Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Martei Korley
So far in our Guyana travel series Many Waters, we’ve crisscrossed the capital of Georgetown, hit the city’s famed Sea Wall for a Sunday-night lime, and flown into the country’s interior for a close-up on the breathtaking and iconic Kaieteur Falls, and a relaxing swim along the Brazil border. For our next stop, we head somewhere in between: The Arrowpoint Nature Resort, an eco-lodge about two hours from Georgetown by a combination of bus and boat.
Set along Kamuni Creek, a tributary of the Demerara River, Arrowpoint hosts eight overnight rooms but is perhaps more popular as a destination for day trips. Owing to its short distance from the capital, it’s an ideal destination for travelers who want to wade into Guyana’s untamed interior without giving up city comforts overnight.
Organized trips to Arrowpoint typically begin at Duke Lodge, a hotel near the American embassy in Georgetown. From there, it’s about a 45-minute drive to the river access point, just off the Georgetown/Timehri Highway in Soesdyke, and another hour, by boat, across the Demerara and up through the cola-like water of Kamuni Creek. Slow-moving, blackwater creeks are a trademark feature of Guyana, and the tannin-filled waters of Kamuni Creek are as dark as they come.
Arrowpoint is located just past Santa Mission, an Amerindian settlement a few miles west of the Demerara, and most tours stop here for an introduction to local culture. Staff at Arrowpoint mostly come from Santa Mission, which is home to about 200 residents and a gift shop selling baskets, arrows and other crafts made by local women. (We’ll have more on Santa Mission in a future story.)
Just across the creek from Santa Mission, the ruins of the Timberhead Rainforest Resort, an eco-lodge once visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Jimmy Carter, wait patiently for a resurrection. Eco resorts like Arrowpoint are a growing, and significant part of Guyana’s tourism product, but tourism is still very small-scale here. Apparently, two eco lodges was more than Kamuni Creek could handle.
Once arrived at Arrowpoint, guests can participate in several activities including kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, and hiking. Several hundred species of birds have been documented in the vicinity; the wreckage of a downed plane can also be found within the maze of surrounding trails. A small beach provides easy access to the creek. While many guests are wary to wade into unfamiliar waters with almost no visibility, Arrowpoint staff assert that there are no predators or other threats to be concerned with.
“There is nothing artificial about our tourism,” says Capt. Gerry Gouviea, whose company, the Roraima Group, owns Arrowpoint and the Duke Lodge. Gouviea, a former pilot with the Guyana Defence Force, founded Roraima Airways in 1990, and is one of the leading boosters of the country’s tourism industry. “Eco tourism is not just a cliche word, and it’s not just about the environment,” he says.“It is about preserving the culture of the Amerindians. Making sure that the people who go into the village learn about the people’s culture. When we fly into the jungle at night, into the mountains, you see a lot of fires. People sitting in their villages having bonfires. At Arrowpoint, at night we have a bonfire on the beach, and we have dinner. A lot of the activities at the resort are reflective of the Amerindian culture. We don’t use machines.”
Day trips and overnight stays at Arrowpoint Nature Resort can be booked through the Roraima Group here. Day trips run $95; overnight stays are $241 per night, including meals.
Headed down Kamuni Creek
The crew awaiting guest arrivals
Canoes lying in wait
Santa Mission residents and Arrowpoint staff Valentine (left) and Benjy enjoy a laugh
Sharon Ramlakhan keeps the books in order
Guide Derek Poole lays out the day’s activities
Benjy leads a canoe expedition down the creek
They don’t call it black water for nothing
Buttress roots anchor trees deep down into Kamuni Creek’s cola-colored waters. In this impossibly quiet place, tannin-rich waters flow by, glass-like, without so much as a ripple.
A deeper look…
After a canoe ride into the jungle, it’s time for some lunch…
Three Guyanese staples: Banks and GT Beer, and El Dorado Demerara Rum
A Guyanese lunch: Roti skin, pumpkin choka and Banga Mary, a local fish, with rice and salad
Guests enjoying lunch, and a little rum
Sticky, gooey and delicious, cassava pones are a classic Guyanese dessert. Cassava, said to have originated in this part of South America, was, and to a degree still is, the primary staple of the local Amerindian diets.
Back on the Demerara, in time to catch the sunset