What to do when visiting Guyana

Now, Guyana is already exotic and probably not your common travel destination. Perhaps you haven’t even considered travelling there because it is certainly one of those ‘off-the-beaten-path‘ locations. Hopefully, after reading this post, you reconsider and even spice up your next trip or vacation with a completely new experience: going really local and living on one of Guyana’s many ranches. Yipee yayo, Cowboys, who is down for some dusty horse-fun in South America?

This is a syndicated article and was originally posted on the website of Guyana Tourism.

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Living the Ranch Life

South Rupununi, in the lower part of Guyana, is starkly different from the dense green rainforests of the north of the country. This is a land rich in traditions and where the wild ways from the turn of the 20th century endure. No matter which way you look, you see an endless golden-brown savannah and low blue hills circling them at the horizon. The sky hangs spectacularly low, making sunrises and sunsets stuff that photography fantasies are made of. It is a place that is sure to get under your skin and remain etched in your memory!

Cattle and cowboys - visiting Guyana can be a real unique experience

A bit about the history of Guyana’s ranches

South Rupununi is the land where the rich ranching traditions of Guyana really began. It was at Dadanawa Ranch at the edge of the Rupununi River, that pioneered the vaquero lifestyle. Previously home to the Indigenous people of the region, the name Dadanawa is a distortion of local Wapishana Indigenous ‘Dadinauwau’, which translates as ‘macaw spirit creek hill’.

A trading post in the 1800s it was sold with 300 cattle heads to a man called H.P.C. Melville before the turn of the century. Today, the ranch has more than 5,000 heads of cattle that roam the 1,750 square miles of the area. Barefoot vaqueros still take care of the ranch in the traditional ways and are happy to show guests a slice of their life.

Horsing around while visiting Guyana

What to do on a ranch while visiting Guyana?

There is plenty to do at a ranch for a visitor:

  • helping around in the main house
  • planting peanuts or other crops
  • cleaning and feeding the cattle, pigs, poultry and the horses
  • or just relaxing under the milky sky at night

Other ranches soon sprang up in the Rupununi, following Dadanawa’s example. Saddle Mountain, Karanambu, Manari, Waikin and many others are scattered around Lethem, the main town and air node to the South Rupununi. Each ranch has fascinating stories to recount and makes for a great stop during your visit to the region. Most visitors cover at least two ranches during a trip to the region for a truly immersive experience.

Every cowboy needs to relax - visiting Guyana doesn't have to be stressful after all!

A true local experience

Running a ranch is hard work. Daily tasks of the vaquero ‘cowboys’ start in the early hours of the morning. Cleaning, feeding, giving medicines and taking the cattle out for feeding take up considerable time. But it is also the perfect time to hone your riding skills. Trained riders love the terrain of the ranches, but the vaqueros are happy to help amateurs learn the basics. If you are really keen to experience the awesome riding skills of the local vaqueros, then plan a visit to the Rupununi for Sand Creek Rodeo and Rupununi Rodeo during Easter.


Do you still need the appropriate outfit for your ranch live?

There are plenty of other attractions that you can explore while staying in one of the many experiential ranches of the Rupununi. Here are a few that you should not miss:

Birding and Wildlife

The vast stretch of savannah and the thickets of forests in between are excellent for bird watching. There are more than 400 species of birds that are found in the South Rupununi region, including the lesser-spotted endangered red siskin. Tiger-herons, jacanas and even the elusive harpy eagle often make appearances. Jaguars, anteaters, labias, capybaras, anacondas and caimans are another draw for the nature and wildlife lover.

When visiting Guyana don't miss out on birdwatching on one of the many rivers
Karanambu Ranch Savannah, Rupununi, Guyana, South America

Fishing while visiting Guyana

Locals continue to hunt for their own food. Fishing is a big part of this. Spending the day with local indigenous people, cruising the rivers in a slim dugout canoe, fishing for giant catfish, peacock bass, and the occasional piranha is a thrilling experience. Thick primary forest and mangroves overhung with creepers, make the river settings really extraordinary. Knowing that the waters are filled with caimans and giant river otters, turns most fishing excursions into exciting wildlife spotting adventures.

A fisherman on a river - when visiting Guyana you'll be taken back in time

Go on a hike when you are visiting Guyana

The hills in the Rupununi region are excellent for hikes. The Bone and Skulls Mountain off Shulainab, close to Saddle Mountain, is where one can see ancient indigenous burial sites. Thousand-year-old skulls and bones lie encased in small and large earthen pots to this day. The Moco Moco Mountain off Lethem is another great place for a day hike or the beginning of a multi-day trek. Regardless of your level of fitness, make an effort to reach the top of the mountain, as the views of the sprawling carpet of green, thick jungles below are absolutely stunning!

Even the wildlife will be exceptional when you are visiting Guyana
Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) & Vaquero or Cowboy, Savannah Rupununi, Guyana. South America

This remote part of the world, rich in its ancient ranching traditions is definitely one of the most memorable parts of visiting Guyana. So if your itching to wear that cowboy hat and boots, then we suggest go ahead and plan a visit to the ranches of the Rupununi.

Here are some travel tips for visiting Guyana and a list of top things to do in the country. 

Travel Better in Guyana: Guyana is working hard to conserve its vibrant wildlife and ecosystems and protect its culture and heritage. We realize that it is often difficult to understand how you can support these aims and make a difference when you travel.  That’s why we’ve set out to help you by creating Visitor Guidelines for Sustainable Travel. All passionate globetrotters, curious culture seekers, and bold adventurers are encouraged to do all you can to leave a positive impact on the people and places you visit in Guyana. 


For more South American Travel Tips, check out these posts:

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The Coolest Things About Visiting Rio

Bucket list: Rio de Janeiro; Photo Credit: Agustin Diaz

This is still a big one to tick off my bucket list: Rio de Janeiro. When we travelled from North to South America, this was one of the countries we left out, unfortunately. But it’s just such a big country and we were running out of time as we had to catch our cruise ship to Europe with 100 other digital nomads. If you haven’t done so already, check out our posts from our trip through Central and South America, from Mexico to Ecuador. But now, sit back and enjoy this guest post about one of Brazil’s most thrilling destinations!


What to do in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most otherworldly cities on our planet. As major cities go, it strikes the ultimate postcard image, with its vast harbor, famous beaches, curious mountains, and the towering, world famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. It’s also known as something of a wild destination, characterized by beach parties, bustling crowds, and at times, unfortunately, a high crime rate. Provided you plan your trip well and stay in safe areas, however, a vacation to Rio can be incredible. If such a trip is on your radar, pay attention to these suggestions for the coolest things to do once you’re in town.

1. Christ The Redeemer Up Close

I already mentioned Christ The Redeemer, which more or less defines the skyline of Rio. But it’s something you should absolutely make the effort to see up close if you get the chance to visit. Widely viewed as one of the manmade wonders of the world, it’s a towering and imposing statue. What some don’t fully realize, however, is that it’s atop 690-meter-high Corcovado Mountain, which only makes its effect all the more striking. Up close you can appreciate both the magnificence of the statue itself and its position overlooking one of the planet’s most beautiful and intriguing cities.

Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro

2. Sugar Loaf Mountain

If there’s a view to rival that from Christ The Redeemer, it’s the one from Sugar Loaf Mountain. This is a mountain you’ll probably recognize even if you’re not familiar with the name. It’s essentially a tall, rounded peak that frames the city of Rio in the bulk of images of the town. Roughly 1,300 feet high over Guanabara Bay, it’s actually reachable via cable car, making for a pretty thrilling (yet relaxing) experience. Many tourists prioritize this cable car ride, and with good reason.

Sugar Loaf Mountain South

3. Local Dancing

Brazil is home to one of the most famous festivals in the world, simply called Carnival. But dancing in the city, you can actually experience a taste of Brazilian Carnival no matter when you happen to be visiting. That’s actually a point that’s made in the description of a casino game based on this cultural aspect of Brazil, and that speaks to the popularity of dancing in Rio. That everything from an online slot machine to an internationally renowned festival can spring up from a city’s dancing culture ought to be a pretty big draw. Even if you don’t personally like to dance, you might consider checking out the city’s clubs to watch some of the experienced dancers.

4. Prainha Beach

If you’re familiar with the image of a gigantic beach packed with people, you’re probably thinking of Copacabana. This is the most famous beach in Rio, and certainly something you have to see and experience for yourself. But Prainha Beach may actually be the more pleasant experience for a lot of tourists. Located a short distance outside the main city, it’s just a little bit smaller and more secluded than the main attraction. That’s not to say you’ll have it to yourself, but it’s a more relaxing alternative to the busy (but still very fun) atmosphere at Copacabana.

Prainha Beach in Rio de Janeiro

5. Maracana

You might consider looking into a tour of the Maracana – Rio’s famous soccer stadium – whether or not there’s actually a match going on. But if you happen to be in town when the national team is playing or any other soccer event is being held, the Maracana should be at the very top of your list. Ranking it among the 10 best soccer stadiums in the world, the sport site FourFourTwo goes so far as to say it’s partly thanks to this football shrine that Brazil’s passion for the sport is known the world over. It’s a massive, historic venue that, on the right day, can make a sporting event seem almost like a spiritual experience. And if that sounds like it might be a little bit of an exaggeration, just ask some of the local fans how they feel about it!

Bucket list: Rio de Janeiro Maracana Stadium; Photo Credit: sama093 on Flickr


There are plenty of other spots worth exploring, for sure! This is just a short list, an appetizer to get you into the Rio-mood! What about you? Have you been to Rio yet? What must-sees have we missed to mention? Drop a line in the comments below, we’d love to know! 


Are you looking for more Latin American travel guides? Check out our post on Diving the Great Blue Hole of Belize if you are into scuba diving. Or what about a less sporty and therefore more cultural trip? Then you might like to read our Guatemala Travel Guide with tips for the ancient Mayan ruins in Copan.

Or are you curious about the lesser travelled routes in Honduras or Nicaragua, make sure not to skip these gems of Central America! Here is another post on Nicaragua about our fun day sailing along the coast of Playa Gigante.



Bucket list: Rio de Janeiro


Digital Nomad

Why wait forever? Start living your dream today!

Here is how to live your dream

A cheeky headline, huh?! I know! But you must admit that this is probably true for almost everything in life. At least, I had that feeling over the past few years before I started my digital nomad life. I found taking action to be key if you want things to happen and live a happy life. So, when I set off in 2011 to discover the world, I eventually found my passion in life: travelling. But moreover, I realised that the freedom to go wherever I wanted WHENEVER I wanted became my big obsession. This led to a chain of actions that I took which made it possible for me to still be on the road today  – after more than 6 years! Check out my post on how to earn a little extra as a digital nomad, and now, sit back and get inspired if you need that last push to finally start to live your dream too. 


Why should you live your dream too?

When I was in elementary school, my parents were asked to go see my teacher one day. At the age of 9, I refused to copy the specific technique my teacher showed us in art class. According to mini-me, there was a better way of holding the brush in order to get more beautiful sprinkles. He didn’t like that response and complained about our conversation with my mum. I remember her proud face when she came back home from that meeting with my teacher. She told me that he was not amused by her response either when she said that ‘Julia has her own way of doing things, always has and always will’. My mum was right back then…it’s the one characteristic that seems to be consistent throughout my life so far.

Living the dream: Dinner in a park in Australia 2014
Who needs a dining room if you can have a picknick by the ocean!?

After quitting my job in 2011 and when I had sold almost all my belongings that wouldn’t fit into my backpack, I remembered that day back in art class. No one really thought it was a great idea that I took a break from my so well-established career at the age of 28. In fact, I left one month before I turned 29, which meant that I had only one year left before the magic number 30 would bring the big changes to my life that everyone was talking about. Well, I guess it’s true the 30ies have brought big changes to my life. But I can clearly say that they were for the better. For people who stay in one place their whole lives, it’s hard to understand that age doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

Meeting a hedgehog on a highway in Australia... never forget to live your dream!
I still get excited about the small things in life…

To be fair, ever since I had crossed that magic border of my 30’s, I must admit that I got more and more excited when I saw little babies…perhaps the only difference for me is that I began to imagine how this little mini-me would be most comfortable on top of my backpack! Check out my post on how my life has changed since I have become a mother.

Anyways, I had mixed feelings when I said goodbye to start my journey in 2011. No, it was actually sheer panic when I set off and didn’t know what to expect. At the same time, I felt that it was the right thing to do. Somehow, I felt that I was starting a completely new chapter in my life. It was the excitement of leaving everything behind and facing a whole new unknown world. My parents (again) were the least surprised when they learned about my new plans. Perhaps they were not amused about the idea of their daughter travelling around the world by herself, but hey, they kind of always have known that they can’t expect me to NOT do it my way ☺


So, I left with the plan to return 6 months later, but I never did…

Pictures say much more than words. So here is a list of reasons why I am utterly happy about my decision to live the way I want to and why you should contemplate doing so too… Take it with a grain of salt though, I had a lot of fun to put this list together! Perhaps too much!


    1. You get to meet really interesting people…

      When you start to live your dream, you might even meet superman!
      Superman on Kao San Road for New Year’s Eve 2012/13

    2. You start thinking in other dimensions…
      No, that is not an optical illusion (his name was Walley and he was famous for being as curious as the divers at the Great Barrier Reef…)
    3. You get to hang out in pretty nice places…
      Enjoying Bali at the pool
      On Bali’s East coast for a Visa Run before returning to Australia


    4. You’ll leaver your comfort zone to discover new places…

      To live your dream also means to push yourself every day a bit more!
      Me, a bit scared to go in there all on my own… but at least I had a fancy helmet on!
    5. …then again you find rocks to lean on…
      Sometimes you need a shoulder (or a rock) to lean on...
      Western Australia…it was hot!


    6. You’ll become a lot stronger from time to time…
      To check things off your bucket list is to live your dream.
      Unfortunately, it was closed that day… but still impressive to see the Twin Towers in KL from below!


    7. …probably because you get to eat your favourite food whenever you want to…
      South East Asia was my food heaven!
      Mmmmm…Padthai for my belly!


    8. …or maybe because you get to kiss magic snakes…
      Get to kiss a snake. Gotta love to live your dream!
      I look a lot more comfortable than I felt in that moment…I have to admit 🙂


    9. And finally you realise that you can actually live your dream if you dare to!!!
      Smile, jump and live your dream!
      I was never sooooooooo pumped with adrenaline like that day! Even days after that jump (2012 in New Zealand over Lake Tapo), I still had a huge smile on my face!



Am I doing it right? I don’t know, honestly. But I do know that you can live your dream eventually if you stop waiting! With this blog, I not only want to share my experiences with you but I also want to show that there is not only ONE way to live your life. Because when I started to make my plans, I was fighting against conventional thinking patterns, prejudice and other people’s opinions.

  • Just do it:
    Smile. Jump. And start to live your dream.

Pin it and save it for later: Start to live your dream today!

Did you like this post? What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you already living your dream? Let me know in the comments below!


Perhaps you want to get into the nitty-gritty stuff and wonder how to finance a lifestyle filled with travels? Make sure to check out both of my posts on Let’s talk money, part 1 and part 2!

Or simply enjoy our latest post about events in 2018 for like-minded people who are already living the digital nomad lifestyle.