If you are a wildlife enthusiast interested in discovering rich cultures and pristine environments, Guyana might be one of the unmissable stops you hope to be able to check off your destinations list one day. Raw adventures are waiting for you in the North-Southern corner of South Africa, in the only English speaking country in this continent: Guyana.
Bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, Guyana stands out of the crowd with its pristine environments, located out off the beaten track and with its densely forested areas, doubled by the rich community culture it offers to its visitors. Nevertheless, this country has gone through a troubled history which implied political instability and ethnic tension which might have made it a notorious touristic destination. This notoriety, combined with the experiences that tourists have gone through in time made some of the authorities advise possible tourists to exercise extra caution when visiting Guyana.
Therefore, in order for you to be very well informed about the risks you are exposed to when you decide to go on a getaway in Guyana, we present you to a Guyana Safety Travel Guide. It is designed to help you answer to one of your main concerns before embarking on this journey: Is Guyana safe to visit?
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Guyana
Risks are an important part of planning every trip. A lot of factors have to be taken into account before embarking on a journey. From road and weather conditions to diseases you may come in contact with, you should be well prepared and able to cope with every possible situation. The more you know about your destination, the safer and happier your travels will be. Therefore, if you doubt you can put up with the challenges Guyana offers to its tourists, strike it off your list. In case you can think these challenges will make your journey even more interesting, here is what you need to know:
Overall Risks in Guyana: MEDIUM to HIGH
Even if most visits in Guyana can be trouble-free, you should not forget to be vigilant and take into account the possibility of you encountering petty crime, be the victim of unpleasant acts of violence or be exposed to dangerous viruses. From road travel accidents to terrorist attacks, unfortunate events are likely to happen and they should not be ruled out if you want to keep safe in Guyana.
In order to stay safe, visitors of Guyana should take into account planning the trip very well in advance and be very well informed before embarking on a journey to this country. Usually, visitors are advised to not exclude the possibility of crime during their trip and pay extra care to protect themselves and their belongings.
Crime Risk in Guyana: HIGH
Criminal activity continues to be a major issue in Guyana, with a 35 % increase registered in 2017. Even if the requirements to have a weapon license are rigorous, criminals continue to use them illegally and many murders and shootings take place, along with armed robberies and intimidation. The target seems to be the visitors and the time when the crime takes places is not restricted only to the hours after dark. Showing signs of wealth and walking alone might attract trouble.
In order to avoid unwanted attention from criminals, you should exercise extreme caution when using ATMs, showing off valuable objects or even walking in some of the neighborhoods. Try to stay vigilant and patient, be fair and respectful and in this way, trouble will stay away from you, as well.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Guyana: MEDIUM
As in any other country you might have visited, the risks of encountering petty theft is relatively high, because of a specific kind of people. Guyana is not different, in the sense that pickpocketing and theft are to be found when walking on the streets. Muggings sometimes happen in broaden light and theft from car is common as well, as local people have the tendency to think that foreigners are wealthy. You may encounter violent or armed robberies, as well as assaults, but these can be avoided if you keep in mind some Guyana safety tips that will help you protect yourself and your belongings.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Guyana?
In order to avoid being the victim of a petty theft in Guyana, you should first try to avoid obvious signs of wealth, such as jewelry, money and expensive belongings. Always keep an eye on your belongings and safeguard your documents, mobile phone and luggage when on the streets of Guyana or in public places. Be vigilant when using ATMs or banks, as recordings of visitors being followed have been registered.
Scam Risk in Guyana: MEDIUM
As mentioned above, Guyana comes with high crime levels that don’t seem to decrease. On top of that, the low capacity of police officers and authorities makes it difficult for violent and criminal incidents to be regulated, so to speak. In this respect, you would rather be simply robbed or pickpocketed rather than scammed. Sources show that, within the country, one can be mugged at gun or knife point even in broad daylight – making scams pretty much useless.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about scams. Given the country’s high levels of crime, it is recommended that you learn how to protect yourself against any type of illegal activity, so to speak. For example, strangers/ locals may approach you at first, trying to sell you things or offer you their help. If you refuse or ignore them, then they might assault or harass you – turning a harmless scam into something dangerous. This is one of the main reasons why you should avoid interacting with any people that you do not know.
In terms of actual scams, you may be faced with overcharging when using taxis or when in restaurants or bars. Moreover, pay attention when buying items/ souvenirs from street vendors and even from local shops, as they might try to sell you fake, non-genuine, or poor quality items.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Guyana?
If you want to avoid getting scammed, you should, first of all, find out more information about the area you are about to visit. Consult with either your accommodation or tour guide as to which shops you can visit for good souvenirs, what are the respectable restaurants in town, and which taxi service/ company they recommend you to use. You may think that you’d do much better on your own, but you have no idea how much it helps to have some local insight on your side, especially when it comes to avoiding scams or dangerous people.
On top of that, you should not be traveling alone. If you are with a group, strangers with malicious intents may not go as far as to harass or assault you when you stop their attempts to scam you. If you have to travel alone, then we recommend you to stay within the tourist-designated areas or close to other tourists that you can rely on if someone harasses you.
Kidnapping Risk in Guyana: LOW
Fortunately, Guyana comes with no such risks. Recent reports – from 2017 – show that there have been no significant kidnappings in Guyana. By significant we mean those that were spoken of in media – in short, no tourists were subject to kidnappings and such. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that this act doesn’t occur within the country. Local criminal groups may organize kidnappings of other locals.
However, given that no tourists or foreigners were involved in serious cases of kidnapping, it is safe to say that you shouldn’t be worried about this. On the other hand, what you should do is familiarize yourself with the ways through which you can avoid being kidnapped! Keep in mind that the best thing you can do to fight off a criminal is to know how to properly avoid him/ her in the first place!
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Guyana?
The first thing you can do to avoid getting kidnapped while in Guyana is to visit places, travel, and explore during the day only. One of the main pieces of advice we give to travelers is that they should not trust the night of any country, regardless of how many times they’ve visited it. In fact, if you think about it, you can’t even trust your own city during the night, depending on its size and neighborhoods. The same applies to any foreign country – you should not travel during the night, especially through areas without street lighting or landmarks to help you find your way back home.
Moreover, stay away from the city outskirts and slums, any bad reputed neighborhoods, and don’t hail taxis down the street. Doing the latter can not only result in an overcharged taxi trip, but may also get you in the hands of a felon – who will try to either rob, assault, kidnap, or harass you. It is better to rely on the services of a reputable taxi company and to always call for a cab!
In the end, you can also avoid being kidnapped if you don’t display too many jewelry pieces and money. Check your surroundings when using the ATM and make sure that no one is following you!
Terrorism Risk in Guyana: LOW to MEDIUM
The risks of being a victim of a terrorist attack in Guyana are very low, as no recent recordings of such events have been registered lately. Nevertheless, with the global threat installed by the terrorist groups, risks cannot be ruled out and each visitor should have the basic safety guide in mind in this type of cases.
- How to avoid terrorism in Guyana?
In order for you to keep safe during your stay in Guyana, you should remember that the target locations of terrorist groups are usually the most crowded places in the city. Therefore, try to be vigilant in busy crowded places and keep an eye on your family or friends if you are accompanied.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Guyana: MEDIUM to HIGH
Women are usually targeted as weak victims of petty theft and violence. If you are a woman traveling alone in Guyana, you should know that you may go through some unwanted experiences when walking alone at night or in some dangerous areas such as Georgetown. Hotel break-ins are also common for this country and therefore you should keep in mind some simple rules that could save you from being involved in some unpleasant experiences such as sexual assault or even rape.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Guyana?
In order to keep safe, you should know that walking outside after dark, even if we are talking about the vicinity of your hotel, can put you in danger. Try to avoid walking alone, as you might be a target victim of a thief or even worse. What is more, lock your doors and windows and try to hide your valuable objects, as they might attract the others’ attention.
You should never leave your credit card out of sight, avoid displaying expensive objects such as: camera, jewelry, mobile phones and be prepared to defend yourself. Usually, women traveling alone should try to have at least one hand free at all times, in order to be able to protect themselves from violence or petty thefts. Some tips can save your money, documents or even your life.
Rape Risk in Guyana: MEDIUM
If we are to look at some statistics, it seems that the rape rate of Guyana has been continuously increasing since 2009, when it was only 8.3. Back in 2015, the rape rate was of 41.9 cases per 100,000 population – comparably, the rate in 2013 was much lower, so to say, with 35.4. The high levels of crime can be the main cause for this increase. On the other hand, there are little to no reports that tell of foreigners or tourists that have been sexually assaulted during their stay.
Therefore, we can assume that most of such cases take place within the country’s remote/ isolated communities, rather than in its major cities. Still, such violence can happen in any city – it matters more which people are seen as targets. Even though tourists don’t seem to have been regular victims, it is still recommended that you do everything in your power to avoid getting raped while in Guyana.
- How to avoid getting raped in Guyana?
The high levels of crime have to be taken into account when considering any type of violence or crime. Most people think that crime refers only to theft and burglary and forget to be cautious when it comes to other things, such as scams, sexual violence, assault, and such. It doesn’t matter if the country you visit is known as safe, you still have to take some safety measures to help you prevent getting in any form of danger.
In terms of rape, the best thing that you can do to avoid it is to dress appropriately and to draw as little attention towards you as possible. You don’t want to display too many pieces of jewelry or money, as well as gadgets and electronics. Keep in mind that a simple mugging can turn into much more if the criminal considers it doable, so to say.
Lastly, do your best to avoid traveling alone, no matter the country you are in. Avoid poorly lit streets, shady alleys, remote areas, the city outskirts, the slums, and any other areas that don’t seem fit to host a tourist/ foreigner, so to say. When choosing the locations that you want to explore, ask yourself twice if other tourists would actually go there or accompany you – in short, stick within the tourist-designated areas and do not try to explore more of the city on your own.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Guyana: MEDIUM
Traveling with your children can be quite a blessing – if you don’t mind sacrificing most of your trip for them, so to say. It goes without saying that, for any parent out there, being able to have your children with you while traveling is amazing! You get to see their faces as they discover new things in this world and fuel their love for traveling. However, traveling with them is not just joy and happiness, as you will be the one to take care of them at all times.
For example, you will have to make sure that they behave, stay around you, don’t do anything that they shouldn’t, make sure that they stay healthy, and treat them when they seem to get ill. Naturally, this depends on their age but, unless they are over twenty, you will most likely still have to keep an eye on them at all times.
When it comes to Guyana, the crime levels here can affect your trip. Police is known to respond with firearms if they are threatened or shot at and, given that this mostly happens in open, crowded areas, you may get caught up in such incidents. So you will have to know when you and your children should leave the area. On top of that, various sources report a rather high number of assaults in the Botanic Gardens of the country. Therefore, you may not want to visit them if you are not accompanied by a larger group or by a tour guide.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Children can be very difficult – you have to keep that in mind for the duration of your trip! Why? Because no matter what they do and how bad they annoy you, you must ensure their safety and well-being at all times.
These being said, you can avoid any unwanted scenarios by adding a first-aid kit specially designed for children to your luggage – as a first thing. This kit should contain any medicine that a child might need during the trip, as well as any other complex medicine that you may not find in Guyana. Make sure that a headache or a tummy ache won’t make them lose a precious day of their trip. Second of all, you have to properly train them as to how they should behave while on foreign ground.
In short, they must understand that going too far away from you or the group is a big no-no! Make them understand that exploring and discovering on their own cannot be done here in the same way as they do back home. To some degree, it is better if you introduce them to the country’s issues – mention the high crime rate and the minor possible dangers they may face. Last but not least, there has to be someone keeping an eye on them at all times – bring friends or family with you or have someone from your group watch them while you can’t.
Natural Disaster Risks in Guyana: MEDIUM
One of the main issues in Guyana, as a country covered by rain forest, is the heavy rainfall which can cause serious disasters especially in January and February or May and June. Severe flooding affected this country in 2005 and the chances of flooding happening again cannot be ruled out.
Apart from that, Guyana has been spared natural disasters, as it has never experiences a volcano eruption or a serious earthquake. This is the reason why some of the local people might call it a “blessed country”.
Transportation Risks in Guyana: MEDIUM
Traveling from one place to another in Guyana can be a challenge if you are not equipped with the necessary tips of how to stay safe. Erratic driving is pretty common on the road of Guyana, especially at night and many accidents happen from this reason. Other common incidents are violent thefts, produced by gangs who follow the cars leaving the airport and steal the valuable objects from visitors’ luggage.
Public transport is not to be trusted also, in Guyana, as minibuses are usually involved in road accidents due to the irresponsibility of the drivers.
You can and will enjoy traveling in Guyana if you are very careful when driving or if you lock the doors and the windows of the car when driving. In case you are not going to rent a car, try avoiding minibuses and choose a taxi instead. Even if they are more expensive than minibuses, they pose a lower risk of being involved in accidents and they get you to your destination faster. Always choose a taxi from reputable companies and do not hail them from the roadside.
Various sources also recommend you to avoid the road from Georgetown Cheddi Jagan International Airport, as a number of violent incidents and fatal crashes have been reported on that particular road, mainly due to erratic driving. On top of that, violent theft on the same road have been reported as well. As mentioned above, thieves would follow the cars leaving from the airport and attack the tourists/ foreigners once they stepped out of the vehicle – regardless if they stopped for gas or because they reached their destination. Your doors and windows should be closed at all times while traveling by car!
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Guyana: MEDIUM
Given the high levels of crime, it is better if you avoid any location, area, or facility that you have to visit during the night. Naturally, we refer mainly to night-clubs, pubs, and bars. While in Guyana, you should not be engaging in any night-time activities, as they come with serious safety risks! For example, criminals are known to follow their targets, especially if they are foreigners, show sings of wealth, and are drunk, obviously. On top of that, if you do want to visit a night-club or bar, you shouldn’t do so alone.
If you are a lone traveler, it is highly recommended that you attach yourself to another group of tourists. However, this doesn’t mean that you should fully trust them! As a result, it is best if you avoid alcohol while traveling. Also, when leaving and returning to your accommodation, you should use the services of a reputed taxi company rather than hailing taxis down the street. Basically, ensure that you don’t have to walk more than 1 or 2 minutes from your hotel to the taxi and from the night-club/ pub to the taxi. The less time you spend in the dark, the more chances you have of keeping all of your money and valuables on you!
Last but not least, make sure to drink responsibly! Do not make it so that you have to depend on other people for your safety – the most you should get out of a drink while abroad is dizzy!
Health Risks in Guyana
First of all, remember that the regulation and legal status of certain medicine prescribed in your country of origin can be different in Guyana. When traveling with over-the-counter or prescription medicine, it is highly recommended that you read guides on traveling with medicine. If you need information about the legal status of some of your medicine, then you will have to contact the high commission, consulate, or embassy of Guyana.
In terms of specific health risks, Guyana comes with a risk of Zika virus transmission. It is essential that you take the measures required to help you prevent and avoid contracting this disease. Moreover, dengue fever and malaria are also common in this country, all year long. To avoid them, you must avoid being bitten by flying insects, especially mosquitoes – bring bug sprays with you, as well as lotions.
When it comes to the country’s medical facilities, they are rather limited – even in Georgetown. Naturally, remote and isolated areas usually don’t feature any medical facilities. The standards of the treatment and medical assistance that you may receive in Guyana are quite low! Therefore, it is recommended that you have proper travel health insurance, as well as enough money with you to cover the costs of any treatment, medicine, emergency evacuation, or repatriation. Keep in mind that, in case you need serious treatment, you should ask for medical evacuation!
If you need medical assistance while in Guyana, dial 913 and then ask for an ambulance. If possible, you should also contact your medical assistance company as soon as you are referred for treatment to one of the country’s medical facilities.
List of Vaccines You Need in Guyana
Before traveling to Guyana, you should be aware of some measures that should be taken for you and your loved ones to enjoy a safe and healthy trip. It is a good idea to receive anti-malarial medication, as malaria is the most common disease in this country. Be sure you immunize against Yellow Fever, Typhoid Fever, AIDS and Dengue Fever. Another dangerous disease that could be encountered during your trip is the Zika Virus, which poses a critical risk for pregnant women.
You should be well informed by your health provider before embarking on this journey, so do not hesitate to keep in touch with the news.
By reading these Guyana safety travel tips, you are already prepared to enjoy the beauties that this country has to offer to its visitors, without encountering unpleasant experiences. Do not forget to:
- Be aware of your surroundings;
- Leave valuable objects at the accommodation;
- Be cautious in public places;
- Keep an eye on the news;
- Carry only small amounts of money.
In this way, your trip to Guyana will be a success and no other unpleasant events will stop you from enjoying this country as it is.
Most Dangerous Areas in Guyana
Because of the political and ethnic turmoil Guyana has gone through in the past, some tension between this country and its neighbors has been created and is still somehow present. Therefore, visitors should keep in mind the fact that border areas, especially the ones with Venezuela and Suriname should be avoided. They do not necessarily pose very high risks, but they can be dangerous at times, especially because they are deserted regions.
Another places to be visited with vigilance is the capital- Georgetown. As one of the most crowded cities in Guyana, Georgetown is also full of dangers. The highest crime risks were registered around Tiger Bay, Albouystown, Sophia, Buxton and Agricola. Other dangerous areas are the Botanic Gardens, in which sudden attacks are likely to be found.
Because it is covered by pristine rain forest, Guyana poses high risks when it comes to traveling alone through the thick, wild trees. Try to get very well informed in advance and be accompanied, as this is one of the most dangerous places on Earth regarding wild animals and possible diseases.
Concluding Remarks: Is Guyana Safe to Visit?
So, in the end, is Guyana safe to visit? Well, even though the country has its dangers and such, it definitely has sights worth seeing, such as its Botanical Gardens, for example. However, no sight or view should make you forfeit your safety and security, so to say. In this respect, no matter how much you want to visit this country and have a good time, you should always take your time to apply the safety travel tips we have mentioned so far.
The best thing that you can do for a lovely trip abroad is to keep yourself healthy and safe. You may not be able to explore as much as you’d want, mainly due to the country’s high levels of crime, but this doesn’t mean that you will be locked in your hotel. You can have a great time while also keeping an eye out for criminals or any other suspicious activity! Safety is paramount and should be number one on your travel “to do” list!