Kaieteur Falls: How Do I Get There?
In our experience, the logistics of visiting Kaieteur Falls
is very nontrivial. As mentioned in the main page, the falls has largely escaped commercialism and development. So while this is a blessing for us nature lovers, it also makes it rather difficult to visit.
While there are a handful of ways to view the falls, we're going to describe the way we did it, which also happened to be most popular option. That option was the day trip to and from Georgetown
. Other options involve multi-day tours that are probably more eco-friendlier but they demand more physical fitness, schedule flexibility, money, and time.
Our day trip (which I'd imagine would be the most typical tour to Kaieteur Falls) involved lots of flying in a small twin propeller (or twin prop) plane. Because of the size of the plane, it also meant we would feel the turbulence if we encountered any. Nonetheless, the small plane was necessary because the airstrip near the top of the falls probably wouldn't support any larger kind of craft that would require even more runway.
The flight time from Georgetown
to the top of the falls was about an hour. The tour company that we booked with pick us up from our accommodation in Georgetown
at around 8am. After all the usual routines of air travel (checking in and waiting), we were then flown to the airstrip above the falls.
Once we were at the airstrip, we spent around 90 minutes to 2 hours viewing the falls while doing some light walking with a native Amerindian guide. Our tour included a picnic lunch, which was a rotisserie-style or BBQ chicken, I recalled. We did that at the end of our waterfall touring.
After we took off from the airstrip above Kaieteur Falls, we then flew over to Orinduik Falls
, which included as part of our day tour. I understand that they sometimes they nix this waterfall in favor of some other site if the river at Orinduik Falls would be too flooded to safely swim or soak. I'm not sure what that alternative site would be. Anyways, the flying time from Kaieteur Falls to the airstrip by Orinduik Falls took about a half hour.
Once we landed at Orinduik Falls, we spent another hour or so at this waterfall to allow for some swimming and photography. By the time this part of the tour was over, we flew back to Georgetown, which was said to be 90 minutes (though I swear it felt longer than that!).
When all was said and done, we were back at our accommodation at 5pm. Barring unforseen circumstances, I'd imagine between 5-6pm would be a typical end time on most tours like this.
Now that you know what's typically involved in a tour to Kaieteur Falls, let's talk about the pre-travel logistics...
First, we started off by trying to secure a tour to the falls. Unfortunately, most tour operators required a minimum number of people to partake in a trip to the falls (though this was understandable especially with fuel prices inevitably rising due to oil's dwindling supply). For the tour company taht we took, this minimum was four people, but I understand that it could be as high as eight people.
Since Julie and I normally travel as just a duo, we were slaved to the circumstances of existing bookings. In the case of our Labor Day Weekend trip, there was already a group of 6 people going on the Sunday we were here. So we had to start from there and then find flights from Los Angeles to Georgetown
, Guyana and back surrounding that Sunday. There were no other bookings available at the time on other days around the weekend.
Being a South American destination, flying to Guyana from LA meant connecting in Miami
. Then, we had to fly to Georgetown with a connection in the Port of Spain
in Trinidad and Tobago. The flying time from LA to Miami
was around 5 hours. The flying time from Port of Spain
was about 3.5 hours. The flying time from Port of Spain to Georgetown was about an hour. Of course, there were also lots of waiting time at the airports as well as unforseen delays (especially at the Trinidad and Tobago airport).
Naturally, these transit times and logistics will differ depending on where you're at, but at least this gives you a rough idea of how much time to budget for travel days as well as how to prepare for the uncertainty of including a tour that requires a minimum number of people.
In summary, our Labor Day Weekend in 2008 timeline looked something like this:
- Day 1 - ~6:00 Fly out of LAX to MIA
- Day 1 - 14:10 Arrive at MIA (Miami International Airport)
- Day 1 - ~17:00 Fly out of MIA to Trinidad & Tobago
- Day 1 - 21:15 Arrived in Trinidad & Tobago Airport
- Day 1 - 23:00 Flew out of Trinidad & Tobago Airport for Georgetown (flight was delayed)
- Day 1 - 00:00 Landed in Georgetown, Guyana
- Day 1 - 01:30 Finally arrived at our accommodation in Georgetown,
- Day 2 - 08:00 Transported to airstrip for Kaieteur Falls Tour
- Day 2 - 10:50 Arrived at airstrip by Kaieteur Falls
- Day 2 - ~13:00 Left Kaieteur Falls for Orinduik Falls
- Day 2 - ~14:00 Arrived at airstrip by Orinduik Falls
- Day 2 - ~15:00 Flew out of Orinduik Falls for Georgetown, Guyana
- Day 2 - ~17:00 Arrived at our accommodation in Georgetown
- Day 3 - 06:00 Flew out of Georgetown
- Day 3 - 19:30 Finally back at home in LA (after connection in Trinidad & Tobago and in Miami)
Granted, fitting in an adventure like this over a Labor Day Weekend (even if it was a long weekend) was a bit rushed. I'd imagine you'd typically want to add at least 2 or more days (probably more like 5 or more days) to do Guyana justice. Needless to day, I was dead tired when I returned to work the next day!
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