A Travellerspoint blog

Guyana

Iwokrama

sunny
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Elvon our guide showed up again to accompany us to Iwokrama (A Rainforest Conservation and Development Area of nearly one million acres). As we'd lost time at shell beach we opted to take a minibus there rather than wait another day in Georgetown and go by big bus. Well the minibus turned out to be an adventure. It departed at 9 pm and we had to make several stops at police stations along the way to register (as we were going to the interior - Iwokrama is about 1/2 down the country on the main road to Brazil). After causing a bit of a fuss due to my eagerness to have the front seats I sat there for an hour before we left and upset a small Brazilian cause he wanted the seat with the most leg room (but after I'd towered over him at the 1st police station he settled down). Anyway after bouncing our way along the main highway P1000759.jpg all night with no sleep the sun was beginning to rise and we got stuck in our first puddle (rather large lake). Some on the Guyanese (all the Brazilians slept through this) got out and pushed us free. We drove on for about 10 minutes and got stuck again. No amount of pushing was going to free us. The driver told Brenda and I to stay where we were while the men tried to fix it, but sometime later I wanted to get out so the Brazilian with the scary red eyes who kept talking to me despite a lack of common language carried me to safety. To try and free us they chopped down a tree, unfortunately a tree ants nest was in it and soon everyone was being bitten. Eventually they realised the back tyre was flat and despite it being 3/4 submerged in water changed it and we were out. Next task was to clear away the felled tree (that had served no purpose except to cause us and a lorry load of guys who came to help clear it away to end up with ants in our pants that really hurt when they bit - people were jumping about like they were in a cartoon or something). Anyway we were on a\our way againP1000758.jpg

We arrive at Iwokrama and I loved it there. In a small clearing there were some lovely lodges P1000760.jpg
and we spent the morning asleep (in beds that were big enough) to recover from the adventure to get here. It was all worth it though.

In the afternoon our guide Lewis took Michel, Penny (a French Australian couple who live on a boat) Brenda and I for a nature walk. He told us about all the trees P1000761.jpg, Monkey ladders and to be careful where we leanP1000762.jpg. Despite my fear I only got bitten once on the walk, however that was going to be fun later.

We had a lovely dinner and as the insects gathered aroung the lights I was covering myself up when the bats came along and ate all the flies - brilliant. After a brief lightning storm (which I have to include a picture off cause I spent ages trying to get one) P1000763.jpg we ventured out on the boat caymen spotting. We saw a tree boa and some eyes (well Brenda did) but I saw nothing. However afterwards we met Sangkar (which may or maynot be spelt like that) the pet 9ft caymen. He seemed very nice but I didn't want to get to close.
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The following day we hiked up Turtle mountain. We took a boat to get there and as this is the rainy season we had to navigate our way up the path until we reached dry land.P1000766.jpg Jerry led the 4 of us up the mountain. Again he was an awesome guide (Can't belive we'd been stuck with Elvon who knew very little about the wildlife and wanted to catch/kill/play with everything). He pointed out the medicinal plants, we tried some of the fruit and made it to the top, where we had a great view out over the jungle below.P1000768.jpg We also saw red howler monkeys P1000767.jpg and macaws below us. Jerry was beginning to get a little hungry so we headed back down the mountain (stopping for more fruit on the way) and headed back to camp.

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By this point the bite I'd aquired yesterday had gotten a little big......P1000770.jpg

Our final activity was to the Amerindian village of Fairview with Lewis. We saw loads more birds, I really loved the blue and yellow macawsP1000773.jpg
Someone had a pet parrot Brenda tried to pick up and a small boy had found a river turtle. He made his friend have his picture taken too, but the girls were a tad shy.

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I was only sorry we didn't have longer here. I loved it (even with the bite) and if anyone goes to Guyana you really have to come here.

Anyway that was only two days and after that we headed to Surama. But I need way more time to write about that so will try and do it tomorrow.

Hope you are all ok

GemGem

Posted by gt248 17:10 Archived in Guyana Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Guyana

Shell Beach

rain 28 °C
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When I said I'd survived the jungle with minimal bites last week, I may have been celebrating a tad early. Turns out the beach where we were headed was a thin strip of sand separating the jungle from the sea. But first we had to get there.

Last Sunday we headed out of Georgetown with Elvin as our guide again (although he was as new to the area as us as this was his first trip into area 1 - the north west of the country). I guess as it was a Sunday (or just bad planning) we arrived in a place to Charity to find that the next boat left on Monday morning so we had tos tay the night in a hotel built for the people somewhat shorter than me, so while the disco pounded below I tried my best to curl up and avoind the mosquito net on a bed far too short. Anyway next morning was a quick trip to Adels place.P1000537.jpg It was a lovely place to stop for the day, and we had some of the best food of the trip. Chicken curry and roti for dinner and chicken and veg for lunch. Due to the rain we couldn't really venture out so I settled down in the hammck with what turned out to be a not particularly good book. But anyway as darkness fell and the mosquito numbers rose I hid in my mosquito net when Elvin asked if we wanted to see a spider. P1000539.jpg I hid and sent Brenda in to take the picture.

The next day another boat arrive to take us 3 hours down the coast to shell beach. A project set up to stop the decline in turtle numbers nesting there. They move camp every two years depending on where the turtles are nesting, go out each night and look for nesting turtles and record details about them and educate people about conservation. Anyway when we arrived they set up tents for us, under the shelter on the right of the picture. P1000540.jpg Shockingly it didn't rain and seeking shelter from the sun spent the day playing checkers. The jungle grows right up to the beach and a small area had been cleared for the camp. But we were still close to the jungle and the bugs. Several more spiders were spotted as were lizardsP1000543.jpg P1000541.jpgand dragon fliesP1000542.jpg. Evening came and covered in DEET we headed out to see the turtles. Two hours later we retreated to our tents having seen absolutely nothing.

Day 2 on shell beach and we walked along the coast for a bit during the day. We saw some baby catfish P1000544.jpg a weird fish that jumped P1000546.jpg and some vultures. Over another dinner of rice and tuna (I have never eaten somuch tuna in my life, its not the most inspiring diet) we headed out again. This time with Josh a Peace Corps Volunteer. 30 minutes later we stopped for a while before heading back to camp, looking at the milky way and trying to figure out what planet was over head, when I spotted a shooting star and figured our luck had to change. We started walking back when we heard a noise in the undergrowth. I thought it was a dog and Brenda a cat. But it turned out to be an endangered Hawksbill Turtle (first one Josh had seen since starting work there). We waited in complete darkeness until she finished building her nest and started laying and we could take pictures (sorry for the large number)

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We were being called by the other group as they too had found a Hawksbill and we ran down the beach (in the dark) to see it. Once there we were told about a leatherback that had come ashore just by the camp. She was huge and was pulling herself up a really steep sandbank we had found steep. I hope the pictures show how big she was.

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We were so happy to have seen them and so lucky as no turtles had been spotted in days. But we were looking forward to leaving the next day (no more tuna or corned beef please). We were assured that the boat would turn up at 10. So we waited (with bags packed) and waited and waited. But no boat came all day. In the evening (after more tuna) we did however see some baby green turtles which was very cool.

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So on Thursday we waited again. A couple of boats went past and didn't stop "the're drugs boats, don't want to go with them" we were told. So Brenda and Elvin went to the nearest village to try and phone and find out what was happening. We were finally rescued late yesterday evening. We were all feeling a tad tired and grumpy (lack of sugar and food), and I've learnt not to head out without emergency food!!! No one except Elvin had been sure our boat would turn up. I guess thats partly because they usually go once full and aren't used to catering for tourists. It has to be said that we seem to be the only tourists here. Everyone else seems to be volunteers or here on a mission (from various churches).

Anyway we stopped in a place called Mabaruma and flew back this morning.
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It was an eventful week, a little frustrating (noone seemed to know what was going on and we were running out of food and ran out of drinking days ago and had been boiling the rain water) but so worth it to see these giants of the sea.

Sorry to have gone on for so long. We are off to the jungle again tonight to see if we can spot a jaguar...

Gemma
xxx

Posted by gt248 10:38 Archived in Guyana Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Guyana

Land of many waters

sunny 30 °C
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We made it to Guyana ok. For those who don't know anything about Guyana here's a brief introduction:

It was a British Colony until 1966 and so everyone speaks English (but we are still struggling to understand what people say as they speak with a strong accent)
Has a population of 800000 and most people live on the coast.
The coast is several metres below sea level and Georgetown (the Capital) is habital because the Dutch were here first and built a system of canals and dykes to stop the place flooding.
Most of the interior is so inaccessable that the rainforest hasn't been destroyed by mining or logging so there is (apparently) a lot of wildlife out there.
Amerindians are the original inhabitants and there are 9 tribes found out in the rainforest.
Its part of the Amazon rainforest.

Anyway on our first day in Georgetown we were taken on a city tour. It was raining hard and so we were taken round the city by taxi although the city isn't all that big. We saw about the history of the country, learnt about the tribes just about saw the sea wall (through the rain) that keeps the city from flooding everytime the sea comes in and went to the market. We then saw manatees in the botanical gardens, they are wild along the coast and they are doing their best to preserve them. Then it was time to prepare for the interior. The fear of all things bug sized and snake like kicked in.

The following morning out guide Elvin (former Porkknocker or miner) collected us from the hotel and we arrived at the bus station ready for the 6 hours bus trip inland. Once the bus was full (The 3 of us, a family, two girls and three miners) we headed off down a paved road but had to stop for an hour to pick up an engine one of the miners had bought. A while later all the luggage was back on the bus and weighed down we set off. The road soon resembled a river bed (dryish) and it was amazing that the little minibus made in through, I'm pretty sure anywhere else such a journey would have needed a 4x4. About 2 hours later we hit a bump, the excess weight broke the spider bearings (?) and we had to crawl into the next town (about 6 houses and a garage) to get the bus fixed. Once all the necessary parts were aquired we were back on the road with the miners singing along to Madonna at the tops of their voices and cheering everytime a song they like came on. It was kinda bizzare. But we ploughed on and 10 hours later made the mining town of Mahdia where we transferred into a 4x4 for the rest of the journey all 3 miles of it that took the best part of an hour. They locals were looking after us and rather than camping with the guys we were allowed to hang our hammocks in front of the taxi mans house (he also made us breakfast the following morning). After a surprisingly good nights sleep we were expecting to take two days to reach the foot of the falls, but because of all the rain many of the tributaries would be impassable so our guide thought it best to take the boat all the way to the base of Oh My God Mountain and walk up, which is what we did. The boat trip was dry and as soon as we stepped off the heavens opened and down came the rain. Carrying our bags and with a bright yellow rain coat hanging over them from my head in an attempt to keep everything dry we set off. I guess due to the rain my mind wasn't on the bugs/snakes/spiders but best of all there were no leeches. 3 hours or so and we made it to the top, the rain cleared and we could see the falls. Kaieteur falls are 741 feet tall and more spectacular that the pictures on the net. The sound of the water was amazing and the water is stained by tannins so it looks like tea as it flows over. We stayed at the guesthouse at the top and walked around looking for birds (Cock of the Rock and Parrots) and the giant Bromeliads containg the golden frogs. I also ate sardines (not a fan but was hungry).

I would recommend the over land trip to anyone it was awesome, the people who fly in and out miss all the wildlife and watching the swifts as the dive bomb the falls to get behind it for the night in their thousands.

Before I bore you anymore just thought I'd let you know we made it back to Georgetown safetly and have about 20 ant bites and nothing more (although one lot of ant bites burnt like crazy).

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Hope all is ok back home and take care

Gemma

Posted by gt248 13:37 Archived in Guyana Tagged ecotourism Comments (1)

5 Weeks to go

China, the plan and where I've been before

sunny 25 °C

With 5 weeks till we depart China have decided to not allow foreigners to buy international train tickets, which means that the Beijing to Ulaan Baatar portion of the trans siberian train trip looks in doubt. Instead we may have to fly, this gives us an extra day in Mongolia which is good, but I won't have completed Hong Kong to Moscow by land - not so good.

Anyway I realise I may not have told people my plan so here it is:

In Guyana we are trekking to Kaieteur Falls, going to see Leatherback turtles (its meant to be nesting season) and going Jaguar spotting. From there we pop over to Barbados where I hope to learn to dive and recover from the jungle. Then a quick trip to see Carolyn and make sure she is ok in the US before going to Hong Kong. Ideally from here I'd like to go to Kunming, Chengdu, Yangtze River, Xian and Beijing. In Beijing we have tickets for the Olympic hockey final which will be great and then the Transiberian railway (or flight as it may well end up being for a bit of it) to Moscow. Fingers crossed the chinese lessons will pay off and I won't get stranded at a train station somewhere.

Ok so I was attempting to make a map of where I've been before so hopefully this works. I liked this one as when I made it it was complete with Flags (for Jayne).

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Posted by gt248 06:49 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (1)

7 weeks to go

rain 17 °C

Seems I'd got a little keen to go as somewhere in the last few weeks, while I'd been counting down, I'd lost a week. But it seems I have 7 weeks to make Elaeocarpusin, pack, move all my stuff back home and prepare to meet (avoid to the best of my abilities) some rather large spiders, leeches and what ever other nasties the jungle may have in store for me.

I've added a map with dates of when I am flying or going by train between places, so people will know where I am.

Posted by gt248 06:38 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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