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Communication – Notes For Travellers

NOTES FOR TRAVELLERS
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Guyana – Communication

Mail and Post

Service from Georgetown is moderately reliable, but you are likely to beat your mail home. Mail service is not provided to or from interior destinations (special arrangements can be made with aircraft operators, but its rarely worth the effort). We strongly recommend you personally carry home any items you acquire rather than taking your chances with shipping. That being said, DHL freight and package services can be arranged from Georgetown if necessary. Caribbean Airlines also offers a JetPak service suitable for smaller items.

Internet & Email

For better or worse, wireless internet is available at many of the most remote lodges and research stations in Guyana (no electricity, no roads, no air conditioning… but rest assured you can update your Facebook status if you really need to). WiFi hotspots are also found at the better hotels in Georgetown and (sometimes) at the international airports. Expect slow-as-molasses speeds, especially out at the interior lodges. Better yet, expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised from time to time.

Telephone & Fax

Landline services are only available in and around the capital cities. Cell service is coming online in Lethem and Aranaputa (near Rock View Lodge) with expanding service throughout the Rupununi and beyond, but services are sufficiently inconsistent to be of limited use for visitors. Everyone is watching closely to see how access to telephone service changes the business, cultural, and interpersonal dynamics of rural Guyana.

Guyana’s country code is [592]. Outside the limited telephone service area, Guyanese rely on good old fashioned VHF radio and – increasingly – Skype.

Cellular Phones

Most visitors don’t have time or patience to shop for a cell phone or SIM card on vacation, and might prefer to get away from phones for a while anyway. But, for those who want or need a phone during their stay in Guyana here are a few tips.

  • Cellular service is confined to the Georgetown, Lethem,  and the area around Annai and Aranaputa near Rock View Lodge in the Rupununi. In early 2016, cell service is being established around Iwokrama River Lodge, too. GT&T and DigiCel use the 900mhz GSM band.
  • For the least hassle, bring a phone from home that will work upon arrival. Your domestic carrier may have roaming arrangements with one of the local cellular services (DigiCel Guyana or Guyana Telephone & Telegraph, GTT) but you may face steep international roaming charges. Contact your carrier to discuss costs and compatibility with the Guyana networks. You may need to enable international roaming for your phone to work overseas.
  • You may prefer to rent a Guyana-specific prepaid phone, have it shipped to your home, and carry it with you to Guyana. It will work the moment your plane touches down and gives you a local +592 phone number. Email us if you want assistance with this service.
  • The lowest cost option is to bring your own phone and buy a local SIM card. You’ll need an unlocked, quad-band GSM cell phone for this to work.
  • For all you smartphone users from the USA where equipment is carrier-locked, be sure to get your device “unlocked” so that you may insert a foreign SIM card in your phone.
  • If you plan on using a local SIM card, note that GT&T and Digicel do sell standard SIM cards in addition to Micro-SIM and Nano-SIM cards used by modern smartphones. Availability of these cards may vary from small neighborhood store to small retail outlet, so some searching is sometimes required to get exactly what you need.
  • DigiCel has the easiest plan for visitors to purchase a local SIM card. You will be required to show a copy of your passport. Prepaid airtime is quite inexpensive for local calls and SMS. Your DigiCel SIM card from other Caribbean countries will work in Guyana but will have higher costs than a Guyana Digicel plan.

Satellite Phones & Phone Rentals

A better choice for travelers who need reliable communication during their entire journey  is a compact satellite phone. MobalRental.com, Telestial.com, and RemoteSatellite.com offer affordable and convenient rental options. Be sure to mention that you are a Wilderness Explorers client. If you want a cellular or satellite phone – or a Guyana SIM card – delivered to your home prior to travel, or to your hotel upon arrival, ask us for a quote. Requests must be received at least 2 weeks prior to travel.

Smartphones and VOIP

Many smartphones allow you to make voice calls using apps like Skype and Google Voice as long as you have a connection to a WiFi network, even if you aren’t subscribed to a local cellular phone service. This can be convenient, especially at interior lodges where no cell service exists but satellite WiFi internet may be available for a few hours per day. However, please be thoughtful about over-using limited bandwidth resources

Common Sense

Because people come to the rain forest precisely to escape the distractions of modern life, we ask you to exercise the highest order of courtesy by confining phone, VOIP, and computer usage to times and places that don’t impact your fellow travelers’ experience.