The Ituribisi Lake without a doubt is Guyana’s largest and most powerful lake. It has a larger volume of water than the Capoey, Mainstay and Tapakuma lakes combined. For the 3½ years I’ve lived in Mashabo it has always been my interest to find out as much as I can about this lake and to find its source.
The lake runs from a western point and is separated into three main branches. The northern branch runs for about two miles from the main and takes you to Mr Amin’s Day Resort. This part of the lake is popularly known as the hot and cold lake. However, it is not certain whether the water is still hot and cold as in the past. Opposite Mr Amin’s Day Resort is found Mount Carmel, a Brethren campsite, which can accommodate over 100 campers. On the southern branch of the lake is found the Mashabo Mission, a community of about 240 residents. Most of the residents live here and one can find the school, clinic, village office and head teacher’s house on a hill overlooking the beautiful Ituribisi Lake. It is important to note, however, that there are about four white water creeks running into the Ituribisi Lake at various points. They are called white water because the creeks are as clear as glass and you can see the fishes swimming over the white sand making it like a natural aquarium. It is believed that the plant life at the bottom of the creeks works like a filter keeping the water clear. There are times when the children practically catch fish with their bare hands in these creeks and persons visiting the community always ensure they view the creeks before their departure.
The main Ituribisi Lake runs for about five miles and ends at the Riverstown koker end. During the years 1982 – 1983 a conservancy dam was built by a British contracting firm Taylor Woodrow for the purpose of irrigating the rice fields. This raised the water level in the lake to about four feet and the rice farmer’s life was made a bit easier.
Two weeks ago my good friend Mr Harold Christian, a logger, invited me to take a trip up the main Ituribisi creek.
We travelled west up the lake in a ship and covered a distance of about five miles, at which point the lake became narrow. We then turned north into one of the most beautiful creeks I’ve ever seen. The depth was about seven feet and the mouth about 12 feet wide. It was the Ituribisi main creek. The water was extremely cold and even though it was not as clear as white water you could see the sand which was clearly visible at the bottom. There were many twists and turns and Mr Christian who has travelled this creek for years told me that there were many other smaller creeks emptying themselves into the main creek. It appears as though there were more creeks that were all tributaries of this great lake, thus contributing to its high volume of water.
We travelled for a total of 25 minutes and reached Masari where the width of the creek was now about four feet with a depth of four feet. There was more distance to cover but this was our stopping point. I would have travelled over three quarters the distance of the Main Ituribisi creek and be satisfied. We went back and then up the second creek for about five miles to collect about 500 BM of Tamanero lumber that belonged to Mr Christian. The lumber had to be rafted down the creek, which was a difficult task since the width of the entire second creek was only four feet at most points. After about three hours, however, we were back in the Ituribisi Creek heading back into the Ituribisi Lake.
My trip was worth every moment and I encourage anyone who visits the Essequibo Coast to organize a trip up the Ituribisi main creek. Mr Christian would be more than willing to take you.