A small part of South America, but a vast tourist destination, French Guiana invites visitors on an astonishingly beautiful escape with the natural delights of the ocean and its wide open spaces.
Guiana, Part of the Amazon
French Guiana is known for its aquatic environment and the soft adventure exploration of the Kaw and Mana marshes and their exotic landscapes. These protected spaces, within a vast new regional natural reserve, are the home to the cayman and the emblematic blazing red ibis. This tropical zone in the Atlantic houses many different species, with its patches of mangrove and the nesting areas of the Luth tortoise, the world’s largest of it’s species.
Adding to French Guiana’s charm are the pretty beaches of the Salut islands. The lovely islands are gently rocked by the trade winds but the name is rather strange being that they were the site of the infamous prison. One can also embark on an enthralling day of deep-sea fishing — the first world championship was held here.
Travelers to French Guiana will be impressed by the history of the bagne de Cayenne, also known as Devil’s Island, the historic penitentiary. It is also the site of the European Space Center that serves to open the door to a greater knowledge of the universe. The Museum of Space along with the regular launchings of the French Ariane rocket are an essential facet of the high-tech aspect of tourism, set within the beauty of nature.
Equally beautiful is the verdant inland landscape of French Guiana between the Maroni and Oyapock Rivers that form the borders with Surinam and Brazil. From Saint-Laurent-de-Maroni the magnificent Voltaire Falls can be reached with a 4×4 trek and a short walk. But the real way to travel, whether on a daytrip or longer, is in a small boat known as a pirogue. Beneath a canopy of trees, winding rivers curve deep into the Amazonian jungle and allow the amateur explorer to experience this still mysterious environment.
Although comfortable and safe with a hot and humid climate (at least 81°F year-round, with the least rainfall in March and July to September), this famous forest is not as hostile as is it would seem! Under the vault of the large trees, one will discover extraordinary flora and traces of many Native American legends-the kinds that fed the foolish hopes of El Dorado, the conquistadors and gold miners of the past.
The magnificent nature of French Guiana is characterized by the marriage of water and greenery. In the same way, this French department draws its character from a patchwork of cultures. History has brought with it various waves of immigrants, so that today the Native Americans cohabititate with those of African descent, as well as people from Martinique and Asia. They, along with the more recent cultural diasporas, are responsible for the beautiful charm and singularity of the « latino-Creole » culture of Cayenne and French Guiana.