Guyana Tourism: JEWEL IN THE MOUNTAINS by Dave Martins – Credits Stabroek News

JEWEL IN THE MOUNTAINS

  • by Dave Martins – Credits Stabroek News

    Dave Martins

Partly from her conservation interest and partly from her access to Air Services Limited aircraft, my wife Annette has pretty much been all over Guyana, so when she came home last week raving from a trip to Karasabai, describing it as a standout in our country, I had to pay attention.

Essentially, this is her story, I’m only doing conduit work today, so when I report that the community’s name is derived from the Macushi word ‘krasa” referring to a canister found in one of the lakes in the area, you know that she’s the source of that footnote.       

Image may contain: mountain, sky, tree, plant, outdoor, nature and waterAnnette has taken me to places I had only heard of in our country but never seen and she sums up Karasabai as “the most beautiful part of Guyana”. It is located in the southern end of the Pakaraima Mountain range of mountains, and to get there from Lethem is a two-and-a-half hour drive (there is a daily bus service) and clean and comfortable accommodations are on site at the Government Guest House as well as the Amerindian Hostel, both of which are fully solar-powered. Available tours include a trek up Saddle Back Mountain, which is a very sacred archaeological site in this mountain community.

Apart from being well known by serious birders for being one of the few locations globally, and the only location in Guyana, where the rare sun parakeet (Aratinga Solstitialis) can be found, there are many other unique natural attractions.

Annette recalls: “My most memorable time was an early morning sunrise drive by 4×4 through the savannah which took us to the riverside where we boarded a boat for a tranquil two-hour boat ride on the Ireng River. Meandering through the valley between several magnificent mountains, the Ireng offers stirring vistas both high and low. Flocks of sun parakeets fly overhead and make intermittent stops to feed on the wild fruits, while giant river turtles bask on the pristine sandbanks dotting the riverside. Best of all we were lucky to see the grey river dolphins frolicking near the boat, as well as the much prized rare pink dolphin which is more abundant during the dry season. Away from the river, the more adventurous can hike up several of the mountains or enjoy a savannah excursion by cycle or all-terrain vehicle and visit the beautiful Corona Falls.”

The conservationist lady was also struck by the tours through the lush cassava farms in the area, most of which have their own farine-processing huts, with thatched roofs, leading to a series of cascading waterfalls in the middle of the mountain, ending in a pool deep enough for swimming. According to the local guide, Junior, the waterfall’s name is Meyeah, meaning “never running out of water”.

Even though Karasabai is not yet a well-known tourism destination, what is remarkable is that in this well laid out and clean community the villagers are already aligning their handicraft and tourism infrastructure and taking care to include the motif of the “sun parakeet” which local bird expert Ron Allicock refers to as “a flying jewel”.

“There is a growing conservation consciousness in the village,” said Annette, “and tour guide Junior has started an informal tour-guide training programme targeting the youths in the community who have finished high-school and have a love for the outdoors.” Having benefitted from tour-guide training by the Guyana Tourism Authority, Junior is now passing on the knowledge gained to others in the community. The new Toshao is also a firm believer in eco-tourism and its wider benefits of safeguarding the environment; with his council, and Shurland Davis, the Community Development Officer, efforts are under way to build a strong tourism unit. In this vein, through the support of Conservation International, Karasabai has a brand-new Tourism Development Plan which will be invaluable for donors interested in supporting the community.

Aside from the presently onerous Lethem road, Annette reports that visitors can get to Karasabai using four flights daily from Ogle to Lethem, followed by a daily bus service from Lethem to Karasabai, or a chartered 4×4 vehicle.

Having had my eyes opened to parts of Guyana I had never seen, including Mabaruma and Shell Beach, and, gloriously, Waini River Mouth, my next awakening trip is definitely Karasabai. That is scheduled to happen soon; I will be sure to bring you some more photographs.

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Comments

  • Michael Charles  On September 27, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Fantastic article!

  • Deen  On October 1, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Interesting info and article. I’m jotting Karasabai in my travels todo list!👍👍

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