Stranded in the Middle of the Jungle at 2AM – Our Driver Gets Caught Smuggling in Guyana

I will never forget my most horrible minivan/bus ride experience in my life. It was supposed to be a straight forward van ride going from Lethem to Georgetown, Guyana. The ride was going to take 14 hours according to our minivan driver and we would be arriving by 2am in the morning.

We should have never trusted this person.

The bus ride from hell from Lethem to Georgetown Guyana

The minivan ride from Lethem to Georgetown, Guyana is rough. Roads are non-existent here.  Our van was going to be driving on dirt, mud, rocks, and gravel throughout the entire journey. The minivan itself was extremely cramped, and uncomfortable. Thanks to having no air conditioner, the entire ride is also boiling hot. Ironically, my description is actually the good part of our trip because at least we were moving.




At 2AM, our minivan was inspected by the police at a check point. The police found out that illegal alcohol was being smuggled by our driver.

Immediately, the police confiscates the van while we were in the middle of nowhere. There are no taxis in this area let alone a place to sleep at night. To make it worst, there are tons of mosquitoes that will bite you and lay an egg on your skin. If you scratch the mosquito bite with the egg in your skin, your skin will break off creating an open festering wound. This happened to me and it took one week for the wound to close up…

Frustrated, exhausted, and hopeless, the passengers got no sleep at all. The police officers allowed the passengers to sleep in the van; but, it was impossible because insects and mosquitoes were constantly swarming us.

Our smuggling minivan driver told us that he will talk to the officers again in the morning and get the van back. We were hopeful and trusted the word of our driver.

The final decision in the morning

Toughing out the painful overnight stay in the middle of the jungle was very difficult but we survived. In the morning, our minivan driver went and spoke to the officer again. He kept claiming that he would get the van back; however, I was not convinced.

I decided to walk into the room where the police were standing  by and asked them if the van would be moving at all. The police told me “no” and I better look into finding another ride back to Georgetown, Guyana.

Great…our van driver lied to us again. I’m quite surprised he didn’t get arrested and his penalty for smuggling is simply paying a fine.

Regardless, this is when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I quickly spoke to the other passengers and informed them that there is no way out for us. We would need to hitch a ride with any passing vehicles for us to reach Georgetown, Guyana.

Hitching a ride on a pickup truck

By 8:30am in the morning, luck was on our side as a passing pickup truck agrees to let us hitchhike for 4,200 Guyanese dollars. Not a cheap price to pay but the other option of staying stranded in the jungle wasn’t as appealing.

We get on the 4×4 truck and most of my fellow passengers had to sit on the trunk. I had to share a one seater with another person beside the driver’s seat and off we went to Georgetown.





The ride was extremely cramped and uncomfortable but I was grateful that I was going to reach my destination at least.

More painful delays

When we finally reached what appears to be a civilized town, another delay happens. There is repairs being done to the bridge we needed to cross and we had to wait another 90 minutes before we can go.




It felt like eternity but we finally got moving after the long wait. After a very brutal ride and many unnecessary delays, we reached Georgetown in Guyana.

I then deal with a taxi driver that tried scamming me but thankfully, I did not pay the scam price.

I made it to my guest house and passed out from exhaustion.




Should you take this minivan ride when overlanding the Guianas?

I honestly can’t recommend taking a minibus from Lethem to Georgetown. Unless you like pain and suffering, I would say that you should pay the extra money and take the plane. Avoid this brutal and painful trip at all cost and you will have a much better time traveling from Brazil to Georgetown, Guyana.

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6 thoughts on “Stranded in the Middle of the Jungle at 2AM – Our Driver Gets Caught Smuggling in Guyana”

  1. I considered traveling overland to French Guiana from Paramaribo when I was there 3 years ago, but fortunately I decided not risk this overland trip, as I read about some bad stories while doing the research. There was also not much air connections between these 2 countries as well, as compared to the air connections between Guyana and Suriname, which I took. I figured that I may visit French Guiana from France, as this has better air connections, even though it is further away.

    1. Air Suriname flies between Paramaribo and Cayenne quite regularly. I also flew out of French Guiana to go to Belem Brazil afterwards. The overland trip between Paramaribo and French Guiana was actually easier than from Georgetown to Paramaribo. I’ll be writing an article on overlanding the Guianas soon.

  2. I think you just convinced me to try out the minibus. I know how many adventures I’ve had on them traveling in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Sounds like South American minibuses might even beat them!

    1. It’s not for the faint of heart if you go for it but you’ll certainly come out with great stories. I had friends that also tried the same minivan as me and their driver was smuggling 20 birds…

  3. Pingback: The Step-by-Step Guide to Overlanding the Guianas Starting from Brazil

  4. Pingback: Complete French Guiana, Suriname, and Guyana Spending Breakdown

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