Potaro River

Last updated
View of Potaro River at Pamela Landing (facing south). Potaro River looking south.jpg
View of Potaro River at Pamela Landing (facing south).

The Potaro River is a river in Guyana that runs from Mount Ayanganna area of the Pakaraima Mountains for approximately 225 km (140 mi) before flowing into the Essequibo River, Guyana's largest river. The renown Kaieteur Falls is on the Potaro.



Nine waterfalls are found on the Potaro River, most notable being Kaieteur Falls and Tumatumari Falls. Below Kaieteur Falls lie Amatuk Falls [1] and Waratuk Falls.

A 1930 Suspension bridge, the Garraway Stream Bridge crosses the river. As well, 'Two Islands' is found on the Potaro River.


A gold dredger (known locally as a "missile") on the Potaro River PotaroRiverMissile.jpg
A gold dredger (known locally as a "missile") on the Potaro River

Placer gold and diamonds are extracted from the river in this mineral-rich area. Many thousands of ounces of placer gold have been recovered from the area's stream gravels, residual placers and saprolites.

In the first half of the 20th century, small-scale artisanal miners, known as pork-knockers, recovered significant quantities of gem-quality diamonds from the area's rivers and streams. In fact, the two largest gem-quality diamonds recovered in Guyana to date – 56.75 carats (11.35 g) from Little Uewang River and 25.67 carats (5.134 g) from Maple Creek – were recovered in the Potaro area.

Illegal dredging is a constant issue, and the remoteness makes monitoring difficult. [2]

The mineral Potarite is named for the river where it was first discovered by Sir John B. Harrison. [3]


Villages along the Potaro include Micobie, Tumatumari, [4] Chenapau (south of Kaieteur Falls), and Menzies Landing, a 20-minute walk upriver from Kaieteur Falls, is the main staging area for up river travel. Up river from the falls, the Potaro Plateau stretches out to the distant escarpment of the Pakaraima Mountains.

In the mid-1950s, the first hydropower plant was built at the Tumatumari falls by British Guiana Consolidated Goldfields Limited. Its purpose was to power the dredges of their gold mining operations, however a prolonged workers' strike led to closure. In 1976 the Guyana National Service put one of the turbines to use for supplying power to its administrative centre until 1987. [5]

Kaieteur Falls September 2007 Kaiteur September 2007.JPG
Kaieteur Falls September 2007

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Guyana

The Geography of Guyana comprises the physical characteristics of the country in Northern South America and part of Caribbean South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela, with a land area of approximately 214,969 square kilometres. The country is situated between 1 and 9 north latitude and between 56 and 62 west longitude. With a 459 km (285 mi)-long Atlantic coastline on the northeast, Guyana is bounded by Venezuela on the west, Brazil on the west and south, and Suriname on the east. The land comprises three main geographical zones: the coastal plain, the white sand belt and the interior highlands.

Essequibo River

The Essequibo River is the largest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil–Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1,014 kilometres (630 mi) through forest and savanna into the Atlantic Ocean. With a total drainage basin of 151,000 square kilometres (58,000 sq mi) and an average discharge of 4,531 cubic metres per second (160,000 cu ft/s).

Regions of Guyana

Guyana is divided into 10 Regions:

Cuyuni River

The Cuyuni River is a South American river and a tributary of the Essequibo River. It rises in the Guiana Highlands of Venezuela, where it descends northward to El Dorado, and turns eastward to meander through the tropical rain forests of the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region of Guyana. It finally turns southeastward, flowing to its confluence with the Mazaruni River.

Kaieteur Falls Waterfall on the Potaro River in Guyana

Kaieteur Falls is the world's largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. Located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park, it sits in a section of the Amazon rainforest included in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana. It is 226 metres (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres (822 ft). While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second.

Mazaruni River

The Mazaruni River is a tributary of the Essequibo River in northern Guyana. Its source is in the remote western forests of the Pakaraima Mountains and its confluence with the Cuyuni River is near Bartica. As it descends from the Guiana Highlands the river runs south-east, past Issano, then northward to Bartica. The river is a source of alluvial gold.

Kaieteur National Park

Kaieteur National Park is a national park located in the Potaro-Siparuni Region of Guyana. The Park's boundaries and purpose are defined in the Kaieteur National Park Act, and was created to preserve the natural scenery, and its fauna and flora. The Act is administered by the Kaieteur National Park Commission.

Orinduik Village in Potaro-Siparuni, Guyana claimed by Venezuela

Orinduik is a diamond-mining community in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana near the border with Brazil.

The Siparuni River is a river in the Potaro-Siparuni Region of Guyana. It is a tributary of the Essequibo River. Tributaries of the Siparuni River include the Takutu River, Burro-Burro River, Tipuru River and Levai Creek.

The Konawaruk River is a river in Potaro-Siparuni, Guyana. About 60 miles long, it is a tributary of the Essequibo River, joining it just south of the Potaro River mouth at 5°18′N58°55′W.

Orinduik Falls

The Orinduik Falls lie on the Ireng River, a highland river that thunders over steps and terraces of red jasper on the border of Guyana and Brazil before merging with the Takutu River and into Brazil to join the Amazon River.

Mahdia, Guyana Town and regional capital in Potaro-Siparuni, Guyana

Mahdia is the capital of the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana, located near the centre of the country at an altitude of 415 metres (1,362 ft).

Paramakatoi Place in Potaro-Siparuni, Guyana

Paramakatoi is an Amerindian community in the Potaro-Siparuni Region of Guyana, located in the Pacaraima Mountains. With an altitude of 970 metres, it is 11 miles east of Kurukabaru.

Patamona people

The Patamona are an Amerindian people native to the Pakaraima Mountains of Guyana and northern Brazil. They speak a Cariban language, Kapóng, and have often been referred to interchangeably as Akawaio or Ingariko. Patamona are considered a sub-group of Kapon people.

Kassikaityu River River in Guyana

The Kassikaityu River is a tributary of the Essequibo River of Guyana.

Kurupung River

The Kurupung River is a tributary of the middle Mazaruni River in Guyana.

Ekereku River

The Ekareku River is a river of Guyana, a tributary of the Wenamu River.

Arnik River

The Arnik River is a river of Guyana, a tributary of the Potaro River.

Kuribrong River

The Kuribrong River is a river of Guyana, a tributary of the Potaro River 2 miles north east of Potaro Landing.

Denham Suspension Bridge

The Denham Suspension Bridge, also known as the Garraway Stream Bridge is a footbridge in Guyana linking Mahdia to Bartica. This suspension bridge was constructed over the Potaro River in an area known as Garraway Stream by a Scottish civil engineer and general contractor, John Aldi, on 6 November 1933.


  1. Geologist, British Guiana Government (1900). Report on the Geology of the Essequibo, Potaro, Konawaruk and Demerara Rivers. C.K. Jardine, printer to the government of British Guiana. p. 56.
  2. "Dredges continue to defy cease order in Potaro area". Stabroek News. 2020-11-20. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  3. Spencer, L. J. (14 March 2018). "Potarite, a new mineral discovered by the late Sir John Harrison in British Guiana". Mineralogical Magazine and Journal of the Mineralogical Society. 21 (120): 397–406. doi:10.1180/minmag.1928.021.120.02. ISSN   0369-0148.
  4. "Micobie". Stabroek News. 2020-01-12. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  5. "Environmental Authorisation sought for rehab of Tumatumari hydro plant". Stabroek News. 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2021-01-06.

Coordinates: 5°21′48″N58°54′24″W / 5.36333°N 58.90667°W / 5.36333; -58.90667