Ariwa Beach Resort: Promoting Eco-Tourism in the Rupununi
Rupununi, Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) is home to Guyana’s largest tourism circuit, and revenue from tourism accounts for a large part of the local economy there.
Since 2015, visitors to Lethem and surrounding areas have been able to access the Ariwa Beach Resort, located on the Guyana side of the Takutu River which borders Brazil.
Ariwa is owned and operated by Jonathan Joseph, who with support from his wife, Edione Joseph and a few staff members, has been making strides in providing hospitality services.
Jonathan was born in the Rupununi to a Wapishana mother and a Macushi father but lived in neighbouring Brazil for many years, where he was a very popular tour guide.
Speaking with the Department of Public Information (DPI) recently, Jonathan said the name Ariwa was inspired by a fish, native to the Takutu River.
“Ariwa is an unusual fish, but it is found between Guyana and Brazil on the Takutu River, there are maybe three or four species… it’s similar to a hassar, it’s black but the fins are orange, it’s very unique.”
Both Jonathan and his wife, who is a Brazilian, share a love for nature, so when they started the business, they chose to emulate a natural way of life.
“We decided to do a signature something. Like the food, we think about something rustic and natural, so not using a gas stove or something. How about doing a boiled fish or roasted fish on the fire by the coals using the clay pot? So that’s the thing I like, just natural,” Jonathan told DPI.
The fish is supplied by the Takutu River and comes in a wide selection like Tambaqui, Tigerfish, and Lukanani, but his favourite is the Tambaqui, which he said is good for health.
“If it was not for me, these trees would have been gone, I love nature, and I love what I do,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan hopes to expand his business and that he will get support from the government to do so, especially since it will benefit the village of St. Ignatius.
“It is not easy to develop this particular location, in reality, to accommodate in the future not only campers but we are going to have like meetings, a beautiful restaurant…unique to receive the whole world.
“We try our best to do the best for our people, it doesn’t matter, Guyanese, wherever you come from and that’s me, I think I need support, I would like to expand this place together with my wife, my family. I would like to continue doing this not for me…for others and to give jobs to our community, to train our people, how to receive people, how to deal with people in different situations, it doesn’t matter what difficult situation,” he stressed.
For the last Rupununi Rodeo, through the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Jonathan and his small team accommodated visitors in a camp setting.
However, Jonathan hopes to someday be able to accommodate people in a lodge.
“My dream is to have a lodge here, a very nice lodge with a big benab, with a pool to accommodate, it doesn’t matter who, so that is my future, not only for me but for my children and the community, even the country.”
Ariwa Beach is just a part of what the Rupununi Region has to offer to tourists, both locally and internationally.
“I would like to continue building myself to show my country that this little thing here, between Guyana and Brazil would be a unique spot, very simple. We consider ourselves, very friendly, with the food and the accommodation in the future and of course, the entertainment,” Jonathan said.