If you’re looking for one of the top destinations in South America for an adventure holiday, then Guyana is the place for you. Guyana is a country jam-packed with towering mountains, lush rainforest, dry savannah, and rushing rivers. The fact that 85% of the country is covered in forest tells you that this country really is untouched and boy are there a lot of unique things to do in Guyana.
Let’s get this out of the way, Guyana is not an easy place to explore. If you want to get away from the capital city of Georgetown on the coast, you’re going to have to work for it. There’s no escaping that if you want to go a place that few tourists have visited, you’re going to have to hike, climb, drive, swim and paddle your way around.
Let’s get into the top adventure activities to do in Guyana, how to get there, and what you need when you’re there.
Unique Things To Do in Guyana
This is a great one to start with because once you’re away from the coast, off-roading isn’t just an activity, but also how you get around. You’ll see locals driving ATVs around as their main form of transportation and it’s by far one of the most adventurous things to do in Guyana.
Even if you’re only using an ATV to get from point A to point B, nobody will dispute that it’s crazy amounts of fun. Most of the roads are dirt, and during the rainy season, new roads are created to go around flooded roads. If you’re there in the dry season this means that you’ll often have a few roads running parallel to each other, so small detours are not just possible but encouraged.
If you think that an ATV is a little too dangerous for you, there is also the option of big 4×4 jeeps. These things can handle all bumps and bounces, and I can tell you that driving them full speed through rivers and creeks is a hell of a lot of fun.
The trucks are all manual, as an automatic gearbox just wouldn’t give you enough power or control, so make sure you’re comfortable with changing gears before you go.
Being so far away from civilisation, there’s a good chance that you’re going to run into some wildlife. Apart from the standard creepy-crawlies that you’ll definitely see, you could be lucky and run into a giant anteater. This guy was surprisingly fast!
Camp out in a hammock
The advantage of the huge amount of forest cover in Guyana means that finding two trees to pitch up a hammock between is pretty easy. After a long day’s driving, we pulled up to a cluster of trees near a creek and tied up our hammocks.
The hammocks we used were Hennessy Jungle hammocks with mosquito net built in. These literally take 5 minutes to set up, and once you’re in the view of the stars above you is stunning. I had a blanket in the hammock with me but I used it mainly as a pillow as Guyana is pretty sweaty, even at night!
Learn to be a Cowboy
If you want a really tough workout, go to a ranch in the Rupununi and try doing a normal day’s work with the Vaqueros, or cowboys as we know them. Every so often they have to round up the herd into the corral, brand the calves, and even castrate the bulls.
On the ranch, there’s no place to hide. You’ll be given a quick demonstration on how to lasso a cow, and then you’ll have to fend for yourself in the madness of the corral. You will be working alongside the Vaqueros and be expected to help hold down the calves for branding once you’ve lassoed them.
If you’re wondering about the ethics of branding and of allowing tourists to be involved, have a read of this article about why they still brand cows.
Horse riding in the Rupununi Savannah
Saddle Mountain Ranch isn’t a one trick pony by any means. If you’re not into corralling cattle, you might prefer to get on horseback and ride into the wilds of Guyana. Even for beginner horseriders like myself, the feeling of being on a horse, flying through the long yellow grass is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
I enjoyed the whole experience so much that I wrote a whole separate article on the ride, what to expect and some tips if it’s your first time.
Kayak down piranha-infested rivers
Going down a river with piranhas in it mightn’t sound like a great idea, but it’s actually pretty relaxing. It did worry us a little that our kayaks were inflatable, and that piranhas have famously sharp teeth.
This didn’t stop us from jumping into the Takatu river before starting off on our paddle to cool off though. The river forms the natural border between Guyana and Brazil, so after paddling for a while, we pulled up on the banks of Brazil, which was pretty cool.
You can do multi-day paddling expeditions deep into the rainforest, which is the best way to see the insane wildlife in Guyana. With the kayaks only being powered by you, there’s no engine noise to compete with so have the chance to see animals like giant otters, jaguars, piranhas, Capibaras, and if you’re lucky, the elusive Cock of the Rock bird.
Visit Kaieteur Falls
This is maybe the most iconic landmark in Guyana. These falls are truly impressive, and the sheer volume of water falling over the edge simply has to be seen to be believed. They stand four times higher than Niagra falls and are only accessible by landing on the tiny airstrip right beside the falls.
For the really adventurous among you, with the correct permission and equipment, you can abseil down the falls and climb back up. This obviously takes a pretty high skill level and a pretty bespoke tour company, but it’s possible.
If you’re just going to visit the falls and not put your life in the hands of some ropes and carabiners, you can have a look at this post about the journey to the falls, what to expect, and the costs involved.
Book your own adventure
There are several tour operators in Guyana, but we were with Bushmasters, who were one of the best adventure companies I’ve ever worked with. The guys Ian and Lionel gave us enough information to make sure we were safe, but also let us make our own mistakes. They brought us to places we would never have found by ourselves and made sure we respected the environment we were in.
Have a look at some of the insane tours they’re running in Guyana in the next while here.