Where to go

Guyane is an Overseas Department of France, upon which it is heavily dependent. The capital, Cayenne, is on a peninsula at the mouth of the river of the same name. Like its neighbours, Guyane has a populated coastal strip and much of the country remains sparsely populated and underdeveloped despite French aid. The department is known internationally for its space station at Kourou, home to the European Ariane space programme, where economic activity and investment is concentrated. The site has been used to launch over half the world's commercial satellites and employs about 1,500 personnel, with 7,000 related jobs. Tourism is slowly being developed and is increasing, as in all the Guianas, with adventure trips into the forests making up for the lack of good beaches. Almost all visitors are from France and Belgium. Over 10,000 tourists arrive annually, but their numbers are dwarfed by the 60,000 other visitors, businessmen and those who work in the space programme. An unusual attraction is the remains of the former penal colony, notably the Iles du Salut, made famous by Henri Charrière's book Papillon.

When to go

The best months to visit are between August-November. The climate is tropical with heavy rainfall. Average temperature at sea level is fairly constant at 27°C. There is often a cool ocean breeze. Night and day temperatures vary more in the highlands. The rainy season is November- July, sometimes with a dry period in February and March. The great rains begin in May.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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