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Guyana the Lost El Dorado: My fifty years in the Guyanese Wilds

As a diamond prospector, gold-panner, surveyor of the uncharted bush, hunter and builder of roads, Matthew Young spent over fifty years working in the wild forests and savannahs of his native Guyana.


Matthew Young
Biography, Travel & Description
Date published
1 Sep 1998

He writes vividly of the beauties and hazards of that life, of marauding jaguars, deadly labaria snakes dropping from the trees, piranhas that can strip the flesh from a body in seconds and thirty foot anacondas that can squeeze the life out of a man; of battling up river against life-threatening rapids and thunderous waterfalls.

His is a story of resourcefulness and wonder, of a practical man who never lost his sense of the forest's mystery, who learnt a profound respect for the culture, knowledge and skills of the Amerindians of the interior. This is also a fascinating social history from colonial times to the 1980s, including Young's involvement with the aftermath of the tragic mass slaughter of over 900 followers of the American cult leader Jim Jones at Jonestown in the Guyanese interior.

Guyana: The Lost El Dorado gives an engrossing account of one of the last untouched tropical rainforests in the world and its teeming wildlife. It is an indispensable guidebook for the intrepid armchair traveller, gold prospector and diamond panner!
Matthew French Young was born in North West District of British Guiana in 1905. For fifty years between 1925-1975, he worked in Guyana's interior as a prospector, surveyor and road builder. He died in 1996.

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Matthew Young

Matthew French Young was born in Mabaruma Hill in the North West District of British Guiana in 1905, the son of a Scotsman who settled there in the 1880s, and planted citrus, ground provision and rubber trees. Matthew Young began his career as an assistant on a diamond prospecting survey in 1925, and for the next fifty years spent a life mainly in the Guyanese interior, with interludes running his own estate, working as an overseer on a sugar estate, working as a motor mechanic and an ordinary seaman. He was a hunter, a guide on zoological expeditions, a gold and diamond prospector, and, most significantly for Guyana, a surveyor and road-builder, creating links into the interior.

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