Submitted by Kadene Buchanan on November 17, 2015
Guyana is an interesting combination of South America and the Caribbean. This beautiful and culturally rich country is the only English speaking country found in South America. Formerly colonized by the British, Guyana gained its independence in 1966. There is a lot to be said about Guyana, but the landscape is one of the country’s most precious gems. Even the economy of Guyana is considered ‘Poor’, the opposite can be said of the ecology. Guyana is filled with picturesque valleys and sprawling rivers that provide a breathtaking view. Approximately 80% of the landscape is covered by forestry, much of which is unspoilt. Guyana is known to be a favourite destination for eco-tourists and we can see why; the natural scenery is nothing short of extraordinary!
Music and Ritual plays a very big part in Guyanese heritage. One favourite instrument is the drum which provides an underlying beat in music for dance, rituals and folklore. Many of these rituals are still practiced in Guyana, like the que-que, Kali Mai Poojay and the cumfa dance. It is believed that Albouystown , located in the Country’s capital, Georgetown, Is where a lot of cultural traditions and folklores are still practiced. Lots of rituals are still practiced in Albouystown and the town is lively with masquerade bands and several cultural dances .
As the country’s ecology and culture is rich, so unique and interesting are the people of Guyana. The country has descendants from India and Africa and so cultures have been combined to form one unique and very Guyanese culture! Although Guyana is considered Anglophone, many of the people speak Guyanaese Creole, which is influenced by English, Dutch and Caribbean Languages.
Weather in Guyana
Guyana has a tropical climate with uniformly high temperature, humidity and regular rainfall. Even though the temperature inland is warm, winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean have been known to cool things down a bit.
The weather can be unpredictable at times however, the country generally experiences a large amount of rainfall in two specific seasons, which are May to July and November to January. February to April and August to November are considered the dry seasons, which ultimately is a good time to travel for the adventure seeker.
Depending on where you are in Guyana, you will experience different weather conditions. On the Coast is very hot and humid. The air can feel very dense and wet. Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, is located on the coast.
When travelling to Guyana it is important to be prepared with sunblock, especially in the dry season! Other good items to pack would be bug spray, a nice hat for shade, sunglasses and loose clothing. It is essential to pack comfortable shoes for the adventure that can be found in Guyana. Be prepared for anything, rain can fall at a moment’s notice, and sometimes a little rain is good as the earth will be cooled and will allow a cooler experience.
Guyanese cuisine is influenced by the people that settled there over the years. These variations in culture came together to create a cultural cuisine that is very unique. In their style of cooking, it is easy to see how the Africans, Indians and Chinese have influenced the Guyanese cuisine. Guyanese use a lot of spices and herbs in their meals. Their meals can be described as flavourful and absolutely delicious. A lot of starch foods can be found in their cuisine, such as yams, cassava, plantains and bananas. On the coastal areas, a lot of persons choose to have fish and this stems from earlier times where most people had a diet of fish. Other meats are included in their diets, but fish is an ultimate favourite.
The national dish in Guyana is pepperpot and the name is true to the flavour as it is a very spicy stew, that includes cassareep, meat and lots and lots of pepper! This can be found in a lot of restaurants and it is a favourite dish for Guyanese families at Christmas time. Meals are usually made with fresh ingredients and that ultimately contributes to the finished culinary delights.
Some popular specialty foods that you must try when visiting Guyana are:
Foo-foo, which are deep fried cakes, made of plantain
Roti and Curry Chicken ( Guyanese Style)
Guyanese style fried rice
Metagee, which is meat of fish, boiled in coconut milk and usually served with starch foods such as yam and cassava. ( A Guyanese favourite!)
Guyanese are known to blend and juice their own beverages from fruits and vegetables readily available to them. Popular drinks are sorrel, which is made from a leafy plant and produces a very flavourful drink. There are many health benefits associated with sorrel. Another favorite is Mauby and this drink is made from the bark of a tree and gives fruity and spicy flavour. The locals will tell you that this drink is a natural Viagra!
Guyanese recipes are easy to create and will definitely and flavour and spice to the dinner table. In their culture, Guyanese usually have 3 heavy meals a day. Whatever they have at breakfast are usually mirrored at lunch time. You will find persons even having pepperpot for breakfast. In between these heavy meals, they have snacks, and snacks can be anything from fried plantain chips served with achar or fresh fruit from a tree. Meal and snack choice are usually very healthy and carefully prepared. They are also mouth-wateringly tasty and very well seasoned.
Popular Spots in Guyana
Guyana is known to be a prime destination for eco-tourists. The natural scenery is breathtaking and it is known to be densely forested. Apart from the beautiful landscape, there are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. Giant otters can be seen at Karanambu and the Bearded Saki Monkey at Arrowpoint.
The most breathtaking spot in Guyana can be found at Kaieteur Falls. This can be considered one of the wonders of Guyana as it offers a feast for eyes. Not only is this sight a beauty to behold, it is a perfect point to observe wildlife.
Some exciting places to visit in Guyana are:
Santa Mission - This is a little Amerindian village that will take you back… literally. A lot of social customs and norms have been preserved over generations. There are also a lot of authentic craft items that have been made by the women in the village. The gift shop is definitely worth a visit.
Iwokrama- This offers the perfect opportunity to observe wildlife without the intrusion of us barging into their home. This forest area can be viewed from the canopy walkway and suspension bridges. It allows you to be able to see the upper and mid canopy areas.
St. George’s Cathedral - This is a very historic sight that people have travelled from far to see…and with good reason. St. Georges is beautiful in architectural structure and is one of the tallest wooden structures in the world.
Promenade Gardens - This jewel can be found in the Country’ capital. The garden is a very relaxing place to be. It’s very cool and the perfect place to have a picnic. It showcases a lot of Guyana’s beautiful flora and has a lot of spiralling walkways; a true beauty to behold.
Walter Roth Museum - Exhibits of the early beginnings in Guyana. This is a good place to visit if you are interested in the Amerindian culture. It’s a well- thought display of culture and anthropology. There are a lot of interesting artifacts that have been preserved over decades.
Thing to Know on Your Trip To Guyana
When travelling to Guyana, it is important to know that Guyanese drive in the left lane. If you intend to use a car rental, you will need to apply for a 30day driving permit. This permit can be obtained at the Inland Revenue Department in Georgetown.
The currency in Guyana dollar fluctuates but currently 1USD converts to about $207.21. The conversion rate is very high, therefore you will be able to make the most of your money in Guyana. Major credit cards such as Visa cards and Master Cards are accepted pretty much everywhere in Guyana. There are also ATMS that you can use to withdraw cash.
For your Health and Safety, it is best to purchase purified bottled water. It is relatively safe to drink the tap water in Guyana, but I highly recommend drinking bottled water. I also recommend, being prepared for changes in the weather. Be prepared for the humidity that you will experience in Guyana, it makes the air feel very damp and heavy. Walking with water and a cool rag will help to alleviate the heat. Also, sunglasses and hats are highly recommended for you eco-adventure in Guyana. Happy travelling!