Kamuni Creek

Kamuni Creek

Kamuni Creek, Guyana – October 3, 2012

At about 07:30, I left the embassy with a driver, two of my colleagues (Brian and Elroy), and an aluminum boat in tow. The embassy purchased the craft some time ago. The emergency vessel is for evacuating embassy employees in case of floods. It will seat up to 12 people.

We decided to make this journey to exercise the boat motor. If one leaves a motor sitting, it will eventually cease to operate. To make sure it was ready and available for emergencies, we had to try it out!

Our destination was the Demerara River. We drove to the small town of Timehri. According to Wikipedia, the word Timehri is an Amerindian word meaning “paintings and drawings on the rock.” Timehri is very close to the international airport. There are a couple of places at Timehri to launch small boats. The launch we chose was a pier. Instead of backing the trailer into the water and launching the boat from the trailer, several local men man-handled the vessel into the river.

The tow vehicle drove out directly onto the pier. Immediately several men swarmed the car and trailer. With their help, the trailer was unhooked from the vehicle and manually turned around 180 degrees. Shortly before that, one of the men lifted the motor out of the boat and placed it on the pier. Soon the vessel was lifted off of the trailer and carried down to the water. The tide was up, so they did not have far to carry the boat. They placed the craft in the water and turned it, so the bow faced out into the river. At this point, Brian gave the lead man GD$1,000 (US$5). With the boat in the Demerara, Elroy and one of the other men attached the motor to the stern. Once the engine was in place and the fuel line connected, it started right up.

A boat moored near the pier on the Demerara River in Guyana.

A crew preparing to launch our boat by hand and sheer muscle.
Brian overseeing the launch of the boat.
Attaching the motor to our boat as another boat motors south on the Demerara River.
Nearly ready to launch.
Some last-minute checks of the motor.

As we motored from the launch point across the Demerara River, our “target” was Kamuni Creek. It took just a couple of minutes to cross the Demerara and begin our trek principally west, up the Kamuni. It was at that point that the meaning of Guyana struck me. Guyana is also an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters.”

Crossing the Demerara River with two of my work colleagues; from left to right, Elroy and Brian.
While crossing the Demerara River, the bow of the boat points almost directly at the mouth of Kamuni Creek.

Our destination was the Arrowpoint Resort, located on the Kamuni Creek near the village of Santa Mission.

Mr. Google provided this map of our journey. One can see Santa Mission in the upper left corner. The international airport is in the lower right. Kamuni Creek winds from the Demerara River to Santa Mission.

I found our journey to be amazingly fascinating. At its widest point, the creek was maybe 40 feet across. At its most narrow point, the stream was just short of 20 feet across. At some of the broader parts, the native vegetation was relatively short. That gave an expansive feel. At the narrow stretches with tall plants, it almost took the appearance of a green tunnel.

First view of Kamuni Creek.


One of the first things we came across was a logging operation. Several men were loading cargo onto a barge. As we continued, we encountered several boats coming toward us, heading toward the Demerara River. We overtook one boat.

We also saw a sunken boat near the bank. One has to wonder what the story is behind the sinking.

Men loading cargo onto a barge on Kamuni Creek.
One can never see very far ahead as we move deeper into the jungle.
A sunken boat in Kamuni Creek.
The jungle vegetation is thick along the banks of Kamuni Creek.
Overtaking a smaller boat. The boat had no motor, just an oar.

In the first several hundred meters, we motored past many homes. Often, the only clue that hinted at their location was a boat pulled up to the bank. One could tell those living there were mainly living off of the land. The nearest store of any sort would have been back at Timehri.

A boat moored at the edge of Kamuni Creek.
Farther along, another moored boat.

At two or three locations along Kamuni Creek, we saw safety and warning signs. One of the safety signs suggested staying to the right while navigating the creek. I found that odd only because on the roads in Guyana; one travels on the left side. I am not sure why it may have been different on Kamuni Creek. Maybe it some maritime mandate.

Three signs on Kamuni Creek. The top sign reads, “keep right at all times your safety matters.”

Periodically, the dense jungle gave way to broader vistas due to the many logging operations. On our journey, we passed at least three such operations.

A logging camp in the distance.
Another view of the logging camp.
Lily pads in the creek.

Kamuni Creek is another of the blackwater creeks in Guyana. Blackwater creeks get their color due to the rotting plant material in the forest. As water leaches through the plant materials, the natural tannins darken the water. Being so dark, in many places, the calm creek seemed more like a mirror, reflecting the vegetation, sky, and clouds.

Kamuni Creek often had a near mirror appearance.
Trees and plants at the bank of the creek.
A closer view of the bank.
The logs and their reflections in the black water almost seem to be forming an alphabet.
Reflections of the jungle off the black water.


When the boat was at speed, with the wind rushing by, it was comfortable. However, if the vessel stopped or slowed, it was instantly like sitting in an oven, a hot, sweaty oven.

Continuing along, we passed many mangrove trees, bamboo clumps, and multiple other types of water plants. In some areas of the creek, we encountered red dragonflies that were about an inch and one-half in length. Then we would see greenish-yellow dragonflies that were about twice as long as the red ones. With their quick movement and the low light in the jungle, I was not able to get any good photographs.

Mangrove trees at the edge of the creek.
A mirror finish…
An old boat dock.

I kept my eyes peeled for any caiman. I did not see any. I am sure that is because they are most active at night.

We finally made it to the Santa Aratak reservation. That is another of the Amerindian groups that inhabit the area. Shortly after entering the reservation, we passed Tiger Farm. It was made up of a boat dock and a clearing leading up to a white painted home.

A sign welcoming us to the Santa/Aratack Amerindian Reservation.
A very rare, wide vista along Kamuni Creek.
According to the sign, this is Tiger Farm.
A boat moored at the bank of the creek.

As we continued, we saw several silver-gray herons flying along beside us, just mere inches above the water. I was not quick enough to get any photographs.

Shortly after reaching another logging operation, we decided to turn around and head back to the Demerara. We had been traveling on the creek for about an hour and one-half. So it was a long ride back too.

A dock at a logging camp.

More reflections on the water.
Kamuni Creek cuts through the jungle.
A typical home is seen along Kamuni Creek.
A boat with what appears to be a cargo of bamboo.
A boat at a residential pier.
Yet another logging camp.
A logging camp.
A green barge near the logging camp.
Nearing the Demerara River at the end of our journey.
The east bank of the Demerara River.
Nearing the pier.

When we arrived back at the pier, the same men that initially helped launch our craft met us again. Based on our description of where we turned around, they told us we had been only five or ten minutes away from Arrowhead Resort. Maybe we can go back sometime and try again.

Getting the boat out of the river was mostly the reverse of our launch. The exception was that the tide had gone out, so the distance up to the pier was much more significant. That distance did not deter one of the men. He picked up the motor and hoisted it onto one shoulder. When he had it balanced, he walked it up to the pier. What a feat! I estimate the engine weighs around 125 pounds (57 kilograms). As if the weight were not bad enough, the shape of the motor adds to the awkward carry. Once the boat was on the trailer, the lead man received another GD$1,000, and we were on our way back to the embassy. Some of the things I get to do with my job are just amazing!

We made it back to the embassy just in time for lunch.

One lone home on the west bank of the Demerara River.

Advertisement at the pier for a boat for hire.
One of the men at the pier brings our motor up from the boat single-handed!

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