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I


ts vantage point at


the confluence


of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni Rivers with the Essequibo gives the small


town of Bartica views across a vast expanse of water — and makes it the main staging point for expeditions into Guyana’s rugged north-west. It’s also the last outpost of civilisation for the many gold and diamond miners in this region of forests and mountains. Fittingly, the town has a raffish charm, centred around the main stelling, where you’ll find a constant flow of river traffic, a small market, rough- and-ready bars and restaurants, and other kinds of establishments catering to men who spend long, lonely months out in the bush, prospecting for minerals. There are a few hotels here, but the


few tourists who arrive in Bartica are generally on their way to somewhere else — usually on a day-trip up the Mazaruni to visit one of the nearby waterfalls, or perhaps on a riverside camping expedition. The Benedictine monastery not far outside Bartica welcomes guests (with advance notice) — the atmosphere is both contemplative and convivial, and there are few better places to seek out simple peace and quiet. At Bartica’s northern end, Golden Beach — looking out over


the


confluence of the rivers — is the home of the town’s annual Easter regatta, when river vessels of various shapes and sizes compete to a soundtrack of pounding music.


F


orty miles upriver from Bartica, Gluck Island is still


little known outside Guyana.


Three miles wide by eight miles long, almost untouched by man, the island is home to two hundred bird species (and counting), plus river otters, caiman, monkeys, armadillos, and dozens more species — plus the closest location to Georgetown where you can see the celebrated giant Victoria amazonica waterlilies in the wild. Depar t ing f rom the nearby vi l lage of the lily ponds are a thirty-minute


Rockstone,


boat trip via creeks into the heart of Gluck Island. Victoria amazonica is famous both for its enormous circular leaves, which grow up to three feet across, and for its huge pink blossoms, which open at dusk.


Above Shopping in Bartica Left Guyana’s famous Victoria amazonica waterlilies


Caribbean Airlines operates regular flights to Georgetown from Trinidad, Barbados, and New York, with connections to other destinations


WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 65


KAJORNYOT/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM


MICHAEL MCCRYSTAL


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