Enjoying Guyana

June 2014: If you are thinking of stopping off at Guyana, either on your way up from Brazil or as your destination after crossing the Atlantic, we would like to share our experiences of staying in Guyana. We came for 3 weeks and stayed nearly 2 months.

Published 9 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Mr DeSilva and our son Alex: © Dreamtime Wanderer

We arrived in March at the beginning of spring. The weather was comfortable but the trades blew nearly every day and the Essequibo River is exposed nearly all the way until you get well up towards Bartica. The anchorage at Roeden Rust has some protection, but there were occasions where the wind can touch 20-25 knots and the incoming Spring tide can reach 6 knots. A good anchor with plenty of chain is important, we are a 47ft yacht and we generally let out our 33kg Rocnor with a 5m snubber and 45m of 10mm chain. The bottom does hold well in sticky mud.

Come May onwards the winds lessen and then the river can be quite a marvellous place to anchor, we enjoyed some magical days and nights there.

The Waypoints in Doyles Guidebook or on his website are excellent and work all the way to Bartica if needed. We experienced only one hiccup when approaching Parika, the sandbank has moved outwards a little. When we left Roeden Rust we moved Waypoint ???? out into the river more and thereafter had no concerns.

Checking into Guyana

FIRSTLY you do NOT have to go all the way up to Bartica to check in. Certain parties based near Bartica have a vested interest in getting yachtsmen to check in at Bartica then use their facilities for anchoring (at a price). You can check in at Parika, just down from the mouth of the River. We have been also told that you can check in at Charity and the Pomeroon river is deep enough for large boats to enter.

To check in at Parika we would suggest you proceed to Roeden Rust. Anchor at least 150m off the end of the pier in around 8m of water at high tide. A combination of up to 4m of tide and your chain swing can put you onto the edge of the mud bank that lies roughly parallel to the shore. It happened to us once on a Spring tide when we watched the depth sink rapidly to 1.9m, fortunately it is a soft muddy bottom and we just made a keel-sized hole.

When you go ashore, take with you your crew and crew passports with you, Yacht registration details and possibly boat insurance papers. They ask for previous port but don’t seem bothered with any previous crew lists. Also bring with you any backpacks you might need to carry shopping, any mobile phones you want to use with a local SIM card. The Scotia Bank takes VISA, Mastercard and other Debit Cards.

When coming ashore in your dinghy tie off to the top of the stairs and give yourself at least 4-5m of free line. At low tide the water is below the first step, on a high tide it can be almost washing the floor of the pier. If you don’t you may have to dive to untie your line…

We have left an envelope with Mr Da Silva containing $500 in Guyanese dollars (about $US2.50), this will get 5 persons into Parika to the Immigration and Customs Offices and the Scotia Bank. If you need more, Mr Da Silva can change US or Euros.

Getting into Town

To go into town walk to the end of the driveway and wait for either a hire cab or a mini-bus taxi. You are heading Left towards Parika. Hire cabs have registration plates starting with H, private cars with P. However sometimes locals turn taxi… The current fare to Parika is $GUY 100 per person. The taxi will drop you off at the main crossroads. Turn right here and walk about 200m to the Scotia Bank, currently this is the only bank in town that will take international debit cards and give you Guyanese dollars. You can draw up to $GUY 30,000 at a time {about $US140} but if you need more you can draw multiples of $GUY 30,000.

You can now retrace your steps to the crossroads then straight on towards the Stelling {pier}. The Police Station and Immigration Dept are on your left just before you reach the Stelling. Fill in the white forms, ask if you can have 3 months entry because you want to explore the country. It is easier to get 3 months now than have to go to Georgetown to renew after 1 month. Immigration are lovely people, very helpful and friendly. They will then direct you to Customs where you will be asked to fill in a long form and part with $GUY 2500. This form is also your exit document, when you get a chance have a photocopy made as they will want one when you return to sign out. There is a good photocopy service (also WiFi and internet) at Wrights Cafe on the left after the Scotia Bank.


OK, officialdom now over you may want to get a local SIM, some groceries, some fruit and vegetables. Walk back to the crossroads. On your left 50m down on the right is Digicel {closed Wednesdays}. The girls here are friendly. You pay for the SIM, then you have a choice of SIM phone only or SIM plus internet. Note that these sims will not work in a USB dongle plugged into a computer. Internet is weekly , monthly or longer. You get 50mb a day, unlimited after midnight to 6am. Give them your phone, they will program the service and set it up for you. BEWARE!! Digicel count any download as part of your allowance, even if their server crashes part way through. After your 50mb is up it is coming out of your prepaid airtime at $1 a Kb. We found Facebook a particularly bad offender, the little wheel turns around but nothing is coming down until you see a small message saying NoCredit as part of the web address. Do bigger downloads / uploads after midnight. Skype and Viber are not possible, the service is too slow. If you have an iPhone, they do not always have the small SIMS in stock, we carried a SIM cutter on board.


Opposite Digicel is one of the licenced sellers of alcohol. DO NOT buy here, this shop always charges tourists 200-300 $ more than he would charge the locals. Guyana produces some of the best rums in the world, in particular Diamond Distilleries El Dorado rum. The large plastic 1.75l bottle of 5 Year old rum is excellent value, you can buy it in the supermarket 2 doors down from Digicel at $GUY 2400 a bottle. You can pay more for their premium labels but the flavour of the 5 yr old was excellent and there were no headaches the next day.

This supermarket is also good value for general goods, cans, washing powder etc. There is another on the other side of the crossroads on the way out on the left, more up-market and greater choice. Prices at both are shown on the shelves and fixed.

For fruit and veg within the town there are no outstanding vendors. The lady on the stall about 5th down from the crossroads walking towards the bank has been consistent, most of the others look at you and quote $50-100 extra, then pass off what is not always their best quality. ON SATURDAY nights right through to Sunday midday however there is an excellent market on the left side of the road out of town. Huge choice, excellent quality. Walk up and down a few times to get an idea of who has what, prices, quality etc. It is great fun just to explore the sights, colours and smells.

Getting back to Roeden Rust {also called Silva Beach}.

In the daytime up to about 5 pm stand outside the supermarket {opposite the barbers, we can recommend LEROY as a good barber and also a great guy for helping out with taxis etc} and look for a minibus taxi to turn up, $100 each to return. If no minibus then look for a taxi. They will start with quoting you $1000, the going rate for locals is $500. If you share a taxi with other people you only pay $100 each. At night you will generally pay $1000 a cab as they are unlikely to get a return fare so you are paying for both ways.

To go into Georgetown you catch a minibus outside the petrol station, or rather they will capture you. There is much shouting and jostling for your custom. The rate is $500 per person. Music is free, as is banter, crowding and the experience of doing Formula 1 in a shoebox. Sometimes the journey seems to last forever, sometimes your fellow passengers make it great fun.

If you want you can catch a minibus to the Stelling at Vreed-en-Hoop instead, the fare is $300 then catch a river ferry {$100} across into the centre of the Staerbrook market. A pleasant, quicker and more interesting journey. Note however that it is not always easy to return this way, in the late afternoons it is difficult to find a mini-taxi from Vreed-en-Hoop back to Parika. It is easier to get a taxi from Georgetown all the way to



There are a few really interesting places in Georgetown.

Staerbrook Market is a warren of sights and smells, have a look!

We visited Bourda Cricket Ground as the guest of a member, was great to sit and look out, surrounded by cricket memories of the last 50 years.

The Guyanan National Museum was old-fashioned but interesting, especially the Giant Sloth display.

Further down Main Street is the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology. It is well set out, the powerpoint display smooth and informative and there is actually a choice of crafts and books for sale.

If you like Zoos, the one in Georgetown is just holding onto existence. It does give you a chance to see animals and birds you would otherwise only see in deeper jungle areas.

If you want a sophisticated European style of cafe, including wi-fi, the Oasis Cafe on Carmichael Street, not far from the Walter Roth Museum, has excellent food, real coffee and at times some very good looking people. Delicious hamburgers on Thursdays and Fridays.

If you want a high quality meal in good surroundings the Princess Hotel is worth the trouble, a meal for 8 people set us back $US90 including beers.

What to do in this area?

The Parika market on Sunday morning is well worth the trouble.

Taking a high-speed boat from Parika to Supenaam {$1300} is quite exciting when the wind is up and gives you a chance to get a taxi on to Charity, on the Pomeroon River. You can choose various activities once you reach Charity, just do your research and plan ahead. It is possible to go up-river and stay in some of the Amerindian villages.


To go up to Bartica, you can catch a high speed ferry from Parika. You can also sail your own yacht and the Doyles waypoints will get you there albeit a bit nerve-wracking at times.

Note that both the C-Map and Navionics charts {iPad} are out by 50-100m and when using the Doyles they often put you on land. Do not trust these electronic charts for depth or position.

We returned from Bartica using the services of a pilot, Malcolm. It cost $US50 plus his return boat fare and was well worth it. We ended up with a good friend who aided us in many other ways and was a continuing source of information. He can be contacted on {592} 6709575.

When anchoring at Bartica we found a reasonable position about 300m upriver from the main Stelling and 100m out, there is a small shed on the shore where locals leave their water taxis and tenders tied up. They will look after your tender for around $200 a day, well worth it.

We used the services of a local guide, Balkarran, to take us up the Mazaruni River to the Marshall Rapids and Falls. He charges $US250 a day which includes boat and fuel {large twin outboards, at least 1 1⁄2 hrs each way}, but it also means you can fill it up with 10 people if you can find them and it costs the same. For us it was a great day out, take your bathers, towels and your own picnic lunch. He can be contacted on {592} 455 2544 or cell 621 0469.

We did not go to any of the resorts in the Bartica area. Hurakabra and Baganara do not provide any “drop-in” food services, you have to give notice and they are geared up for parties, not twos or threes.

To anchor in the river is free and it is not necessary to pay for anchorage. If you want to go the Kaieteur Falls have a look at adverts in the local Georgetown newspapers for some great deals.

This is not a detailed guide, apart from the Doyles we had with us the Bradt guide “Guyana” by Kirk Smock, which was really detailed and good value. If we had had more time we would have visited the interior {BUT take anti-malarials before you leave or risk serious consequences} and also flown down to the Rupununi for three or four days.

Above all, talk to everyone you meet. The Guyanese are welcoming and friendly. The fresh fruits and vegetables are absolutely brimming with health and goodness.

We came for 3 weeks and stayed nearly 2 months.

Great sailing from Graeme, Camille & Alexander, SY Dreamtime Wanderer.

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