French Guiana - Amazonia: what to do, what to see…

French Guiana and its share of Amazonia offer so much to discover. Visitors fascinated by the mysteries of space could be lucky enough to witness a Soyuz or Vega launch. Nature lovers will surely be moved by the sight of leatherback sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. And all party animals will want to be part of the French Guiana Carnival; it's the longest in the world! And that’s just for starters... 

Visits you cannot miss in French Guiana – Amazonia

• Kaw Swamp Nature Reserve
The Kaw Marsh site is the largest wetland in France. With its 94 700 hectares, it is the third natural reserve in the country, after that of the French Southern Territories (2 270 000 hectares) and that of Nouragues (100 000 hectares).

• The historic center of Cayenne
The visit of Cayenne begins with the discovery of the symbols of the historical, cultural or natural heritage of the city which has inherited a particularly valuable architectural and natural domain, like the Creole houses of the city center.

• The city of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and its unique architecture
This Guyanese city is on the edge of Maroni, on the border with Suriname. It is a former penal colony whose story is told in its "Museum of Transportation", inaugurated in 1958. This is where the author of Papillon, Henri Charriere, was reportedly detained.

• The Guiana Botanical Garden
Located in the town of Macouria, this botanical garden covers about three hectares. It is home to more than 4,500 plant species and has a vast collection of 750 species of orchids.

• The Maroni River
Natural border with Suriname, the Maroni is the longest river of Guiana. Going down part of the Maroni is a must because it is an essential communication route to the villages of Guyana. Several islands and 90 rapids punctuate its course: a real change of scenery!

• The beaches of Montjoly
Near Cayenne, the long expanses of sand Remire-Montjoly encourage relaxation in a wild and preserved, in the shade of coconut trees. More than just swimming, you can practise water sports like sailing or surfing. It is also a nesting site for turtles.

• The Guyana Zoo
The Guyana zoo, which has unique species in Guyana and around the world, is home to more than 450 animals of about 75 different species. The visit is done in 2 hours on a passable path even in case of rain, in the heart of a natural environment, the tropical forest and the flora of Guyana.

• The islands of Salvation
15 kilometers off Kourou, the archipelago of the Îles du Salut is made up of Île Royale, Île Saint Joseph and Île du Diable, high places of the penal colony. On Île Royale, there are still many vestiges of the penitentiary administration, such as the hospital, the church, the cure, the madhouse, the lighthouse, or the death row ...

• The Amazonian Park of Guyana
Among the ten national parks of France, the Amazonian Park of Guyana was created in 2007, on 34 000 km². It includes 5 municipalities, making it the largest national park in the European Union. It preserves a forest area with exceptional biodiversity and enhances the cultural heritage of the Amerindian, Bushinengue and Creole populations living there.

• Iracoubo's colonial-style church
Classified as historical monuments, the church of Bourg Iracoubo can boast of its interior frescoes that attract thousands of visitors each year to admire the work done by the Bagnard Huguet, but many ignore the unusual history of this building which dates from the end of the 19th century ...

Essential activities in French Guiana – Amazonia

• Attend the laying of leatherback turtles on the beaches of Amana
Located between the Organabo River and the Maroni River, this reserve is one of the world's most important sites for the laying of four species of sea turtles: the leatherback turtle, the green turtle, the olive ridley turtle and, rarer, the hawksbill turtle. It is also home to 286 species of birds and many mammals.

• Live the carnival of Cayenne with the Touloulous
Each year, at Epiphany, begins the carnival of Cayenne which will last six to ten weeks. The stars of this carnival are the "Touloulous" women disguised from head to toe, wearing petticoats, hoods, masks and long gloves, so that we do not see a centimeter of their skin and are not recognized when they parade ...

• Shiver on Devil's Island
This piece of land of 14 hectares off Kourou covered with palm trees, housed a leprosarium before serving as a "political" prison under Napoleon III. It hosted some celebrities like Guillaume Seznec or the anarchist Marius Jacob, who inspired the character of Arsène Lupine. But the most famous of the convicts is Alfred Dreyfus, whose affair divided France.

• To be at the forefront of an Ariane launch in Kourou
Following Ariane, Soyouz or Vega's takeoff from an observation site at the Guiana Space Center, 7, 15 or 20 kilometers from the firing point will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip to French Guiana. You will follow all the phases of the flight, until the orbit of the satellites, on a giant screen.

• Watching the forest breathe from the top of an inselberg
The inselbergs are small granite mountains reminiscent of islands emerging from the forest. There are about 200 in Guyana and the highest culminates at 740 meters. From the top of one of them, one enjoys a fantastic panorama on the surrounding forest.

• Cool off at the waterfalls of Fourgasier
Known to nature lovers for family-friendly getaways, the Cascades de Fourgassier are easy to reach, about fifteen kilometers from the village of Roura.

• Spend a night in the Amazon in a "hammock hut"
A beautiful carbet is made of Toulouri leaves for the roof, tree branches for poles, and wooden slats for the floor. It is found in different regions of Guyana, in the middle of nature, sometimes perched in trees. We sleep in a hammock. A total immersion in nature…

• Bathing at Toussaint Creek
In this creek, it is possible to really swim, because in some places the clear water is deep enough. To spend a beautiful day of relaxation and bathing at the water's edge, Toussaint Creek is equipped with a hammock, barbecue, toilets and garbage cans. Ideal for picnics!

• Enjoy Chinese soup in a Hmong village
Refugees from Laos after the Vietnam War, the Hmongs settled in Cacao (1 hour from Cayenne) in the 1970s. The village is the market garden of Guyana, its inhabitants having developed the culture of fruits and vegetables. You have to go there on Sunday, which is the market day.

• Buy fruits and vegetables at the Cayenne market
The Cayenne market is not to be missed! Housed in a big hall in the city center, you can enjoy local Ti'punchs and all sorts of specialties, such as Laotian soups. Dew fruit, spices and colorful vegetables, it is a Guyanese culture bath.

Getting to French Guiana