SURAMA ECO LODGE – A COMMUNITY BASED TOURISM INITIATIVE IN GUYANA
Finding local, community-based tourism (CBT) experiences is one of my favourite things to do when we travel. These are never truly comfortable (who needs to be comfortable anyways!), but they offer an incomparable glimpse into people’s lives that isn’t possible any other way. I figure it’s worth giving up a bit of comfort for this unique experience!
I also love sharing these experiences with my kids. I’m worried that by the time they grow up our communities are going to be so uniform that many of these great cultural experiences will no longer exist. I want them to appreciate and embrace the incredible diversity found in our big wonderful world!
There are a number of CBT lodges throughout Guyana, which was one of the things that peaked my interest in the country. These CBT initiatives are working to maintain Amerindian culture while providing sustainable employment and income opportunities in the villages to avoid mass-migration to the larger cities or out of the country. We chose to visit Surama Eco Lodge, which is a CBT lodge that’s owned and operated by Surama Village in North Rupununi, Guyana.
Surama Guyana is a small Makushi village of around 320 people, perfectly located on the border between the Rupununi Savannah and the rich Amazonian rainforest around the Buro Buro river. The Surama Village Eco Lodge was opened in 2004 and is one of the longest standing and best developed CBT lodges in Guyana. Our guide told us that around 80% of the employable members of the village got their income (either directly or indirectly) from the Lodge. It’s truly sustaining their village.