The Guianas Experience
The Guianas Experience
Group Tour Essentials
Visas for Guyana are not required by many nationalities, including UK and US citizens, and citizens of some European countries. However we recommend that you check with your nearest embassy for the most up to date details.
For Suriname we are usually able to arrange for you to obtain the visa once you arrive in Guyana; you need to bring US$55 and two passport photos with you to enable us to do this. However as regulations can change, and it may not be possible for all nationalities, it is essential that you check with us if you intend to do this.
Travel to or via the United States
Please note that as from 21 January 2015 travellers who have previously been eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) but who have travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service) must now apply for a US visa. This must be done via an appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate. For further details please contact the US authorities.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to the UK.
We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities.
For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate. Alternatively UK citizens can visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
There is currently a departure tax of G$4000 when leaving Guyana by air. There is no departure tax when leaving Suriname.
Health and Immunisations
As with travel to most parts of Latin America, we strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningitis. The use of a DEET-containing insect repellent is highly recommended, and we recommend that you take professional advice about malaria prophylactics. You will need proof of Yellow Fever immunisation when entering Suriname from Guyana.
What should my travel insurance policy cover?
• medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad
• 24 hour emergency service and assistance
• personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property
• lost and stolen possessions cover
• cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover
• Extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as certain sports
The policy should cover the whole time that you are away.
Your policy may also have:
• personal accident cover
• legal expenses cover
Common travel insurance policy exclusions
Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy:
• most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents
You must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.
The currency in Guyana in the Guyana dollar (G$), and in Suriname it is the Suriname dollar. For current exchange rates visit www.xe.com.
Where currency can be exchanged
The best place to exchange money is in Georgetown – it has many banks and exchange bureaux. It tends to be quicker at the bureaux. Guyana is starting to have more ATMs as well. We recommend that you bring US dollars to change, as these attract the best rate of exchange and are more widely accepted than other currencies. However once you leave Georgetown it will be much more difficult to change money, although US dollars are accepted in many lodges. If you are arriving late at night and leaving Georgetown the following morning and need to change money, please advise us beforehand in order that we can facilitate this for you.
Credit cards and travellers cheques
Credit and debit cards not widely accepted for payments, even in larger towns and cities, and they are not accepted at the lodges. If you do want to bring travellers’ cheques, you should bring US dollar cheques only.
Best time to go
As Guyana and Suriname are situated just above the equator, they enjoy year round warm temperatures with an average in the high twenties (Celsius), with high humidity. It is cooler at the coast than in the interior. The interior experiences two wet seasons – the main one from May to September and a shorter rainy period in December.
In Guyana, the national and official language is English, although this tends to be a Creole version which can sometimes be slightly difficult to understand. In addition to English, Guyana’s indigenous Indian communities have languages of their own. In Suriname, Dutch is the official language.
Both countries are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to religion, with the spread reflecting immigration to the country under colonial rule. Around half the population is Christian, 35% are Hindu, and 10% Moslem.
Food and drink
Guyana and Suriname’s cuisine borrows from many other cultures, and often has a Caribbean influence to it. Cassava, yams and plantains tend to feature quite heavily, as well as coconuts, and the seafood at the coast is excellent. Chicken and fish are very common ingredients, and the Guyanese are very keen on spicy pepper sauces. Influence from immigrants from India in years gone by has seen a prevalence of curries in Guyana as well, and Javanese influence in Suriname reflects itself in Indonesian dishes.
If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
Almost all your meals are included on our trips to Guyana and Suriname, and so will not need to allow much for this – GBP100-120 is normally sufficient for a two week trip.
On our tours in Guyana and Suriname we use a number of different methods of transport. Flights are typically made in small Cessna aircraft that seat 13 passengers. We also use motorboats and 4wd vehicles for transfers between lodges and for activities.
Travelling in the destinations that we visit requires a good deal of understanding that often standards simply won’t be as they are at home. While we aim to make your trip as comfortable as possible, please be aware that we are often visiting remote or less developed regions that may have little infrastructure. While we aim to make your trip run as smoothly as possible there may be times when we need to ask for your patience while we rectify any problems.
What to take with you
First Aid Kit
The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription drugs, along with a medical kit.
When it comes to clothing it is usually recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun, along with at least one piece of waterproof clothing for any days that the weather may be wet or windy. Guyana and Suriname are warm all year round and so there is no need to bring masses of heavy clothing, although a light fleece or something similar may be appreciated. It’s a good idea to bring some long trousers and long sleeved shirts to avoid being bitten by insects.
Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended.
Your luggage should not exceed 20 lbs per person – this is due to the light aircraft used. It may be possible to accommodate extra baggage but you should check with us first, and the airlines may levy a small charge for this.
Suncream/sunblock is a must – please ensure you bring enough as it may not be available locally. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have.
You should also bring binoculars if you have them – these will greatly enhance your wildlife viewing.
This tour does not require any special degree of fitness but you will find it more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit.
Cultural and environmental guidelines
When out and about, and especially when in the rainforest please ensure that you take all non-biodegradable rubbish away with you.
You may come across beggars while on tour in Guyana. Every traveller has different perspectives on this and ultimately the choice is up to you. Many sources recommend that you watch to see if local people give, and then follow their lead with genuine beggars. We do not recommend giving money, sweets, pens etc to children as this can encourage a begging mentality and can lead to children choosing to beg rather than go to school.
You will be spending time in environments that have very little trace of human presence or development on our tours in Guyana and Suriname. It is important to ensure that they stay this way. Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotels with you where they can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well.
Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline
You should always ask permission before taking anyone's photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - in return for a photo. Taking photos of military installations, state buildings, and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.
Tipping is common practise in Latin America. If your local guide has been helpful then you could think about tipping. This amount can obviously be left to you. When tipping a driver, a guide or hotel staff a few dollars will always be gratefully received.
Foreign Office Advice
We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At present there are no warnings against travel to Guyana or Suriname. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns or would like to know in detail what measures are being taken to ensure visits remain trouble free and without incident.
It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government.
Public Holidays in Guyana
1 Jan New Year’s Day
23 Feb Republic Day
1 May Labour Day
5 May Indian Arrival Day
26 May Independence Day
16 June Enmore Martyr’s Day
1st Monday in July CARICOM Day
1 Aug Emancipation Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
26 Dec Boxing Day
Dates are for guidance only and may vary year to year
Plugs are generally of the three pin, American style plugs. However in Georgetown the plugs are of the two pronged, round European style. We recommend that you bring a multi-adapter.
Guyana – The Bradt Guide, Kirk Smock
Searching for El Dorado - Marc Herman
Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice - Mark Plotkin
IMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ
Please note that the information provided is correct at the time of writing but may change. It is intended as a guide only. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk or contact your local healthcare provider.
In addition we strongly advise you to check the information and any travel advice provided by your government. For British citizens you should visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk.
Furthermore, you should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.
Issue Date – 30/03/16 - JL
For possible changes to this dossier please call +44 (0)191 296 2674