The country of Guyana is the third-smallest country in South America.
|Guyanese Coastal Plain (Georgetown, Bartica, Mabaruma, New Amsterdam)|
Home to the vast majority of the population and is interrupted by several major rivers
|Guyanese Highlands (Lethem, Paramakatoi)|
A plateau and low mountain range lying between the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. It is a thinly populated part of Guyana known for its natural landmarks and beauty.
- 1 Georgetown — the largest city in and capital of Guyana with fascinating wooden colonial buildings
- 2 Bartica — the "Gateway to the Interior", and to the ruins of the Dutch fort Kyk-Over-Al
- 3 Mabaruma — a regional administrative centre near the Venezuelan border
- 4 New Amsterdam — large town with old colonial buildings
- 5 Lethem — a base for exploring the Kanuku and the Moco Moco mountains and falls
- 6 Linden — a mining town (bauxite) near Gluck Island, an uninhabited island that is an eco-tourist destination
- 7 Parika — sits on the East Bank of the Essequibo River, the country's largest river
- 8 Paramakatoi — an extremely remote and undeveloped town surrounded by unspoiled rainforest
- 9 Port Kaituma — a hub for the mining industry
- 1 Essequibo Islands — Home to the islands of Leguan, Wakenaam and a host of others, some of which are not inhabited. Parika is a busy spot on Sundays, and the kick-off point for travels down the Essequibo River. The Guyanese Heritage Museum which is a hotel and museum of all things Guyanese is at Kastev. Much of the area is protected by the World Wildlife Foundation, and has been designated an area of special natural importance. However, it is believed that the Guyanese government are challenging this ruling in the hopes of opening the area to tourism.
- 2 Kaieteur National Park — a genuine Amazonian experience for lovers of the jungle
- 3 Kanuku Mountains — a National Protected Area home to a rich diversity of wildlife
- 4 Kyk-Over-Al Fort — the ruins of a Dutch fort built in 1616
- Marshall Falls
- 5 Michelle's Island — a privately owned island retreat on the Essequibo River
- The Rupununi Savannah
- Shell Beach
|Currency||Guyanese dollar (GYD)|
|Population||777.8 thousand (2017)|
|Electricity||240 volt / 60 hertz (NEMA 1-15, NEMA 5-15, AC power plugs and sockets: British and related types, BS 1363)|
|Time zone||UTC−04:00, America/Guyana|
|Emergencies||999, 911 (police), 912 (fire department), 913 (emergency medical services)|
|edit on Wikidata|
The name Guyana (from Arawak Wayana) means "Land of many waters."
Guyana mostly consists of rolling highlands with a low coastal plain and savannah in the south. The highest point is Mount Roraima with 2,835 m, at the border tripoint with Brazil and Venezuela.
Guyana's climate is tropical with the hot, humid conditions moderated by northeast trade winds. There are two distinct rainy seasons: May to mid-August and mid-November to mid-January. Flash floods are a constant threat during these rainy seasons.
It was a Dutch colony in the 17th century, but by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to the purchase of some villages such as Victoria and Anns Grove, as well as black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. Today, the descendants of these indentured Indian labourers form a plurality of Guyana's population. Chinese were also imported to work on plantations but were found to be unsuitable. The colonial powers employed a system of "divide and rule" among the freed Africans and members of the other ethnic groups who were brought and encouraged to settle in the then-colony. The policy was employed even during slavery when indigenous Amerindians were used to hunt runaway slaves. The result was an ethno-cultural divide, significant elements of which have persisted to this day and have led to turbulent politics, the dissolution of attempts at national cultural development and the non-existence of anything resembling a "national identity".
Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966. Until the early 1990s it was ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi Jagan was elected president, in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. Upon his death five years later, he was succeeded by his wife, Janet, who resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat Jagdeo, was re-elected in 2001 and again in 2006.
- Independence (from UK)
- 26 May 1966
- National holiday
- Republic Day, 23 February (1970)
- 6 October 1980
Best time to visit
The primary wet season runs from May to July, so it’s best avoided if you’re looking for beach weather. But if you’re lucky, you may be able to spot a jaguar in the interior as they wander onto the roads searching for dry land.
For low water levels and to see caiman and otters, February to April and August to November are the best months. From late December to late January is the secondary rainy season.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Guyana visa-free (Government website[dead link]):
- For up to 6 months: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
- For up to 3 months: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Montserrat, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
- For up to 90 days: Botswana, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Panama, Peru, Uruguay
- For up to 60 days: Eswatini, Malaysia
- For up to 30 days: South Africa, South Korea
When applying for a visa, you will need the application form, a passport valid for at least 6 months, 3 passport-size photographs and proof that you have the funds to cover your entire trip to Guyana. If your intent is to work or live in Guyana, you will need to obtain a letter of approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, and include a copy of it in your submission. The only way to submit a visa application is through the mail. Submissions must be made to the nearest Guyanese Embassy.
As of 2023, a tourist visa to visit Guyana costs US$50 for up to 30 days and US$70 for up to 90 days, while a single-entry business visa costs US$50 and a multiple-entry business visa valid for 1 year costs US$150. These visas can be obtained at the nearest Guyanese embassy or consulate.
Once in Guyana you can extend your visa at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown.
Cheddi Jagan International Airport
(GEO IATA) Originally the Timehri International Airport (Timehri means "Rock Painting") it was renamed in honour of the indigenous displaced peoples of Guyana.
There are daily international flights into and out of Cheddi Jagan International Airport about 40 km south of Georgetown. International flights include flights to The Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago), Panama, Suriname, and the USA with Caribbean Airlines (formerly BWIA). Caribbean Airlines is a state owned airline run by Trinidad & Tobago. Flights to the Caribbean with Caribbean Airlines to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. American, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, and JetBlue operate to New York-JFK. American Airlines and Surinam Airways operate to Miami. Surinam Airways also flies to Orlando-Sanford (seasonal) and Paramaribo.
(OGL IATA) A small airfield slightly closer to Georgetown (~6 mi) which is for a few private charter companies, primarily used for domestic/local flights. The following companies have a few daily flights from/to Zorg-en-Hoop Airfield in Paramaribo for US$200 one-way or $330 round trip:
- Gum Air, Doekhieweg 03, Zorg-en-Hoop Airport, Paramaribo, Suriname, ☏ +597 433830, fax: +597 491740, [email protected]. M-Sa.
- Trans Guyana Airways (TGA), Ogle Aerodome, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, ☏ +592 222 2525, [email protected]. M-Sa.
There are no international railway services to Guyana.
Guyana has road access to Suriname to the east and Brazil to the south. In Suriname, inquire in Paramaribo for mini-buses travelling to Guyana. entering Guyana by water from Nieuw Nickerie in Suriname is illegal, even though there is nobody to stop you. The worst-case scenario is that you could be sent back or made to pay for a visa. When travelling from Nieuw-Nickerie to Paramaribo over land you will most likely run into a military police roadblock near Totness, but they are after gun and drug smugglers, not tourists. Show your national ID card or a valid driver's licence and they won't even ask for your passport to check if you have the right visa stamps. It appears they don't mind you entering the country as long as you don't cause trouble and spend your money in their country.
There are no road links between Venezuela and Guyana. Travel to Venezuela may be done by air via Trinidad (Caribbean Airlines) or overland through Roraima state in Brazil.
From Suriname, there are minibuses from Paramaribo to South Drain in western Suriname, just across the river from Guyana. The trip takes at least 3 hours and costs around US$15. From there, you will go through customs on the Suriname side. Then take the 11AM daily ferry across the river to South Drain. The actual ferry ride takes about 30 minutes, but you'll need more time for going through customs on the Guyanese side.
The bus ride from Lethem, at the Brazilian border, to Georgetown takes about 10 hours through rainforest and southern savannah. The ride can be much longer in the rainy season. Sections of the roadway are known to become impassable in heavy rainy weather and extreme care must be taken.
Inquire about buses to Brazil at the Interserv Bus Office on Charlotte Street in downtown Georgetown. Buses usually leave very late at night and it is recommended that you take a taxi to the bus station as the area around there is unsafe at night. For buses from Brazil travel to Bonfim on the border and walk across the border. Find a minibus or taxi to take you to Lethem city centre and inquire about buses travelling to Georgetown.
When people in Guyana refer to buses, they mean minibuses. Minibuses travel throughout Guyana and are the cheapest way to travel. Minibus fares range from G$60-1,000 depending on the length of the journey. Travel in this mode at night could be risky.
Many parts of Guyana are separated by large rivers. These areas can be traversed by way of river taxi. Go to the port village and ask from where the speedboats launch. Ask other passengers what the fare is while travelling as boat operators tend to seek higher fees from tourists. Do not take "specials" without first negotiating the price.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Georgetown. Fares should never be more than G$500 for travel within the city and most fares should be around G$400. All taxi number plates begin with 'H.' There are set prices for taxis for different destinations, e.g. from the airport to town costs G$5,000, from the airport to Moleson Creek is G$24,000. From Ogle to downtown is G$1,500.
One can also rent cars or 4x4s; check the local telephone listings for car rentals. Consult more than one rental agency as prices can vary. You might also be able to negotiate the prices charged to some extent. Deposits are usually required. If renting a vehicle, be sure to inquire whether your driver's licence will be acceptable. Violations of traffic laws can result in much time wasted and possible trips to the local courts.
The only official language is English (with British spelling) and is spoken by all, though most people natively speak Guyanese Creole. The English spoken has a typical Caribbean accent and foreigners unfamiliar with the accent may find it hard to understand.
There are a handful of Amerindian languages spoken in the Amazonian region, most notably Arawak and Macushi.
- Mashramani. An Amerindian word meaning "celebration after hard work", this event takes place each 23rd of February as the country's republic anniversary celebration. It's a carnival-like event with float parades and costumed bands. Colourful float parades and costume bands wind their way through the city. While you look on, have a swig of local rum with coconut water or have some Banks beer, all the while swaying and wining to the beat of the soca and calypso. Starts at about 10AM.
- Kaieteur Falls. It is 5 times the height of Niagara Falls, c. 250 m tall. It can be accessed by a short plane flight from the capital offered by various tour companies as a day trip. Most companies only operate the day trip on Sundays and so booking ahead is advisable US$200-300.
- Orinduik Falls. A smaller waterfall than Kaieteur that is also included when visiting Kaieteur by plane.
- Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve
- Jonestown Compound. A historic site near Port Kaituma. It is wise to have a local accompany you as the area is heavily forested and is easy to get lost in.
Eco-Tourism is a booming industry in Guyana.
There are numerous markets and shopping malls, in Guyana. Stabroek Market is a quaint market in Georgetown. Trips to the market for tourists are best done in groups or with a local with whom you feel comfortable. Muggings are possible but not frequent.
Lots of locally made and beautiful crafts ranging from paintings; to sculpture; to leather purses, satchels, wallets; hand-painted, tie-dyed and batiked fabrics, pressed flowers, sun hats; semi-precious stones and hand-crafted costume jewellery using indigenous materials, can be purchased at an esplanade outside the Central Post-Office near the National Museum in downtown Georgetown. Ask around and you'll find out about the craft and gift shops as well as galleries.
Guyana is also noted for its exceptional gold jewellery.
Exchange rates for Guyanese dollar
As of January 2023:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The local currency is the Guyanese dollar, denoted $ or G$ (ISO international currency code: GYD). The currency is freely convertible but nearly impossible to get rid of outside of Guyana, the neighbouring countries and one exchange bureau in London Gatwick airport.
Banknotes in Guyana are issued in denominations of G$20, G$50, G$100, G$500, G$1,000, G$2,000 and 5,000 and coins in Guyana are issued in denominations of G$1, G$5 and G$10. G$500, G$1,000 and G$5,000 banknotes have a holographic stripe with a colourful macaw.
- Scotiabank and Republic bank take MasterCards at their ATMs.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Guyana is relatively very high, because most of the items used in daily life are imported with high transportation costs involved. Monopoly in some business sectors also causes higher profit and further raising of prices. For example (as of 2010) the approximate price of petrol is US$1.10 per litre, electricity price is US$0.33 per unit. A domestic gas bottle cylinder is over US$20. Rent for average family accommodation is US$500 per month in safer urban locations and personal income tax, which is 33.33% of total taxable income makes the cost of living higher still.
Guyanese food, like the entire country, is a creole fusion.
If there's a dominant cuisine, it is dishes influenced by the Indian subcontinent that have been localized. The most prominent of these are the curries, especially chicken, pork, beef, pumpkin and aubergine. Larger roti shops and those by the sea will have shrimp, crab and other seafoods. Curries are traditionally served with roti, an Indian bread or rice.
The national dish of Guyana is pepperpot, a slow cooked stew of pork (or other meats), red peppers (capsicum), cinnamon and casareep. It is dark in colour and strongly flavoured and usually reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, but you can find restaurants in Georgetown serving the dish all year round. Pepperpot is enjoyed with plain white bread or roti.
Chinese restaurants are common, with noodle dishes such as chow mein and lo mein along with meat and rice dishes. The growing Brazilian population have led to several outdoor BBQ restaurants and churrascarias opening in the capital and near the border in Lethem.
Georgetown has a greater variety of food options than elsewhere in the country, which include a couple of steakhouses, upmarket colonial dining, European fare and Indian food. In smaller towns, there may only be restaurants serving a creole menu of a few dishes, which almost always includes a curry or two and a noodle dish.
In jungle lodges, the food can be limited to tinned goods and rice, along with whatever can be caught or grown locally.
The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. Some national favourites are XM "10" Year OLD, produced by local beverage giant Banks DIH Limited and El Dorado and X-tra Mature which both offer 5-, 10-, 12- and 25-year varieties.
El Dorado also offers a 15-year-old variety which has won the "Best Rum in the World" award since 1999. Mix the cheaper ones with Coke or coconut water if you please. All are quality enough to drink neat or by themselves with the 25-year-olds comparing with high-quality scotch whisky.
Banks Beer produced by local beverage giant Banks DIH Limited is the National beer. It comes in a lager and a stout (Milk Stout). The beverage giant also bottles and distributes Heineken Beer and Guinness Stout under licence.
Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and darker Mackeson's. Guinness is brewed locally under licence and is a bit sweeter than its Irish counterpart, but just as good. Polar (Venezuelan) and Skol (Brazilian) can be found throughout the country. You can also find Heineken and Corona at posher bars in Georgetown.
Georgetown has far and away the biggest range of options, but here there are a number of problems. None of the luxury options in the capital, primarily the Pegasus and the Princess, have the polish or charm to justify the hundreds of US dollars they charge. On the other end of the scale are a number of tiny guesthouses and pay-by-the-hour places with lower prices. The only backpacker option is the Tropicana Hostel, which is above a club with the slogan "All Nite Long": it's true. There are some good options in Georgetown, especially at the three- and four-star level, including the colonial option Cara Lodge and the Herdmanston Lodge. The rising Chinese and Brazilian populations in town may lead to better options.
In the interior there are some amazing jungle lodges and camps, including those at the ranches and the south and the community-supported ecolodges in the middle of the country. Other developing options are community supported huts in Amerindian towns on the Linden-Lethm road.
The adventurous could try to get by with a hammock and paying small fees to hang it up in a benab. This isn't an option in Georgetown and will involve some planning ahead, lots of bug spray and cunning to accomplish.
Some small towns have basic guesthouses, which may have fans, mosquito nets or other amenities.
The official language of Guyana is English, so there won't be a language barrier problem with native speakers. That said, there are few education and learning opportunities in the country.
Education is free, but limited. There is only one university, the University of Guyana, with two campuses at Tain and Turkeyen.
There are opportunities for volunteer and paid teachers throughout the country. Pay, if there is any, will be low.
Guyana has a fair number of expatriates, most of them are from developing or poor countries, working in different sectors across the country. Persons who are not Guyanese, have to get a work permit after employment is confirmed. Caribbean citizens might have some exemptions under the CSME scheme. There are a number of volunteer organisations like Project Trust, Peace Corps, VSO and CESO working in Guyana. Some people have come on short stints to volunteer with churches, and other non-governmental organizations. It is the responsibility of the host organisations or employer to arrange necessary travel/work permits from the concerned Ministry for prospective employee.
Salaries in Guyana are normally paid in Guyanese dollars. Income tax, which is one third of total taxable income, is usually deducted by employers. The overall cost of living is relatively very high, making an expatriate employee's life very difficult in Guyana.
Georgetown is notorious for petty street crime. Do not walk alone at night, or even in the day, unless you know the area well. Areas such as the Tiger Bay area east of Main Street and the entire southeastern part of the city including Albouystown and Ruimveldt are traditional high crime areas but one can be relatively safe in groups and with native escorts. Police are unlikely to help you unless they see the crime in action. Be sensible about wearing jewellery.
The interior regions with the breath-taking waterfalls, the beautiful rainforests and mountains are safe. Many rural areas around the country are filled with a friendly atmosphere and are safe. Crime is rarely directed at tourists, so don't feel intimidated. Just be sensible about the company you keep, where you go and how you behave.
"Sodomy" is punishable with a maximum sentence of life in prison. A local NGO reported that there were a few prosecutions, but neither the NGO nor the courts could provide numbers. It was reportedly more common for the police to use the law to intimidate suspected same-sex male partners. There are no laws concerning same-sex sexual activity between women. The health minister in a speech to a regional HIV/AIDS conference said that he “must be driven by public health reality,” that “sex between consenting adults in private falls into the category of personal freedom,” and that the law is “in contradiction of this expression of personal freedom.” Following the 2009 incident in which a judge fined several transgender persons G$7,500, an NGO and four of the individuals filed a motion in the High Court against the law criminalising cross-dressing; the case remained pending at year’s end.
One organisation SASOD[dead link] organises some events to promote anti-homophobic work. There is no local gay "scene" as most homosexuals remain rather closeted. Private gatherings are known to occur to which one must be invited. Public displays of affection among gay people are frowned upon and can make you the target of overt discrimination, attacks and taunts.
Discussions of the current affairs of ethnic relations between the two major races, politics and the socio-economic issues in the country ought to be undertaken with much tact and much patience. Be aware that these types of discourses can sometimes lead to very heated and intense debate, and possibly something much worse. Guyanese are generally very open to discussing most issues, but as an outsider, you could be seen as a part of the problem, so guard your tongue.
Do not drink the tap water, unless you want to spend a great part of your vacation on the toilet. Bottled water is readily available in a variety of brands.
Before travelling to Guyana, it is a good idea to receive anti-malarial medications from your health care provider, as malaria is widespread throughout most of the country.
Yellow fever is endemic to this area; monkeys are a reservoir, but you can catch it even in cities. Be sure to get immunized before you leave, and take mosquito repellent with you. Also be careful of malaria and dengue fever in the interior.
Although not required, it is recommended that travellers receive vaccination against Typhoid fever within 2-4 weeks prior to arriving in Guyana.
The country's largest hospital is the Georgetown Public Hospital and is in the capital. Facilities here are basic, even though it is a tertiary referral centre. Disposal of 'sharps' (needles, etc.) is improving but needs to get better, given the country's growing AIDS/HIV prevalence at 2.5% of adults or 1 in 40. Practise safe sex.
You are better off using the private facilities at St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital near the US Embassy or the Medical Arts Centre on Thomas Street. While not first rate, these facilities are far superior to GPH, practise basic hygienic standards and rooms are not overcrowded. There are also other private hospitals
For the latest in traveller's health information pertaining to Guyana, including advisories and recommendations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention destination Guyana website.
Guyanese people do not wear shoes in their homes and expect visitors to do the same.
- Police +592 226 2487 emergency - 911
- Fire +592 226 2411 emergency - 912
- Ambulance Service emergency - 913
- Cheddi Jagan International Airport +592 261 2245
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs +592 226 1606
- Ministry of Tourism Industry & Commerce +592 226 2392
- Guyana Telephone & Telegraph +592 225 1315
- Licence Revenue Office +592 223 5501
- Brazil - Access to Brazil is via Lethem. There are Interserv buses - get the schedule at the Interserv Bus Office on Charlotte Street in central Georgetown. Typically, the buses leave late at night. Another option are minibuses that ply the Georgetown-Lethem road, although the lack of paved road beyond Linden means that the trip will probably need to be broken up overnight.
- Suriname can be reached via minibuses and a ferry, or by a short flights from Cheddi Jagan Temeri International airport or Ogle airport.
- Trinidad and the rest of the Lesser Antilles is a short flight away via Caribbean Airlines.
- Venezuela to the west has no direct road connection. Your best options would be to travel overland via Brazil or fly via Curaçao or Aruba.