Rivers & Waterfalls of Guyana
Guyana, being such a water-rich country, has an elaborate system of rivers and creeks. Most of these rivers have their sources in the great mountain ranges of the south and west, and flow northerly and easterly, reaching the Atlantic Ocean after meandering through virgin forests. Four major rivers cross the Guyana coastal plain - (from west to east) the Essequibo, the Demerara, the Berbice, and the Courantyne. The Essequibo, the country's major river, runs from the Brazilian border in the south to a wide delta west of Georgetown.
Guyana's waterfalls, although they generally limit water transport to the lower reaches of each river, are spectacular. For example, Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River drops 226 meters, more than four times the height of Niagara Falls.
The Essequibo is the largest river in Guyana. It rises in the Kamoa Mountains on the Brazilian border and flows north for over 600 miles, to enter the Atlantic Ocean through a large estuary that is filled with islands. The Essequibo River is fed by many tributaries, including the Rupununi, the Potaro, the Mazaruni, the Siparuni, the Kiyuwini, and the Cuyuni. The river's entrance is very silted up, but once over the bar, the river is navigable as far up river as Bartica, which is situated about 50 miles from the mouth. Further south the river is blocked by dangerous cataracts. There are 365 islands located on the Essequibo River. For over 20 miles (32km) from its mouth, the river's channel is divided by the large flat and fertile islands of Leguan (approximately 18 square miles), Wakenaam (approximately 17 square miles), and Hogg Island (about 22 square miles). Fort Island is situated off the middle of Hogg island, on the eastern side. Fort Island was the seat of Government of the country during the Dutch colonial era.
The Demerara flows in eastern Guyana. Its source is found in the Maccari Mountains, and it flows north for 230 miles to enter the Atlantic Ocean at Georgetown (the capital city). The Demerara is navigable for ocean-going vessels for approximately 60 miles upriver from the mouth to the bauxite town of Linden (formerly known as MacKenzie). This river gave the name to the county of Demerara wherein Georgetown (the capital city) is situated, and after which, Demerara Sugar, Demerara Rum, and Demerara Windows, are named. On the Demerara River 15 to 20 miles from the mouth, are the islands, Inver, Borselem, and Biesen. Borselem was once the Dutch capital of Demerara.The Demerara's major tributaries are the Kamuni, the Kuliserabo, Madewini, Moblissa, and the Kara-Kara rivers.
The Berbice River, in eastern Guyana, is approximately 300 miles long, and flows northward to the Atlantic. The "Berbice" is navigable for up to 175 miles from the entrance. Crab Island is located at the mouth of the Berbice River. The town of New Amsterdam (62 miles from Georgetown to the west)is located on the river's eastern bank, about four miles inside the river's estuary. The Berbice's main tributary is the Canje River.
The Corentyne River is located in east Guyana. The Corentyne's source is located in the Acari Mountains, and it flows north to the Atlantic, forming the boundary between Guyana and its eastern neighbour - Suriname (formerly known as Dutch Guiana). The actual Guyana / Surinam border is the Guyanese river bank. The Corentyne is approximately 475 miles long, and is broken up by five waterfalls and many rapids. Seagoing vessels can ascend 45 miles to the first set of rapids at Orealla. The mouth of this river is at least 20 miles wide and is also fed by the Nickerie River which rises in Suriname.
The Ireng River forms part of Guyana's western border with Brazil. The Ireng River is considered to be the most picturesque of Guyana's many rivers, and the Orinduik Falls, and the Takagka Falls are located on the Ireng. For most of its length, the Ireng flows through the valleys of the Pakaraima Mountains. It is the only major river in Guyana which flows from North to South as it is one of the northernmost tributaries of the Amazon river system.
The Potaro River begins at the Ayangana Mountain Range in the North Rupununi Savannahs, and extends 140 miles to the Essequibo River. Nine waterfalls are located on the Potaro, the most notable being the Kaieteur and the Tumatumari falls. A 1930 Suspension Bridge called 'Garraway Stream Bridge', as well as 'Two Islands' are also located on the Potaro River.
Situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the great Essequibo, Kaieteur Falls is one of the world's natural wonders. Flowing over a flat, sandstone tableland into a deep gorge, Kaieteur has a single drop of 741 feet (the largest single drop waterfall in the world). It then plummets downward for another 101 feet for a total of 822 feet--five times the drop of Niagara. The unusual conditions created by the falls support a fascinating micro-environment, which includes some species identifiable only to this area. Lucky visitors may catch a fleeting glimpse of the Kaieteur Swifts, or Makonaima Birds. Swifts are the most rapid fliers among living creatures, a property that allows them to snatch up insects while on the wing. The Kaieteur Swifts nest under the vast shield of rock hidden behind the curtain of falling water.
The Orinduik Falls lie on the Ireng, a highland river that thunders over steps and terraces of jasper on the border divide with Brazil before merging with the Takutu and then heading down into Brazil to join the great Amazon. The falls are situated amid the rolling, grass-covered hills of the Pakaraima Mountains, one of the most beautiful regions of Guyana's hinterland. In contrast to the dramatic gorge at Kaieteur, Orinduik is ideally suited for swimming.
Just 35 minutes by boat from Bartica, past the ruins of the ancient Dutch Fort of Kyk-Over-Al and up the Cuyuni River, are the picturesque Marshall Falls. At the falls, visitors can bathe in a natural Jacuzzi created by the tumbling waters, talk with the locals in the nearby bush camp, or take a stroll through the surrounding rainforest. Gold dredges can sometimes be seen working in the area.