June 25, 2017

Venturing into the ‘heart of Guyana’

By Ashraf Dabie

Bikers on the Safari

Many of us are unaware of the adventures that lie just beyond our backyards. However, with the establishment of the Pakaraima Mountain Safari, both Guyanese and tourists from abroad are given the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Guyana.

The Safari is the ideal outdoors adventure where you can explore Guyana’s mountainous regions, while learning about the rich culture of indigenous communities.

The Pakaraima Mountains are said to have some of the most breath-taking views of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana).

Several years ago, roads linking the villages of Region Eight – from Maikwauk to Monkey Mountain all the way to Karasabai leading into Yurong Paru in Region Nine – never existed. As such, the villages of the Pakaraimas were land locked and only accessible by air. This posed tremendous difficulty for the indigenous people from the Patamona and Makushi nations to traverse in these areas. However, the construction of an access trail led to the villages of the Pakaraimas opening their doors to welcome the inaugural Pakaraima Mountain Safari in 2003.

A few of the vehicles that were part of the Safari’s delegation

On March 22, 2003, a Safari consisting of four Land Rovers, two tractors and several trailers of passengers set off on a historic journey from Karasabai to Orinduik. The two-and-a-half-day journey was led by Harripersaud Nokta, the then Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, accompanied by a number of fellow Government officials, as well as the Commander of the Lethem and Karasabai Police Stations and 21 other persons.  That historic journey is the birth of what is now known as the highly anticipated Pakaraima Mountain Safari.

This annual event takes explorers literally into the heart of Guyana as the route begins in Georgetown and ends at Orinduik Falls, which lies at the foot of the Pakaraima Mountain Range bordering Guyana and Brazil. The route allows adventurers to travel through the pristine forests of Guyana, over majestic mountains and hills inhabited by a diversity of wildlife and indigenous nations.

Exploring scenic landscape is one of the exciting features of the Safari

The off-road expedition offers an understanding and appreciation for the bond between man and nature, so much so that one may wish to continue on this venture forever. Stops along the route allow for adequate time to bask in the beauty of Guyana or even wash off the weight of the world under the many waterfalls scattered along the journey. Sleeping under a vast blanket of stars and being lulled by the sounds of the forest are some of the unforgettable experiences on this trip. The “adventure of a lifetime”allows for indulging in indigenous cuisine, exchange of cultures and learning a new way of life.

After 15 years of embarking on this life-changing adventure, the Safari continues to grow with a promise of new experiences year after year.

Refreshing baths at cascading waterfalls are enjoyed on the journey

Departed from Georgetown on April 8 and joining along the way 30 vehicles and 40 motorcycles, this year’s Safari had the largest delegation. The expedition, which lasted for nine days, concluded on April 16.

The highlights of the trip included visits to 14 indigenous communities, stops at several waterfalls and participating in the Rupununi Rodeo.

The Pakaraima Mountain Safari is organised by its established club as well as the Rainforest Tours in collaboration with Guyana Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Communities and the Administration of Regions Eight and Nine.

Rugged terrain

This annual event, generally occurring around Easter, encourages the promotion and growth of tourism in Guyana by creating an adventurous experience. It attracts scores of foreign explorers and nature lovers. It also encourages the development of indigenous communities as participants are obligated to make donations and support the entrepreneurial ventures of the families in those communities. More importantly, the Safari presents the ideal opportunity for Guyanese to acquaint themselves and fall in love with the natural beauty and wonders that exist beyond the country’s coastlines.