Ultimate Getaway: Surama Eco lodge

Words Marco Barneveld   Photography Rene Koster  

Surama Eco lodge

You may have been planning for Greece, Spain or France this year. Stop now! One of our editors came back from Guyana with the ultimate getaway. A lodge in the heart of the wilderness: Surama in the Guiana Shield, an Amerindian village of the Macushi tribe on the edge of the Rupununi savannah and the Amazon river. Oh, and after having survived the remote of the jungle, there’s always some of the best rum of the world waiting to take off the rough edges of your recent adventure. Does life really get better?

The shine of the mosquito lamp touches the face of Frederick Allicock, a.k.a. Uncle Fred, as he sits in his rocking chair. Every now and then, a crackling sound tells us yet another insect has found the end of its life in the blue light. The veranda of the little general store in Surama, an authentic Amerindian village of the Macushi tribe on the edge of the savannah of the Rupununi river in Guyana, is glowing. It’s full of stories tonight as Uncle Fred tells tales of a time long gone by.

Surama Eco lodge

He is the last living person who once worked on the Guiana Shield cattle trail. He brought the cattle that grazed on the grasslands of the Savannah to the slaughterhouses in Georgetown, a mere two hundred miles straight trek through the near-impenetrable rainforest.

“We used to take them by the thousands. On our way we would lose about half of them. Some ran away. Some got grabbed by jaguars. Some got eaten by red belly piranhas when we needed to cross rivers. We would send out one or two before crossing a river to check and to feed the piranhas so we could wade through undamaged. It was hard, but it made us money.”

Nowadays the people of Surama have found less bloody ways to generate income for their tribe, the Surama Eco Lodge is community-wide owned. Community tourism in the North Rupununi generates money which goes directly into the communities, to assist with development and conservation in the region. ”When we need to make decisions we don’t decide by majority. There needs to be full consensus.” explains Uncle Fred.

Surama Eco lodge

Consensus might not be the fastest way to get things done, but the Macushi have been living by the rhythm of Mother Nature for thousands of years. The money generated has to benefit all who dance to that rhythm. In recent years, two tribe members were able to go to university because of these funds.

Take this adventure head on, and expect wildlife, thick woods, open savannahs, broad rivers, and a rich and thriving culture of the Macushi in a region untouched by tourism. It’s trips like this that prove that going outside of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

There are many ways that lead to Guyana and its wonders. When going to Guyana, check out www.exploreguyana.org for more info. We went to Surama with www.wilderness-explorers.com. They arranged everything perfectly.