Guyana is rapidly emerging as the new jewel in the crown of rainforest destinations around the World. Because of its size, relatively few tourists and the remoteness of the interior locations, many trips are planned by local operators who know the place well and can best work the infrastructure and attractions of Guyana into a great tour.
But if you want to do something a little different, your dates don’t match a scheduled trip or you need more of a bespoke package then that is no problem!
One such person was movie star Channing Tatum and a group of friends who travelled to Guyana in 2012. They reached out to the UK and Guyana registered tour operator Bushmasters (who specialize in adventure and survival experiences in the jungle) to develop a trip which would push these guys to the limits, to see if they can handle life without all the luxuries of home, but also to have some serious fun and memories to last a life time.
Channing and his friends flew to Surama, but of course en route they stopped off at the amazing Kaieteur Falls. The fact that it is in the middle of nowhere, has no cheesy souvenir stands or such like and there was no one else there, made the experience of this huge jungle waterfall all the more stunning.
In Surama they slept every night in hammocks in the jungle, lit their own fire with no matches, swam rivers using their packs as floatation aids, climbed into the tallest of the silk cotton trees (and rappelled down afterwards), fished for their dinner and even had a mad and exciting day of paintball in the forest. One scenario had them protecting some local girls from the bad guys! GI Joe himself as one of their bodyguards certainly went down very well with the girls!! Throughout their time in the interior of Guyana and deep into the forest the guys had with them Bushmasters staff and the awesome local hunters from the village. Ninja 1 and 2 as they became known!
“Every person we met was so laid back, nice, and capable! Man were they ever capable. We watched one of the local boys fish using his bow and arrow, and he was spearing fish from 30 feet away! Fish that we couldn’t even see were there. It was amazing.”
Indeed, throughout their time in Guyana the team was really made to feel safe, at home and really welcome by the people. To say Channing and his friends were impressed is an understatement.
“The people in Guyana are half the story, they’re incredible. It’s like something out of a storybook. They can fix a car with a roll of duct tape and kill a charging jaguar with a bow and arrow, and all with a calm smile on their face like they’ve done it a million times before.”
From the jungle the guys took to 4×4 vehicles to bounce along rainforest tracks and then out into the savannah for the 150km journey across the savannah. In torrential rain, they drove the vehicles through swollen creeks, muddy tracks and were often winching, pulling and hi-lift jacking themselves out of the many stick ups they got into. It was hard driving, but great fun with the tunes coming loud from each vehicle.
Finally, reaching Lethem on the Brazilian border the guys had a let their hair down that night at a well known Brazilian BBQ next to the airstrip and later at the Takatu Hotel, where, along with what seemed like half of the youth of Lethem, they had a great Tuesday (!) night out. Channing had several dance offs with local guys testifying to his Step Up Movie street dance skills, whilst the rest took to karaoke, pool and some awesome guitar solos!
As Channing said:
“After the jungle, and long road trip to the border; we had barbeque at this awesome Brazilian place and then spent the night hanging with the locals, dancing, singing, and drinking the local rum. Easily one of the best travel experiences of my life so far.”
This carried on to the very early hours so the flight back to Georgetown the next day was pretty quiet, though by the evening all had recovered enough to hit the Brazilian BBQ and then onto a great night out at Jerries on Waterloo Street. Jerries graffiti wall is still full of the whole teams prose!
After 10 days in Guyana the guys left next day, having had a great time, loving Guyana and planning their next boys own adventure. Channing was on the Letterman show a few days later promoting the Magic Mike movie, but also extolling the virtues of Guyana and the jungle. Letterman thought he was crazy swimming rivers full of piranha, caiman and anacondas, but for Channing and his friends, this is what it was all about, getting back to basics, to pristine nature and in Guyana they found the perfect place….how about you?
Channing summed it up perfectly
“Going to Guyana is like stepping back in time. It’s so untouched by man. The Jungle, the plains, the rivers and the animals. Seriously, I’m not sure you could find another country this far off the beaten path and pristine left on earth.“
Story & Photos by Ian Craddock