South America is a continent full of mysterious delights from Brazil's colourful heritage to Argentina's charms, and Chile's grand history. These are not the only countries to see here, however. There is also French Guiana and nearby countries to visit, where tourists can find cultures and sceneries widely different from its bigger and more popular neighbours.
Located between Suriname and Brazil, this coastal country features a number of colonial landmarks that display its part in the history of the New World. The natural landscapes are also emerging tourism hotspots, from virgin rainforests being home to large and rare creatures to the prison camps found in some of the offshore islands. All these combine to make a compelling destination, which can fascinate one with the local culture.
What to see & do
Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, features a Franco-Caribbean chic that can charm tourists. Colonial wrought-iron balconies with shutters painted in bright tropical colours make one like being in centuries past. Those visiting here can check out the Musée Départemental, where one can find ethnographic displays from stuffed caimans to local critters. Life in the old penal colony and displays of Amerindian handicrafts are also contained here. There is also Fort Cépérou where one can find a French colonial site. Most of the area is restricted for public access, but visitors can still look around for good views of Cayenne and the river. There is also the Central Market to venture to. African-style paintings and carvings, Amerindian basketry, and piles of spices can be found here, with aisles of fruit and vegetable stands that have an Asian flavour with bok choy, bean sprouts, and other such common produce.
Kourou, lying on a small peninsula between modern apartment blocks and offshore penal colonies, make a pleasant destination. One serving as support for the penal colonies of the country, it has now become a service city for the Centre Spatial Guyanais, a satellite construction facility and launch pad. There is also the Musée de l'Espace, which features informative displays in English and French. From here, one can continue on to the natural landscapes in the area such as Remire-Montjoly. This suburb of Cayenne features some of the best beaches in the area. From here, tourists can visit the Mont Grand Matoury Nature Reserve where there are a number of local plants and shrubs, as well as a thriving birdlife.
St Georges de l'Oyapock is also a community to visit here, with its connecting routes to traditional Amerindian villages. The ruins of Silver Mountain Penal Colony on the Oyapoc River can be also found nearby. Those who want to visit the villages, on the other hand, can arrange for permission from the local authorities and hire an experienced guide. This can help out those who want to interact with various cultures while paying respect to their ways.
How to get around
Public transportation can be difficult to rely on French Guiana, so travellers are better off arranging their own transport in advance. Renting a car is important, so one can get to different places relatively easier and faster. Those who want to go on boats will have to join tours. One can catch a boat at Kaw and St Laurent, however. Catamarans are also available for local transport. For better convenience, one can also think about riding a domestic flight between Cayenne and Saul.
How to get there
Those out to visit French Guiana can venture to Cayenne-Felix Eboué Airport. Airlines flying here incude Air Caraibes, Air France, and Surinam Airways. They travel between Belém-Val de Cans, Fort-de-France, Paris-Charles dee Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Paramaribo, and Pointe-a-Pitre.