It’s been a slow-moving morning. You left Georgetown, Guyana’s little capital. You drove west along the Atlantic coast, until you reached the port of Parika. Then you boarded a boat on the Essequibo, the country’s longest river. You passed bigger islands, Leguan and Hog, first. They were followed by smaller, probably nameless, ones. Huge barges pushed by in the opposite direction. You headed up the river and into the rainforest. A few hours later, you finally reached Bartica.
Bartica is known as the Gateway to the Interior. The waterfront town, located where the Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers meet the Essequibo, is the launching point for expeditions and miners heading into the dense rainforest. A guesthouse, a few restaurants, and a couple of cheap bars prove the transient nature of the town. You’re not even staying. After a quick stop at the market, you board another boat, as well. This one is heading another five miles up the river.
It seems as though you’re heading into trouble or, at the very least, you’re about to get quite lost. But when you start to see the Baganara Island Resort, all fears quickly dissipate. A golden-sand beach rings the island. Flowering bushes, a little gazebo, and a perfectly manicured lawn lead up a slight incline. The old-fashioned building has wide porches, dangling hammocks, and a bright orange roof. Palm trees and the beginning of more rainforest stand behind it. While a passing toucan looks as though he’s coming to greet you.
As you’re settling into your classic room, a quick shower passes over the resort. It gives you time to check out the building—full of wood paneling and board games—and grab a piña colada at the bar. Head down to the beach when the sun re-emerges. Fish is grilling at the beachfront BBQ. A volleyball net is set up on the sand. Kayaks sit at the edge of the water. Plus small sailboats bob just offshore. You’d never guess the rainforest was behind you from this perfect beachfront scene.
But there’s no doubt you’re in the middle of the rainforest as you set out to explore. See monkeys and sloths during a kayaking trip up nearby creeks. Ride a boat through rapids and hike into the jungle to see Marshall Falls. Cool off by swimming in the pool beneath them while you’re there. Then return to the resort for another piña colada before dinner—featuring lots of herbs and spices—is served. You may not be in trouble, but you’re happily lost in the jungle.