Georgetown, Guyana

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This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.

Georgetown is the capital of Guyana (pronounced “guy” as in “eye”). Once called the “garden city of the Caribbean,” the country’s commercial center still enjoys a profusion of flowering trees and architecturally resembles a quaint combination of tin-roofed mining town and Victorian elegance—a legacy of its years as a former British colony and in turn the only English-speaking country on the continent. Capturing a bit of that 19th century ambiance, the Cara Lodge is Georgetown’s most popular colonial-style hotel, although it does offer Internet, and its beautiful courtyard doubles as Mango Tree Bar, while its lovely Bottle Bar restaurant is one of the best in town.

Georgetown’s tallest building is St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, one of the world’s tallest freestanding wooden buildings, made entirely of local materials. Another essential capital visit is the 180-acre Botanical Gardens and Zoo, displaying one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora in the Caribbean and sheltering over 100 species of Guyanese wildlife, including jaguar and river otter. And for the experience of shopping in the most bizarre of bazaars, no one should miss spending time at the Stabroek Market, carrying everything from agricultural produce and caged songbirds, to pirated DVDs and gold jewelry.

Visitors to Guyana enjoy the cultural experience of being among a melting pot of people of Amerindian, African, Creole, East Indian, European and Chinese ancestry. But it is the great outdoors in the interior of the country that draws adventurers, eco-minded travelers and most particularly birdwatchers—in the Iwokrama Forest alone, the bird count is 500, including five eagle species. Most frequently, they head out from Georgetown by road/small aircraft/riverboat to the Kaiteur Falls that rival Niagara and Iguassu; lush forests in the north and the wild-west Rupununi savannahs in the southwest. Stay at forest resorts and at remote Amerindian villages and ranches where annual fiestas are celebrated with rodeos.

Facts

  • Best time to go:
    During the dry season, February to May and August to November on the coast; August to May in the interior
  • Fun fact:
    Cricket is the national sport, as befits a member of the British Commonwealth
  • Getting there:
    Delta flies from New York (JFK) to Georgetown
  • Entry documents:
    Valid passport, valid six months from time of entry
  • Currency:
    Guyana dollar
  • Must-try local food:
    Boneless chicken curry paired with a homemade peanut punch at Shanta’s restaurant
  • Best buys:
    Pottery, wooden bowls and carvings and other items made of all different beautiful hardwoods, handwoven hammocks, jewelry, El Dorado rum
  • Information please:
    Guyana Tourism Authority— guyana-tourism.com