French Guiana:A French Department Attracting Tourists with Baby Leatherback Turtles

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French Guiana:A French Department Attracting Tourists with Baby Leatherback Turtles:table of contents

French Guiana is a French department in South America. French Guiana is on the Atlantic coast, adjoining Suriname and Brazil. French Guiana is part of the European Union and uses the Euro as its currency. French Guiana is a place with wonderful biodiversity, spectacular nature and intriguing history. In this article we recommend the top ten sightseeing destinations in French Guiana.

1. Hattes Beach (Les Hattes)

Photo by Bernard DUPONT

Hattes Beach located on the north coast of French Guiana is a vital nesting site for the leatherback sea turtles. Every year thousands of leatherback sea turtles hatch on this beach. The baby turtles journey into the ocean is an incredible spectacle worth witnessing by any sightseeing tourist. The mother turtles lay their eggs between April and July while the baby turtles hatch from their eggs between July and September. Although Hattes Beach in French Guiana is famous principally for its leatherback turtles, hawksbill turtles and green turtles also nest here. There is a small, local museum worth sightseeing with exhibitions about the turtles near the beach.

2. Guiana Space Center (Kourou)

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Guiana Space Center is an active space launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. Three different Space Agencies operate from the Guiana Space Center. There are up to 9 launches a year and tourists can view them. It is an incredible sight, so we recommend trying to arrange your sightseeing, so it coincides with a launch. Tours of the Guiana Space Center take about 3 hours and run daily at 9 AM and 1 PM. Tours are currently only available in French, but tourists can bring their own English-speaking guides with them. Tours of the Guiana Space Center are free but need to be booked minimum 48 hours in advance, due to security protocols. This can be done by email from the official website.

3. Iles du Salut (Royale Island, Devil’s Island and St. Joseph Island)

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Îles du Salut or The Salvation's Islands in English consists of three islands, Insula Royale, Île du Diable and Insula Saint-Joseph, located off the coast of French Guiana, about 15 kilometers north of Kourou. The islands were the sites of penal colonies. They were chosen for their strategic position. The waters surrounding the islands are notorious for being rough and having sharks. The penal colonies on the island operated between 1852 and 1947 and it is estimated that over eight thousand prisoners perished there. Perhaps the most infamous of the island is the Devil’s Island. Tourists interested in sightseeing the Devil’s Island can take a ferry, leaving daily at 7:50 AM from Ponton des Pecheurs port in Kourou. Tourists preferring to combine their sightseeing of the Devil’s island with sailing then you can take a catamaran to the island.

4. Amazonian Park of Guiana (Remire-Montjoly)

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Amazonian Park of Guiana is a National Park which covers about 40% of the territory of French Guiana. It is in the south of French Guyana, by the border with Brazil where it links with Brazilian Tumucumaque National Park. There are hundreds of endemic animal species living in the Amazonian Park of Guiana and over 1500 different types of trees grow there. The National Park is also home to many indigenous Amerindian communities of French Guiana. Sightseeing tourists are bound to be impressed with the sheer volume and diversity of nature present in Amazonian Park of Guiana. Tourists can go on guided hikes in the National Park, camp out over night or choose to do their sightseeing from a helicopter.

5. Transportation Camp (Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni)

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The Transportation Camp is a now disused prison located on the Maroni River in the St Laurent du Maroni town on the border between French Guiana and Suriname. The Transportation Camp was used for administrative purposes and it was here that it was decided into which penal colony in French Guiana individual prisoners would go to. Sightseeing the Transportation Camp is a sobering experience where tourist can learn the dark history of the penal system in French Guiana. Tourists can go sightseeing around the Transportation Camp on their own for free or they can go on a paid guided tour organised by the Tourist Office of Saint-Laurent du Maroni. In peak season there 4 guided tours a day, while out of season there are 2 tours a day.

6. Cayenne

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Cayenne is the capital city of French Guiana, located on the coast. It is a city full of sightseeing opportunities. There are Creole houses and French colonial forts that will keep tourists interested. Many travel agencies organize guided walking tours around Cayenne, which are a great way to learn about the city. We also encourage tourists to go sightseeing at their own pace and soak in Cayenne’s vibrant atmosphere. While sightseeing Cayenne visit Chou Aï Rescue Center, where you can find out more about sloths and even give one a hug. For those tourists who love chocolate, there is the Walapulu Cocoa Plantation just outside of Cayenne which allows sightseeing.

7. Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve (Roura)

Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve, also known as the Kaw Swamp (Marais Kaw in French), on the north-east coast of French Guiana protects the swamp and the forest with unique biodiversity. Visitors can sightsee many animals here, such as black caimans and a multitude of birds, including the majestic ibis. Tourists will also be able to see remains of French Guiana’s native Amerindian villages dating back to 170 AD. The best way to go sightseeing in the Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve is to go on a guided boat tour. This gives visitors access to more areas in the reserve. The Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve borders the Trésor Nature Reserve which we also highly recommend sightseeing.

8. Cacao

Photo by en.wikipedia.org

Cacao is a quaint village located about an hour drive south of Cayenne, the capital city of French Guiana. Cacao is interesting as it is principally inhabited by Hmong farmers from Laos and as a result the village has a very Laotian character. We encourage tourists to go sightseeing this Lao transplant in the heart of French Guiana. There are houses on stilts here and a market where tourists can purchase Hmong handmade objects. Sightseeing tourists can also enjoy a kayak or a canoe paddle on the river or visit the insect museum. Every December Cacao hosts a 4-day New Year’s celebration that is worth experiencing.

9. Trésor Nature Reserve (Roura)

Trésor Nature Reserve preserves French Guiana’s primal rain-forest. Is set up for the purposes of environmental conservation and is supported by international organisations such as the WWF. It is in the of north-east part of French Guiana, about 50 kilometers from Cayenne. Sightseeing tourists can enjoy a 2-kilometer designated nature trail through the Trésor Nature Reserve. Tourists are sure to see some of the resident animals during their sightseeing here. Perhaps a toucan with and impressive beak. To help you plan your sightseeing in Trésor Nature Reserve visit the 360° virtual gallery on the official website.

10. Maroni River (Apatou)

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Maroni River, also called Marowijne, is the wide river that forms the natural border between Suriname and French Guiana. At 725 kilometers Maroni River is the longest river in French Guiana. There are many Maroon and Amerindian communities settled on the banks of the Maroni River. Lush jungle grows on both sides of the river. The best way of sightseeing the Maroni River is to take a boat cruise. There are excursions that only take a couple of hours, or for full immersion tourists can take multi-day cruises. There are various sightseeing starting points, including Apatou. While sightseeing tourist will get ample opportunity to spot diverse wildlife of French Guiana.

◎ Closing

French Guiana is a fantastic place for a sightseeing holiday. It is a very safe and stable destination, it has rich history and gorgeous landscapes. It is a great place to see sea turtles, tapirs, sloths and other magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. With its unspoiled nature French Guiana is a great destination for an Eco-holiday. For an unforgettable trip choose to visit French Guiana.

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