Arrowpoint Nature Resort
From `strip’ to natural paradise
Guyana Chronicle
July 18, 2004

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Arrowpoint, a nature resort that is fast becoming a local tourist destination hot spot, has climbed a few steps higher with the introduction of new features and activities to entice visitors and highlight its relationship with neighbouring Amerindian communities.

Five years after Arrowpoint was established, its proprietor Gerry Gouveia traced its progress from just a strip of land bordered by vast rainforest to what is now a scenic 'back to nature' resort.

Gouveia recently hosted a simple ceremony at the resort down the Demerara River and a complimentary tour of that part of the back to nature island by officials of the Ministry of Tourism, other local tourism bodies, neighbouring Amerindian communities and members of the media.

In his address to the small gathering, Gouveia traced the progress of the resort from its birth to now and identified the establishment of a conference centre which has the capacity to accommodate about 70 persons, as one of its newest developments. Another addition is the Kali Hut under which cassava bread making will be done, and outdoor washrooms too just in case you are having fun in the outdoors and nature calls, you can answer.

The other, and most important, is that Arrowpoint has become a more environmentally friendly place, and has joined in the campaign for proper solid waste management. A complete audit to verify the resort's healthy and safe environment was recently done on the Santa Aratak Mission Reserve property by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gouveia, pointed out that Arrowpoint has an environmentally friendly policy. Its management believes in the philosophy of man, nature and the environment.

Arrowpoint has retreated into a public resort that fits well in the back-to-nature Guyana tourism product, and while Green globe already declared that the isle is ready for certification, management is pushing sustainability by having reusable natural resources of which rain water and solar energy are just a few.

Gouveia recalled almost ten years ago while he was employed as a pilot flying out of the Timehri Airport Arrowpoint was just a strip of land bordered by vast rainforest and the Kamuni Creek down in the Demerara River. He was looking for a quiet place closer to work to stay and for his children to enjoy real nature.

It took him hard work, dedication and millions of dollars to develop the forested area into a safe haven for nature lovers and researchers.

Now the 'back to nature resort' which is a blend of modern life and the Amerindian culture, offers nature-based entertainment activities such as 'creatures of the night' expeditions in which one tours the area in the dark with flashlights to search for all sorts of animals. The different animals are first identified by the colour of their shining eyes, as no two kinds of animals have eyes with the same colour, he said.

Visitors go mountain biking through the trails to neighbouring Santa Mission and even discover people living alone in the jungle along the way.

Our journey to Arrowpoint began at around 6:30 am when a group of more than 20 persons boarded a bus in front of the newly opened Roraima Residence Inn at Eping Avenue, Bel Air Park, Georgetown and headed on a one-hour journey to the Timehri Docks to catch the special speedboats to Arrowpoint.

The two speedboats took about 35 to 45 minutes of careful riding crossing the Demerara River and through Kamuni Creek to the 'back to nature resort' nestled in the heart of Santa Mission an Amerindian reservation. The ride on the velvety dark creek took us through calm and pristine rainforest and was quite interesting and adventurous.

On our way we spotted many beautiful birds and butterflies playfully romancing the dark waters as the trees, formed an arch above along the way sometimes appeared as windows through which the sun penetrates, adding creative bright spots to the environs. The mirroring trees demonstrate the shiny and crystal-like nature of the mahogany waters by showing their dazzling reflections in the calm cool underneath.

Along the way, one might be lucky to spot a few of the varieties of birds that inhabit the creek like we did, or monkeys putting on a circus, springing from branch to branch celebrating their freedom to live in a place naturally called home. One may also get a glimpse of the occasional caiman laying comfortably by the root of a tree or simply holding its head above the water.

The boat captain and tour guide told us the story behind the creek as we travelled past bamboo trees apparently planted by those who inhabited the area in the long gone past.

On one side of the land which the creek divides stands a big tomb - it keeps the bodies of some early Chinese who settled in Guyana and once lived in the area. The guide explained that researchers found out that those early Chinese immigrants, wishing to establish a self-sufficient community off the Demerara River, settled in the region and were the ones to plant the bamboo trees found along the Kamuni Creek. He told the tourists that Chinese who live in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago usually visit the gravesite.

Further along the Kamuni and Pokerero Creeks, we entered the Amerindian Reservation of Santa Mission, the area in which Arrowpoint nestles. The communities are both friends of Arrowpoint, and are just about two minutes away from the Santa Mission village.

A council member of the village, Clive Patterson, said the resort is a part of the life of the Santa Aratac Mission which was once tightly protected by the Amerindians from outside forces. He explained that the strong defence came after there was a legend that gold jars with valuables were buried on the land. The Amerindians always kept their arrows and bows and 'Arrowpoint' was named after the abundant arrow trees found in the area.

Patterson said Gouveia's work in the community is highly appreciated by the citizens since both parties are concerned with the welfare and development of the people in the area. Of the 15 workers employed at the resort, 90 per cent are Amerindians.

Arrowpoint’s Back to Nature Resort is managed by Managing Director of Roraima Airways Captain Gouveia, who strongly believes rural and remote communities should be integrally involved in tourism enterprises on their land.

Because of Gouveia's belief that this involvement of rural communities in tourism development should even be at management and supervision levels, he employed Santa Mission resident Compton Sammuels, as a supervisor.

According to Arrowpoint's policy, "the policy of tourism supporting and impacting communities goes beyond the provision of employment for the Amerindian resort superintendent and other resort staff. It also extends to the Santa Mission community itself."

Gouveia has always participated in community development in the area and his company, Roraima Airways, has adopted the school at Santa Mission, making meaningful contributions by providing ongoing support, equipment and organising regular video shows to students and other community members. He and SIMAP established a well stocked library at the school and social activities are also organised by the company for residents of Santa Mission. The Amerindians in return add life to the resort by inspiring and participating in activities there.

With a stretch of enticing sandy beach in the foreground, Arrowpoint is set against the backdrop of the forest. One can take part in the variety of water sporting activities in the creek or take an irresistible ride through the jungle trails in the forested hilly backyard that can even lead to Santa Mission.

Take a ride on an All Terrain, 4x4 Motor-Bike through selected trails or opt for a mountain bike ride instead.

After that, you can have fun in the sun under clear skies by going for a swim, playing beach volleyball, doing a stint on the wave runner or surf bike or go Kiaking to trace the trails of the Amerindian hunter. Cricket and some other outdoor and indoor games are also among the inviting activities offered.

Or maybe, in the near future when sport fishing is introduced one can just catch a fish to take a picture before letting it go back home into the water alive. A campfire in the jungle is an interesting suggestion. So is the creatures of the night expedition in which participants can spot the watchful eyes of jungle creatures as they look back at you in colourful brilliance.

If your main reason for touring Arrowpoint is for relaxation, then you too can enjoy a unique experience in a safe environment with professional staffers. The service is excellent as every face seems to be a friendly one. Spying on some of the 500 species of birds that frequent the Arrowpoint/Timberhead area would be an excellent idea for the tourist seeking tranquility and a bond with the natural environment.

For the 4,000 persons who visit each year, "..there is always an activity to become involved in... it is a truly interactive experience."

Arrowpoint is a natural paradise with musical blends provided by animals that live there. The buildings, furnishings and menu reflect a strong indigenous presence, and there isn't the voice of an immediate neighbour to disturb while you meditate.

Gouveia said although his resort is physically different its level of comfort is similar to that of Shanklands, Baganara and others. However, when it comes to "issues of hospitality, I believe we shine in those areas." (Shauna Jemmott)