Exploring Rupununi’s ‘Sky Valley’
A DPI Feature by Synieka Thorne
Moco Moco was formerly named ‘Ka-ya-Weng’ a Makushi phrase meaning ‘Sky Valley’. It was later renamed Moco Moco because of the Moco Moco plants which are found plentiful along the banks of a stream of the Takutu River that runs through the center of the community.
The Region Nine village is situated near the foot of the beautiful Kanuku Mountains, about 15 kilometers northeast of Lethem. It can be accessed by road through the Linden /Lethem trail by bus which takes approximately thirteen hours, or by air which takes just one hour.
Moco Moco offers beautiful and intriguing scenes of nature, including, geology, and wildlife. As you travel through the village, the scene transforms from savannah into rainforest, as the trail meanders through the community’s farmlands to the village’s main attraction, the Moco Moco Falls.
Every day, you will find persons, both locals and foreigners at the falls, even if its just to take a dip in the clean, cool, fresh running water.
The Department of Public Information (DPI) recently visited the area and catch up with Toshao James George.
George explained that the community offers a tour package, which is managed by a residents of the community. A percentage of the income garnered from the package is given to the Village Council. This income goes towards other small community projects aimed at offering direct assistance to the people.
“Just one week ago, we had over a hundred students from around the Caribbean here to visit the falls. Moco Moco has been expanding, we have tourists from Brazil, the United States, (US), Canada, world-wide, because of what we have to offer, the nature it is like no other,” the Toshao opined.
Visitors can experience nature, at its best, including a taste of hiking, bird watching and boating. There are also several unique species of birds, mammal and fish in the area, including the Giant Otter, the Harpy Eagle and the Arapaima.
There is also the ‘sleeping giant,’ a huge rock located at the top of the Kanuku mountain. It takes approximately three hours to reach to the top of the mountain. Toshao George explained that the name ‘the sleeping giant’ was chosen by the villagers because, at nights the rock looks like a big giant asleep.
Persons also have the opportunity to experience everyday life of the Makushi people, the food, dance, art, craft and their culture.
Another unique feature of the waterfall, is the hydro station located next to it. The Chinese-funded hydropower plant was commissioned on November 22, 1999 and was developed as a run-of-the-river project. The operation was unfortunately disrupted by a landslide in 2003, and has since been out of commission.
On assuming office in 2015, the administration had announced the resuscitation of the hydro station. However, before works can commence on the facility, a detailed geotechnical investigation of the site is required.
Five foreign-based companies have submitted bids for the rehabilitation and operation of the facility after the Public Infrastructure Ministry requested Expressions of Interest (EoI) in keeping with the Government’s plans to develop a ‘Green Economy’.
When it is completed, residents in Lethem and surrounding areas will benefit from a higher quality and more reliable electricity supply. It will also take some strain off the Lethem Power Company, which has been providing electricity to residents of Moco Moco by way of diesel generators.
Toshao George expressed satisfaction that the hydro station is beingrestored, since the residents have long been asking
for its resuscitation.
Moco Moco, with a population of over 600 persons, has a nursery and primary Schools, a health centre, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub and a youth centre and craft centre. The community is also engaged in cattle rearing, cassava, beans and plantain cultivation, as well as traditional hunting and fishing.
Through an approximately $40 million Canadian/Guyana project, the community was able to establish a Farine Factory, which has provided employment for almost 40 persons.
“Right now we have about 4000 to 5000 pounds of farine for sale. Well, we process our farine and now we are looking for markets in Georgetown and even out of the country and not just farine alone, we have other by-products like cassava bread, starch and cassareep,” Toshao George said.
Through its Community Development Project (CDP) Moco Moco also established a multi-purpose centre. Toshao George explained that the purpose of the building is to raise funds, especially when there are sporting activities. It is also used for bringing youths together for recreational activities.
Toshao George said part of his future plan is to provide better quality of service for visitors by developing the community’s tourism package into one that meets international standards.