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Have you added Guyana to your bucket list yet? While it might not be the first destination that comes to mind for spending your vacation, it’s actually a growing travel destination for people around the world.
Guyana is much different than your typical hotspots around the world. While you won’t find many iconic landmarks or historical sites, it’s where you can discover the buzzing trend of eco-tourism.
This article explains why Guyana is a great destination for eco-tourism and highlights some of the best spots to explore in this unique country.
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a growing trend in travel. It focuses on experiencing a destination while keeping in mind sustainability for the local community and environment. Ecotourism is a progressive form of travel with hopes to replace the massive traffic to historical landmarks to a more conscious way of travel of preservation – you should leave a destination better than when you arrived.
Eco-tourism is for everyone and can take you around the world to experience travel in a new way. New destinations are becoming popular hotspots for ecotourism, most recently Guyana.
Guyana – An Untouched Country in South America
Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern coast of South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the south, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east.
For many travelers, one of its biggest draws is its pristine rainforests which are still largely untouched compared to most other countries in the region. In fact, more than 60% of Guyana is forested and it’s believed to be one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth.
This makes it a perfect destination for those who are interested in ecotourism. There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with nature, from hiking and bird watching to visiting waterfalls and beautiful lakes.
Why Travel to Guyana for Ecotourism?
Did you know that Guyana ranks as the #1 destination in the world for ecotourism? The small country in the north of South America was awarded and recognized at the 2019 ITB global travel trade fair in Berlin.
First hearing about the award might surprise you, but after getting to know about bit about Guyana, it makes perfect sense and is sure to remain a world leader in ecotourism.
The landscape of Guyana is lush with thick rainforests and home to an abundance of wildlife and flora. With just under 300,000 tourists every year, many people arrive for exploring the rich natural landscape of the country or discovering the preserved traditions and cultures.
Guyana established a Green State Development initiative to highlight a multi-year plan to improve the quality of life in Guyana, from health to economic improvements across the entire country. Many of the efforts relate directly to tourism as it’s a major industry.
With hopes of reducing the carbon footprint and maintaining natural beauty, the country turns to the promotion of ecotourism to achieve its long-term goals.
The primary pillars for tourism in Guyana include educating, improving, and preserving. Guyana is an ideal place for travelers seeking an ecotourism experience as you’ll have a chance to learn about Guyana’s nature and culture while seeing the continuous improvements and preservation of the country.
Things To Do in Guyana for Ecotourism
Ecotourism merges concepts of exploring the natural attractions of Guyana along with supporting the local communities for sustainable growth for the future. The top things to do in Guyana combine aspects of each of them.
When you think of ecotourism, a capital city might not be the first destination that comes to mind. Still, it goes to show how dedicated the country is to preserving natural habitats and ecosystems.
Georgetown has a lot of destinations to visit, a major attraction being the Guyana National Park located in the heart of the capital. The national park is home to hundreds of species of birds and also endangered manatees swimming in the park’s pond. Another destination in the capital is the Georgetown Botanical Garden. Visit the gardens to see more of the local wildlife such as manatees and monkeys living within the tropical flora.
Even though you are here for ecotourism, don’t miss out on visiting the Stabroek Market and indulge in being part of the Guyanese culture.
Our favorite hotel is the Cara Lodge Hotel, a colonial-style house that was originally built in the 1840s.
The Rupununi Savannah is one of the most popular ecotourism destinations in Guyana, with approximately 5,000 square miles of wilderness area designated as protected land. The savannah includes a range of landscapes from tropical grasslands to rainforest-covered mountains.
Rupununi Savannah is the most biologically diverse region of Guyana. The varied landscape makes it home to a variety of climate zones and ecosystems – it’s home to jaguars, considered the largest in South America, Harpy Eagles, a rare species, and hundreds of other bird species. Visitors can find guided tours available for exploring the savannah either from the ground or in a helicopter for a unique perspective of the landscape.
The Rupununi Savannah in Guyana is dissected in a north-south direction by the Kanuku Mountains. South Rupununi encompasses the former Lethem and New River Estates and is less developed than the north so that fewer travelers come here.
Our favorite lodging option for a perfect trip is the Rock View Lodge, located on the rolling hills and savannahs in close proximity to the Rupununi River and wooded mountains.
Iwokrama Rainforest is one of the last tropical rainforests of Earth. In efforts to preserve the natural landmark, a conservation center was established in the forest to promote ecotourism. There are also local communities and NGA organizations playing a role in the conversation efforts.
The Iwokrama Forest is a top tourist attraction in Guyana to explore the dense forest, consisting of tall tropical trees, and extends to the Iwokrama Mountains. The rainforest is home to many threatened and extinct wildlife. It has the highest concentration of fish and bat species in the world, with over 400 species of fish and nearly 100 different bats. Bird watching is also popular to see over 500 different species of birds.
Iwokrama is a place where you can learn about the pristine rainforest and its inhabitants – both plant and animal. There are guided nature walks, talks by the rangers, and educational displays all designed to help you to understand this unique environment.
To see a black caiman and other nocturnal animals such as tree boas, pacas, nightjars, and hula tree frogs, we recommend a nighttime boat trip.
The Iwokrama River Lodge overlooking the Essequibo River is a peaceful and tranquil place to stay. Guests love the spacious cabins and private balconies with hammocks.
Visit the Kaieteur National Park to witness the power of the Kaieteur Falls, a must-see for visitors to Guyana. The waterfall is the largest single drop waterfall in the world (based on water volume). It has an elevation of over 825 feet – for comparison, its over four-times the height of Niagara Falls and more than two-times higher than Victoria Falls.
The falls are in the center of the lush rainforest. The fall is best accessible via chartered flights from the nearby airport. Guided tours take visitors on a passenger aircraft to fly over the falls for excellent aerial views of the landmark, and then lands where you’ll see the fall from a variety of on-ground viewpoints.
Many of the top tourist destinations in Guyana are for exploring the natural wonders of the country. Ecotourism is a growing industry in Guyana – as the top ecotourism destination in the world, it’s sure to see a significant boost in the number of visitors in the upcoming years. If you are a worldly adventurer who loves staying in remote lodges and learning about the life of indigenous people and indigenous culture, this amazing country in South America should definitely be on your bucket list.
More Facts About Guyana
What is the population of Guyana?
The population of Guyana is approximately 787,000.
What is the currency of Guyana?
The currency of Guyana is the Guyanese dollar (GYD).
What languages are spoken in Guyana?
The official languages of Guyana are English and Guyanese Creole. However, there are also a number of other languages spoken in the country, including Amerindian languages, Hindi, and Urdu.
How to get to Guyana?
Guyana can be reached by flying into the capital city of Georgetown, which has an international airport (Cheddi Jagan Intl Airport). There are some direct flights to Guyana from the United States (Miami and New York). Some other options include flying via Trinidad & Tobago (Port of Spain), Brazil, Barbados (Bridgetown), or Suriname (Paramaribo).
What is the best time of year to visit Guyana?
The best time to visit Guyana varies depending on what you hope to do during your trip. The dry season from December to April is ideal for those interested in wildlife viewing and hiking. The rainy season from May to November is best for those interested in waterfalls and swimming.