Kaieteur Falls is one of the tallest and most powerful waterfalls in the world. Located in Kaieteur National Park, Guyana, the falls’ impressive combination of height and force make it a fearsome sight. Travellers generally visit the falls in small groups, and therefore the area is never crowded, allowing tourists to marvel at the rugged landscape and sense of deep isolation. Roughly four times taller than Niagara Falls, this single drop waterfall is a dramatic facet of the Potaro River – a wide, coffee coloured flow that runs for 140 miles (225 kilometres). Flights over the region take in the river’s cursive scrawl, as well as lush rainforest and wide pasture.
Facts about Kaieteur Falls
- 5.1670°N, 59.4670°W
- Vertical Curtain
- 741ft (226m)
- Potaro River
History of Kaieteur Falls
Kaieteur Falls was documented in 1870 by British geologist Charles Barrington Brown. Guyana, a British colony, was assumed to be mineral rich, and Brown set off in search of the nation’s natural resources. Brown explored much of the Kaieteur region, writing of the falls: “I was much struck with the beauty and grandeur of this fall, and regretted extremely that I could not remain longer to make proper observations of its height, width, etc.” A year later, Brown returned to Kaieteur Falls and made the relevant calculations.
Kaieteur National Park was established in 1929 in order to conserve the tremendous beauty of the falls and its near surroundings.
Interesting facts about Kaieteur Falls
- Kaieteur Falls stands 820 feet (250m) tall.
- Brown uncovered many stories about the falls during his time in the region. The Story of Betrayal attempts to explain the origin of the falls’ name – Kaieteur.
- The Story of Betrayal begins in a small, higgledy-piggledy village above the falls. Here, an old man’s feet became infested with fleas. Since the man’s family detested having to pick and prise the fleas from between his toes, they placed him in a small boat at the falls’ precipice and pushed. The boat was swept over the falls’ edge and pummelled under water. The old man was never seen again. Shortly after the man’s disappearance, however, a rock shaped exactly like his boat appeared in a tranquil pool at the bottom of the falls. Subsequently, the villagers named the falls Kaieteur, or “Old Man Falls”.
Visiting Kaieteur Falls
Kaieteur Falls is situated in an expanse of utterly unspoilt parkland. Its remoteness makes visiting quite an undertaking yet most tourists believe that it is well worth the effort.
Daytrips to the falls are the most popular option among travellers to the region. The majority of trips set out from Georgetown and can be organised locally or booked though hotels and guesthouses. Most providers will collect customers from their hotel at no extra cost. A typical daytrip will involve a number of flights in a small plane (the Kaieteur airstrip is too primitive for larger aircraft). Your flights will pass over masses of dense jungle and looping rivers. It takes approximately 1 hour to fly from Georgetown to the airstrip. From the airstrip, visitors travel on foot to several viewing points.
Those brave enough are able to stand at the falls’ precipice and stare out over its sheer drop. Swifts, who nest behind the falls’ cascading curtain, return to the falls during the evening, darting in and out of the falling water. Rare bush dogs and poisoned frogs also inhabit the region.
Some daytrips may involve a flight to Orinduik Falls, approximately 30 minutes from Kaieteur Falls. Here, visitors are encouraged to swim and take photographs. Many tour operators insist upon taking a minimum of 4 people to the falls. Therefore, if you are travelling solo or as a pair, you may be expected to pay higher rates. To avoid such problems, it is recommended that you book in advance. If you’re looking to spend time trekking though the Amazonian rainforest, overnight options are available at an extra cost.
How to get to Kaieteur Falls
The only way to get to Kaieteur Falls is to fly. Trips can either be booked in advance, or locally, in Georgetown. You will be required to take at least two flights in a small plane.
If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom or the United States, you will not require a visa to visit Guyana. Other countries whose citizens do not require a visa include: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Luxembourg, Montserrat, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
When to visit Kaieteur Falls
Trips to Kaieteur Falls run all throughout the year. The best time to visit Kaieteur Falls is after a rainy period, when the waterfall will be in full flow.
Where to stay at Kaieteur Falls
Overnight visitors lodge in large, well-equipped guesthouses situated in the park region.
If you are just on a day trip, then there are a range of accommodation options available in Georgetown.