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.
Kaieteur Falls Access
The falls are actually in the Amazon rainforest within the Kaieteur National Park. As they are a major tourist attraction access is actually very good. There is a special airstrip (Kaieteur Airstrip) which is only a 15 minute walk from the top of Kaieteur falls. Flights to the airstrip run at regular intervals from two airports in Georgetown; Ogle Airport and Cheddi Jagan International Airport. Cheddi Jagan airport is served by flights from the Caribbean and South America as well as flights from Miami and JFK (New York).
Flights from the Georgetown airports to the falls are only 45mins to an hour so with a few hours at the falls the full return trip can easily be completed in a day.
Flights can be arranged with any of a number of companies that specialise in trips to the falls. You can find tour operators registered with the Guyana’s tourism board here. Be careful at quieter times of the year – trips can be cancelled if the minimum number of people have not reserved. Look for trips that are guaranteed to go if you are on a tight schedule. At some times of year there can be fog which could obscure your view so do check weather forecasts and rearrange your day trip if you are not going to have good visibility.
Once you are there your guide will take you to three viewing points which get increasingly more spectacular; Rainbow, Boy Scout and Johnson. Note there are no rails at the edges! You can book a special activity at the falls – abseiling/repelling down them!
When To Visit
After the rainy season is the best time to see the falls – September-November. However, visits in December to April will also show the falls in all their thundering spectacular glory. The rainy season is May and August and is best avoided as the visibility can be poor, the flight choppy and trips have a higher frequency of being cancelled due to bad weather.
4-7 Day Trek
For the more adventurous, you can book onto a trek instead of a direct flight. Depending on the details of the trek and the routes they take, these hiking trips can last from 4 to 7 days and vary in their level of difficulty. They usually involve a mixture of 4×4, flights, boat trips and walking. The best ones will give you time walking through, and sleeping in, the unspoilt jungle and you will get to dip in the Potaro River. You may also be able to visit a couple of other water features which are on the Potaro below Kaieteur; the Waratuk Falls and Amatuk Rapids.
There are actually 9 falls on the Potaro River. Kaieteur is rightly the most well known and the second is Tumatumari Falls. Tumatumari Falls are about 50km northeast of Kaieteur falls. The gold and diamond mining town of Tumatumari is between the two. 10km north of Tumatumari town, on the road towards Bartica, is the Denham Suspension Bridge, also known as the Garraway Stream Bridge. This crosses the Garraway Stream. It was constructed by the Scottish engineer, John Aldi, in 1933 to improve access to the gold mines.
Kaieteur National Park
Kaieteur Falls are within the Kaieteur National Park which is an area of pristine Amazon jungle. There is a lodge which you can book if you want to extend your stay and spend some time exploring the jungle via several nature trails. The park is home to a vast number of plants and animals, many of which can’t be found anywhere else.