In a country that is 87% covered in forest , it should come as no surprise that getting around isn’t the easiest. If you want to visit the biggest attraction in Guyana, Kaieteur Falls, you’re going to have to get a small plane tour.
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Visiting Kaieteur Falls and Mount Roraima
I had just spent a few days in the south of Guyana, so our flight was going to take us from the town of Lethem to Georgetown via Kaieteur, with a detour to see the huge table mountain Roraima. Most people visiting Kaieteur do a day trip from Georgetown on the coast.
Our plane was a tiny 12-seater plane, which bumped and bounced its way towards our destination. The advantage of this tiny aircraft was that we were able to fly pretty low, so we were able to take photos out the window of the amazing landscape below. We tried to attach a GoPro to the outside of the plane but we weren’t able to get it secure, no amount of duct tape could make it work.
Shooting photos out of the window was addictive, and watching the landscape move from the wide-open savannah to the mountain covered rainforest was simply incredible. There were wide rivers, towering mountains, and even lonely houses.
The windows of the plane had a blue-ish tint to them, that along with the glare of the sun made taking photos a challenge, but with landscapes as impressive as this, the photos are still impressive.
Mount Roraima straddles the border of Guyana and Venezuela, and because of its height and position, the weather here is highly unpredictable. We were flying on an almost cloudless day, but as we approached the mountain, huge swathes of clouds were beginning to form.
As we approached the table mountain, we could only just about make out a tiny corner sticking out of the clouds. We were disappointed, as this was to be one of the highlights of the trip, but luckily as we turned away and rose up we looked back and got a chance to get a few shots of the mountain.
We didn’t get the epic photos we were looking for, but when you’re dealing with places as remote as Roraima, you take what you can get!
Flight to Kaieteur Falls
From Roraima, we were treated to some incredible views as we made our way towards Kaieteur. The clouds slowly dissipated and we were able to see the lush landscape once again. There were mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and more intense forest than I’d ever seen.
The light also started to improve, and the glare on the windows wasn’t as intense, so the photos here are more accurate in terms of colour but still, the challenges of shooting out of a plane are not to be underestimated.
The really crazy thing about Guyana and this part of the country, in particular, is that most of the peaks we were seeing out of the plane have never been climbed. In a world where we can see photos of anywhere in the world online, it’s hard to imagine that there are places that are still undiscovered and unclimbed.
Arriving at Kaieteur Falls
After about an hour of flying, our guide Ian shouted at us that we were approaching the falls. We circled around the front of the falls and took them in. They’re five times higher than Niagara Falls and on average, water flows over the edge at 23,000 cubic feet per second.
This combination of height and volume of water is rare, and you can see the spray at the bottom of the falls comes up to around the height of Niagara! Pretty insane.
We landed on the airstrip and pulled up to the welcome centre. After a quick lunch, we walked down a trail led by our guide and got to see the falls up close.
We stayed at the falls for nearly two hours, taking in the sheer size of it and snapping photos. As we were there just after midday, again the light was a bit of a struggle. The sun was slightly behind the falls, so we had a really strong shadow going across the middle of the gorge.
Using some graduated ND filters, we managed to hold in enough light to get some long exposures to get that lovely flowing motion in the water.
While we were at the falls there were two other groups there, but there is ample space for everyone to enjoy the scenery without being crowded. In total there were about 20 people there, including us, and our guide Ian said that he had never seen it so busy!
Kaieteur Falls Tour Info
We stayed at the falls for about two hours in total. This seems to be the standard amount of time groups stay there. Most tours need a minimum number of people for the tour to operate, so if you’re travelling solo or in a couple, make sure to check in advance of arriving in Guyana that there is a tour that is definitely going.
Most of these tours leave around 8 in the morning and will have you back in Georgetown by 5 or 6 pm that day. The cost of the tour can vary, but it seems to be between $160 and $200 (US dollars).
You can see a list of licenced Kaieteur Falls tours on the Explore Guyana website.
On our flight out, our pilot took us over the falls for one more look. It’s well and truly a view that will stay with me for a long time.