THINGS TO DO
Lethem and Around
Located at the border of Brazil, Lethem is home to the annual action during the Rupununi Rodeo weekend around Easter. The red laterite roads flanked with golden brown savannahs, massive termite hills and the surrounding Kanuku and Pakaraima Mountains make this a hard-to-resist landscape. Use Lethem as a jumping off point to explore working cattle ranches, community conservation areas, and Indigenous Villages. Giant anteaters, Red Siskins, anacondas and a host of other wildlife and birds, are just a few reasons why travellers cannot get enough of the region.
Sand Creek Rodeo
South Rupununi lies at the heart of Guyana’s ranch-life, where bull and horse riding are second nature to the locals. Rodeo events like Rupununi Rodeo and Sand Creek Rodeo transport travellers to the wild west as skilled vaqueros show off their tricks such as saddle bronc or bareback riding. Sand Creek Rodeo is a day-long event of cowboy hats and boots, beer drinking, and a host of other rodeo events that promise to enthral. It happens just a day after the Rupununi Rodeo, and is a great way to extend the weekend to watch more barrel racing, tie down roping and bull or horse riding.
Timings: Dawn to dusk; Entry Fee: US$5
Just a short drive away from Lethem, the indigenous village of Kumu is home to the eponymous falls that drop over 1520 feet. At the base of each section, natural jacuzzis offer the perfect setting to beat the tropical heat. The dry months are easy to navigate the falls, but in the monsoons, the water gushes down relentlessly. A traditional village style complex at the entrance is great for a cookout, hanging a hammock for a snooze, or lingering on for a picnic.
Timings: Dawn to dusk; Entry Fee: US$20
Skull and Bones Mountain
The first settlers, the Indigenous Peoples, discovered Guyana almost 35,000 years ago. These were cultivators, hunters, and fishermen who lived off the land – and still do. Traditional practices exist amongst these people who are well connected to their roots. Amongst some of the ancient practices is the burial tradition of leaving the dead in large earthen pots on top of hills. Skull and Bones Mountain is an ode to this practice. The hike starts from a thick copse at the base, and even though it isn’t a steep trek, one needs a guide with a machete to make their way through thick creepers and vines. On top, a cave houses large and small earthen pots with skulls and bones. This may be the main highlight, but the large array of flora comes in a close second.
Timings: Dawn to dusk ; Entry Fee: Free
Living the Ranch Life
Dust off that cowboy hat and your boots, and saddle up! This is going to be a ride (or trot, if you will) of a lifetime. Check-in at some of the oldest and most iconic working ranches in the Rupununi to experience life in a typical cattle farm. Saddle Mountain, Wichabai, and Dadanawa, which used to be the largest ranch in the world at one point of time, are a few of the best places to stay. The vast feeding grounds, vegetable gardens and cassava farmlands truly celebrate the Rupununi landscape. Riding into the sunset may be on your mind, but also be prepared to herd the cows back, clean them and feed the pigs and poultry. If none of that is up your alley, saddle up your horse and go for another memorable ride. Read more about the Rupununi ranches here.
In the deep South, Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area offers the possibility of close encounters with wildlife and birds. This was the first community owned protected area in Guyana. With virgin forests and expansive savannahs, it is home to an astounding diversity and abundance of wildlife and pristine habitat. The rugged beauty and rustic charm of Rupununi is at full display here; so it is recommended you take in all the grand landscapes slowly and secure a guide to ensure that you get the necessary permission to visit.