Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
By Stephanie Kitchin
(03/06/2013)The inhabitants of Georgetown on the coast of Guyana refer to the rest of the country as “the interior”. Many have never been and probably never will.
Clinging to the edge of the South American continent, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana often get overlooked as tourists make a beeline for their huge neighbour Brazil, or other more well-known hot spots like Machu Picchu and Iguacu Falls. All fantastic destinations in their own right but these relatively tiny countries, as I was about to find out offer something unique and very special.
There is only one main road through Guyana and so the main mode of transport is by small plane. We flew over the Demerera river and Amazon jungle as far as the eye can see to get to Kaieteur falls in the south west of the country. When we arrived there was one other plane with another group, we set off at a pace to walk to the falls hoping to see the famous Cock of the Rock but were unlucky this time. However the walk itself was a delight. We searched for the endemic tiny Golden Frog that spends its entire life in a giant bromeliad that can grow to over 6ft tall. We found several and would have spent longer photographing them if it weren’t for the fact we came across some angry wasps which chased us off.
After walking for an hour or so through huge leafed trees and passed gigantic vine covered boulders we reached the first view point. We were a jolly group and well-travelled so understood that when it comes to nature and weather nothing is ever guaranteed. However when all we saw was mist there was an air of disappointment and the very early start now suddenly seemed to weigh heavy on us. Patience paid off though and slowly, magically the low cloud lifted. Showing only fuzzy glimpses at first, we were eventually rewarded with a view which can only be described by that overused phrase in travel; “jaw-dropping”. There had been a lot of rain in the preceding days so there was a large volume of water thundering down over what is the world’s largest drop waterfall. It is 100 meters wide with a straight drop of 228 meters. No cafés or souvenir sellers here, just one great big waterfall and pristine rainforest. White-chinned and White-tipped Swifts swoop down gracefully and at sunset come in their thousands. Added to the beauty of the waterfall and surrounding area is the feeling of isolation and having it all to yourself which came to characterise many of our experiences in Guyana. Towns, cities, cars and daily worries become a distant memory when you are privileged enough to be standing in a place like this.
After taking countless photographs we continued to the next view point, no so much a view point really as the actual edge of the waterfall itself. Standing at the top of Kaieteur Falls the view down the valley into the wilderness beyond is inviting to anyone with a sense of adventure. It’s possible to hike to the falls along this valley and a team had recently done just that. We didn’t have the luxury of time but one day I’ll be back. For now though it was back to the plane, the pilot took the time to fly passed Kaieteur falls twice before taking us yet deeper into the Amazon rainforest and our next destination; Iwokrama Lodge which lies in the heart of one of four last untouched tropical forests of the world – The Guiana Shield. More Photos