If you are wondering how to get from Georgetown to Lethem in Guyana. Its not that easy especially in the wet season.. Read about this wild bus journey, a story of busses stuck in mud, dirt, wild jungles, Cubans, Caimans and 8km walking barefoot through more mud.
Me before the journey:
£55 whattttt for? a bus which is clearly only for 12 people but there’s actually 15 people rammed in it.. it’s already leaving 2 hours late. This is a rip-off.
Me after the journey:
£55 for my life. For an amazing driver to drive for 26 hours straight without any accidents. To fix the bus when it brakes and help other drivers. Not a rip off just paying to actually make it down to Lethem safely on this crazy “road”.
The road between Georgetown and Lethem is not really a road it’s more of a dirt track, mostly through jungle. In the wet season it gets extremely wet and is rough / impossible to drive through.
Where to buy the bus ticket
The Georgetown to Lethem bus is supposed to take 16 hours in dry season, though I was travelling in wet season. I decided to go with Carley’s bus service who was recommended in the Lonely Planet guide South America on a Shoestring. I was told in the morning when buying my ticket, I need to be there to check in between 3.30pm – 4.00pm, even though the bus leaves at 6pm.
I wanted my claim on the front seat so I arrived early. In these buses is the best seat you can get! As you might actually get a whole seat and not just half of one! There are 3 seats in the front and I ended up sitting next to one of the Cuban women called Monica.
8pm: The bus left Georgetown
The bus ended up leaving 2 hours late, as one couple was late.. I don’t know why we had to wait, we should have left them in Georgetown. There were 15 people altogether in the tiny bus, most of them being Cubans on holiday, 2 locals, me and the driver. I saw another bus leaving for Lethem at 6pm from the other company I was looking at booking with. At the time I thought I should have gone with them instead! (I’m glad I didn’t go with them and you will see why if you carry on reading).
Everything was going smoothly. We had to stop about 3 times for police to check the bus and passengers. The road was very bumpy but the driver was swerving around the holes in the road, I managed to sleep abit. Though I was busy looking out for wildlife In the hope I might see a Jaguar (lol I didn’t see one), but I did see about 5 capybaras.
5am: Broken Down Bus!
Our first stop on the Georgetown to Lethem journey as the bus that left before us had broken down. We helped them get started again and drove off together.
6am: Bus Stuck in the Mud!
We hit the first patch of heavy mud and get stuck on a bridge. Everyone has to get out and walk through the mud. The guys from both buses help to pull the buses out of the mud. These guys are very masculine and I already knew they won’t let me pull the rope, the women stand to the side (haha). Too tired to argue with this especially when we don’t speak a mutual language.
10am: The Cocky Driver
Everything is going good we stop for food at a small shop on the road. Everyone eats and tries to wash the mud of their shoes, little did we know there was no point in this.. Then we leave for the ferry crossing at Kurukupari. By now I think we are already 4 hours behind schedule. Our driver is cocky and wants to get off quickly.. he drives past his friend in the other bus and gets the planks of wood stuck under the bus, as he rushes off the ferry… We all have to get out in the river, so the guys can shake the bus to pull the wood from under the wheel.
We get stuck again and everyone gets out to pull the bus out of the mud stuck on a hill. The bus is driving through some of the mud roads with us in the bus, the bus is tipping to the side and me and Monica start grabbing onto each other as we think the bus might tip over!
We get stuck in mud again and again. I stopped counting how many times we had to get out walk over the muddy roads. So the driver can full on pelt down the mud track with the bus basically at a 45 degree angle. Shoes do not stay on when you walk in the mud! Barefoot was the only possible way..
2pm: We needed help!
Big time stuck.. the last few mud tracks were so bad. Too rough the driver couldn’t even cross it without us in the bus.. luckily 3 other busses were coming the other way and 1 big army truck! We walked across the track and the big truck towed our buss through the mud!
3pm: Until the next mud patch..
Until the next one.. there was no way the driver would cross it again.. we sat there for about 30 minutes wondering what was going to happen. The driver had walked off down the road.. and then he appeared back with a tractor. Yesss, we walked over the mud again and the tractor pulled the bus a long way maybe 1 or 2km as there were more deep mud tracks along the road. We had to walk in the heat. I had no shoes, no suncream or bug spray on (I think you can guess what happened to me).
The tractor helped us for about an hour down this road. It was drove past us walking about to go back to where it came from so everyone decided to jump in and it drove us down the road abit.
The bus radiator broke.. the driver asks for 3 cigarettes and he will fix the bus. What a genius.. he fixes it and we stop quickly somewhere to power wash the inside of the bus to get out some of the mud it had collected inside.
5pm: Stop for Dinner
We stop for dinner. I had spaghetti and beans, I’m so glad I ate as we still had a long journey to Lethem. Paulo get his friend Luis-Antony to tell me he will love me forever. Thanks bbz.
On the final road from Georgetown to Lethem. We was driving over flooded roads, which had marches on either side. We saw a caiman resting in the road! I was thinking what if the water gets deeper and we have to walk in the water with these caimans.. luckily we crossed the flooded roads okay.
9pm: Nearly at Lethem
We see a bus like ours going in the other direction towards Georgetown. It had flipped on its side into the caiman infested waters! I was like hell!
We tried to help pull them out but it was impossible, they needed a big truck. Our driver called his friend as we saw a big truck going that way after. Hopefully they got the bus back up again. (Whether or not they made it to Georgetown over the roads we had already barely crossed) I asked the driver if he had ever flipped his bus like that, he said no and told me that bus driver had been drinking. That moment I was like shit.. this is why I paid £55. With the money I got a safe driver and reputable company who actually got us there.
12am: We make it to Lethem
I thought the roads would be tarmacked here. They are the same muddy mess.. we all get dropped off at our guest houses. I thanked the driver for actually getting us here! We hadn’t seen the other bus (the one that left on time), I don’t know if they made it back as they would have had to cross the same mud tracks as us. It would have been an even longer journey for them.. Time for a shower and a few minutes before I turn 22. It had been a very very eventful last 2 days of being 21!
All I can say is it was a mad adventure travelling from Georgetown to Lethem and I will never forget it! Not sure I will be doing that journey again, definitely not in wet season! I feel I really got to experience raw and local Guyana.