No matter which part of the world, ‘safety’ looms constantly on the solo traveller’s mind. While some countries are considered safer than others, news of stray untoward incidents creeps in from all parts of the world. The same goes for Guyana. It took Guyana almost four decades of post-Independence period to find political stability and emerge as a nation on the rise. In its formative years as a free nation came problems of poverty, petty crimes, robberies, pick pocketing and assaults. The result of this marred the nation’s reputation in being one that is unsafe for solo travellers. This impression is firmly dusted off with better infrastructure and connectivity over the last decade.
Trusting strangers is one of the implicit rules of travelling solo that makes the journey exciting. Having said that, personal discretion and relying on instinct are integral too. Consider Guyana just as safe as any other country that you would travel to. The tenets of safety are the same as any other destination or even your home country. However, there are some precautions that solo travellers can take while traversing through the nation.
Being on the road
Whether you’re in major towns and cities, or in remote locations, try and get off the road before dark. In Georgetown, you can book from reliable cab services, which can be traced, but in far-flung places, you will have to rely on public transportation or a transportation that you might have booked earlier. It is prudent to get to your destination by the evening, so you’re not being vulnerable in the night, where getting help might be more difficult.
Ensure that you share your travel plans and coordinates with someone back home at all times. When on the road, there might be days when you’re not connected by Internet or phone. In this case, let someone know where you will be travelling to and when you’re likely to be in connectivity. Even if you’re getting a local SIM card, chances are that you will not have any service in the interiors. Also, if you’re travelling with the help of a travel agent, leave their coordinates with your loved ones.
Carrying money and valuables
Chances are that you are carrying photography and video equipment, along with other valuables like phones, laptops and tablets. If you can, avoid carrying too many gadgets so you don’t have to keep an eye on them at all times. Also, you should try and keep them on you at all points of time. Booking ahead leaves you without the tension of carrying too much money in cash. Even when withdrawing money in major towns, you’re allowed only a certain sum. Packing in a manner that you can carry your stuff on you with ease, and not be too extravagant is recommended.
Interacting with locals
Local interactions are the best part of any journey. Guyana is an extremely hospitable country, where people are happy to have you sling a hammock in their yard and use it as a pad for the night. Unexpected invitations for food and sharing in people’s culture are common and heartwarming aspects of the country. However, use your discretion in interactions and go by your instinct when trusting someone. There is hardly a rule that can guarantee safety when meeting new people, but keep guards up and look out for any undesired or uncomfortable cues.
It is only natural to want to meet with new people when travelling. Food and drinks are a natural extension of hospitality and spending time. Be conscious of the amount of alcohol consumption, and exercise caution on who and where you are drinking. Local beverages can be too potent and you may not have the stomach for it.