First Nations Vacations

Letters from our Adventurers

GUYANA TOUR MAY 2012

Damon,

Thank you so much for providing us with a one of a kind experience in Guyana! My friend David and I had such a great time exploring the Rupununi area with you. Your ability to provide us with an adventure tailored specifically to our interests was outstanding. The location was ideal. We experienced savannah, mountains and rainforests all within hiking distance of each other. Our experience did not feel at all like a guided tour. Right away it was like an old friend was showing us around the countryside.

I saw so many things on this trip that I never thought I would see in the wild! We told you we were most interested in finding and taking pictures of different types of snakes and you delivered! We saw three different types of boas in the first few days we were there. I have spent 5 weeks in the Amazon of Peru and I know how difficult it is to find wildlife. The amount of wildlife you showed us in our 10 day stay was exceptional. The mammals we saw, which included three different types of monkeys, a giant anteater, and a tree porcupine just to name a few, were also very rewarding.

Our accommodation with the Makushi tribe in their village was amazing. We got to experience the many cultural aspects of living on their reserve. The food we had there was amazing and some of the best I've had on my travels through Central and South America. I cannot wait to plan another trip to Guyana with you. Next time I will have to make sure I come back in the dry season so we can find that elusive anaconda!

Michael Drake (TN, USA- First visit May, 2012)
drakemc001@gmail.com

OUR GUYANA TOUR MAY 2012

Damon,

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for the tour you provided us with on our journey to see/experience some of Guyana's most unspoiled ecosystems. Having someone so knowledgeable about the wildlife and the country alike is certainly a valuable and enriching part of the experience. With just myself and one other American traveler interested in a highly customized tour to encounter and photograph some unique wildlife of Guyana's interior, you seemed to have no problem catering to our request. This was unlike any other "guided" experience I know of and that was EXACTLY what we wanted. We had hopes of especially checking out some of the reptile/amphibian species hosted by the beautiful savannah and jungle environments of the Rupununi and we saw all that and more. Rainbow boas, tree boas, vine snakes, a rattlesnake, and many more along with a giant anteater, Jaguarundi, and dozens of bird species as well- all in their own habitat, undisturbed and not held captive for our viewing pleasure like similar "adventure" tours.

I must point out that you have an exceptional ability to inform, entertain, and ensure a one-of-a-kind, safe experience for any adventure-seeking ecotourist. It is nice to be guided by someone who knows and respects local culture and can place you in the middle of the lives of the very welcoming Makushi tribe. It feels like you get a REAL taste of their lives and what it's like to inhabit an area so remote and beautiful. They are very accommodating and it was always a pleasure sharing stories and exchanging knowledge with men and women of the tribe. Experiencing so much of their culture, foods, and their tales was very enlightening and truly a special experience!

We are both still telling stories to friends, family, and co-workers and hope to return as soon as possible with a group of people to share this style of travel with like-minded friends! Several people are blown away by the amount of things we learned and experienced on our trip. It is something I will not be able to forget regardless of the places I've already experienced or have yet to visit. Guyana is truly amazing and unforgettable and would not have been the same without your special brand of guided trekking! Many thanks to you and your team!

David Galluzzi (TN, USA- First visit May, 2012)
djgalluzzi@gmail.com

  The Centre for Fortean Zoology Guyana 2007 expedition


  Hello, Damon,

  Again may I take this opportunity to thank you for all your help,
  support, kindness, hospitality, well just about everything you
  did for myself and the rest of the CFZ expedition.

  I truly feel that I have had a taste of the 'REAL' Guyana, this
  combined with your genuine knowledge and understanding of the
  interior has made for one hell of an experience that will be
  remembered for many years to come.

  I urge anybody that is considering trekking through the varied
  landscapes of Guyana to seek you out as a personal guide, as they
  could not be in better, safer or more knowledgeable hands.

  Our Boss of the CFZ, Jon Downes was more than pleased with
  information we returned with and there is talk of a return
  journey next year, and there is also talk of acquiring some of
  these unknown creatures you have found as a good friend of the
  CFZ, owns a Zoo. We will just have to see how things develop with
  that concept.

  If you come across any more of those burials within termite mounds
  please, please try and get as much information, pictures, film
  etc of them as you can as nothing has ever been documented
  regarding such a type of burial, and I find this unique and
  moreover very, very interesting.

  Well that's enough from me, don't wish to bore you to death, I do
  hope you will stay in contact with myself and the CFZ, as i feel
  its the start of a great friendship.

  Again thank you and Foster Simon (your Arawak brother-in-law and
  woodsculpting artist) for all that you did for us, you made it
  one memorable expedition.

  Lisa Dowley

  P.S All being well in the new year I will purchase some of Fosters
  artwork.


      
Lisa Dowley
Lisa Dowley on Taushida Mountain

  Adventurer from Finland visit to Guyana, July 2004

  I am a very active traveller and Ive visited over 100
  countries all over the world. My visit to Guyana was, in many
  ways, very different from anything Ive experienced before. I
  saw the everyday life of Amerindians, visited places I couldnt
  have found by myself and saw a great variety of exotic animals
  and birds.

  The first place I visited was Pakuri Arawak Territory. After
  that, I made a day trip by plane to Kaieteur Falls, and
  finally, went by bus to Southern Guyana, Toka Village and St.
  Ignatius Village. In between, I also spent some days in
  Georgetown.

  During my visit I stayed at homes of relatives and friends of
  Damon Corrie. Damon was clearly a very respected man in the
  villages we went to, and I was treated accordingly.

  Damon takes good care of his visitors. I didnt spend any money
  in the villages, Damon took care of everything. In this sense it
  was an easy visit. On the other hand, this is not a tourist
  destination where everything works on your terms. Getting around
  was done with the vehicles used by the locals and sometimes that
  meant having to wait a day or two for the next bus. And for the
  people who like it, you really can find very physically
  challenging hikes there.

  Everyday life in Guyana includes experiences most Westerners
  arent used to. I do enjoy comfortable hotel rooms with
  well-equipped bath rooms, but I knew these wouldnt exist on
  this visit. So I was prepared for another kind of experience.
  Washing was mainly done in small creeks with black water and
  small fish. In toilets, sometimes I found myself in a company of
  spiders, frogs or small lizards. The mosquitoes were sometimes
  too active for my taste... But when you knew these
  inconveniences beforehand, was prepared, and just ignored them,
  the next moment you were enjoying yourself - resting in your
  hammock, drinking a cold drink, eating an exotic fruit youd
  never seen before, enjoying the sun, and watching the villagers
  in their activities.

  I am also an amateur photographer, and Guyana had a lot to offer
  in that respect too. I took photos of a Three-toed Sloth, Giant
  Anteater, an Ocelot, three species of monkeys, including Golden
  handed Marmoset etc. I didnt succeed to see Giant Otters. In
  Southern Guyana, on a camping trip to Kanuku mountains, a Jaguar
  outside my tent woke me up one night. I also met a poisonous
  Labarya snake outside my tent twice. A funny little creature was
  Golden Frog, in Kaieteur Falls.

  Guyana is also home to may bird species. I managed to see two
  Harpy Eagles, several species of parrots, toucans, Jabiru Storks
  and many others. The best place to see birds was on the road
  from Toka to Lethem. If youre interested in birding, you should
  ask Damon try to arrange (at extra cost) transportation from
  Toka with a private car, so you can make stops on the way.

  My thanks to Damon and all the nice people I met during my
  visit. I can easily recommend a visit to Guyana with Damon. It
  is for anyone who has seen a lot and still wants to see more -
  and something different.

  Tarmo Lampinen, Finland
  tarmo.lampinen@eurorscg.fi



      
Tarmo Lampinen

  QUEEN'S ROYAL COLLEGE SCOUTS PAKURI ADVENTURE - July 2003

  In July of 2003 ten members of the group embarked on a mission to
  explore the vast wonders of the 247 square mile Pakuri Amerindian
  Reservation, situated along the Mahaica River in Guyana.

  The journey to Guyana was usual enough. We boarded the plane at
  Piarco and, after some delay, arrived at the  Cheddi Jagan Airport
  in Guyana, where we met our host Hereditary Chief Damon Corrie.
  That's where the vacation stopped and the adventure began. The
  trip to the reservation was at the back of two 4x4 vehicles
  driving for almost 3 hours, through the vast savannahs of the
  reservation, before we got to the main village. Upon arriving at
  the village we had our first boat ride along the river, which
  would take us to our first campsite.

  And what a site it was. Situated along the riverbank, the calming
  sound of the outdoors surrounding us, as we pitched our tents and
  set up camp. High Adventure it certainly was.

  By the next day the adventure was in full swing. We engaged in a
  most remarkable exploration of the tropical forest, journeying
  three miles to the main village, through a mud swamp, hiking
  through the thick-forested trails and the vast open savannahs. It
  was an experience that would surely be remembered by all. The
  highlight of the day, however, would no doubt be swimming across
  the Kuna Bali river. (Of course Kienan would probably not remember
  seeing that particular river).

  By the third day we were moving to our second campsite, located in
  the open savannah, some two/three miles away from the main
  village. Our daily walk to and from the village were filled with
  memorable experiences. The night time stories provided valuable
  insights to Amerindian folklore, and great opportunities for
  cultural exchanges between ourselves and our hosts.

  Throughout our stay we were treated to an exhilarating and
  challenging test of our endurance. We hiked miles and miles,
  exploring everything there was to see at virtually every inch of
  the reservation. Our days were filled with fishing, canoeing and
  swimming in the river, to exploring the forest and savannahs of
  the reservation. We enjoyed traditional and non-traditional
  activities - learning traditional crafts, from archery to making
  cassava bread to exploring the rich wildlife in the area.

  The trip had other benefits as well. Through their interactions
  with the members of the community our boys developed an
  appreciation of the simpler things in life. We deeply appreciated
  the extremely warm hospitality we received and this ensured that
  the boys were able to mix easily with their counterparts. They
  would no doubt always remember the games of cricket and football,
  the spontaneous volley ball tournaments. And of course the
  extremely adventurous "chenette seed spitting" competition.

  All in all the trip was a tremendous experience for all of us.
  Our journey to the Rainforests of Guyana, was an experience with
  nature that we will never forget. We tremendously enjoyed the
  opportunity to learn about the Arawak People, their customs and
  their traditions.

  The boys, no doubt had the best food ever on camp, supplied by
  Arawak women. The traditional cassava bread along with stewed wild
  peccary was an experience in itself for many of us.

  As leader of the contigent, my most profound memory was the
  experience of true community based living, where everyone shared
  responsibility for the community's welfare and taking care of the
  needs of all. We were warmly greeted by all and the selflessness,
  hospitality and friendliness demonstrated by the entire tribe was
  unparalelled.

  Our thanks to Damon, his wife Shirling and the many members of the
  Simon family of Pakuri Arawak Territory who ensured that our trip
  was adventure-filled and that all our needs were well taken care of.

  Roger Berkely
  Queen's Royal College Scout Leader
  rberk@wow.net



      
Boat Tour
Scouts

  MY PAKURI ADVENTURE - May 23rd-June 1st 2003

  (24 year-old Kurt Thurber of Washington DC, USA)

  I came to Guyana to see its exotic wildlife, to blaze a trail
  through the rainforest and to have an adventure; however - that
  was only part of my time spent on the 240 square mile Pakuri
  Arawak Territory.

  I traveled 60 miles by boat up the blackwater mirror-surface
  'looks like something from Lord of the Rings' Mahaica River just
  to reach the village, slept under a traditional Arawak palm
  leaf-roof home most nights with the family of Guyana's master
  basket weaver Joseph Simon, camped out in a tent once on my
  sleeping bag with Head guide Damon Corrie - who happens to be the
  hereditary heir to the Chieftaincy of the Eagle Clan Arawaks & we
  saw a family of monkeys across the stream from the white sand
  river beach where we pitched our tent; we ate Pineapples for
  Dinner.

  We hiked to every corner of the 3 mile long by 1 mile wide Arawak
  village of 1,000 persons - I feel as though I've personally met
  and befriended at least 100 of them! I walked across what most
  closely resembled a bamboo bridge over the upper Mahaica river to
  the westernmost satellite community of Gold Hill - where I had a
  refreshing swim and was given a bag full of fruit by the friendly
  matriarch there - before hiking back to the village through a
  flooded forest.

  I traveled 3 miles downriver in a traditional Arawak dug-out
  canoe to the northernmost settlement where we ate a jungle fruit
  called Pomerak - before hiking 3 miles back to the village across
  a savanna, through a mud swamp, thick jungle and white sand
  footpaths - swimming across the Kunabali river in the process and
  crossing the Tayla Creek on a 4 inch wide fallen tree that I
  somehow could not keep my balance on and fell off into the water
  below (it wasn't that deep).

  I drank Toro palm fruit tea - which beats regular tea hands-down,
  it is naturally sweet and needs no added sugar, I ate cassava
  bread, several species of freshwater river fish, had coconut milk
  in rice with meat - and lots more unusual but tasty cuisine, saw
  lots of parrots, giant blue Morpho butterflies, and traveled out
  of the village overland in an open-backed Toyota pick-up owned by
  the Chief (who was also the driver) across flooded northern
  Amazonia savannas back to the highway that leads south to Brazil
  (unfortunately we went the other way - north to Georgetown).

  But my most lasting memory will always be the friendliness showed
  to me by the Arawak people of Pakuri & I have made many good
  friends that I will never forget - Damon Corrie included.

  I recommend the Pakuri Adventure to anyone who wants the thrill of
  combined Adventure, Culture and Nature without the headaches of
  safety concerns, mosquito born afflictions and water born diseases,
  for there are none of these worries on Pakuri Arawak Territory!

  I will definitely be back to see the Rupununi region of Southern
  Guyana in a year or two, you just can't see everything Guyana has
  to offer in 9 days!

  Kurt Thurber
  kthur12@hotmai.com


      

Letter from Ron Hooker who's Guyana Adventure was
October 27th - November 10th 2002


  Recently my mother and I enjoyed a Guyana adventure that was made
  possible by the First Nations group. The trip was primarily
  divided into three parts: a stay at the Pakuri Amerindian village
  about 2 - 3 hours south of Georgetown, a trip down river and
  through the jungle to a remote "lost" temple, and a trip to
  Kaiteur Falls on the Potaro River.

  The first part of the trip involved staying in the home of a local
  Amerindian family. This would not have been possible with a
  standard tour. I was able to experience the normal day to day
  routine that included home cooked tribal food, bathing in the
  local rivers, sleeping in hammocks (sometimes with mosquito
  netting), spending time and speaking with locals, watching
  artisans at creative work, exploring the local jungle and
  waterways, and other activities.

  Meals were wonderful. I am now able to say that I have eaten giant
  anteater, wild peccary soup, many types of exotic fruits and
  various local fishes. Most meals usually included some delicious
  form of cassava bread with rice and beans. There was also the
  evening "after dinner" drinks of casari paiari or bambazie (both
  alcoholic beverages made from the cassava root).

  The second part of the trip involved backpacking and boat travel
  into the rainforest. Along with several members of the tribe, we
  traveled to the Great Falls Indian village, a settlement of less
  than 100 people. In Guyana, this is considered the last outpost
  of civilization before the deep rainforest. From there we climbed
  the around area the Great Falls and proceeded downriver for hours
  until we landed and moved inland to locate the "lost temple".
  When I made this trip, my mother and I were only the 5th and 6th
  non-natives to visit this site. This was really the highlight of
  the trip.

  The third part of the trip consisted of a twin-engine flight to a
  remote landing strip from the 2nd world war. From there, we hiked
  to Kaiteur Falls. This is the highest straight drop falls in the
  world, a drop of 741 feet. An absolutely spectacular site made
  more so by the almost total lack of other people.

  If you are someone who craves adventure and wants to travel "off
  the beaten path", I strongly suggest you take advantage of the
  opportunities presented by First Nation. The price was quite
  reasonable and everyone treated us as guests, not as clients or
  dollar signs. Our guide, Damon Corrie, the hereditary chief of
  the Arawak tribe, made this trip possible. He took care of all
  bureaucratic red tape and all we had to do was to show up and
  enjoy the adventure.

  Ron Hooker
  rhooker@daysmolding.com

      
Ron Hooker
Ron Hooker



  Letter sent to Lonely planet on May 11th, 2002

  A few weeks ago I returned from a memorable trip to Guyana.

  Although I typically prefer to travel without a guide most of the
  time, I wasn't sure it would work very well on this trip - so we
  made advance arrangements with Damon Corrie (head guide of First
  Nations Vacations - http://www.guidedculturaltours.com) to take us
  to some of the more remote areas of Guyana.

  The trip was focused on three areas: Pakuri - in Arawak tribal
  territory, Great Falls - in Akawaio tribal territory  and St.
  Ignatius - in Makushi tribal territory (a short walk from Lethem
  town in southern Guyana) - all Amerindian villages.

  It turned out to be really important to have Damon as our guide,
  because even if we had known of these places (which we did not) -
  Damon's presence saved us the time of obtaining the necessary
  permission to visit these areas from the bureaucracy; and with him
  we were welcomed guests upon arrival.

  Seeing as there was no accomodation at any of these villages - we
  would have to have left after a cursory look around by day,
  instead we stayed with families in each village, got to know local
  people and were made to feel welcomed; we never would have gotten
  to the first two villages on our own anyway because there is no
  public transportation to such remote areas.

  Anyone who wants to see these types of off-the-beaten-track areas
  should realize it is an adventure not a vacation - with virtually
  no infrastructure, plenty of heat, bugs and other hardships, all
  of which should simply be ignored.

  My advice to the adventurous: Take the Georgetown - Lethem road,
  it is unbelievably rough and unbelievably uncomfortable! I have
  been in remote areas all over the world but i've never seen a
  'road' like that; better go soon though - Brazil wants to pave it
  to give themselves greater access to a Caribbean port - and I
  believe it will be done within a year or two.

  Anyway, anyone who is interested should contact Damon:
  By post - #13 Highgate Gardens, Wildey, St. Michael,
            BARBADOS, BB14005.
  By telephone at (246) 429-4152 or Fax at (246) 437-2018

  Damon is easy to understand and is respected among the Amerindian
  peoples of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy - of which he is the
  hereditary Chief, he has a great deal of knowledge of the wildlife
  in the areas we visited; as well as being well versed in
  Amerindian History.

  Our trip would not have been nearly as good if we had not
  contacted him and I hope Lonely Planet readers will take advantage
  of his services.


  Steven Greenwald
  43 Walnut St.
  Upton, MA 01568
  USA
      
Steve
Steve Greenwald at the front of the Canaima Yeng 'Temple of Doom' site.



  May 6, 2002

  I have been to a few places around the world in my life, but my
  most recent trip still seems too good to be true; and it was to a
  South American country that is virtually non-existant as far as
  visibility on travel forums on the internet go.

  There is more pristine rainforest, more wildlife and more
  indigenous people per capita than any country in South America
  that I have ever heard of - or actually been to; and the language
  spoken is English. I am referring to Guyana - which in my opinion
  has the best rainforest in Amazonia.

  I spent the entire time with a Barbados born descendant of
  Guyana's last hereditary Arawak Chief - a young man called Damon
  Corrie who is the Hereditary Chief of the four-tribe Confederacy
  who own and operate this unique combination of adventure, culture
  & nature based tours. Through Damon's Amerindian friends and
  relatives in three different villages in north, central, and south
  Guyana - I was treated as a guest in three different families'
  homes; each family (and village) was of a different tribe. In one
  area I was privileged to be only the third non-Amerindian person
  to visit a giant stone temple last used by the Caribs just over
  one-hundred years ago hidden in the rainforest, and I saw a truly
  huge Anaconda that was atleast feet long.

  I then travelled overland from Georgetown to Lethem town in the
  Rupununi - a distance of four-hundred miles in fifteen hours on
  the most difficult road on earth (of course this is debatable but
  this road has some serious credentials). I had a dream of a Harpy
  Eagle which led me to climb a peak in the Kanuku mountain range
  that had never been climbed before, heard stories about "Papillon"
  - the famous escapee from Devil's Island, from one of my
  Amerindian guides who lived with him at the end of his life. Made
  a day trip into Brazil, saw lots of wildlife - including a Jaguar,
  and I was given a tooth of a Jaguar that was killed by one of my
  other guides a month before; and I survived the wildest place of
  all - Georgetown at night!

  I feel incredibly fortunate to have had these experiences, and to
  have safely returned to savor them for the rest of my days.

  David Huesman
  Vermont
  USA
  avdh@sover.net
      
David
David Huesman at Wheelbarrow falls, upper Demerara River



  Subject: An open letter to all the young Adventurers from a 21
          year old Californian.

  Let me say first that this was my first trip outside the United
  States. Guyana is definitely different from the United States.
  Dr. Harley is right when he describes First Nations as different
  to the average tourist trip. That's a big reason why I chose to
  do it. I had (and have) a great desire to travel, but I don't
  like to feel like a tourist, if you know what I mean.

  I'm not so much into the idea of staying in resorts and taking
  group tours of historical sites and museums (actually, that
  sounds like a lot of fun, but I was looking for something
  different). I wanted to try to immerse myself in the culture, and
  see what it's really like rather than romanticizing it from such
  a distance as most tours do. Damon's "adventure, not a vacation"
  definitely lived up to my hopes. Plus, you can be confident that
  you are supporting a good cause with First Nations. I didn't stay
  in a big resort, but at Damon's house in Barbados. In Guyana, we
  stayed at the homes of his friends and in-laws, or camped out in
  a tent or our hammocks. Damon runs everything himself and the he
  employs Amerindian locals (where ever you happen to travel) to
  cook, clean, and guide.

  This is politically important. Damon's Pan-Tribal Confederacy is
  active in Amerindian rights in 4 (is that right?) South American
  countries (plus Dominica) and hopefully growing. One of the
  Confederacy's points of activism is in giving Amerindians,
  instead of big foreign companies, control over tourism into
  Amerindian inhabited areas. That's what First Nations is all
  about. It is critical that in a place like Guyana, which is poor,
  but has abundant natural resources, that the local people are the
  ones to benefit from that.

  ******************************************************************

  If I had to make just one recommendation, it would be to bring
  some sandals or thongs. I was stuck out in the bush with only
  boots, and we had to wade through water several times while
  traveling. Other than that, I thought I brought too much. For
  example, even though it was the rainy season, I did not want to
  wear a raincoat. It was too hot for that. The rain actually felt
  very refreshing.

  We didn't make it that far into the interior, due to the flooding
  of the rainy season, so I want to return in the dry season (ask
  Damon when that is, I'm not sure), to see the areas farther from
  the coast. I also want to return to the places I visited to see
  the friends that I made when I was there. Of the places I went,
  Great Falls was the most beautiful. It's a beautiful rainforest
  area that's pretty sparsely inhabited. The Demerara river serves
  as the highway. While being transported via canoe on the mighty
  Demerara we saw howler monkeys, parrots, and toucans. We stayed
  in a school house, under the care of Chief Leonard Fredericks,
  whose entertaining stories and conversations are as enjoyable as
  his pumpkin curry.

  Dr. Harley was also right when he said you are not treated like a
  tourist, but as a visitor. At times I felt as if I was visiting
  relatives, because they took such good care of me (especially
  food-wise) and people were friendly and interested in who I was.
  The Amerindian people were what made this trip so special for me.
  I very rarely meet so many people who are as honestly nice and
  friendly as the Arawak people of the Pakuri.

  After getting back, all I know is that I have to return to
  Guyana.

  Earl Berg
  Santa Cruz, CA
  earldberg@onebox.com
      
Earl
Earl Berg with Damon Corrie at Mahaica river, Pakuri Arawak Territory.



  Subject: OPEN LETTER TO ALL ADVENTURERS TRAVELLING TO GUYANA

  Dear Adventurer,

  When we undertook our trip with Damon we were not sure what to
  expect but felt confident that it would be different to the
  average tourist trip. We have both worked and travelled in third
  world countries in Latin America and Africa for the last 20
  years or more and decided we could handle anything Guyana dished
  up.

  Let me first say that Damon is a very quiet man, he is willing
  to do anything to please his clients, and he is thoroughly
  trustworthy. Having said this, his operation is not that of a
  tourist organisation such as you know in the US. He is extremely
  proud of his Amerindian ancestry and devotes his time to
  endeavouring to improve life and conditions for Amerindians
  living in their tribal territories in Guyana. His tour operation
  is aimed at acquainting people with Amerindians and raising a
  little money to assist in projects. Many facilities which you
  may take for granted are unavailable in the Amerindian
  territories in the interior of Guyana. For example motor
  transport is virtually nonexistant (what there is, is ancient
  and would be regarded as quite unroadworthy in the US or
  Australia! - but then this is part of the adventure that Damon
  offers) - this is a big problem and means that Damon has to
  improvise as he goes along and schedules etc may vary
  accordingly. Be prepared to travel on a tractor, in an ancient
  Land Rover or in the back of an old pickup truck - none of these
  go very fast and are really very safe. Communications are also
  almost entirely lacking - don't expect to phone home.  Be
  prepared to live and travel as an Amerindian, to eat the food of
  Amerindians, to bathe in rivers or out of a bucket, sleep in a
  hammock, etc. Actually this was the highlight of our trip -
  living the life of Amerindians. Many are well educated, hygiene
  levels are good, their houses are clean, they are healthy, and
  we found them friendly and informative. They are not used to
  tourists (in fact I think the reservations are generally off the
  beaten track for tourists) and we were treated as visitors and
  friends of Damon.

  I'm not sure whether Damon carries any insurance. I suggest you
  insure yourself for every eventuality.

  I will answer your specific questions by number, given that I do
  not know where exactly you are travelling in Guyana.

  1. The villages of Toka, Toushida and St Ignatius were our
    favourites. Pakuri is close to Georgetown and shows "city"
    influence. Also the country at Pakuri was not as interesting.
    Our camp in the Kanuku mountains was great. I do not know the
    length of your trip - we were in Guyana 17 days so we visited
    a number of different places. We would have liked to get out
    on the rivers in the Rupununi more.

  2. We were very happy with what we took. Be sure to take
    effective anti-malarials especially if you are going during
    the wet season. We took 100mg of Doxycycline from 2 days
    prior to arrival until 2 weeks after departure (effective
    against malaria resistant to conventional prophylatics). We
    also carried Larium to take if we contracted malaria. But
    check with your medico.

  3. Water in Barbados is excellent. Barbados is not a third world
    country, actually second world like eastern Europe. In Guyana
    you can get bottled water in the towns. Otherwise boil water
    or, more easily, add water purification tablets to your water
    bottle. We did this routinely. We had no upsets whatever from
    food or water in the villages.

  4. Wear boots or robust joggers. Sandals are useful around
    villages.

  5. We did not see very much wildlife. This was largely a
    function of the season and I had knee problems which
    restricted my activities. In Toka we met up with a very good
    guide, Tapok, who knew his plants, their medicinal uses and
    the animals. He is very good value.

  6. We had quite a long trip and it was starting to rain so it
    was time to leave. We only scratched the surface and would
    dearly like to return. However, it is a long and expensive
    trip from Australia and my (Ken) advancing years (72)
    restrict my activities. (Wendy is somewhat younger and would
    love to hike again with the Amerindians).  Be prepared for a
    trip totally different from anything you could experience in
    the US. But that is the joy of it. You will have a competent
    guide and be amongst wonderful people. The Amerindians
    impressed us in ther extreme.

  I'm sure you will enjoy the trip - it will be what you make it.

  Sincerely
  Dr. Kenneth L S Harley, and Dr. Iris W Forno
  Email: kenharley@bigpond.com
      
Harley
At left are Dr. Iris W Forno and her husband
Dr. Kenneth L S Harley (from Australia).
Next to them at right is Ena - our Makushi hostess at Toka village.

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