How to get to Kaieteur Falls header

Visiting Kaieteur Falls

So you have found out about this extraordinary waterfall and want to find out how to get there? you are on the right page! Kaieteur Falls truly is a world-class waterfall, nested in a very preserved environment, in the remote rainforests of Guyana. After meandering on a flat plateau, the Potaro River plunges into a 226 m / 741 ft-deep gorge, creating the magnificent falls.

Kaieteur Falls may well be the most stunning waterfall you will ever see! Height, width, power… it has it all. 

But how to get to Kaieteur Falls, exactly? The vast majority of visitors use the services of local tour operators and airlines to visit to Kaieteur Falls. Of course, that’s the best option if you like everything to be well planned and organized in advance.

The most popular tour is by far the day trip from Georgetown, by plane. It is for sure an easy and hassle-free way of visiting Kaieteur Falls. And well, seeing Kaieteur from the air is probably a sight you will never forget! That said, the experience of the falls themselves is somewhat limited. Other more adventurous tours include a 5-day overland trek with a flight back to Georgetown.

However, these past few years, more and more backpackers have successfully made the overland trip independently. I am one of them, proving once again that even in this remote region it is perfectly possible to travel without a travel agency. If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can use this page as a guide to help you reach Kaieteur Falls on your own! Even if you don’t want to go on your own, you will benefit from this guide as it details what to see around the falls as well.

For more information regarding the costs associated to visiting Kaieteur Falls, you can refer to our How Much Does It Cost To Go To Kaieteur Falls? article.

This page also features the most extensive virtual tours of Kaieteur Falls and its surroundings ever created. Enjoy!

Quick Info

National Parks Commission: Thomas Road, Georgetown (+592) 226 7974

Kaieteur National Park: (+592) 444 9294

Kaieteur National Park entrance: 5000 GYD / pers.

Kaieteur / Tukeit Guesthouse: 5000 GYD / pers. /night

Guide fee: 6000 GYD

Minibus 72 Georgetown-Mahdia: 10,000 GYD, 8 hours

Hotel in Mahdia: RH Hotel, 6000 GYD / night

Taxi Mahdia-Pamela Landing: 8000 GYD, 45 min

Boat between Pamela Landing and Tukeit: 60,000 GYD one way, 100,000 GYD return

Boat Pamela Landing–Amatuk: 45 min

Boat Amatuk-Waratuk: 25 min

Boat Waratuk-Tukeit: 15 min

Hike Tukeit-Kaieteur: 2.30-3 hours up, 1.30-2 hours down

Getting To Kaieteur Falls Independently: Detailed Overland Itinerary

If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can perfectly get to Kaieteur Falls on your own. It takes a little more effort, it is not necessarily cheaper than the quick plane tour (but definitely MUCH cheaper than the official Overland Trek), but it’s well worth it! As you can guess, this is the option I chose, and this article is all about how to do it.

The itinerary from Georgetown looks like this:

  • Step 0: Some preparation work in Georgetown
  • Step 1: Minibus from Georgetown to Mahdia
  • Step 2: Taxi from Mahdia to Pamela Landing
  • Step 3: Boat from Pamela Landing to Tukeit
  • Step 4: Hike up the “Oh My God” mountain from Tukeit to Kaieteur Falls
  • Step 5: Enjoy Kaieteur Falls and stay at the guesthouse
  • Step 6: Leave Kaieteur by land or by plane

Let’s start with a short 2-minute video!

Step 0  •  Georgetown

National Parks Office ⁝ Thomas Road

I am calling this “Step zero” because it is just some preparation for your journey to Kaieteur Falls, but you haven’t really started the trip yet .

While you are in Georgetown, it’s a good idea to visit the National Parks office on Thomas Road, to tell them you plan to travel to Kaieteur by land.

The main reason for visiting their office is to pay for your entrances to Kaieteur National Park (5000 GYD per person) and have them call the people at Kaieteur to tell them when to expect you.

They will also want to make you pay for a guide fee, saying it’s a policy of the national park. The guide is supposed to wait for you in Tukeit, and guide you on the jungle trail to the falls. The fee is 6000 GYD (in total, no matter how many people you are). I was travelling with a friend so it was only 3000 GYD each. We kind of knew it wasn’t really necessary but well, we felt it wasn’t so expensive and didn’t bother, we paid the fee.

You can also pay in advance your nights at the Kaieteur Guesthouse (5000 GYD per person, per night). It is not like booking a regular hotel, in the sense that you are not booking it for specific dates. So for example, if you struggle to reach the falls and arrive one day later than what you have planned, it is not a problem. We chose to pay for the guesthouse in Georgetown, but if you prefer to pay only when you are there, it’s also possible.

 

 

If you intend to go back to Georgetown by plane, it may be a good idea to pay a visit to the airlines’ offices at Ogle Airport – they close at 5pm. I tried calling a few of them but they had very few flights scheduled, and insisted in offering me only expensive tourist flights. A face to face conversation might lead to better results.

In the end I did not use any plane because I wanted to go to Lethem after Kaieteur, and going all the way back to Georgetown and then back south to Lethem wasn’t making sense. As a result, I am not able to provide much detail about using planes out of Kaieteur.

Anyway, now that the preparation work is done, let’s start the journey!

Step 1  •  Georgetown → Mahdia

Minibus 72 | 300 km (185 mi) ⁝ 8 hours

The first step of the journey is not too complicated; you need to catch a minibus 72 from Georgetown to the town of Mahdia. They leave near Stabroek Market and cost 10,000 GYD per person.

The evening before, we went there to meet the drivers and confirm the departure time, we confirmed with one for 7.30 the next morning (for a scheduled departure at 8.30). So it was all good, we arrived the next morning at 7.30, and waited, waited, waited.

There was so much cargo to load in the minibus that the guys took a good amount of time to figure out how to load it. Then near the scheduled time of departure, it was decided that the minibus needs a full revision. A couple guys showed up, crawled under the minibus and started disassembling and reassembling a whole bunch of mechanical parts… We ended up leaving Georgetown at 10.15.

 

 

That’s a good lesson: in Guyana, backpacking with a tight schedule does not work. Everything takes a lot of time, and you end up wasting an hour here, two hours there… all the time.

The road is in good condition and asphalted until Linden, then it’s a wide and OK dirt road to the Mabura Police Checkpoint where everyone has to get down and register themselves with the police officers. After this point, the road gets narrower and really bad and bumpy after crossing the Essequibo River at Mango Landing, for the last 1.5 hour.

 

 

It took exacty 8 hours to reach Mahdia – 8 hours with 17 persons crammed into a 12-seat minivan, with impossibly loud reggae and raga music from start to finish. I can tell you that my box of ear plugs was a life saver! We arrived in Mahdia at 6.15 pm.

We told the driver we needed to find a place to stay so he left us at the RH Hotel, which seems to be the only decent place to stay in Mahdia. They have several types of room available, but the cheapest fan rooms cost 6000 GYD.

 

 

Step 2  •  Mahdia → Pamela Landing

Taxi | 8 km (5 mi) ⁝ 45 mins

Mahdia is a small mining town surrounded by the rainforest, with a main square (where not much is going on), a short main street where most of the activity takes place, and a few secondary streets. This is where miners come to relax and have some adult fun (if you know what I mean).

VIRTUAL TOUR - Mahdia

Visit the main street and the main square of Mahdia, and see where the useful spots are located (7 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

From there, you still need to reach the Potaro River, and you do that by going to a settlement called Pamela Landing. This is where boatmen (who can take you to Kaieteur) live.

We found a small restaurant on Mahdia’s main street (see it in the virtual tour above), next to the gas station, and decided to ask the owner for help to find a taxi to Pamela Landing for the next morning. He gladly accepted to help us, and called one of their friends to take us there. The original price was 10,000 GYD but we managed to get it down to 8000 GYD.

On the road, you almost feel swallowed by the dense jungle on both sides. The dirt road is in really bad shape, full of massive holes and mud. It takes 45 minutes to get to Pamela Landing. That’s where the road ends. From now on, your journey will continue by boat and on foot.

 

 

Step 3  •  Potaro River: Pamela Landing → Tukeit

Boat Pamela Landing → Amatuk | 17.6 km (11 mi) ⁝ 45 mins

Boat Amatuk → Waratuk | 14.5 km (9 mi) ⁝ 25 mins

Boat Waratuk → Tukeit | 8.9 km (5.5 mi) ⁝ 15 mins

This is where the fun begins. From Pamela Landing, you need to travel up the Potaro River (on which Kaieteur Falls are located), to a place called Tukeit. But reaching Tukeit is not as straightforward as you might think, because you need to go through two sets of rapids, at Amatuk and Waratuk. At both places, the boat needs to be carried to the other side of the rapids.

As we were reaching Pamela Landing, we asked the taxi driver if he knew of any boatman who would be willing to take us on the Potaro River towards Kaieteur. He knew one, Eric, and took us to his house, almost on the river bank.

The ideal situation is to get a boatman to take you all the way to Tukeit, not to risk getting stuck in Amatuk or Waratuk. Eric ( [+592] 699 8650) was willing to take us to Amatuk only, for 15,000 GYD, but assured us that another boatman, Dick ( [+592] 667 2883), would be available in Amatuk to take us further. We decided to trust his word and accepted the offer.

The Potaro River really gets you immersed in the Amazon rainforest. On both sides, an endless ribbon of trees goes by, blurring the limit between land and water, only interrupted by white sand bars and wild beaches, as well as some rocky areas.

It took us 45 minutes to get to Amatuk, where a quite impressive set of rapids forced us to leave the boat. In the Amatuk settlement, we met a man who pretended to be the “captain” of the place, with whom we discussed the price of the boat to continue towards Tukeit.

Eventually, we paid 50,000 GYD from Amatuk to Tukeit, and were quoted 35,000 GYD for the way back from Tukeit to Pamela Landing, making the whole return trip at 100,000 GYD. We then met Dick, the second boatman, who was indeed available and ready to take us, after discussing the price with the “captain”.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Journey on the Potaro River

Embark on a beautiful journey on the Potaro River, from Pamela Landing to Tukeit, passing the Amatuk and Waratuk rapids (15 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

In the end, even if you haven’t planned much or contacted anyone beforehand, all you need to do is ask and people are willing to help you. We asked the restaurant’s boss for a taxi driver, asked the taxi driver for a first boatman, asked the first boatman for a second boatman. And it all worked out well.

The journey on the Potaro River continued, passing the smaller rapids of Waratuk, and going on to Tukeit. This part of the the trip is really wonderful, the calm waters of river making an absolutely flawless mirror of the sky and the surrounding forest. Sometimes, there are a few rocks pocking out of the water, it really looks like they are floating. All around, the jungle-covered mountains characteristic of this region start to appear.

 

 

As a side note, if a boatman ever offers you to take you to Waratuk only, do not accept. There is nothing and no one in Waratuk, and I really don’t see how you would find another boatman there. So remember, going straight to Tukeit with the same boatman is the best, changing boatmen in Amatuk is a little uncertain but okay, but changing boatmen in Waratuk is a no-no.

 

Kaieteur Potaro River Waratuk

Waratuk

 

In Tukeit, we left Dick and agreed that he would come back to pick us up two days later at 2 pm, so we would have 2.5 days at the falls.

Tukeit is a fantastic place. You are all alone, with the river, the rainforest and the river. Depending on the water level, you can take some time to explore the rocks on the Potaro River. Just be very careful and focused because it can be slippery and it would be very easy to sprain your ankle or break your leg, which would be too bad knowing you are just a few hours of walk away from Kaieteur Falls!

 

 

In the morning, the whole valley is caught in the mist, and the impressive calls of the howler monkeys can be heard from the forest.

If you arrive late in Tukeit, there is a guesthouse there which I believe was completed in 2014. The walk to Kaieteur from there can take 3 hours, so be wise and if you arrive after 4 pm in Tukeit, I would suggest spending the night in Tukeit and walking to Kaieteur on the next morning.

However, the Tukeit guesthouse may look nice on the outside but is in pretty bad shape inside. I think it is not very much used, and it is not maintained at all. The kitchen was incredibly dirty and mainly unusable, thanks to inconsiderate visitors who leave their trash and unfinished meals behind, and national park staff who don’t bother tidying it.

So I would say, avoid staying there if you can, but staying there is still better than attempting the hike to Kaieteur too late and ending up walking in the jungle in the dark.

Step 4  •  Hike Tukeit → Kaieteur Falls

Hiking (up) | 5 km (3.1 mi) ⁝ 2:30-3 hours

Surprise! The guide we paid for in Georgetown never showed up! We were on our own to climb the “Oh My God” mountain to Kaieteur Falls.

The trail starts right next to the Tukeit guesthouse and is easy to follow. There is no difficulty in doing it without a guide. Just always follow the beaten path, always go up and you’ll be fine.

VIRTUAL TOUR - A Morning in Tukeit

Feel the early morning atmosphere of Tukeit, by the quiet Potaro River and the mountains partially hidden in the mist (1 panorama).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Depending on how fit you are, the hike takes about 2.30 to 3 hours. The trail passes over 3 small concrete bridges, and goes up the mountain. It is basically a long and steady climb until you reach the plateau at the top. I had quite a lot of heavy photo gear in my backpack, making the hike pretty strenuous.

With a more reasonably weight on your shoulders, good hiking shoes and paying attention to the slippery roots and rocks, the hike doesn’t have any particular difficulty other than the relative heat and high humidity making you drenched in your own sweat. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water even if it’s heavy to carry.

At some point, you will suddenly be out of the forest, on the rocky plateau with patches of vegetation (including amazing giant bromeliads). If you continue straight, you will walk past Boyscout’s View and Rainbow View and eventually reach the guesthouse. If you walk to the right, you will get to the National Park building and the airstrip. You can go directly announce yourself at the National Park building or leave your bags at the guesthouse first.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Hiking up the "Oh My God" Mountain

Follow the challenging trail from Tukeit to Kaieteur and get immersed in pristine rainforest (10 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Show the staff your receipts from what you have paid in the Georgetown office and you are good to go! When we arrived, we mentioned that we had no guide waiting for us in Tukeit. We were told it is because of a too short notice of our arrival, but we were still assigned a friendly guide, Washington, to show us around the different trails and viewpoints around Kaieteur Falls. We decided to just let this small matter go and quickly go enjoy the place.

Step 5  •  Kaieteur Falls and Surroundings

2-3 Days… or more!

You finally made it to Kaieteur Falls, congratulations! You now have the privilege of visiting one of the most beautiful and spectacular places on this planet. You are in Guyana’s top attraction, but 99% of the time, you are alone to enjoy it. What’s more? It’s wild, virtually untouched. No railings, no boardwalks or anything like this. It looks like it was discovered yesterday. Where else on Earth can you experience something like this?

Seeing Kaieteur Falls has been my #1 travel dream for many, many years. It certainly did not disappoint. I have seen my fair share of incredible places but this one is definitely very special, for all the reasons I just mentioned.

I recommend spending 2 to 3 nights at the Kaieteur Guesthouse, but of course feel free to stay more time! The more you stay the more you can discover. But usually 2 or 3 nights is a good number.

The guesthouse is quite nice but not always perfectly maintained. Some people mentioned bed bugs, some planks are seriously getting eaten by termites. But overall, I would say it is okay.

I was told there are plans to build a larger guesthouse as soon as this year, to accommodate larger groups of visitors. The first guesthouse will probably be restored afterwards, unless they decide to give it up and focus entirely on the new one.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Visiting the Kaieteur Guesthouse

Visit all the rooms of the Kaieteur Guesthouse (8 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Now let’s walk around the falls. Below is the picture of a map that is displayed at the National Park building.

how to get to kaieteur falls

There are a few trails you can follow around Kaieteur Falls. The part in red in the map above is the part that is off limits to the people in plane tour groups. If you go to Kaieteur Falls independently, you will be able to go there as much as you like.

The trail you will most obviously want to follow is the one linking the different viewpoints together. The viewpoints are a series of spots on the edge of the cliff where the vegetation does not grow, along the gorge of the Potaro River, offering spectacular views of the falls.

The four main viewpoints are the large overhanging rock right next to the falls, Rainbow View, Boy Scout’s View and Johnson’s View which is the furthest. Johnson’s View is interesting because it offers an almost frontal view of the falls. In between, there are a couple extra smaller “unofficial” viewpoints also offering stunning panoramas.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Kaieteur Falls Viewpoints Trail (Must-see!)

Follow the trail along the gorge of the Potaro River, from Johnson's View to Boy Scout's View and Rainbow View, until getting very, very close to the falls! If you see only one virtual tour on this page, it should be this one (15 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Kaieteur Boy scout's view

Boy Scout’s View

 

At the time of my visit, you could inevitably find golden frogs in the giant bromeliads on the edge at Boy Scout’s View.

 

 

Another advantage of staying for a few days at the Kaieteur Guesthouse is to be able to experience the falls under all kinds of weather and light, and by night! And when the wind pushes the clouds away, revealing a sky full of stars, it becomes truly fabulous!

VIRTUAL TOUR - A Morning at Kaieteur Falls

Discover mysterious early morning Kaieteur Falls engulfed in the mist... until the sun comes out. (2 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

VIRTUAL TOUR - A Night at Kaieteur Falls

Long exposure panoramas of Kaieteur Falls under a starry sky and moonlight, before the clouds came back - and yes, that's a moonlight rainbow! (2 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

The whole area around Kaieteur Falls is a giant rock slab with patches of vegetation growing on a very thin layer of soil, and can be a bit of a maze at first. In the middle, a small area is covered with a mosquito-infested forest where you have a good chance to see the Guianese cock-of-the-rock up close. This place is called a lek: it is a place where male birds gather and show off their attributes and compete, in the hope of attracting a female. These beautiful, bright orange birds are a must-see if you go to Kaieteur Falls. Just apply repellent!

VIRTUAL TOUR - Cock-of-the-Rock Lek

Here is a single panorama with no less than 7 visible cocks-of-the-rock, can you spot them?.

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

 

 

Another trail you will inevitably follow is the one leading to the National Parks building and the airstrip. The area between the airstrip and the viewpoints is interesting because you can get a closer look at this specific environment on the stone slab.

In areas with flowing water (which is about everywhere), look for the tiny brown frogs! At some point around the middle of the trail, you will come across a small but beautiful colony of red sundews, with their drops of glue to catch insects. For a botany and nature enthusiast, this is definitely a special place to explore.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Trail to The Airstrip

Follow the trail from the Kaieteur Guesthouse leading to the airstrip and the National Park building, and then exploring the nature north-west of Kaieteur Falls (10 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

 

 

If you are staying at Kaieteur for a few days and you feel like seeing something else, try the trail going to the settlement of Menzies Landing. There isn’t much to see at Menzies except maybe a nice view of the Potaro a few km ahead of the falls, but the path itself is pretty nice and makes a pleasant 15-20 min walk.

VIRTUAL TOUR - Trail to Menzies Landing

Walk from the National Park building and the airstrip to the settlement of Menzies Landing, following a pretty jungle trail, all the way to the Potaro River. (8 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

I could write pages about the fabulous nature around Kaieteur Falls, but it is probably beyond the scope of this post! Here you have a good overview of the different trails and what they have to offer. Let’s now get to the final step.

Step 6  •  Kaieteur Falls → Mahdia

Hiking (down) Kaieteur Falls → Tukeit | 5 km (3.1 mi) ⁝ 1:30-2 hours

Boat Tukeit → Pamela Landing | 41 km (25.5 mi) ⁝ 2:45 hours (including a 1-hour stop in Amatuk)

Taxi Pamela Landing → Mahdia | 8 km (5 mi) ⁝ 45 mins

Unfortunately, there is always a time when you need to leave, and as I mentioned before you have two options: by plane or by land.

If you are looking for the cheapest way, it is probably by land if you are two persons or more. You share the cost of one boat instead of paying a plane ticket for each person. If you are alone, you need to compare the prices you get for the boat and the plane, because the boat is far from cheap.

In my opinion, the easiest way is what I did, which is making an appointment with your boatman to come back and pick you up. Sure, you won’t get to see the falls from the air, but it saves a lot of hassle and possibly a lot of money, if you can’t get a good deal on flights.

If you absolutely want or need to leave by plane, it would be ideally arranged from Georgetown – you can go to Ogle Airport and speak face to face with airlines. I believe that the National Park staff at the falls can also help you, but just bear in mind that in Guyana many things are often uncertain, including flight schedules.

If you go back overland, it’s a last opportunity to be on the gorgeous Potaro River one last time on your way back to Pamela Landing and Mahdia, via the Waratuk and Amatuk rapids.

 

Kaieteur Falls Overland Trip Master Map

Unfortunately Google Maps only has low resolution imagery for this region… but this map can still help you visualize the location of everything. You can click on the icon at the top left hand corner to display the list of icons representing landmarks and virtual tour panoramas. Everything is organized by color to make things clearer.

TRAVEL MAP – Mahdia to Kaieteur Falls

Visualize on the map the precise locations of the virtual tours and places of interest to help you prepare your trip to Kaieteur Falls.

Click Here to View The Map

The map opens in a lightbox.

There you have it! The ultimate guide on how to get to Kaieteur Falls, independently. I tried to make this guide as precise and useful as possible, and I hope it will be valuable to you if you are preparing your own trip to Kaieteur Falls.

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