The unexplored South Rupununi

South Rupununi is a place with history, depth, various lifestyles, cultures and a place with an inexplicable feeling of home. It has been a destination for more adventurous visitors throughout the years, and has maintained a wilderness and a culture that is unique. A blend of Indigenous traditions and ranching influence; creating a lifestyle that is unlike any other in the world.

Flying into Lethem, the town in Guyana’s Region 9, Rupununi; you fly over the expansive Savannah and wetlands of the North. From air, coming into Lethem – you see little of the south behind the rising blue Kanukus. Within and behind these mountains lies the unexplored south.

Driving along the road that curves around the Kanukus, you cannot help but feel a rising excitement within yourself, mirroring the rising mist and clouds off the Mountain tops. Here are some of the highlights of the unexplored south;

Shulinab:

          Saurab Falls

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Saurab Falls, located in the Kanuku Mountains offers the visitor a beautiful and relaxing camping spot. From here, there are wild trails leading alongside the creek, upwards into the mountains to more waterfalls. Higher still in the mountains, there are old farming grounds from the balata days; Shulinab residents lived and worked high in the mountains – harvesting or “bleeding”

Skull/Bones Mountain

Rock paintings and clay pots containing human archaeological remains in a cave; this area is considered a sacred site and special permission has to be granted from Shulinab Village Council for any visits to this area.

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There are many petroglyphs in the Rupununi, but not many paintings – there are a few stories about the reason for this cave, high on top of a black rock outcrop in the Kanukus. But to hear the stories; you should visit Shulinab Village yourself.

Saddle Mountain

This ranch is owned by the Kenyon family. The Ranch was started by Thomas Kenyon, who acquired the lease from Dadanawa Ranch. The breath taking beauty that belongs to the south is captured here, set between the Kusad Mountain range, a beautiful river and the iconic Shiriri Mountain, you will find yourself feeling at home with the family. Joan Bell, the mother of the household mainly runs the tourism aspect of the ranch, hosting volunteers through Fronteering and having a frequent supply of visitors to the area who ride horses, swim, fish, look for ant eaters, take part in the ranch life and even go to Joan’s peanut farm. It is a blend of relaxation at a lodge in cabin style accommodation and traditional life.

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Dadanawa

The oldest ranch in Guyana and the Rupununi, Dadanawa has long been accepting friends as guests. It is a place where you become integrated into the life and soul of the land. Travelling with cowboys over the Savannahs looking for cattle on the open plains, seeking wildlife like anteaters between the Kaiambe trees. Take part in the action of bringing the cattle into the corral, parting the herds and watching the cowboys compete with each other in a mini rodeo, showcasing their skills and bravery. Take a peaceful, scenic canoe ride or relax in the creeks and rivers around the ranch.

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Life seems to float by and the worries fade as life becomes about practicality. The stars are an unbelievable sight in the south Rupununi – with the milky way painted white on the black canvas of the night sky.  Use Dadanawa as a base to launch on a River Adventure down the Rupununi River, passing through Sand Creek Village (Suburun Tao) which sits between two rivers and close to the might Kanukus. A village so beautiful that folk songs have been written about its scenic vistas.

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The Rivers are an amazing sight in Rupununi, drying to the rock bed with deep pools in the dry season and bursting its banks and into the Savannahs in the Rainy season. Regardless of the season, there is beauty to appreciate. In the dry season, animals congregate around the deep pools that have water and in the rainy season – you can see birds, monkeys and anacondas along the rivers.

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Hose back riding with Leroy Ignacio at Dadanawa Ranch

Going further south from Dadanawa Ranch, there are villages such as Rupunau that is set in a hilly, quartz area, also set against the backdrop of the blue Kanuku and to the east of the village there are outcrops of black crop set strikingly against the blue sky. A visitor can climb some of these mountain rock outcrops for spectacular views of the surrounding savannah. Out in the savannahs there are petroglyphs, carved into these outcrops. The visitor can study these carvings and wonder upon their meanings and be transported to a different time in history. For the more adventurous visitor, Sheas and Maruranau have some simple trails that can be used to access the Kwitaro river.

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Further south – up the headwaters of the Essequibo, lie the smallest group of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana, the Wai Wai. This group have the largest title land in Guyana and have recently moved to put their land up for protection under Guyana’s National Protected Area System (NPAS). Their land is only accessible by river or chartered flight, it borders the southernmost past of Guyana and northern Brazil. A land almost covered in forest and a people who are willing and interested in bringing select tourism to their community.

Rupununi Trails has been arranging exploratory and adventure trips for over 25 years, paving the way for this special tourism in the Rupununi. They have taken some clients on adventures through this jungle, river and rapids – camping along the way. Being submersed in the wilderness for a week to two weeks and in some cases a month, the visitor can be guaranteed sightings of the many endangered species and a trip to last a lifetime.

Seasons to come:
Most people come between September to April, which is the dry season.
May to August is Rainy Season –If you can brave the insects and floods, it is a stunning time to come to the South Rupununi. The Savannah comes alive and green. Creeks and rivers overflow into the savannah the little rivulets of water form across the savannah. Despite its hardships, it is a season of fun and life.

Things to try:

Damooriid (pepperpot) – local dish made from fresh cassava water and fish, but can be served with other meats and cassava bread
Parikari (Cassava Beer) – Delicious, strained thin, sweet and strong, the local beverages in south Rupununi have no competition in Guyana
Farine (local staple food made with cassava)
Tasso (Dried, salted meat – often fried or roasted on open fire – a traditional cowboy food)
Passock (Influenced from Brazil, pounded tasso, mixed with farine)
Boily (A recipe with fresh beef, seasoning and water, slow cooked to perfect deliciousness)
There are various local fruits found in Rupununi that are simply delicious.

Contact Rupununi Trails at defreitasduane@yahoo.comfor your adventure today. 