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Guyana: Kaieteur overland

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Kaieteur overland | Guyana | Americas

[Visited: March 2008]

I woke up to heavy rains the morning I was to leave for Kaieteur Falls. During our drive to Mahdia, it was dry, but rain never seemed far away, despite this being the dry season. Huge clouds gathered in the sky while we waited for the ferry across the Essequibo river to be fixed. Later, we lost more time struggling up a steep muddy slope. By the time we arrived at Pamela landing on the Potaro river, it was getting dark. The sky was fantastic and threatening at the same time, enhanced by a perfect reflection in the peaceful waters of the river. We enjoyed some great views of the river, but the light was fading, rapidly. Then, it was dark. Pitchdark. Our captain skillfully steered clear of rocks, sandbanks and the river bank, following the bends in the river without any fault. He obviously had been here before. Then, the rain started. By the time we arrived at Amatuk Falls, an hour later, we were soaking wet. That night, it never stopped raining. Lying in our hammocks, we heard the rain hammering the roof. Fortunately, we did not have to go far the following day. We waited for the rain to diminish, following Tony's rule: one should never start walking when it is raining.

Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Evening quiet at Pamela landing

It allowed me time to see Amatuk Falls, or the Falls of Love (Ama=love, tuk=falls), which I had been hearing all night as the pleasant and peaceful background music to the aggressive and relentless rain. Tony explained the beautiful legend: once, a princess of a local tribe was chased by a man of a foreign tribe whom she did not fancy. Two twin brothers who loved her but could not get her, were hunting in the neighborhood. The princess cried for help while trying to escape, but was only heard by a deer. When later, the deer was chased by the twins, it told them about the dire position of the princess. Promising they would not harm the deer, the twin brothers were led to the princess. At that time, God asked the princess what she wanted; she asked to be so that she could not be held by anyone, and was turned into a waterfall. The twins were in despair, they begged God to be close to the princess and were turned into two similar hills right behind the watefalls. The chasing lord asked to be close to the princess, too, and was changed into the rocks over which the waterfalls run up to this day.

Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Many creeks are to be crossed on the way to Kaieteur Falls

The next few days, the rain continued almost incessantly. At times very hard, at times a drizzle, it was our sure companion on our hike through the rainforest. We quickly abandoned Tony's rule and found ourselves starting off in the morning in clothes that were still wet and never seemed to dry anymore. The guides were stellar, extremely knowledgeable, patient, helpful and cheerful. Full of exciting, sometimes sad, stories about their lives in the rainforest, as miners, guides, hunters. They showed many plants, spotted birds from a distance, and showed the use of the trees and plants of the rainforest. On the first day, they cut a branch off a tree, removed the bark and gave me this walking stick that proved useful for the rest of the hike in maintaining my balance on muddy, swampy soil. I felt an acrobat when I crossed deep creeks on a slippery tree trunk, I felt like a pig when slushing through mud, but most of all: I felt completely immersed into nature all the time. The outside world quickly faded: what counted was our expedition, our comraderie, the pristine rainforest, our progress towards Kaieteur Falls. Mobile phones don't work here; until you reach the falls, there is not a living soul around. The nearer we got, the more anxious I became about the rain that did not seem to stop. Would I see the falls? The last morning, we left camp under a drizzle, and quickly reached the infamous Oh my God climb, far easier than I had expected. Rain was pouring down again, and was even worse when we reached the invisible Kaieteur Falls. Miraculously, the dark and heavy curtain of clouds was lifted shortly thereafter and granted me views of the falls far more spectacular than I had ever imagined.

Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Waterfall in the Potaro canyon in the early evening fog
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Path leading up to Oh my God point near Kaieteur Falls
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): One of the many creeks to cross: walking a slippery tree trunk
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Butterfly spotted on the way to Kaieteur
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Luscious lips are abundant on your way to Kaieteur Falls
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Trail crossing a creek with a remarkable colour
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): The way to Kaieteur: one of the mossy rocks to cross
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Boat trip on the Potaro river: going upstream towards Amatuk Falls
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Reflections of mountain, rainforest and early evening fog in the Potaro river
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Young fern in the rainforest
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Rubber plant fruits can easily be found in the rainforest
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Amatuk Falls in the early morning
Picture of Kaieteur overland (Guyana): Getting dinner ready in a cabin at Amatuk Falls

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