Georgetown to Kaieteur National Park: Untamed, Unspoiled, Unbelievable

There were thirteen people on my flight to Kaieteur Falls in Guyana today. And two of them were in the cockpit. 

TransGuyana Airways Ogle to Kaieteur

On board the smallest plane I’ve ever been on (a “Grand Caravan,” which felt like a fitting name, as it was a sort of minivan of the sky), what surprised me was the lightness — how we just left the ground with what seemed like almost no exertion at all. (The flip side: Every bout of turbulence feels like impending doom.)

The pastel roofs of Georgetown seemed like almost an accidental splotch of color after a few minutes, swallowed up quickly by the mighty Amazon rainforest. 

We followed the Demerara River, a sort of muddy behemoth, deeper into the jungle until the clouds occluded our view. Somewhere along the way it became the Potaro River, but I don’t know how or when.

On the descent, the endless green of undisturbed treetops. This honest-to-God ocean of green filling every slope, every sheer cliff, every valley — each little patch no doubt teeming with life.

And then, out of nowhere, the Falls.

Kaieteur Falls from the air.

A wall of water cutting through the green. The closer we flew, the deeper it plunged.

We landed adjacent to a wooden bungalow, and our Amerindian tour guide took us along the pathway to three lookout points, each precipice offering a view more spectacular than the last.

You kind of don’t get the magnitude of “longest single-drop waterfall in the world” until you’re there. You hear the rush way before you see it. It sounds like a strong breeze from far away. And when you actually get there, it’s more like the hum of a jet engine.

Kaieteur Falls from Boy Scout lookout point.

The first thing I noticed: Kaieteur is the color of molasses. This enormous cascade of molasses, 800 feet long and about 200 feet wide, a never-ending testament to the awesome power of Nature.

Below, constant clouds of water, giving way to a gorgeous river valley that, even without the Falls, would’ve been worth all this. With them, it’s one of the most stunning natural wonders I’ve ever seen. And aside from our ragtag band from the Grand Caravan, there was not a soul there.

Kaieteur Falls panoramic view.

Do you see how many tourists are in the frame? FOUR. This place has no crowds. 

Well, unless you count the jaguars, who were probably eyeing us from inside the jungle.

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