Let’s go and visit the ‘Old Man Kaieteur’
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The Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River in GUYANA is 741 feet of free-flowing water and five times the height of the Niagra in Canada (Wikipedia photo)
The Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River in GUYANA is 741 feet of free-flowing water and five times the height of the Niagra in Canada (Wikipedia photo)

By Francis Quamina Farrier
TUCKED away in the highlands of Guyana is one of the country’s principal tourist attractions – The Kaieteur Falls. My first visit to the “Mighty Kaieteur Falls” which is located on the Potaro River, deep in the hinterland of our beautiful Guyana, was by one of the many organised trips by school teacher Marge Rockliffe. Due to her unique method of organising her various Guyana hinterland trips, many who made them would not have been able to do so due to financial constraints. Marge Rockliffe, who was also a Girls Guide Leader, had a unique system, especially for those who were not financially strong. She accepted payments from most of the young prospective (local) tourists by instalment payments. She was a highly respected and trusted citizen, and a tour organiser with vast experience.

When I got to know her and made my first trip to Kaieteur, she resided at the top flat of a building on the south-western side of Middle and Cummings Street, South Cummingsburg, Georgetown. Prospective tourists like myself who did not have the financial fortitude to go into a deep pocket and extract the total sum for the tour with one payment paid a bit at a time. As the Guyanese saying goes, “One-one dutty build dam.” As such, her instalments system allowed many who would otherwise been unable to tour, to get to see Kaieteur and other tourist destinations in the Guyana hinterland. So after weeks and months, the total sum was achieved; every instalment was properly recorded in Ms. Rockliffe’s notebook.

I have been to Kaieteur Falls several times, but that first trip, remains the best, especially because it was overland; all the other trips were by aeroplane. Now, let me relate exactly the step by step journey from the city to the Falls. The first leg was from Cummings and Middle Streets to the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) Ferry stelling at the western end of Brickdam, where we boarded the Ferry boat Queriman, and journeyed across the Demerara river to Vreed-en-Hoop. We then boarded the West Coast Demerara train and travelled to Parika on the Essequibo River. There, we boarded another steamer and travelled fifty miles up the Essequibo River to Bartica, where we overnighted. Next day, we travelled by a ‘bush bus’ – a lorry which was fitted with seats – and made an extremely rough 111-mile journey to Mahdia, where we overnighted. On the third day, we journeyed up the Potaro river to a small location called Tukite. On that river leg of the journey, it was necessary, on two occasions, for the group to disembark from the boat, which was then pulled out of the river and dragged up a fairly steep portion of the river bank, beyond a roaring rapid.

That second day ended when we arrived at a camp location where the group spent the night. The accommodation was certainly not Five Star, but fairly comfortable – and a bit cold. The next morning everyone was anxious to make the steep climb to Kaieteur’s top. It was not easy, and demanded physical energy, which was testing. However, all members of the group made it to the top.  On seeing the mighty Kaieteur up close and so majestic, everyone was happy and proud to have made that journey of a lifetime. This much can be said about Kaieteur Falls – no photograph, video or film can ever bring it’s roaring might to a viewer, as to behold it in reality.

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