BORDER CROSSINGS -
A new free bridge now crosses the river from Brasil to Guyana - your wheels are disinfected for free there. The passport staff were friendly and helpful - we believe we could have been given as much as a 3 month visa for us but we only asked for one month. Our truck was given a 14 day pass - this is the maximum allowed but you can extend this for a further 14 days in Georgetown. Our vehicle was not searched and no-one asked us about food or wood products. Make sure you have plenty of photocopies x 2 of everything for the customs man.
MOLESON CREEK -
No problems leaving. Friendly staff and we had no vehicle check.
The customs officer refused to accept our insurance documents because they were not signed or stamped! It’s not a big problem - he allowed us to drive into Letham where we bought insurance for one month for £9. A very simple process - go to the Savannah Supermarket N03.37336 W59.79432 and there you can buy your insurance and maybe a ferry ticket for the Kunupukari ferry - ask.
Buy some of the superb food being sold outside Savannah while you wait - the roti is GREAT.
Important News - Be sure to buy your insurance for Suriname and French Guiana in Georgetown - it will save you a huge amount of money! Go to the Nafico office 139 Charlotte Street (between King St and Wellington St) N06.81021 W58.16395 this is a approximate GPS point as we never drove to the office.
Take copies and originals of your driving licence, vehicle registration and passport - they will ask for a health certificate - they mean MOT (UK) or TUV (Germany) - we told them our registration document was inclusive of a vehicle good health check and they accepted that.
Very, very expensive. There is a ferry at Kunupukari N04.65975 W58.68157 - a small vehicle costs 9,000 Gyd and a truck is 25,000 Gyd. This price is for a return ticket - you cannot buy a one-way ticket. We were told that you can only buy a ticket for this ferry in Georgetown - which is no help for you if you are entering Guyana from Brasil. We got on the ferry and when they asked for our ticket, we said we were going to buy it in Georgetown for our return trip - we didn’t know what else to say! We were lucky - friends later emailed us to warn that we must have a ticket - if not, the ferry staff will make you drive all the way back to Letham where they now apparently sell tickets for the ferry!
Trying to get the Moleson to Suriname ferry prices was difficult, but here they are - all are one way fares.
Weight Cost US$
1-2 Ton $20
2-3 Ton $40
3-4 Ton $56
4.6 - 6.5 Ton $70
7-8 Ton $150
8.6+ Ton $250
Passengers pay $10 per person and all costs are in AMERICAN Dollars. An important lesson to be learnt here by all overlanders - the ferry charges the fare according to the weight of your vehicle as listed on your registration document. Think about that.......
But do not be too silly with your paperwork because, if you are driving toward Suriname, then you will have crossed the Berbice Bridge - they can force foreigners onto the weigh bridge and charge you according to your weight. The ferry people may ask to see this receipt. We paid 7,600Gyd for the Berbice bridge.
We very rarely saw police in Guyana. There are checkpoints on the road north through the rainforest from Letham to Linden - one asked for us to enter our details into a book and the another asked to see our documents - we had no problems.
DRIVING STANDARDS -
Not too bad but lots of drink drivers. Wear a seatbelt, headlights are not needed during the day. You have to drive on the left side of the road - just like in the UK.
Guyana did not feel any worse or better than most of South America, but everyone warned us to be particularly careful in Georgetown - good advice as the city does have a ‘edge’ to it.
MONEY MATTERS -
We changed US$ at the Savannah Supermarket in Letham and did not use any ATM’s in Georgetown - but we do believe that you can now use foreign ATM cards at the banks in Georgetown.
Quality seemed okay. We saw fuel stations in Letham, Mile 58 and Linden - there may have been one in Annai village but we didn’t really look. The fuel in Guyana was cheaper than Suriname, so we made sure to have full tanks before leaving - there is no fuel or other services at Moleson Creek.
We didn’t need any mechanical parts or work done. So we didn’t look for workshops and we didn’t see any as we drove around. But we saw plenty of ex British military trucks - so there must be a good supplier somewhere in the city.
The road from Letham to Linden is very mixed quality. For us, the further north we drove - the wetter the road conditions and the more potholes. There are some bridges, most are strong, but one was weak and we had to bypass this - with a lot of rain it would mean a deep water wade. We came upon fallen trees - most had been newly dragged or cut to clear a track wide enough for traffic.
We drove and average of 4 - 5 hours a day - it was enough considering the sometimes bad route conditions and the lovely scenery. At Mile 58 locals told us it was named this because it was 58 miles south of Linden - they told us this would take 4 hours - we took just over 3 hours.
The road edges can be very soft and dangerous in places - be very careful if you want to pull over or get off the route, look for the places where the road workers have impacted earth/bauxite to create firm areas to pull off.
Locals also told us that there is no clear wet/dry season anymore and that the road can close at anytime due to heavy rain. But they did agree that the worst month to drive this road in the summer is June - that’s why we entered in March.
There is a small toll for the bridge at Linden but this is only if you drive south - 200 Gyd.
The Berbice Bridge N06.28138 W57.53658 - we mentioned this toll earlier - we paid 7,600Gyd but friends of ours were arrested one month later when they refused to pay by weight and demanded to pay by vehicle use instead. The result was that the CEO of the bridge agreed with them and said that to charge overlanders a cargo rate was unfair - as a result they paid only 4,000Gyd for a 12 ton truck! Very useful to know but too late for us. :-(
Not many here - in Georgetown we found Survival - a well stocked supermarket.
AMERINDIAN VILLAGES and GIANT OTTERS -
Another interesting point - we were told that there was no road access to Diane McTurk’s giant otter rescue ranch at Karanambo - we passed a sign for it saying 8 km’s - we didn’t know it was for this ranch at the time! There is a crossroads near N03.75882 W59.57695 one way takes you to the ranch, the other up a 4x4 mountain track and to a village. Look out for the sign - I hope my point is right - it was done weeks later!
ALSO - We were told that it was not possible to visit any Amerindian villages without first having a permit from Georgetown. Ask at the Savannah Supermarket about this - they may now sell permits, but a local Amerindian told us that most villages will accept you entering but the chief may ask for a payment to cover the costs of a missing permit.
PLACES TO STAY and OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Annai Village - Park anywhere in the village or stay at Oasis N03.96818 W59.12799 - it’s a drivers rest point with a good cafe for passengers where you can park. Or you can pay to camp inside the grounds with use of a cold shower for 1,000 Gyd per person - not worth the money.
The entrance for Rock Lodge is just after Oasis - it’s a track leading to a foreign owned lodge that is very expensive - N03.97139 W59.12342
Surama Village - Is a tourist Amerindian Village that may interest some travellers - Turn N04.09150 W59.04146
Checkpoint One - Looked like a great place to stay - surrounded by deep jungle with a Prince Charles nature walk nearby. N04.15122 W59.00784
Canopy Walk - A 1.5 km jungle canopy walk is near here but there was no good parking. N04.24978 W58.90943
Bush camp - We saw this hard packed ground entrance to a hidden hard earth area - may be a great place to park overnight for some great jungle noises and animals. N04.38808 W58.83534
Police checkpoint Two - Friendly but not so good a place to stay overnight. N04.65947 W58.68278 But just before the checkpoint is a turn for a riverside eco lodge - beautiful grounds - maybe you can get lucky and talk your way into spending a night there for free??
Riverside - We stayed here - N04.66078 W58.67632 - just after the ferry, it was very quiet and we had no problems. We would have tried the lodge but we were anxious to cross the ferry first because we had no ticket.
If you are not happy with any of these places, then just a few hundred metres on is the place where all the minibuses wait for the first ferry - a cafe area where people can hang their hammocks.
Checkpoint Three - N05.29473 W58.69972 Easy checkpoint but not a place to stay - logging village.
Mile 58 / Mabura - We slept near the school - quiet and no problems. N05.38861 W58.58023 On the other side of the road you will see a sign for Great Falls - a 40 minute drive will take you to a riverside village where you can rent a boat to take you to the falls. Ask locals for more details.
FUEL - in Mile 58 / Mabura cost 250Gyd per litre.
Asphalt begins here - N05.98083 W58.40503
Rockstone - Is signed from here - a popular fishing village that may be a option - N06.00035 W58.34365
Watooka - The place to stay in Linden - wonderful grounds, delightful staff but average food. Heather, the manager and the staff will give you a great welcome. Free with use of toilet/ shower and pool. N05.99242 W58.29812
Saw these two areas by the road - picnic/ swimming - not sure if they are open at night or if they are secure -N06.37270 W58.24043 and N06.40637 W58.24232
Eco Adventure - Is a more organised swimming / tourist area - N06.50028 W58.21242 not sure if you can stay here overnight.
Tourist Office - N06.81842 W58.16041 Treina and Oslyn will telephone to get permission for you to park in the exhibition centre - N06.80868 W58.12847. Parking in this centre is free and there are water taps but limited water - we also saw toilets and the staff will surely open them if you ask. It’s a great place with 24 hour security and the city centre is a easy short trip on a local minibus - 60 Gyd per person - take the number 48 or 44 bus and get it at Starbroek market for the return trip.
Survival Supermarket - N06.81203 W58.14675 best stocked supermarket in town.
Suriname Embassy - N06.81277 W58.14803
We got a same day service for a 2 month visa costing $45 per person, we went in at 9am and got our visa at 2pm Make sure to turn right out of the embassy and go into the first shop you see on the right - they sell chicken and potato roti - SUPERB!
Good water and fuel - Shell station N06.80972 W58.14713 - Diesel cost 206Gyd per litre
Laundry - N06.80720 W58.15282
Hope this is right - we are sure this is where we saw a laundry as we walked around town - it’s attached to the base of a guesthouse. Never saw any other laundries in town.
Village 63 beach - N05.98295 W57.14451 - Maybe you will be comfortable here but we did not get a good feeling about this isolated beach.
Moleson Creek - N05.78068 W57.17162 We spent our last night here - very quiet and safe.
BUDGET NEWS - £21 a day : 11 days and 789 km’s.
Fuel costs - Sold by the litre - cheapest was 206Gyd in Georgetown, the most expensive was 250Gyd Mile 58.
Ferry costs - We have NOT included these costs in our daily budget - we spent a total of £134 for our Berbice Bridge and Moleson Ferry crossing.