Moraikobai – a nature and adventure tourism destination
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, April 21, 2018
In 2017 when local tour operators Rainforest Tours held their first safari to the indigenous community of Moraikobai, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) in the upper reaches of the Mahaicony River, participation amounted to ten vehicles and forty persons.
However one year later, in February this year, the expedition comprised twenty vehicles and eighty persons. With the enthusiastic collaboration of the Village Council, and the support of Rainforest Tours, the Guyana Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the Administration of Region Five, Moraikobai, described by some as a hidden treasure, is fast becoming a popular nature adventure and culture tourism destination.
The leadership of the village is committed to making sure that it makes the most economic benefit from its natural attractions.
In a recent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Rainforest Tours Chief Executive Officer, and Pakaraimas Safaris organiser Frank Singh said he knew about the village but had not given it much thought as an adventure and nature destination until last year. This was when he was approached by members of the Village Council about the feasibility of such a venture.
Singh explained, “The Toshao, the members of the Council approached me and told me that they were keen on their village becoming an adventure and nature tourism site with the economic benefits that would accrue from such an industry. They said that they were convinced that the village in its relative remoteness was well positioned to enable visitors, both local and foreigners, to experience outdoor adventures in a natural setting.”
He added: “We started last year February and then we returned this year and the tourists were happy, and the Village Council is happy since the influx has been very good for the economy of the community.”
According to Singh a major attraction of Moraikobai is the fact that the community has maintained its culture. He further said, “The language, the craft, the food all these are intact and of course the beauty the tranquility of nature is all the added attractions. There is the added advantage of the relative proximity of the village to the Coast. This is the closest nature and adventure tourism destination to the Coast, and it has it all.”
The tours to date have been weekenders. They start on Friday and the tourists return home on Sunday. Singh explained, “We call them get-aways. You know to get away from the stress of urban settings and relax in a pristine natural environment.” He added that as in their Pakaraima Mountain Safaris, it is compulsory that every vehicle brings items to donate to the community. “People who have gone to Morakobai to date have taken books and clothes; different things.”
He added that he had set up signs which would lead any visitor with a 4×4 vehicle from the Linden Highway right through to the village, “So right now if someone wants to visit the village and if they have a 4×4 they can follow the signs and get there; they don’t have to go with me. That is one of my ways of supporting the community.”
Singh disclosed that plans are on stream to take tourists to the village by boat later this year. He opined that the number of both local and foreigner visitors will continue to increase.
Most of the tourists to Moraikobai are mainly visitors from Europe and North America and some locals. The tour operator disclosed that to date the two tours that were conducted used 4×4 vehicles on an overland route from the Linden Highway.
“The village is about 45 miles from this highway route and the trip through natural settings takes about two and a half hours. The next trip planned will begin at the Mahaicony River on the coast and then by boat up the River for a distance of about ninety-six miles to reach the village.”
“The Adventure is to get there and the Nature is the forest,” Singh enthused.
The next tour is scheduled for some time in August or September. Singh has also pledged that his company will do its best to build the capacity of the village council to manage the burgeoning industry.
Meanwhile, Toshao of Moraikobai Colin Adrian disclosed that members of the community have received the blessings of the Guyana Tourism Affairs (GTA) for their venture. They are also benefiting from advice on how to go about their business in a professional and sustainable way. Villagers expect to be able to structure the service in a way that it wouldn’t have much impact on the environment, for example managing the solid waste in an environmentally friendly way.
Toshao Adrian disclosed that the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs is also supporting the village in its quest to become a nature and adventure and cultural tourism destination. The ministry has given the Council the green light to advertise the community as such.
It is expected that the ministry will soon provide funding for the establishment of an Eco-Lodge site with cabins for visitors’ accommodation. The community has already embarked on the clearing of the land at the site.
The Council is also working on packages like bird watching fishing, caiman spotting, guided tours and opportunities to interact with the flora and fauna in the area.
Adrian said, “We have lots of stuff to offer in terms of interactions with the wildlife, the flora and the fauna and its right in your backyard. In fact, relatively speaking just a stone’s throw away from the Coastland.”
He also disclosed that the Region Five Administration is playing a major role in the villages’ quest for establishment as a tourism destination of note. He added, “The Regional Administration is funding the operation of the lighting plant. They helped to organise the clean up the potable water supply and will be doing other supportive work for the community, by upgrading the rest house in terms of repairs to the roof, upgrading of the sanitary facilities tiling the kitchen installing additional cupboards, this year.”
In more support, the Regional Administration is also sprucing up other buildings in the community such as the primary and nursery schools, the health centre and the medex living quarters.
Toshao Adrian expressed optimism that the village would be able to complete its Lodges which are being funded by the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs by early next year. These will be an additional attraction which features accommodation for entire families in the natural setting and packages of flora and fauna interaction that will be offered to tourists.
By: Clifford Stanley