Venture into the Amazon rainforest to see Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, the world’s widest single-drop waterfall. Its remarkable combination of height and volume of water make it the top attraction in the country. If you are a waterfall enthusiast, this is a must-see one that deserves a place on your travel bucket list.
While Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls are all more popular, this one is off-the beaten-track but just as amazing. The remote location of Kaieteur Falls is one the reasons why I would rank it among the most fascinating waterfalls to visit.
Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls:
One of South America’s Best Waterfalls
What is Kaieteur Falls and Where is it?
Kaieteur Falls is one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls with an immense volume of water from the Potaro river plummeting down a cliff at a height of more than 700 feet in the Kaieteur National Park. Located in Guyana’s Potaro-Siparuni region, the waterfall nestled in the Amazon rainforest is the closest you can get to pure nature when compared with other well-known waterfalls. As you watch the more than 350-foot-wide waterfall plunge from the edge of the steep rock face, you will be in awe of the beauty and power of nature.
It is far away from human habitation and relatively free of visiting crowds making it a unique destination in South America. They limit the number of tourists (only about 6,000 visited last year!) On my trip our small group of 7 were the only ones there!
How to Get to Kaieteur Falls
Despite its isolated location, the most common access to the Kaieteur Waterfalls is from Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. There are two main ways to go about it and both involve hiring a tour company. The favored tour by most visitors involves chartering a small aircraft for an easy day trip to the falls while the more difficult, adventurous option is to go on an overland journey spanning five days.
Charter a Plane
An airstrip known as the Kaieteur International Airport is just a 15-minute walk from the top of the falls making it the access point for those on a plane tour. To get there, you can choose a tour operator and hire a small aircraft from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport or Ogle Airport near Georgetown. There are quite a few tour companies that make trips to the Kaieteur Falls including Guyana’s tourism authority operators. While flights operate regularly, keep in mind that each aircraft requires a certain number of passengers (could be 4, 8 or 12) to book a tour. If enough reservations do not happen or if the weather is not good, the flights are canceled.
We were staying at Rockview Lodge in Annai who had their own grass landing strip and that’s where our charter flight picked us up. So, it’s also possible to depart from somewhere other than Georgetown.
There are plenty of airplane charter companies in Guyana, like Trans Guyana Airways, Air Services Limited or Air Guyana. But, you could also do a full Guyana tour that includes a stop at Kaieteur Falls, like this 4-Day Guyana River and Nature Safari.
Stunning Aerial Views
Once the tour is confirmed, get ready for an exciting ride that will take you to the deep Amazon forest. It took me about an hour and a half to fly from Annai to the Kaieteur International Airport. On the plane trip, you will fly over landscapes covered in thick, lush greenery as you approach the rainforest. Kaieteur Falls is situated on the Potaro Plateau and as you come closer, you will notice the remoteness of the place and all-encompassing nature away from civilization. Soon, you can see the long trail of the Potaro River plunging over the edge to form the Kaieteur Waterfalls–a sight that looks breathtaking from above.
TIP: Sit on the right hand side of the plane on the return flight for one last breathtaking view!
Land at the Airstrip and Explore by Foot
It feels incredible to land on an airstrip situated so close to the falls in the forest, especially since most trips there are only 2-hours. You can spend some time discovering the area by foot, listening to the thundering roar of the falls and seeing the fabulous cascade from a few viewpoints.
Your guide/park ranger will take you on a discovery of the national park, rich in flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the remarkable golden frog that inhabits huge tank bromeliads and is only found in Guyana. Keep looking carefully and you might just about spot these really tiny, shiny frogs. Another fascinating creature that can be found here is the cock-of-the-rock bird (we saw four!). The male of the species looks brilliant with its flaming orange feathers and unique crest. It is quite elusive so a sighting is rare.
Overland Multi-Day Excursion
If you are thrilled by the mention of adventure and challenging journeys, you can opt for an overland 5-day trip to the waterfalls. This includes land and water transport, demanding hikes, tough climbs and overnight camping in the forest. You need to be physically fit to undertake this journey, and mental toughness will help too. Of course, the amazing experiences and the superb sights along the way culminating at the Falls make this a truly memorable trip. While tour companies provide camping equipment, hammocks and local food, you can also carry a few lightweight essential supplies.
On the first day, you will go on a road journey that passes through Linden and continues all the way to Mahdia onto the Pamela Landing on the Potaro River. The journey resumes the next day with a boat trip to Amatuk Falls as well as Waratuk Falls. You can swim in the pools of water and discover the rainforest while you are here. The next couple of days includes a long hike to Tukiet as you approach your final destination. And the last part involves a three to four-hour hike along mountains and rivulets that will take you to the final tough ascent leading to the Kaieteur Waterfalls. Well, if it is adventure you want, that’s what you’ll get! All the tiredness from your journey will be swept away the moment you see the magnificent falls. On the last day you will be grateful to return to Georgetown by plane.
Kaieteur Falls Viewpoints
Though there are five viewpoints (Johnson’s, Boy Scout, Rainbow, Break, Lookout), two were closed to the public, so we were able to visit three. Of these, the two major points that I especially liked are the Boy Scout’s View and Rainbow Viewpoint. Boy Scout’s View is a more front-facing view of the falls gushing in all its glory. The panoramic views here also include the Potaro River making its way along the plateau.
At the Rainbow Viewpoint, besides the incredible views, you can also see beautiful rainbows forming where the mist from the waterfall rises into the air. This viewpoint is in much closer proximity to the waterfall and nearer to the ledge so the view is different. Don’t try to be a daredevil–there are no guardrails here!
From all viewpoints, you can appreciate the beauty of the Kaieteur Falls. There are plenty of photo opportunities as well, so you can capture the mighty falls from different perspectives. A trip to Guyana is incomplete without a visit to the Kaieteur Falls. Feel one with nature as you explore this mighty waterfall enveloped by the Amazon forest. One thing is guaranteed–you will fall in love with the falls!