Nature of the Trip
It's important from the outset to be aware of the nature of this trip. Some of the accommodation is basic, transport is often ad hoc, and 'day-to-day' itineraries are at best a guide to intentions rather than cast-iron promises of what the future holds. The Guianas are a region we know, but we've run relatively few escorted group trips there, because transport, accommodation and infrastructure present a number of practical difficulties. Things do go wrong; short bus rides will turn into marathons; border crossings and immigration will frustrate. Public transport is intended for local people, who often don't have the rigid timetables we are accustomed to live by in our world. It is hot and some of the days have early starts and long days of travel, so there will be some tiring days, but this is part of the nature of travel in such an undeveloped region.
We've considered making the trip more comfortable, however we feel substituting flights for some of the surface-transport journeys would add considerably to the cost, and risk losing some of what makes any overland trip memorable: that heady mix of excitement and discomfort, serendipity and cock-up. If you don't relish that, don't book this trip.
Clothing and equipment
Clothing should be casual and comfortable - plenty of light cotton (or light-weight wicking fabric which controls perspiration and dries quickly). Light colours are beneficial against sun and bugs. Dark clothes attract mosquitoes.
For wildlife viewing, the best colours to wear are pastel tones, like brown, beige and green, which don't highlight your silhouette in the landscape and camouflage you in foliage. Avoid strong colours like yellow, bright blue and red.
Shorts and short-sleeve shirts should be avoided in the evenings, especially away from cities. Air-conditioning in rooms and restaurants is the closest you’ll get to being cold, so a light sweater or "layers" will suffice. You may want to keep your rain jacket to hand on the canoe trip to the Angel Falls: it won’t keep you dry, but it will cut down the wind chill.
Here is a handy list:
- Short and long-sleeved shirts / T-shirts
- Lightweight trousers; shorts
- Swim suit and towel
- Light sweater
- Sun hat / cap
- 1 pair of comfortable outdoor shoes or trainers. Also highly recommended is a pair of sturdy/waterproof sandals which come in extremly handy on a trip of this nature.
- A lightweight raincoat or waterproof poncho
- A lightweight sleeping bag liner for the night we stay in hammocks
- Insect repellent (look for 50% Deet). Boots Repel (Tropical Strength), and Jungle Formula Maximum Plus both contain 50% Deet. NB Deet has a deleterious effect on plastic-based articles.
- Strong sunscreen or sun block
- Sunglasses (suitable for strong UV conditions)
- Small torch /head torch
- Penknife (this cannot be taken as hand luggage during your flights)
- Antihistamine tablets and an epi-pen for those with serious allergies to stings
- Travel detergent to wash your clothes
- Proper lightweight waterproof bags to keep things dry (including camera etc); a tropical downpour is like jumping in at deep end of a swimming pool!
For some excursions to the jungle and/or local flights you may be restricted to a maximum baggage allowance of 10kg (owing to limited space in canoes or light aircraft). In addition, some of the mini buses we use have limited baggage space. A lightweight washing line is useful (you can get some which are intertwined, eliminating the need for pegs) since most clothes will dry overnight in your room, and there’s usually time (and facilities) to have washing done in Annai (Rock View), Georgetown and Paramaribo or Kourou.
A backpack or soft holdall (ideally with some degree of waterproofing) is the most comfortable way to carry your belongings, along with a small day-use backpack (25-40l capacity). Don’t over-pack – no hotels have bellboys, and few have lifts – please ask us for advice if you’re unsure.
On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.
4 flights (1hr each); 6 land journeys (longest 6hrs); 2 motorised canoe trips; 2 sea crossings; 3 river ferries.
Simple hotels, basic lodges in Guyana and 1 night in a hammock at the base of Angel Falls. This is a discovery Journey. The standard of accommodation varies - we try to keep the price competitive whilst aiming to provide the basic comforts. In towns, you'll usually have a room with private bathroom, shower and toilet. Even where facilities are more basic, we aim to ensure that they're clean.
There are a very limited number of rooms available in some locations, so passengers paying single supplement may occasionally have to share a room with another passenger of the same gender.
Breakfast daily; lunch 5; full board days 3,4,6,7,8.
• Caracas: city tour
• Angel Falls expedition
• Excursions at Rock View and Atta
• Georgetown: city tour
• Paramaribo: river cruise and visit to former plantation
• Kourou Space Station
• Iles du Salut
Summary of nights
18 days, 17 nights: Caracas 1, Ciudad Bolivar/Puerto Ordaz 1, Canaima 1, Angel Falls 1, Boa Vista 1, Atta rainforest 1, Rock View 2, Georgetown 3, Paramaribo 3, Kourou 2, Cayenne 1.
Included in the journey price
• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified
Not included in the journey price
• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• Some domestic flight taxes
Due to the nature of this tour there are a only a handful of optional excursions available. The main one is the trip to the Kaieteur Falls from Georgetown. The full day excursion costs in the region of $300 USD, but it will depend on the number of passengers wanting to do the trip.
Take cash in US$ (and for French Guiana, euros) up to the total limit your insurance will allow. Travellers' cheques are difficult to cash. ATMs which give access to cash are available in cities, but it's worth having plastic for both Visa and Mastercard. Tell your bank in advance where and when you're going. We recommend a daily budget of $35-40 USD per person per day to cover the cost of meals and daily expenses including tips and taxes. If you choose to visit Kaieteur Falls you should allow an additional $300 USD.
Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance
International airport tax should be included in the cost of your ticket. There may be a local airport fee within Venezuela of $2 USD.
The Journey enters 5 countries, but we travel within a fairly thin band between 10 and 5 degrees N of the equator. So it's tropical, i.e. hot and humid throughout. Along the Caribbean coasts of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, October is statistically one of the driest months in the year. Venezuela and Brazil, at least the parts we'll be visiting, are just at the end of their wet seasons. The climate figures for Santa Elena in Venezuela are broadly comparable to those for Boa Vista and the southern part of Guyana ("the Rupununi").
It's worth noting the differences between Caracas airport (near sea level) and Caracas city (800m higher), both in rainfall and temperature; note that Ciudad Bolivar is likely to be very hot. At the other end of the scale, Cayenne's annual rainfall is over 3,600mm, but October's is 74mm - i.e. only 1/60 of the yearly total. But it's all tropical - it can rain anytime, often in short and very heavy bursts.
Reduce plastic waste
Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here
Preventative jabs or tablets are recommended for: malaria, typhoid, polio, tuberculosis, tetanus and hepatitis A. Consult your local GP, or health clinic - he or she will probably refer you to the NHS fitfortravel
Take precautions against being bitten -by applying insect repellent, especially in the evenings out of cities. A valid yellow fever certificate or official doctor’s note stating why you cannot be vaccinated must be produced when crossing some borders, so it is essential that these are carried. There are several brands of gel or foam which can be used for washing your hands where no clean water is available.
British passport holders (and almost all others) will need a visa for Suriname. This can be issued during the journey when you are in Georgetown, and costs around $35 USD. You'll need spare passport photos.
Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa for the other countries, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Clients with a different nationality enquire or check with the relevant consulate.
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:
ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.
APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.