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Guyana: Kaieteur Falls

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Kaieteur Falls | Guyana | Americas

[Visited: March 2008]

After four days of hiking through mud, balancing on slippery tree trunks, boating on the Potaro river and sleeping in hammocks, my first sight of the ultimate goal, Kaieteur Falls, was as I had feared. I heard water thundering down in a distance, but a wall of fog blocked any view that could be had from Johnson View. Would my worst fears come true: not seeing the waterfalls? As we got closer to Kaieteur, the fog seemed to mysteriously disappear, and once we reached the very edge, it was gone. My breath was taken away from me, and I stood in awe at this eternal natural beauty. I quickly left my bag in the lodge and returned to the point where the Potaro river dives down into its own gorge.

Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Kaieteur waterfall thundering into the Potaro valley

And I was lucky. After days of incessant rain, the water in the sky stayed in clouds, the skies dried up, and rays of sunlight trickled through the deck of grey and white. I jumped down on a ledge where the water curls over the rocks and plunges down, and stood right next to the point of no return. Even better: I lied flat on my belly and moved over the edge, which allowed for a truly spectacular view right down the wall of water below me, and the powerful cloud of waterspray that it causes. As soon as the sun gets through, the spray causes a lasting rainbow below you. Just before sunset, thousands of swifts gather in the sky above and, one by one, dive down and find a place to spend the night behind Kaieteur Falls. This is precisely one of the features of Kaieteur Falls I love: seeing it is a very natural experience, there is a completely absense of any kitschy souvenir stalls, hotels, casinos, bridges, or other interference that you find near some other great falls. What is more: I was the only person around, and could claim Kaieteur Falls to be mine. At least for the time I was there. One of the most powerful moments was in the morning, when I was taking a bath, standing naked right at the edge of the falls, an arm length away from the powerful falls.

Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Clouds hanging in the Potaro valley

The joy of visiting Kaieteur Falls is not only the views you can get from various vantage points in the neighbourhood where you can experience the power of the waterfalls from close by or from a little further away. It also lies in trying to see some of the cutest animals around: the Golden Frogs. They live in the incredibly large Giant Tank Bromeliads, which are not difficult to find as they are gigantic. Their enormous leaves collect the rain water and the spray from the waterfall to channel it down to the reservoir at the bottom of the plant; this is the habitat of the Golden Frog. A little shy, the Golden Frog is a tiny creature with extremely delicate toes, dwarfed by the deep green leaves of the plant he lives on: an interesting contradiction: one of the largest plants being home to some of the smallest animals.

Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Kaieteur Falls, rainbow and Potaro valley
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Looking down Kaieteur Falls from the edge
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Rainbow and Kaieteur Falls seen from above
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Tiny Golden Frog on the leaf of a Giant Tank Bromeliad
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Looking at Kaieteur Falls right next to the ledge
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Rainbow over the Potaro valley
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Water speeding down Kaieteur Falls
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Kaieteur Falls seen from Johnson Viewpoint
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Waterspray of Kaieteur Falls obscuring the surrounding cliffs
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Swifts diving behind Kaieteur Falls to stay overnight
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Potaro river thundering down Kaieteur Falls
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): The waters of Kaieteur Falls graciously dissolve on their way down
Picture of Kaieteur Falls (Guyana): Kaieteur Falls and upper part of Potaro river seen from a distance

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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