– inhaling the essence of Guyana and its indigenous communities
Leaving the capital city asleep on a cool tropical night, 25 vehicles ventured off on their nine-day 529-mile journey at the end of March to begin Guyana’s 10th Annual Pakaraima Mountain Safari. Travelling on paved roadways as far as Linden, the convoy wended its way to the Kurupukari crossing and the dirt roads and trails that lead to the foot of the Pakaraima Mountain Range.
The participants had responded to the lure of exploring the country’s beautiful and awe inspiring hinterland through this safari which has never failed to instill the spirit of adventure in those who have been bold enough to partake.
For the courageous, the opportunity was again grasped when they left Georgetown, destined for the trip through rough, rugged terrain, where nature is displayed in all its glory, where fresh untouched settings against the backdrop of undulating mountains form beautiful scenes that take their viewers’ breath away.
This safari’s convoy explored 14 Amerindian communities during the trip, partaking of the taste of the distinct, rich flavour of the indigenous people and their culture.
Various stopping points along the way for the safarians enabled them to take in and enjoy the freshness of nature’s beauty; the river crossings, hills, mountains, and the beautiful geological features of the Pakaraima Mountain range.
The first of five overnight stops on the way to Orinduik was at Karasabai, where there was a memorial service for the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Other overnight stops included Moraibaiko, Monkey Mountain, Kato, and Orinduik Falls, the turnaround point.
Organised by the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority in collaboration with Rainforest Tours, Regions Eight and Nine and the Ministry of Local Government, the safari was sponsored by GUYOIL/CASTROL, Digicel Guyana, Geddes Grant, M & M and MMC.
Although the Tenth Pakaraima Safari was organised during the driest time of the year in Regions 8 and 9, unlike last year, there were still instances where vehicles got stuck and had to be winched out of trails.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, a regular participant began the journey, 24 hours behind the main convoy.
At 58 Miles he chatted with members of the community before moving on to Mabura Hill. Thereafter, he interacted with residents in the surrounding community.
Visits to the Police Station and the Customs House were also made before the convoy fuelled up at the Mabura Sawmill whilst the PM chatted with the owner and other elders and prominent persons in the area before visiting Kurupukari.
A stop at the Iwokrama Field Station and a visit to Fairview Village where Guyana’s historic Memorandum of Understanding with Norway for compensation for its forest services was signed, enabled the PM and his team to gain some extra knowledge about reforestation using the Kabukalli trees.
A stop was made to Guyana’s first indigenously-operated eco-lodge at Surama, which was a joint winner of the 2011 Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award along with Barbados’ Harrison’s Cave. Rest and refreshment at the eco-lodge was followed by interaction with residents and a visit to the Surama airstrip before heading to Annai.
The Prime Minister’s convoy also made stops at Tiperu and Rukumoto for some interaction with the communities there.
On the way to Monkey Mountain, there was a stop at Yurong Paru where PM visited with residents before moving on to the Ichilibar River to take in the view so lacking in the city.
At Monkey Mountain, the convoy caught up with the Safari convoy and participants who gave positive accounts of their trip.
The safarians journeyed on to destination’s end, the beautiful, Orinduik Falls. A beautiful day under the falls, cooking in the open air, the music of the waterfalls lulling them to sleep under the stars and the safarians were content as the 2012 leg of the event came to an end.
Before they made their way back to the city, many pledged to return next year, and just maybe, bring new faces with them.