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A Spectacular Kaieteur Falls Tour in Guyana

One of Guyana’s key attractions is the Kaieteur Falls. Located in the heart of pristine rainforest,  this is the world’s largest single-drop waterfall. It’s 226m tall (over four times higher than Niagara) and about 100m wide, with an astonishing 663 cubic metres of water falling every second. Here is our guide to finding a Kaieteur Falls Tour and everything you need to know about your visit.

When watching the 1925 version of The Lost World, Willis O’Brien’s forerunner to the classic King Kong, we couldn’t help but contemplate where this thrilling adventure could have been set.

Although the film was ostensibly set on the borders of Brazil, Colombia and Peru, a bit of research revealed that the South American country of Guyana had similar landscapes that were both highly evocative and very remote. And while we were pretty certain we wouldn’t encounter any dinosaurs we decided that we would like to have our very own adventures in the Lost World.

Although we weren’t able to visit the plateau mountain Mount Roraima, the Kaieteur Falls gave us the opportunity to see a dramatic landscape set amidst an astonishing and vast rainforest.

Where Are The Kaieteur Falls?

The Kaiteur Falls are located on the Potaro river in the Kaieteur Falls National park, in the Guiana Highlands. This is Guanya’s first national park and it was established in 1929.

The rainforest is part of the watershed that lies between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers.

The falls were ‘discovered’ in 1870 by geologist Charles Barrington Brown working in what was – at the time – British Guiana. Of course the indigenous Amerindians knew about them way before then.

Kaieteur apparently means ‘old man fall.’ There is a legend that the falls were named for a Patamona chief named Kai, who paddled over the falls as a sacrifice to the great spirit in order to protect his people from invaders.

To be clear, the falls aren’t the highest single drop fall but the largest volume.

Kaieteur Falls

There is a cave behind the falls but it is not known to have been explored, even by the local Amerindians. The cave is home to hundreds of thousands of swifts. In his film, White Diamond, film director Werner Herzog documents the attempts of a British engineer to fly a small airship around the area. A member of the crew is an experienced mountaineer and abseils down the side of the falls to look into the cave. Although they recorded footage of the cave, the team decided not to include it in the film, so its dark secrets remain a mystery. Which is as it should be.

When to Visit the Kaieteur Falls

Guyana doesn’t have four seasons but rainy and dry seasons. The main rainy season runs from May to August followed by a dry season, which runs from September to November, a mini rainy season from November to January and the main dry season from February to April.

The volume of water in the falls will be at its highest after the rainy seasons, so November and February should offer maximum flow. But the weather will be better for flying during the dry seasons. That said, we visited at the end of a particularly dry dry season in April and the flow was still pretty spectacular.

Kaieteur Falls Tour Operators

Although it is possible to take a tour where you can trek to the falls and climb to the top, most people fly there from Guyana’s capital city Georgetown.

There are a number of tour operators who can arrange a trip. We recommend using an approved tour operator.

Airlines such as Transguyana , Roraima and Air Service Limited offer trips. We flew with JAGS Aviation on a trip organised by Adventure Guianas.

The cost of the flight is around $250-270 (US) per person. (Prices correct in 2024.)

We recommend booking early as flights can fill up at popular times.

Need to Know: There are a number of conditions to getting a flight. The airlines will usually only operate a flight if a minimum number of people make a booking. So it is better to plan your trip for a weekend because more people are likely to book on a Saturday or Sunday. Your tour operator should let you know when the flight becomes confirmed.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the aircraft are very light and will land on a teeny runway in the middle of the jungle close to the falls. Sometimes the weather can be unfavourable and flights may be delayed or even cancelled at short notice. If the flight is cancelled, costs should be refunded.

Flying To the Kaieteur Falls

Georgetown’s main international airport is located nearly 40km out of town but it has another airport, E.F. Correia near Ogle, which is just on the outskirts of the city and it takes around 20 minutes to reach (traffic permitting). It’s best to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled flight. Go to the reception area and wait for an invitation to check in.

On checking in you will be weighed so that the airline can establish the seating plan – as the aircraft is incredibly light. As with all our internal flights in Guyana, the flight was running late, but it took off eventually.

The aircraft is very small  and can accommodate a maximum of 12 passengers. If you’re lucky you may get to sit next to the pilot.

Kaieteur Falls tour aircraft

After around an hour of flying – briefly over Georgetown and then over the pristine rainforest, the flat landscape starts rising and the geography of the area becomes more undulating. This is a good time to start looking out of the window.

When you reach the falls the pilot will fly past so that people on one side of the plane can take photos and then bank and turn so that the passengers on the other side of the plane can see the falls from the air. Then they will land on a small airstrip.

Kaieteur Falls tour from the air

Walking To The Viewpoints

There is a small pavilion next to the airstrip. It has bathroom facilities and a small exhibtion. A guide will be waiting to take you to the falls. Drinking water will be provided.The visit will last approximately two hours in total.

The guide follows a set route to view the falls at three specific viewing points.

Along the way, the guide pointed out some of the natural features of the area including some rare species.

carnivorous plant Kaieteur

There aren’t too many mosquitoes in the area because this clever little plant consumes them. It is a carnivorous plant, the sundew, which lures insects in and then traps them on its sticky tendrils before closing up and consuming them overnight. We wish we had had one of these as a pet whilst travelling in the rainforest, because the mosquitoes were very hungry and decided that we were particularly delicious.

The Tank Bromeliad is one of the largest examples of this plant in the world. It is home to the teeny Golden Frog, which lives its entire lifecycle inside the water that collects in the plant. It is poisonous, so be careful!

tank bromeliad plant
yellow frog in the tank bromeliad at kaieteur

If you are lucky, it may be possible to see the stunningly beautiful bird, the cock of the rock, probably the most orange thing we have ever seen. We didn’t get lucky at Kaieteur but did see this magnificent bird in the other parts of the rainforest in Guyana.

Warning – the viewpoints are completely natural. There are no viewing platforms nor barriers to stop you going over the edge, so take care when taking photos and selfies, especially if someone offers to take your picture – don’t move backwards without looking!

warning sign

It’s a leisurely 10-20 minutes stroll to walk to the first viewpoint, the furthest from the falls.

The next viewpoint is the Rainbow View, which offers exactly what its name suggests, offering the best photo point to capture the rainbow which shimmers across the falls.

full view of the Kaieteur Falls on a Kaieteur Falls tour

rainbow view of the falls

Then finally onto the closest viewing point – where you can really get to feel the sheer power and majesty of the falls. You can also see the colour of the water as it tumbles relentlessly to the valley below. You can see a sepia tinge which is due to the tannins in the water from the trees and plants lining the river bank.

tannins in the water

Don’t forget to look behind you to see the remarkable canyon that the river has carved over the millennia.

Kaieteur Falls Potaro canyon

At the end of the walk, the group will return to base for a quick – and very filling – lunch. Vegetarian options are available, although it’s probably worth mentioning any dietary requirements when booking the trip.

Lunch at the Kaieteur shack

The two hours fly by and it will soon be time to return. Board the aeroplane and don’t forget to get your camera/phone ready to record a final view of the spectacle.

What To Bring On A Kaieteur Falls Tour

It’s a good idea to minimise the items you need to bring as there isn’t much room on the aircraft. A small daysack will be absolutely fine.

Because these are charter flights it’s okay to take liquids aboard the plane.

Although water will be supplied, we recommend taking extra water if you are likely to need it.

We also advise bringing sun-cream and a hat to provide protection from the sun, which is strong in this area, even on a cloudy day.

Also, although the walk is not long, difficult or strenuous, good walking shoes will be useful.

It is easy to understand why the Kaieteur Falls are Guyana’s biggest attraction. You run out of superlatives trying to describe them. And, while it’s great to take photos to get that perfect instagram shot, take time to enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings and the sheer mighty power of the falls.

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