Thinking of enjoying the serene beauty of nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life?
Then the ideal place to head to is Lake Mainstay Resort, Guyana’s biggest and boldest adventure holiday experience on the Essequibo Coast in the Cinderella County of Essequibo.
A unique tropical paradise constructed on 15.3 acres of land, Lake Mainstay Resort consisting of 41 air-conditioned cabins including 32 double rooms and eight single rooms, in addition to a dining room, conference room, nestles on a slope on the shore of Mainstay lake in the Mainstay/Whyaka Amerindian reservation aback the town of Anna Regina, in the Cinderella County, Essequibo.
Its pearly-white beaches are fringed by ite palms, and its coffee-coloured fresh water which has a blue shimmer when the sun shines, is sufficient enticement for a cool swim.
The adventure begins almost immediately if you decide to travel by either aircraft or road. By aircraft from the Ogle aerodrome which is a mere 45 minutes ride, you can enjoy an aerial view of the scenic beauty of the City of Georgetown, the muddy brown waters of the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers, as well as the lush acreage of rice lands and other agricultural produce. From the airstrip it takes just about 10 minutes by vehicle to the resort. By road, the journey from the City takes you across the floating Demerara Harbour Bridge, along the West Coast of Demerara to the town of Parika where a 25 minutes speedboat ride puts you at Supenaaam.
From there the choice of transport is either car or minibus to Lake Mainstay Resort. This popular lake has an excellent man-made beach ideal for swimming while a benab-style bar over the water with steps leading into the enticingly black water provides an idyllic meeting point. Additionally, there’s nothing that can beat the lakeside walk in the dawn or dusk.
Your stay cannot be complete unless you visit the up and coming `Heritage Park’ where you can learn all you can about plants, their Amerindian names and relax in the company of the legendary Makonaima
The Heritage Park is the pioneered idea of 10 Amerindian women, five over 50 years old led by the Toshao (Captain) Yvonne Pearson of the Mainstay/Whayaka community who have the growing fear that if such cultures and beliefs of the Amerindians are not preserved, there will be no legacy left to pass on to the younger generation.
The park, being developed over 20 acres of forested land is home to numerous trees which, because of their medicinal and other values, ought to be preserved. It also serves to harness the resources native to each of the three lake communities.
Mainstay is known for its organic pineapples; Tapakuma for its cassava and garlic- flavoured cassava biscuits and Capoey for its intricately-designed Amerindian craft.
A day-long outing in the park entails visitors using an approximately five-foot-wide trail hewn out of the jungle by the women themselves, being enthralled with the over 300 species of trees which have been identified and labelled using both the Amerindian and English names.
They include the Bullet wood and the Balata, both used extensively in construction, and the Kakarali (Escheilera), White Silverballi (Ocotea Conalicalum), and Brown Silverballi (Licari Cornella), all excellent candidates for use in furniture-making, boat-building and as floor boards.
Others species include the Haiawa (Protium); Incense Tree (Warina); Itarabuli; Capadula (the bark of which is a known aphrodisiac); Sarsparilla; Armadillo; Locust Tree (Hymeracea Courbaril); Mora Tree; Toro Palm (Jessenia Bataria); the Duka (Tapiriria Marchandi), which makes an excellent wine; along with two species of Fuka (Azteca).
Among medicinal and other vines are Old Man’s Back, said to be an excellent remedy for back pain; Monkey Belt; Horse-eye; Wife Puller; Monkey Doorway; Cockshun, the root of which makes an excellent tea, particularly when blended with Capadula; Devil Doer, a multi-purpose medicine; Bortato Couba which is used commercially to make eye drops and Black Yari Yari, which when peeled and chewed is a cure for snake-bite. The vine is also used as a strap for the quakes (also called warishis) used to fetch pineapples and other produce.
Then there is the `Charm Garden, whose plant-life consists of a remedy for just about everything under the sun, including errant husbands, overbearing men, and achieving the unattainable.
At the entrance to this secluded area are numerous nests of the various species of the dangerous acoushi ants, where in accordance with Amerindian tradition, anyone wishing to venture into the garden must first seek permission from the ants, lest bad luck befalls them.
The `Charm Garden is home too, to the Makonaima bench, essentially the root of a Mora Tree fashioned in the shape of a stool and featuring a twisted rope-like structure hanging nearby.
Legend has it that the bench was used by Makonaima when he wanted to sit and relax. Another interesting attraction is a huge nest of the revered Fuku ant. To this day, the insect is still used in rituals known as the `Fuku ritual’ to ward off evil from children and adults alike by placing them in a nest filled with the creatures and allowing them to be bitten for about half an hour.
Being developed too, is a butterfly garden with the various species of butterflies endemic to the area, and a section of the park is being cleared for this purpose. Access to this area, which will be planted with exotic flowers to attract the butterflies, is by way of a 580-foot long wooden bridge spanning a bog-like section of the park.
The bridge was constructed, using local materials from within the same forest, by some of the male residents of the community in three weeks. It was the only help the women sought from the men.
At the end of the tour, visitors can relax in accommodations provided specifically for that purpose and partake of snacks/lunches of Amerindian dishes, including labba pepper pot and cassava bread, flavoured cassava biscuits, pineapple or the famous `piwari’ drink.
They can also purchase Amerindian-made artifacts as tokens.