Santa Aratak Mission seeks slice of tourism pie

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The serene Indigenous Community of Santa Aratak, which lies obliquely across the river from Santa Mission, is on a path to developing its tourism potential. The village is home to about 3,000 persons living a very simple and comfortable life.

Santak Tours began in 2013 when the community received a grant from the United Nations Development Fund. Some of that money was used to construct a guest house and implement tourism-related development projects in the village.

View of the boats moored at the landing at the Santa Aratak Mission.

A day visit usually accommodates up to eight persons, however, couples and small groups can also visit. Attractions include the beautiful black water, scenery and the traditional way of life still practiced by the residents.

According to Juliet Patterson-Gomes, who is responsible for organising tours to the community, visitors are always welcomed there. “Our package includes transportation from Timerhi to Santa Mission when you reach to Santa Mission you are greeted with refreshments you are taken of the village (which includes both Santa Mission and Aratak) and then you come in for lunch.”

Visitors are then treated to a cultural activity, then a refreshing swim in the creek, before partaking a final round of refreshments prior to departure.

There is also a village monument representing the former Toshaos, a famous silk-cotton tree, and the Camuni Women Craft shop, where tourists can purchase a wide range of Indigenous Art and Craft at affordable prices.

Camuni Creek and savannah as viewed from Santa Aratak Mission.

Levana De Freitas, a member of the shop said: “Most of the craft they are made from women within the community and there are basically lots of stuff like handbags, hats, trays we have placemats, table, mats, arrow bows.”

Like several other Indigenous Communities involved in eco-tourism, Santa Aratak wants a slice of the pie. Juliet Patterson-Gomes is confident that her community has exactly what is needed to succeed in this venture.

“I would like to say to persons who never visited Santa Aratak Reservation, you are welcome to come and if you want to stay overnight we have a place for you…it’s like you are at home. We have wonderful cooks, especially in the indigenous cuisine. you wish to have a taste of living among the Amerindians come to Santa Aratak.”

To get to Santa Aratak, one has to travel 25 miles from Georgetown to the Timehri, then travel by boat through the Camuni Creek to reach Santa Mission, and finally over the river to Aratak.

 

By: Natasha Smith.

Resident chopping firewood to prepare a traditional indigenous meal.

The famous Silk Cotton Tree at Santa Aratak Mission.

 

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