Journey along the Canje River – home of the Canje Pheasant

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

By: Andrew Carmichael 

Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) may not be one of the places one would think of when looking for a tourist destination.

However, for birdwatching enthusiasts, the chance to see Guyana’s National Bird – the Canje Pheasant – in its natural habitat along the Canje River, may be worth the trip. The Canje River (sometimes referred to as Canje Creek), located in north-eastern Guyana, is the main tributary of the Berbice River. It runs roughly parallel to the Berbice River.

The settlement of Baracara where escaped slaves settled in the early 1800s lies on the bank of the Canje River located approximately 120 kilometres or 75 miles upriver. Tours along the river are available – where patrons can visit the Canje Pheasant, Guyana’s national bid. The tour operator is Dillon Ross of Blackwater Adventures.

“Fishing up here is wonderful and also the sightseeing – it’s a beautiful place.” The $12,000 package also includes snacks and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Pets can also take the ride. Ross, who was the tour guide on a recent trip up the Canje River organised by the Ministry of Tourism as part of awareness campaign, stopped at Torani Canal because the boat was too large to pass under the sluice.

However, the tour operator noted that from that area, camping and hunting is done on tours.

Unfortunately, we were not able to get to that area because of time constraints.“It gets to be true beauty; true wilderness but below here you get to see a lot of the culture that is Canje Creek – the people living in Baracara….”

Additionally, there is the Fort Nassau tour up the Berbice River which takes one to the heritage site which is an actual village in the jungle. Fort Nassau was the capital of the Dutch colony of Berbice, in present-day Guyana. It was situated on the Berbice River approximately 88 km upstream from New Amsterdam. The site is managed by National Trust.

Fort Nassau was established in 1627 as a Dutch trading post. The first location of the fort is believed to be near the Wiruni River and it was described as a small timber enclosure surrounded by a small cannon and palisades.

From 1629-1630, the fort was moved 80 kilometres from the mouth of the Berbice River. This new fort featured an earthen wall with its palisades and other defence structures built of timber and earth.

On the riverbank, there were 12 cannons and on the north side two cannons. It is believed that in the middle of the fort, there was a brick house which served as the seat of Government with a Council Hall and also functioned as the Lutheran church.

In 1796, the fort was abandoned completely. On November 27, 1999, the Fort Nassau complex, comprising an area of 0.68 square kilometres was gazetted as a National Monument. Some of the ruins to see along the Fort Nassau trail include: the site of the first Lutheran Church, the Western and Eastern Grave Plots, the Court of Assembly site, the Warehouse, the Inn Steps, the Bridge and the ‘Talking Tree’.

The tour to that site includes a two-and-a-half-mile hike through the jungle during which tourist can see remains including the Court of Assembly where Cuffy was tried; it also takes visitors through old cemeteries which are still intact. The ruins for the ancient church still stand and is an ideal area for pictures.

Ross explained that the Fort Nassau tour also goes through the Torani Canal (a manmade canal which was built to take water from the Berbice River into the Canje River to push back salt water allowing the fresh water to be available to irrigate the cane fields) and down the Canje River passing and also including a brief stop at Baracara.

Ross also organises fishing tours on the Canje River which he says is most popular.“We also give you the caiman experience where we catch a live caiman, bring it onboard, have you interact with it, educate you about it and then release it back unharmed.”Tours along the Canje River also give nature lovers an opportunity to witness monkeys, sloths and deer in their natural habitat. The scenery is breathtaking.

The tour, which is relatively new, can also take tourists to the Fort Nassau Dutch heritage site.

As it relates to camping trips, Ross said it is one of his favourites and explained that tourists are taken to Iquora, which is a small creek from Canje River which leads to a huge black water lake.

Ross is inviting licensed hunters to take that trip with him.

“By licenced hunter I am talking about getting your licenses from the department of conservation of wildlife.”

According to Ross, he spends about five days weekly in the Canje River on tours. He said there are intentions to expand but finding the right persons is difficult.

“If I can find someone who is licensed especially a boat captain. People in Guyana like to proclaim themselves to be licenced but they don’t actually have a licence – a boat master’s grade iii speed boat captain licence. It is not very difficult to get but it is a legal requirement. In addition to that if they want to be a tour guide, they have to be licensed by the Guyana Tourism Authority.”

Ross explained that finding persons who have put themselves through the procedures needed has been difficult.