Until now, the most exciting country. I arrived in December and stayed until March. Somebody told me, this country is full of rain and moskitos. Rain until the knees on streets. And endless moskitos. I can not agree in this. Absolutly not. An effect of climate change? Perhaps, guanese people fears this change they can feel actually. Gerorgetown, the capital close to the sea, is lower as sealevel. The dewatering installations are not well managed any more. But it seems, the importance of mangroves are understood and they are protected and replanted belong the coastline.
But I slept all the nights with open hatches and door. The nights on the river are the most beautiful nights. Sometimes you can listen music from one of the resorts or small private houses belong the river. Often the houses have lights in the night and you can see this single lights from far belong the riverbank with the dark jungle beside. Frogs are croaking and you can listen other animals from the rainforest. In the morning you will awake from one of the more than 400 different kinds of birds you can find here in Guyana.
If you arrive, you need to made declareing procedure in Bartica. Bartica is round about 40 miles upriver the Essquibo river, the third largest in South America. There is still 2 to 3 meter tide and the river is only some miles more possible to ship. Waterfalls are close, better to watch them by a guided tour. It is easy to see, here the rainforest starts to climb the mountains. But all the land behind us was flat and often very wet.
For me as an Euopean this country with a population of round about 700.000 citizens on 70% of the German land area, is less of people per square kilometer. It seems everyone knows everyone. Or knows somebody who knows…..
So be careful with all you are doing and what you say. The bush drums are quickly and sailing boats are so seldom to see, that you can find people in town never you saw them before, but they know, you are from the sailing boat.
The people are wonderful friendly and helpful. Never I felt such a warmly welcome. But understand them, they need to make money and the prices for a lot of goods are high. The most must be imported. So Guyana is not a cheap country.
Going with all guests to Immigration first and than upstairs to customs is easy and quickly done. Best you should do this in shorts. As I was for other reasons in Georgetown immigration with my gentle captain shorts, they ordered me to change before entering the office. Luckily I was prepared with a long leg jeans in my backpack. Don`t wonder, if you will enter an office with three officers, watching TV and reading newspapers. Even it is not lunchtime, some special people don`t need to work a lot. It seems. But can we really decide? Have a look at the furniture, the office where they need to work. When they go their last salary? And how much? Anyway, I feel unable to decide, but never I met ungentle or arrogant people there. Be kind and patient and talk free and honest with them. It is not a problem to get a stamp with the number of visiting days you like to stay in accordance of the visa regualtions. Also it is not a problem to fly out of the country from Georgetown if you have a stamp from Bartica immigration in your passport. The immigration and customs are using computers and laptops, but how strictly the connections between the different border stations are, I could`nt find out.
As we arrived in the morning, we saw the lot of piles from far first. Piles where fishermen installed their nets between. Some of them obviously was`nt in use any more, some was in use. They are standing around, from far it seems, there is no way through, but coming closer and closer you can identify the groups of piles and the way around. Of course, the piles are there where the depth is low. Stay as far as possible and best is to pass this area during high tide. The water is so brown, only the sounder and the plotter helps you. I used the free doyle charts http://www.doyleguides.com/files/guyana%202012.pdf and was lucky with them. I did`nt found any difficulties or non true descriptions. Sometimes I am wondering for example, where to anchoring in front of the Fort Island stalling. But perhaps it is because of the never ending modification of sandbanks and islands this large river is creating. Also some as submerged noted sandbanks became green on top by plants in the meanwhile.
Anyway, with a good anchor and a lot of chain we had a quiete night in the middle of the delta. Also more upriver at south side, it is possible to find a good anchorage for a night in front of a timber sawmill. Be careful and use a tripline there. Never you can be sure about the ground. A lot of shipwrecks and timber is stored belong the river and the bays and stones in different sizes are reported. Some wrecks are more or less occupied by the forest again, but I am sure you know from other harbours, ships which are registered in Georgetown, mostly are very rusty and not in good conditions. And here you are in their hometown.
If you see a crew and ask, it seems it is also possible to moore beside a tug boat or an other workingboat. Which is anchoring on their own stalling.
Run an anchoring light and let enough space for the speed taxi boats and the other supplying ships which travelling up and down night and day. Never be sure, that other “captains” knows traffic rules or boats running the regulary lights.
In March 2014 Newspapers reported about “pirates” on the Maroni River. The borderline river between Surinam and Guyana. Local fishermen was assaulted, defeated and ordered to damage their own engine after the pirates stolen the fishes and money. It was reported, that local fishermen like to give up their job because of these problems the officials did`nt consider as well.
The tide and the current is moving the anchoring boat a lot and very often during the day. In Bartica area, where the wind comes more from the side, heavy clouds which bringing a lot of rain and wind for some minutes only. So current against tide, against wind and than all together from other direction. See the 1/2 inch stainless steel shackle of my chain hook. All of this changes the surface of the river during the day a lot. Sometimes waves impossible to row with a dinghy, sometimes you can swim like in a pond. By this conditions it is understandable that the most boats here are using two pcs 2-stroke outboard engines, each minimum 150 horsepower.
In Bartica you can find a lot of mining supply shops. You can find typically mining people. Adventures, prospectors, gold dealers with pump guns. But also Chinese shops, selling bicycles and all the typically stuff. But the environment is strange. So don`t expect to find a new bike without rust. Good hardwood is to find, but the most of it, is roughly sawed.
The sad thing is that there is no waste deposit or recycling possibility. All plastic, because CocaCola, Nestle, Maggi, Suchard, Pepsi, Unilever, DuPont and all the other worldwide supplying food and non food industry is here and their packaging waste will be thrown over. Also here, the people like to drive with clean cars, well equipped with radio and loudspeakers. All what cars needs, oil, tires, parts whre it goes after their lifespan? Into the forest, the river, the town. Sometimes the rubbish heaps beside the streets will be burned, but the rainforest and the river can swallow and hide a lot of rubbish. How long? So please consider this before you come and go.
To get fresh water is not easy, except you catch water from rain. Drinking water is best to buy in the typically 5 gallon bottles. A boat trip from Bartica to Parika costs around 15 USD. But you need to wait until the boat is full. A bus from Parika to Georgetown is cheap. Taxi 25 USD for this trip. A taxi inside of Georgetown is safe and cheap and yellow painted. Be careful with the luggage especially you travel with a second or third bag. You need to pay extra for this mostly. USD is accepted from the most cashiers if you can accept to get back Guyana dollar. If you need to spend a night in Georgetown ask Taxi drivers. I prefer the so called “The Little Sleep In” for around 40 USD in 2014 include breakfast and it is in the middle of the town.
Thanks to Gem Madhoo-Nascimento and Kit Nascimento you are able to find magazines and further literature include street maps of Georgetown and Bartica. Visit www.exploreguyana.org and www.guyana-tourism.com or contact them directly. Search by google their resort Hurakabra and enjoy the lot of nature resources you can visit. Birdwatching, fishing, visit a waterfall or a mountain, do a jungle training, or a jungle walk, try to eat termites or living worms. One of the most important export products are plantparts for medical using and the locals knows a lot about how to prepare and how to use.
What you will miss in Guyana are spare parts for your boat or your equipment. A flat piece of rubber or leather for a sealing is not a problem. But a spark plug, Sika or Epoxi glue you will not find. A simple rope or a steel screw is also possible, but not a stainless steel screw a prop or a part for a Yanmar or Volvo engine.