Kaieteur Waterfall in Guyana, South America, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the whole world and yet most people have never heard of it. Granted, it is a bit more difficult to visit than some of the other major waterfalls of the world but it is this which also makes it incredibly special.
The waterfall was first discovered by Europeans in 1870 and the name Kaieteur means ‘old-man-fall’. Legend has it that a local chief, Kai, paddled over the falls in an act of self-sacrifice to save the people in the village. That’s the heroic story, the other story involves a sick old man who was covered in ticks and the local villagers were so sick of looking at him that they strapped him to a raft and sent him off the falls!
The falls themselves are absolutely fascinating. With a height of 226 meters they are four times higher than Niagara Falls in the USA. Kaieteur is also incredibly powerful and has a huge volume of water flowing over it making it the biggest single drop waterfall in the entire world.
Right now, the only way to access the falls is via chartered plane from the capital city of Georgetown which will land on an airstrip a short walk from the falls. The plane ride itself is a lot of fun and you will get an absolutely gorgeous view of Guyana along the way.
Here are a few tips that will help you have the best possible time when visiting the falls:
TIME OF DAY
If photography is your thing then make sure you know where the position of the sun is when visiting the falls. If you visit at the wrong time then a shadow could be cast into the valley which makes for some difficult, but not impossible, shooting.
This should be looked after by the company but it is something worth checking out, make sure that you bring some snacks or food to the falls. There is a visitor centre with toilets but there is no access to food there and it is a long day spent out under the sun.
There are two viewing platforms to see Kaieteur which are essentially rocks which jut out over the valley. There are no hand rails so make sure you have sure footing as you try and get the best photo possible.
The water level can change very dramatically depending on what time of year you visit. The best time to visit the falls if you want to see them at their most powerful is during the rainy season but you will still get a spectacular view if you go in the dry season.
VIEW FROM THE PLANE
You can get some great views on the ground but most tours will do a couple of flybys of the falls themselves while in the plane so make sure you get a good seat if you plan on taking some pictures!
There are some short hiking routes that you can check out if yo have the time. You will be able to check out the maps at the visitor centre.
Keep your eyes peeled while visiting the falls, the entire area is teeming with wildlife which can be quite hard to spot! The famous cock-of-the-rock bird can sometimes be spotted nesting near the falls and if you look closely you can sometimes see the absolutely tiny golden frog in the water along some of the trails.
You can book your tours online or in Georgetown and tours cost something in the region of $150-$300 per person depending on what type of trip you want. This is pretty good value considering you will be flying in your very own chartered plane!
So what are you waiting for, go there now while it is still relatively undiscovered.