November 23, 2017

Hiking to the ‘Sleeping Giant’

The Kanuku Mountains are located in the heart of the Rupununi Savannahs in south-western Guyana. The mountains are divided by the Rupununi River into western and eastern ranges. It is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Guyana with habitats ranging from savannah, gallery forests and semi-deciduous forests in the lowlands.
One of the most notable features of the Kanuku mountain range is the ‘Sleeping Giant’ – a peak found on the range. Hikers describe the ‘Sleeping Giant’ height to be “almost 3,000ft”. Despite numerous challenges on the hike to ‘Sleeping Giant’, according to hikers, the views from the peak made them forget all their bruises and bites.
The peak’s unforgettable vistas include streams, creeks, waterfalls, beautiful flowers, “strange” trees, unique insects and a landscape view of beautiful Guyana. (Photos by Ronald Nandlall)

Breathtaking view from ‘Sleeping Giant’

Cascading waterfall along the hike up the mountain

Hammock camp on the peak

Refreshing stream of water flowing down the mountain

Stunning view of the Kanuku

Scenic Kopinang

With some of the tallest Pakaraima peaks in the distance, mountain streams, waterfalls, vast savannah land and pristine rainforests, Kopinang is a bucket list adventure.
Described as “one of the most beautiful villages in Guyana”, Kopinang, located in the North Pakaraimas (Potaro/Siparuni), is home of the indigenous nation, the Patamona.
Wokumung/Kopinang Mountain takes up most of the background of Kopinang Mission – some of the highest peaks in Guyana, some reaching up to 6,000ft. They make up part of the North Pakaraimas in the Potaro region. The entire area is scenic and is well-kept by the community.

Aerial view of a section of the village (Photo from The Beauty of Kopinang page on Facebook)

Another of Kopinang’s many waterfalls (Photo from The Beauty of Kopinang page on Facebook)

Breathtaking scene in Kopinang (Photo from The Beauty of Kopinang page on Facebook)

Kopinang Primary School

Picturesque waterfall in Kopinang (Photo by James Deeges‏)

Pit stop in Kopinang, Liza’s Bar

Potaro’s ancient mountains

Crumpled, ancient Potaro River mountains are a sight to behold when travelling to the Kaieteur National Park to view the magnificent Kaieteur Falls.
These mountains, made of sandstone conglomerate, are part of the Guiana Shield, one of the oldest rock formations in the world, stretching through Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia.
A tributary of the Essequibo River, the source of the Potaro is in the Mount Ayanganna area of the Pakaraima Mountains in the North Rupununi savannahs. (Photos by David Johnstone)

The crystal clear waters of the Potaro river reflects the forested mountain ranges

Potaro river rapids, downstream from Kaieteur Falls (Photo by Cody Hinchliff)

Potaro canyon from Kaieteur Falls (Photo by Allan Hopkins)

Mist descends eerily on the mountains

Magnificent mountains on the Potaro river, Kaieteur National Park

Crumpled, ancient mountains

 

Buffalo Pond

Buffalo Pond, near Karanambu Lodge on the Rupununi River, is accessed via a tiny stream. Hundreds of Victoria amazonica cover almost the entire surface of this small, shallow oxbow lake. The air at the pond is filled with a light, sweet, fragrance of the lilies.

Victoria amazonica at Buffalo Pond (Photo by Rick Wright)

The pond can also be quite busy with several species of heron (capped, striated, boat-billed, black-crowned night-) and egrets (snowy, great, cocoi).
Wood storks, black-collared and great black hawks lurk in the trees at the water’s edge. A few giant river otters can also be seen popping their heads up beside distant lily pads.
Buffalo Pond offers adventures and an idyllic opportunity for birding and fishing enthusiasts to experience nature at its best.

Buffalo Pond is a seasonally flooded pond and nesting ground for water birds and Arapaima near Karamanbu

A cool evening boat ride at Buffalo Pond (Photo by Thomas Wilusz)

Creek leading to the pond (Photo by Andrea and Salvador)

Aerial view of the pond taken by a drone (Photo by Andrea and Salvador)

Carahaa Landing : In the heart of the jungle

Carahaa Landing camp is an exciting ‘hammock camp’ located on the banks of the Burro Burro River, three miles from Surama Eco-Lodge in North Rupununi.

A tent with hammocks at the camp (Photo by Grete Howard on Flickr)

In a large clearing of the dense jungle, there is a large, open benab for hanging hammocks; a smaller adjacent benab has a table and cooking area where food is prepared over an open fire.
It is a basic set-up but the permanent structure provides good shelter for anyone wishing to experience a night camping in the jungle without roughing it too much.
Staying overnight at the camp also allows visitors to experience night walks through the jungle, and late evening and very early morning canoe trips on the river, when the animals and birds are most active. For birding enthusiasts, it is a great location for spotting some of Guyana’s famed birds.
Carahaa Landing offers a great experience in the heart of the jungle. (Information by Kirk Smock.)

A tent with hammocks at the camp (Photo by Grete Howard on Flickr)

Aerial view of Surama airstrip (Photo by Surama Eco-Lodge)

Arriving at the Landing (Photo by jcdl. on Flickr)

Surama Eco-Lodge

A scenic mountain…

by Venessa Low A Chee

The Pakaraima Mountain Inn is a humble bed and breakfast establishment located in the North Rupununi, just outside of the Yakarinta Village in the Aranaputa Valley.
The Inn offers accommodation in forms of hammocks, double rooms or even self-contained rooms in a relaxing environment, along with meals.

Stairs to a heavenly retreat

In an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, Sebastian de Freitas (son of the Inn’s owners) said that the Inn was not intended to be such until recently.
“Charles and Veronica (my parents) had a dream of having a place in the Rupununi. My mom, since she is from the village of Yakarinta, had been looking at that spot [where the Inn is now located] since she was a little girl. They [parents] started building a little more than 12 years ago, the main building which is the front house. While building the front house in the savannah, my father had noticed terraces on the mountain side. This seemed to be ideal to put a house there because of the gentle slope and the amazing view.
“So while the lower house was being built, and as time went by, the plans for the mountain-side house were being consolidated. Many changes and arguments and debates about designs and concepts happened during the planning and execution of construction,” Sebastian explained.

External view of one of the bedrooms

Stairs to a heavenly retreat

He added that after many years of slowly building and friends visiting to see the progress, they were encouraged to share the breath-taking sceneries at the location with others. This was when the idea of having a bed and breakfast “began to boil”. As time went by, the family came up with a name and plans of what to offer guests when they visit.
“This year is the first year we actually decided to give it a good shot with regards to marketing and hospitality, even though we have had some dear friends and visitors in the years before. Since we are still ‘green’ to the whole tourism operation, we offer few but fun activities for now. As time goes by, there are plans for nicer treats and activities for guests. But for now, we offer scenic road and river tours, birding, mountain-climbing and trips to other lodges and inns around the area so that the guests enjoy the amazing experiences those places have to offer. We would like to think that, for now, we function as a place to go to relax and unwind with great food and a family-like experience,” he declared.
For more information, visit Pakaraima Mountain Inn on Facebook.

Life at Orinduik

Aerial view of houses in the vicinity of the Falls (Yogendra Callender photo)

Imagine being lulled to sleep by the cascading waters of Orinduik Falls, and then waking up to such a magnificent sight. Well, for the residents living in the vicinity of the Falls, every day is a ‘getaway’.

Orinduik is located on the Ireng River in the Potaro-Siparuni Region (Region Eight) of Guyana.

Sunday Times Magazine visited the natural wonder and interviewed Rachel Abraham, a 36-year-old mother of six (the eldest being 17 years old) who spoke about living at Orinduik.

She revealed that the few families living at the Falls farm, fish, and sell crafts/cassareep to visitors.

Tourists’ meeting point before embarking on an exciting tour of the Falls

“When we have to get goods/supplies, we walk to Brazil, which takes two days to get there and two days to return home. We make this trip about every three months. I grew up at Orinduik, but would now venture to nearby village, Kamana, to take my children to school. When school reopens we stay in Kamana, but when it is closes for the holidays we come back to Orinduik. Life at Orinduik is amazing, although it gets boring sometimes. We swim and mostly stay indoors. I enjoy being here because when I go to other villages they do not have water and we have so much here. I will continue to live here for as long as I can,” she declared.

Facts on Orinduik

Residents relaxing under a tree near Orinduik Falls

Orinduik is at a point where the Ireng River thunders over steps and terraces of red jasper, at the border of Guyana and Brazil, before merging with the Takutu River and into Brazil to join the Amazon River. Although jasper comes in many colours, including yellow, green and greyish blue, at Orinduik, the rocks are red.

The Orinduik Falls is a wide, multi-tiered series of cascades, which makes it an ideal waterfall for swimming, unlike many others. The name of the falls, Orinduik, is derived from the Amerindian (Patamona) word, Orin, which is the name given to an aquatic plant found in these falls. The Orinduik Falls in all its glory is approximately 25m tall and more than 150m wide.

The Falls was discovered by C. Barrington Brown, who also discovered Kaieteur and Kuribrong Falls. There are frequent flights from the Eugene F. Correia International Airport (Ogle Airport), and most tours to Orinduik are combined with a trip to the Kaieteur Falls.

Rachel Abraham and her baby

The Ireng River (or Maú River) forms part of Guyana’s western border with Brazil. It flows through the valleys of the Pakaraima Mountains for most of its length. It is the only major river in Guyana that flows from North to South, and it is one of the northernmost tributaries of the Amazon River system.

The larger part of the Ireng River basin forms the frontier between Brazil and Guyana. The Ireng’s main branches are the Uailan and Canã rivers on Brazil side and the Cacó, Dacã and Socobi rivers on the Guyana side.

Orinduik is sheltered by the hills of the magnificent Pakaraima Mountains.

Thanks to the airstrip next to the Falls, visitors get a chance to experience Orinduik, which has become a popular tourist destination, meet the residents, listen to their stories and learn about their way of life.

Pay a visit to the Falls and be sure to greet the residents and support them by purchasing the delicious cassareep, and skilfully made artistic crafts.

Breathtaking view of a section of the Falls (Yogendra Callender photo)

Parabara

Parabara is a small indigenous community located in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), along the scenic Kuyuwini River. The village was founded in 1969 and was occupied by six households. Now, the village is populated by persons who have migrated from different communities, amounting to about 23 households. The residents’ first language is Wai-Wai; second, Wapishana; and third, English.

Major economic activities in this quiet and scenic village are farming, fishing and hunting.

A primary school, ‘health hut’, church, ‘rest house’ and village office are Parabara’s main buildings. (Village information from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs website, http://moipa.gov.gy. Photos from http://mykenlara-guyana.blogspot.com)

Loaded canoe arrives at Parabara landing on the Kuyuwini River

A section of the village

Canoe moored at Parabara landing

The village is rich in flora, like this large canopy liana also called a ‘Bush Rope’ tree

Scenic mountain and savannah on the way to Parabara

For love of country

Alex Arjoon is a patriot on a mission to showcase the beauty of Guyana and promote a ‘green’ economy

Alex capturing the beauty of Guyana’s interior

Founded in March 2017, Reel Guyana, founded by Alex Arjoon, core business is primarily the acquisition of high quality raw video footage of the natural environment and rich culture throughout the length and breadth of Guyana. This footage will be available to the national, regional and international markets.

In an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, the 24-year-old talks about what he hopes to accomplish via his company.

Sunday Magazine (SM): What prompted you to start Reel Guyana?

Alex Arjoon (AA): Throughout my childhood, my mom always made sure we were aware of the environment and the consequences our actions have on the environment. This was a frequent life lesson that many Guyanese are just not exposed to. Today, with the implication of the Green State Development Strategy, there are lots of factors that focus on environmental protection. However, Guyanese don’t quite understand these implications or why it’s such an important feature.

Reel Guyana allows them to be exposed to parts of our beautiful landscapes, which not many people have traversed, and shows them what we have and why it should be protected as we continue to develop as a nation.

SM: What do you hope to accomplish via Reel Guyana?

Deep in Guyana’s jungle

AA: I hope to use the company as a platform to voice positive messages to the public; use it to shine a light on the beautiful parts of our culture, which many have taken for granted; and to use it as a means to help solidify the Guyanese identity, which I believe has not yet been fully understood or defined.

SM: How do you overcome challenges?

AA: Every day I face challenges in life, most not being work related.  I think in dealing with any type of adversity in life it’s important to understand what’s important to you. For me, it’s my family. At the end of the day, the world could be falling apart and things can seem helpless, but knowing my family is behind me let’s me know that things are going to be okay.

SM: What’s Reel Guyana’s contribution to the Green State Development Strategy?

AA: I think it definitely touches on many key concepts the Green State Development Strategy has. Obviously, environment is a big one, but we also have done work with education for sustainable development, so that ties in as well.

The company is proud to have been of service to the Ministry of Education with the development of an Education for Sustainable Development series, as its long term goal is to establish itself as a major production house that can effect real change, starting with youths.

SM: What’s your advice for youths who may want to pursue a similar path?

AA: I guess this profession is one where you have to constantly be thinking of concepts with meaningful messages. Sometimes that doesn’t always goes as planned, but it’s really important to collaborate. I believe most people have something to offer, and something that can push me and make me better. You can have all the talent or ability in the world, but without the hunger to keep improving, you’ve automatically set a limit on your potential. I think collaboration and sharing of ideas can essentially be in a number of other aspects, not just video production.

SM: What are your future plans for Reel Guyana?

AA: I just want to be able to make a living doing what I love and knowing that I’m contributing to my country. Nothing surpasses my love for Guyana and Guyanese people, even though things can become difficult here. But more than anything, I want to be an example for people like me who are just trying to find their way in the world. I want to let them know that it’s okay to think outside the box and do or be something that doesn’t conform to what’s traditionally expected. We are such an amazing group of people and need to love ourselves a little more.

Reel Guyana had its launch at the Timehri Environmental Film Festival and would like to thank Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund and Iwokrama for their support.

 

Moco Moco

Breathtaking photo of Moco Moco Falls by Guyanese photographer, Amanda Richards

The trip from Lethem to Moco Moco village is under 30 minutes. As you pass the village, the scene transforms from savannah into rainforest as the trail wanders through the communities favourite farmlands to the Moco Moco Falls at the base of the mountains.

Notably, it is said that most of the areas down and around Lethem seem to have been part of a highly volcanic area a long time ago. There are remnants of lava flows and lava rocks at Moco Moco Falls.

According to one visitor to the Falls, “the water was deep enough to jump off a high rock into it… There was also a really cool Jacuzzi-like area between two huge boulders. The only way to get to it though was to swim against the current through a small channel about the width of a person… a test of our swimming skills”.

Bridge across the Falls (Amanda Richards’ photo)