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By TARA MULHOLLAND
Published: February 7, 2010
Guyanaâ€™s stunning scenery and abundant wildlife make it a haven for adventurers and eco-tourists.
I came across a great website one day for the Rupununi Learners. The organization is made up of two non-profit organizations – the Rupununi Learners Incorporated (RLI) and Rupununi Learners Foundation (RLF). RLI is a registered non-profit in Guyana, founded in 2007 and RLF is a registered non-profit in the USA that started in 2001. Together, these organizations come together to collaborate on environmental conservation, wildlife research, education, economic development and cultural preservation efforts in the southern region of Guyana.
Check out their great website, http://www.rupununilearners.org, to learn more about these twoÂ organizations and the wonderful programs they offer!
Birding Adventures Host, James Currie (Photo: Birding Adventures)
The U.S.-based television shows, Birding Adventures and Reel Adventures, recently aired five episodes that were filmed in Guyana in October, 2008.
Three of the shows were on bird watching, while two were on sport fishing, the Guyana Sustainable Tourism Initiative (GSTI), which facilitated the productions, announced yesterday.
Showing on FoxSports Net and ComCast in the southeastern United States, the premiere of Birding Adventures aired to nearly 50,000 households. With multiple timeslots, both shows have the potential of reaching a combined 11 million households.
The GSTI is collaboration between the Guyana Tourism Authority and the United states Agency for International Development.
â€œIf youâ€™re looking for a country to go and visit and literally be left with your jaw dropped in amazement of what this world looked like hundreds of years ago because they have conserved it and kept it in its natural beauty, look at Guyana,â€? the host of the sport fishing, Robert Arrington said.
â€œThe people here â€“ their food, their culture, their land â€“ itâ€™s100 percent unbelievable. This is the definition of a real adventure,â€? he added…
Click here, to read the complete Kaieteur News article.
Before I discovered Guyana, flying over jungle countries used to depress the hell out of me. Itâ€™s always fine while youâ€™re actually on the ground, tunnelling among the lush green caverns of the forest floor.
Down there, you can never experience more than the explosion of life, the sensory overload, which is evident within a few metres of you.
Watching a giant morpho butterfly flitting in the dappled sunlight like an electric-blue handkerchief; being hosed down with wee by a churlish howler monkey; happening across a tiny frog carrying its tadpoles to a bijou pond in a treetop flower… these countless small miracles wrap you up in the wonder of the jungle, and itâ€™s easy to convince yourself that everything is well with the world.
Get yourself up in a flying machine, though, and itâ€™s a different story. Now, you can see the wider truth â€“ that some of the most famous and important jungle reserves in the world are actually smaller than an average-sized city.
Their dwindling islands of forest are surrounded by fields, plantations or burnt and barren land, and logging roads penetrate deep into their recesses. Guyana is very different from that, however. A nation the size of Great Britain, its rainforest remains 85% untouched, and you can fly for several hours and see no roads at all, only rivers, glaring up like serpentine mirrors as the sun flashes across them.
Forest, forest, forest, in every direction, and not a sign of the countryâ€™s 750,000 people â€“ because they mostly live in and around the drowsy coastal capital of Georgetown.
Iâ€™ve spent nearly two years of my life in rainforests, including time on every continent that has them, but Iâ€™ve never experienced one so benign as this â€“ so free from plants that want to rip your clothes off, bugs that want to eat you and tropical diseases that make you spend your entire stay hovering over a long-drop toilet.
That said, I did get bitten by a vampire bat, stung by a bullet ant and shocked by a 200-volt electric eel. But it was still heaven.
For Guyanaâ€™s lucky few visitors, the excursion into rainforest paradise usually begins on the Upper Essequibo River, at the Iwokrama reservation, just a few hours south of Georgetown. There is an international conservation centre here, with a gaggle of tourist lodges, and its river journeys offer world-beating opportunities to see jaguars, primates and giant 20ft anacondas.
As we slowed to a crawl from well above 100km/h I looked up from my work to see what had caused this interruption of incessant swerving back and forth. A half a dozen young boys were aggressively urging their 50 or so cattle and sheep across a narrow bridge, as this road was the only way across the now high waters of the small creek. I took the opportunity to glance around and absorb the beauty of the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Here, about a hundred kilometers south of Addis Ababa, a passerby can get a quick glimpse of some of the most beautiful nature that Earth has to offer. A group of ten storks stood proud and tall atop a lush, flat-topped acacia tree, a small bird with the brightest red color I have ever seen rose up from the grass near the road side, and the green stretched for miles, and obvious sign that there has been adequate rainfall this year.
Further south we go, the green grass and twisted acacia trees begin to be accompanied by small shrubs and fields of corn as the dry season climate here is a little kinder than just a 100km to the north. Different types of trees appear on the roadside, some even with flowers. People walk this way and that carrying goods to or from the markets. Sheep and cows eager for the grass that is always greener on the other side daringly try to cross the road â€“ one of the nicest and busiest roads in Ethiopia running over 800km from Addis to the Kenyan border at a town called Moyale. Small villages and decent sized towns occasionally force vehicles to slow down, but the accelerator promptly hits the floor as the last of the homes are passed and the long stretch of smooth asphalt runs endlessly in front of us with mountains in the distance on every horizon that just never seem to get any closer.
Even further south now the small shrubs give way to bigger ones and the acacia trees begin to give way to warca trees which stand with the elegance of an old oak. Fences begin appearing around the houses as lumber is more readily available with the much larger number of trees. The leaves of false banana trees reach over top of the fences, a tell tale sign that we are now in the land of Ethiopiaâ€™s number one crop â€“ coffee. Pictures of legendary reggae star Bob Marley begin appearing on the roadside as well as the associated colors of red, yellow, green and black surrounding the Lion of Judah, the proud symbol of the Rastafarians. This means we are also fast approaching Sashemene, the once large, but now small, plot of land given to the Rastas by Emperor Haile Selaisse I, the man worshiped as a God by the Rastafarian religion. And then it is behind us.
It becomes apparent at about this point that we are now in the mountains that not so long ago appeared unreachable. Tree species too numerous to mention intermix with the coffee that is endemic to the highlands of Ethiopia. Even in the vehicle the air has a different feel, lighter, cooler, damper. The tall eucalyptus trees, given as a gift to Ethiopia by Australia in the late 1800â€™s and now everywhere, give off a strong scent as a light mist begins to fall. Up a slight incline and now fully encased in clouds we are again forced to a crawl as visibility is next to nothing. Another few minutes and its clear as if there hadnâ€™t been a cloud in the sky all day.
As we begin our descent down the mountains the sprawling, red savanna which is Borena extends as far as the eye can see. Weâ€™re not going all the way there on this trip, but I can picture the familiar scenery in my head â€“ short, twisted acacia trees intermixed with giant termite mounds which take on the red hue of the surrounding soil. Cattle by the thousands herded from one pasture to the next wherever there happens to be water at this given time.
At this point you may be asking yourself what this has to do with Peace Corps or Guyana, and I asked myself that very same question when I decided to post this here. Well, there isnâ€™t really a huge connection other than that Ethiopia, like Guyana is an incredibly diverse place and everyone should try there best to get out and visit as many places as you can and meet as many people as possible. In doing this you may understand where the passion that Peace Corps Volunteers have comes from.