Things to see and do in French Guiana

Attractions in French Guiana

Browse the capital city, Cayenne

French Guiana's capital has a lively buzz with a tropical Creole flavour. You could see its main sights in a day, including the residence of the Prefect in the Place de Grenoble, the Canal Laussat, and the Botanical Gardens. The Musée Départemental Franconie and the Musée des Cultures Guyanaises feature good exhibits on indigenous peoples and the penal settlements on Devil's Island.

Canoe down the rapids

Explore the jungle interior in a dugout canoe. Trips range from an hour and a half to full day adventures and take place throughout the country, including the Kourou, Iracabo, Counamana and the lower Sinnamary. The rivers are a mixture of calm water and more challenging rapids, such as those at Hermina.

Cast a line into the ocean

Sea fishing is a popular sport, which you can do from Cayenne's rocky shore, as well as from boats in the open sea. Freshwater fishing and fly-fishing are also popular on the lakes and rivers. Cayenne-based Amazon Fishing Tours runs a variety of sea-fishing trips or to Petit Saut Lake, Mana and Kaw Swamp.

Explore the infamous Iles du Salut

Guyana's most famous attractions is the Iles du Salut archipelago, which includes the infamous Devil's Island, where political prisoners and Henri Charriere's Papillon were held. Do not miss the Iracoubo Church painted entirely by hand by the famous convict Huguet. There is a hotel (an ex-mess hall for the prison warders) on Ile Royale.

Go birdwatching in the Mouragues Nature Reserve

Discover nature and wildlife at the Mouragues Nature Reserve, which stretches from Roura to Régina and is renowned for its diverse scenery and flora. Head south towards Brazil to the Kaw Swamps, near Roura, which are host to many species of birds, such as the toco toucan and the flamingo, as well as caiman.

See the jungle from the ground or the air

Much of the interior of the country is covered with huge swathes of primary tropical forest, protected as a national park. You can buzz over the jungle canopy on a microlight plane, or negotiate the winding trails on a mountain bike, with trips organized in Cayenne, Saül, Montsinery-Tonnegrade, St Laurent and St Georges.

Shake your booty at Cayenne Carnival

Carnival starts after Epiphany and goes on until Ash Wednesday. Every Sunday for over two months, carnival groups in Cayenne, Kourou and St Laurent de Maroni parade to frenetic music in multi-coloured costumes. Mardi Gras is the parade of the red devils. Ash Wednesday sees the crowd dressed in black and white to witness the death throes of King Carnival.

Take off to Kourou

A gateway to another universe, the city of Kourou is home to the Guyana Space Centre, which happens to be the European Space Agency's main spaceport. Ultra-modern buildings dominate the city; there are several restaurants and a couple of good hotels, too. If you're lucky your visit might coincide with a rocket launch; the picturesque Fourgassier Falls, located about an hour away, are a good place to cool your heels.

Turtle spotting

Leatherback, green and olive ridley turtles all come to nest and lay their eggs on Guyane's isolated beaches. The animals are closely protected but you can join a tour to watch them at Remire-Montjoly, Cayenne's best beach, or at Amana, in the west. Leatherback turtles lay their eggs from April to July, green turtles from Jan to May, and olive ridleys from June to August.

Visit an Amerindian village

The Wayana are some of the last remaining Amerindian people living along the north coast of South America. Many still follow traditional lives, supplementing their incomes by selling handicrafts to tourists. You can visit riverside Amerindian villages in Haut-Maroni and Haut-Oyapoc. Visits are restricted and a permit must be obtained from the Préfecture in Cayenne.

Tourist offices

Guiana Tourism Committee

Address: 12 rue Lallouette , Cayenne Cédex , 97338
Telephone: (594) 296 500.
Website: http://www.tourisme-guyane.com

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