Guyana might not be on everyone’s bucket list, but with its unspoiled rainforests, golden beaches, sweeping savannahs and meandering rivers, this little-known South American nation offers rich rewards for those daring enough to visit.
Wild and welcoming in equal measure, Guyana's attractions range from the awesome natural splendour of Kaieteur Falls, to the charming, stilted wooden houses of its capital, Georgetown.
Jungle trekking, freshwater fishing and wildlife watching are the big draws, and while few succeed in sighting the country’s famously elusive jaguar’s, nature lovers will have the opportunity to spot giant anteaters, giant otters and, sticking with the supersize theme, arapaima, the world’s largest freshwater fish.
In many ways a trip to Guyana is a jump back in time, a refreshing tonic in a world of instant gratification and constant connectivity. But while the country’s tourist infrastructure is almost non-existent, ATMs scarce and holidaymakers rarer than the wild cats that roam the rainforests, pioneering travellers certainly won’t be left wanting.
One of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island, multicultural Guyana has more in common with the West Indies than it does South America; from the English and Creole spoken on the streets to the curry dishes served on dinner tables.
Guyanese culture and cuisine reflect the ethnic makeup of the country, which consists of Indian, African and European people, who were brought over to the Caribbean by Dutch and British colonialists. There is also a substantial Amerindian population, which distinguishes it from other parts of the Caribbean.
Travellers looking for a destination with a difference, a country well off the tourist trail, will find Guyana a joy to discover. It’s by no means cheap to fly there and exploring the country will require a strong sense of adventure and a willingness to forsake creature comforts. But that’s a small price to pay for what Guyana gives in return.