French Guiana, bordered by Suriname to the west and Brazil to the south and east, lies on the north-eastern part of South America which faces the Atlantic Ocean. It is a heavily forested land with some of the rarest species due to its proximity with the Amazon forest in Brazil. The lack of convenient transportation may present various challenges, but the arduous trip can be worth it for nature lovers eager to see one of the world's most biodiverse environments.
Tourists visiting this South American country will find stark differences between the metropolis and the surrounding area. Cayenne, the central prefectural department of French Guiana, features a French colonial atmosphere due to its close ties with France. Outside the urban environment, however, are virgin forests where native Amerindians, Maroons, and other groups live in simple, basic amenities so far off from the luxuries in the city.
Where to go
The majestic beauty of French Guiana's natural environment makes ecotourism a major attraction. One of the easiest and most convenient places to see is Tresor Nature Reserve in Kaw, a mere one and a half to two-hour drive from Cayenne. The marshes cover thousands of kilometres. It is a nice place to watch out for black caimans and rare birds like the scarlet ibis. Boating is the way to enjoy the view here, which makes it important for tourists to schedule their rental of boats with comfortable cushions and shades.
Iles de Salut, a small group of isles off the coast of Kourou in the north-eastern part of French Guiana, is an exciting destination to visit. Devil's Island has a particularly infamous ring to its name, as it was once a prison island for people who either committed a crime or was falsely accused of one. It is, however, closed to the public with only Ile Royale and some other islands open for visitors. Those going to Ile Royale will find the former administrative headquarters which were turned into hotels and other tourist establishments. The wildlife is also widely abundant here, which presents visitors the opportunity to find macaws, agouti, and other species.
Suriname, French Guiana's neighbour, is a destination often overlooked by tourists. Travellers will find a host of attractions to visit here such as Fort Zeelandia, an 18th century fort built on the area where the first colonists arrived in the country. One will find here old fixtures such as cannons still in the grounds of the fort. Those going inside, on the other hand, can enter the Stichting Surinaams Museum, which show colonial-era artefacts and other decorations. The Numismatic Museum is also a destination to see for those interested in coin and banknotes. After visiting here, one can go to the Palmentuin, where one can look at tropical birds and capuchin monkeys for a while before exploring other landmarks such as the Neveh Shalom Synagogue, Maroon Market, and the Central Market.
Visiting France, one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, makes a charming change due to the cultural treasures to be found here. The Louvre Museum in Paris, for instance, is filled with various works of art, sculptures, and other important pieces from various parts of France and the world. The Panthéon, another famous icon, should also be part of the itinerary as it is a mausoleum for various famous personalities such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, among others. Other landmarks to see in Paris include Les Catacombes, Arc de Triomphe, Institut du Monde Arabe, Palais Garnier, and much more.
How to get out
Travellers going out of French Guiana can schedule flights via Félix Eboué Airport in Cayenne. Airlines serving here are only few, including Air Caraibes, Air France, and Surinam Airways. This makes it necessary to arrange connecting flights from Paris, Pointe-à-Pitre, Paramaribo, or Belem to reach the preferred destination.