (although you can actively observe people still living in them). Both hold a certain photographic charm. Amongst them modern buildings made of concrete and glass have grown without rhyme or reason. City management is non-existent as piles a rubble and garbage are strewn most everywhere. Crashed or broken down cars are stripped of essential parts and literally just left there to rust away. Occasionally there is a part, such as the National Park where the grounds are kept clean and useful to the people.
Taxi service simplified:
Short trips within most of the city are $400G ($2US). Longer trips would be negotiated. Official taxis are yellow and can be called or flagged down. Each time we had our hotel call one for us we were picked up in a nondescript vehicle but still had the taxi radio in it. If you find a driver you like, get their name and number and call them whenever you need a ride.
- Cold water showers are standard. Ask about AC/fan, breakfast and wifi when inquiring.
- Economy choices seems to favour Rima’s (firstname.lastname@example.org) but book ahead or you will – like I did – find it fully booked. Bonus here includes a view of the local jailhouse. Kanhais Center (from $40 standard room to $70 for group rooms- with cold water, wifi and breakfast) can be found on Facebook. Quiet at night and locked up tight so come with reservation. A bit pricey for what it is but then again, most things in this country seem expensive for where we are (compared to Asia or Central America for example).
- Mid range hotels are hard to find online but there seem to be plenty around the city. Sleepin (www.sleepinguesthouse.com) has rooms from $57 all amenities included. In the Kitty neighbourhood near the sea wall there is the Windjammer Hotel and Palace de Leon. Both have a range of rooms and prices ($35 and up) with breakfast, wifi and hot water.
- Most hotels found online start at $120 and feature pools. Princess is currently is the largest hotel in town though a Marriot is currently being built which will take the prize in regards to size and probably luxury.
Chapter III: Food
- Must try the local brew – Banks beer and the award winning rum El Dorado – voted best rum in the world every year since 1999. The Guyanese are very proud of this fact.
- Food is generally a rice and beans with meat mix (name sounds like “c/p-c/p”). Lots of fried chicken and everything on the bone. Indian and Chinese food can also be found everywhere.
- Church’s chicken, the global chain, is quite a hit and locals celebrate it.
- The main food of the interior is cassava which can be produced in as little as 4 months from the time it’s planted until it’s ready for cultivation. It can be prepared in a multitude of ways such as fried (looks very much like french fries), mashed (like mashed potatoes but a more fibrous), it can also be dried and crushed until it looks like granola. Locals used it this way to sprinkle on everything at every meal. Casava can even be baked into a cake for dessert.
- Locals recommendation for the best Guyanese food: Jerries.
- For the highest standards in fresh food, selection and clean environment that I’ve experienced so far in Guyana check out Oasis Cafe on Carmichael Street (just a stones throw from the Cathedral). They even offer wifi and a specialty coffee list that rivals Starbucks. Come for lunchtime buffet ($2,000G) or try Oasis Gourmet Burger ($1,500G) for the best meat in the country. The huge range of desserts doesn’t hurt either.
- If you are absolutely yearning for some fresh breakfast like you have at home, check out the restaurant at the Halito Hotel. Continental breakfast will run you $9US.
- For great Indian food check out the spacious Shantas on Newmarket and Camp Streets. $14US while get you 2 full meals, a big bottle of water and an extra curry to boot!
- As always, be alert to preparation and storage of premade food. Many facilities lack refrigeration or ability to keep food hot. Drink bottled water only.
- Try the “Champagne” – alcohol free and absolutely delicious.
Chapter IV: Transport
Chapter V: Weather
Chapter VI: Wildlife and the Amazon
The highlight of Guyana is the dense jungle of the interior covering 90% of the country. The amazon jungle is home to thousands of species of land and water mammals plus hundreds more take flight over the thick canopy and swim the waters of salty coastline, the fresh water rivers and swamp-lands sprawling across Guyana and into Brazil.
Evergreen (# 225-4484) www.evergreenadventuresgy.com
Chapter VII: Culture
Chapter VIII: Kaeiteur Falls
Getting here is the hardest part. Flying seems to be the only option unless you want to trek for 5 days (www.rftours.com, $850US). The flight itself is beautiful and exciting. Most package tours will offer a day trip for $250 or $270US per person to include Orinduik falls. The latter seems the better deal and you get to spend several hours trekking in the jungle under the falls.
~ A Wisdom Trails Guide By Karina ~
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