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Santa Mission & Arrow Point Tour
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Santa Mission & Arrow Point Tour

by jeffreyMarch 1, 2013
This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Guyana

We woke up early Sunday to be at the Roraima offices/Residence Inn hotel by 7:15am–the departure point for the tour. Meanwhile, the vans were out collecting our fellow tour-goers from the other Roraima property: Duke Lodge. Transport appeared to be free if you’re staying at one of their properties. To everyone else, including us, you get a giant “screw you” and are told to arrange your own transportation. No big deal, though.

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By 8am, all 12 of us were there and we piled onto a bus and started on our 48 min ride to the dock.

Arriving to the dock around 9am, the sun was still rising, the air crisp, fresh and cool with a perfectly still and calm Demerara River. Quite scenic.

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We were issued life jackets, given a quick safety talk “blah blah blah, don’t drown…blah blah blah” and jumped aboard one of two small john boats.

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Crossing the Demerara River, we turned into a narrow creek and started our winding 56 minute journey to the Santa Mission.

 

This was the first time I felt I was in the jungle of a rain forest. The thick, dense canopy of the trees over the river with the dark, black water set the stage to spot an anaconda at any moment (we weren’t so lucky though). I was quickly glad that our boats were so small and maneuverable as the drivers swerved back and forth, dodging submerged tree stumps and shallow spots like clockwork.

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As we wove left to right on the river, we passed makeshift docks and boat ramps where we saw families doing their laundry and farming on their property. As far as I could tell, these sites were only accessible by water.

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We spotted a sloth in the trees

 

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Closing in on our destination, we breezed past a sign welcoming us to the Santa/Aratack Amerindian Reservation.

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We docked and jumped off at the Santa Mission

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The experience was assuredly an interesting one, albeit not necessarily one that I would care to repeat. The Mission felt so much like the “Indian” themed summer camps that American kids are so used to attending. It appeared to be a pretty low energy, relaxed place complete with a small convenience store, arts and crafts center and kayaks galore. No different than summer camp — except this was a real “camp.” The fact that I had seen places similar might have taken away from the charm uninitiated visitors might experience.

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In practice, while walking around, most members were in Sunday morning church services and the few that were out and about made sure to stare us down giving us the impression that we disturbing their home.

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It felt much more like a quiet, private neighborhood than a tourist attraction, which made it a bit awkward that we were there.

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After the 43 min, 0.63 mile walking tour, we headed back to the boats to continue our tour:

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A short 3.5 mile, 11 min 30 sec boat ride, and we had arrived at the Arrow Point Resort.

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The name of the game here is just relax and enjoy the scenery.

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We got to the lodge, dropped our things and settled in for a snack.

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After about half an hour break, we walked to the “event center” and had all the options and activities for the day announced.

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The first, and seemingly mandatory, activity was a kayak/hike combo. We had the opportunity to change clothes and then set off on kayaks.

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We paddled (in red below) 1.4 miles in 50 mins, the return back to the resort the hike (in yellow) was 0.84 miles that took 28 mins.

Having the need to do something all the time, I kept trying to get the gist of the place– turns out it’s just a lot of relaxing, which was a great escape from the rather dirty city of Georgetown.

 

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Resort cabins on the right

Finally, it was time for lunch.

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Curry chicken, fish, sweet potatoes and roti. Delicious!

We then had about 2 to 3 hours to enjoy the property:

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jeffrey
jeffrey