Abigail Foreman

A Gap Year In: Guyana
with project trust
Aug 1999 - Aug 2000

Newsletter No 5

Christmas at Kaieteur falls

A trek in the jungle.

Just before Christmas we left Georgetown and took on eight hour drive on a mini bus to the Pitara river. Once at the river we were able to load all our rucksacks onto a small boat while we got into the lead boat. Our journey that night was an exciting one, deep into the jungle in a small boat that leaked badly with an outboard motor of dubious vintage that broke down once.

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For this night only our hammocks were strung up in a hut. For the rest of the trip we were to sleep under the trees in the rain forest. All twelve Project Trust volunteers were crammed onto the small launch, which towed the second boat that carried our baggage. Our guide and his three helpers were the remaining travellers on this voyage of adventure. We left our resting place of the night before at 5.30 a.m. when it was still very dark. Before long we had to stop at a set of rapids, unload all our baggage and then carry the boat past the rushing waters. Now we could only travel on in the smaller of the boats so six of us at a time were transported down the river. The rest had to sit and wait for the return of the launch. Of course we swam in the river, sun-bathed or wrote our diaries.


A roof of leaves.

When it was my group's turn to continue down the river we all sang Christmas carols to get into the seasonal spirit. It was quite a surreal experience and one I will never forget. After an hour and a half or so we arrived at our camp for the night. This time the men built a shelter for us by cutting down trees and tying them together with rope and vines. Our hammocks were then hung under the structure in one long row and we lay in bed that night listening to the rain pouring onto the leaves above us.


The hardest walk of my life.

The next morning we packed up camp and after breakfast we trekked into the rainforest. The first hour was the hardest as we struggled to get used to the weight of our bags and the uneven terrain. The trek began to feel like a huge obstacle course after a while.

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We had to wade through various creeks, carrying our bags on our heads with the water lapping past our waists. We also had to cross rather slippery logs that were suspended high above drops to the valley below. It was very scary. Every time we stopped for a rest and a snack of something with sugar in, we filled our water bottles Our route was along the river so we were never far from water, which also meant that we were permanently wet. That night when we camped we were all exhausted. But not too tired to drag ourselves back to the river for a wash.

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Disaster struck in the middle of the night when the structure that our hammocks was tied to began to break and we started descending to the forest floor.

Continued in part 2