Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Martei Korley
This story is part of an ongoing photo series highlighting life and culture in Guyana, the “Land of Many Rivers.”
A series of wide, multi-tiered cascades set amidst the savanna-like foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, Orinduik Falls could easily have remained unknown to all but a few land surveyors and the local Macuxi people. Only the existence of a dirt airstrip however has made it a frequent stop on tourist flights to Kaieteur Falls, Guyana’s most popular attraction, 80km and a quick, 20-minute flight away.
It turns out Orinduik is the perfect place to cool down after a hot walk in the muggy rainforest around Kaieteur. The tourist planes come here because, unlike Kaieteur, it is accessible for swimming. The waters of the Maú (or Ireng) River, an Amazon tributary dividing Guyana from the northeastern corner of Brazil, tumble over picturesque red jasper, creating natural jacuzzis, and priceless, pose-under-the-waterfall photo-ops. The rocks here are incredibly slippery but, with a little concentration, it is possible to cross the river under the falls, which are divided in the middle by a dry ‘beach’ of rocks.
Despite the daily visits from tourists, Orinduik has the feel of a very lonely place. The falls are overlooked on the Guyana side by a single house, named for Michael Shree-Chan, a former Guyanese MP. Brian Boyce, a young cop serving his first assignment, was stationed here alone at the time of our visit. A handful of Macuxi dwellings exist nearby, but the nearest settlement of any size is Uiramutã, some 20km into Brazil, within the massive indigenous territory known as Raposa Serra do Sol.
Follow us into the falls in Martei Korley’s photo series below, and look out for our next stops in the Guyana interior, Arrowpoint Nature Reserve and Santa Mission Amerindian Village, as we continue our Guyana travel series, Many Rivers.
A view of the falls from the air.
The grass and rocks in the foreground are in Guyana; the trees and plateau in the background belong to Brazil.
The Michael Shree-Chan House. The late Shree-Chan was Guyana’s minister of tourism and industry.
Several other waterfalls exist along the Maú (Ireng) River, an Amazon tributary. However, Orinduik is the most easily accessible.
The falls are 25 meters tall and more than 150 meters wide with a ‘beach’ separating the waters into opposing sets of rapids.
Brian Boyce is a rookie cop from Georgetown on his first rotation for the Guyana Police Force.
Across the river, in Brazil’s Roraima state, is Raposa Serra do Sol, an indigenous territory occupied primarily by the Macuxi. It is the largest of Brazil’s 700 delineated indigenous territories, in terms of land mass.
A close-up view of the cascade, near the Guyana side of the falls.
Stationed alone, hundreds of miles from friends and family, Boyce has plenty of time for reflection.
Red jasper, an aggregate of quartz, can be used to make vases and is also harvested as a gemstone.
A pair of experienced swimmers — pilots from the Kaieteur route — make their way into the Maú.
No one can resist the opportunity for this photo-op.
These two definitely brought the proper gear. Water shoes are recommended, or your photo-op might turn into a slip and slide.
Doesn’t that look refreshing?!?
The effects of deforestation can be seen in this view out into the foothills of the Pakaraima Range. Even in a place as remote as Orinduik, modernity has made its presence felt.
Several local airlines, including Air Services Ltd., Roraima Airways and Trans Guyana Airways, operate flights to Kaieteur Falls, with and without a stop at Orinduik, from Georgetown’s Ogle Airport. Check their websites, linked above, for rates and times.
A girl from a nearby settlement heads off into the distance.