Accommodations & Camping in French Guiana

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We loved traveling and camping in French Guiana (here is why). It’s a small country (well, officially it’s an overseas department of France) but there are few people so there is enough place for rough camping, which is what we did most of the time while in towns like Cayenne and Kourou we found secure places as well (see GPS waypoints below).

Camping in French Guiana

At some places the government has provided campsites where you can stay free of charge. One of these places is Sinnemary, where we camped next to a carbet, an open-air hut, where visitors can hang their hammocks for the night. In most cases there are walking trails nearby the carbets.

Our favorite spot by far and large was the beach of Awala-Yalimapo. Between March and July, sea turtles hatch their eggs here so we had hour-long walks during the day or at night. It was fantastic.

Camping next to a carbet near Sinnemary
Camping along the wetlands of Sinnemary.

Backpacking & Hammocking

Apart from free camping with the Land Cruiser, we packed our backpacks to hike trails and camped in the forest, like to see the waterfalls of Chutes Voltaire. We had intended to string our hammocks on the beach of Papillon’s Devil’s Island but because of rain we ended up in the ruins of the old prison, which was quite an experience in itself.

By the way, to find French Guiana’s most beautiful trails and natural places, buy a copy of Guide Guyane; Cultures, nature et randonnées by Philippe Bore. It offers some 35 trails and lots of information on flora and fauna. You can find the book in Cayenne’s bookstores.

Hiking in the rainforest around Chutes Voltaire
Camp at the Waterfalls of Chutes Voltaire
Hammocks and mosquito netting: cheap and perfect to hike in the rainforest
Camping in a former prison on îles du Salut (Devil’s Island)

Hospitality – Staying with Locals

Thanks, Philippe in St. Laurent de Maroni and Gilles in Matoury for opening your homes to us. It was great spending time with you guys!

GPS Waypoints of Campgrounds & Free Camping Sites

Let there be no misunderstanding: no, you don’t have to go to these places. No, these are not by definition the best spots. After having traveled in South America for so long we realize that it’s no problem here to find your own beautiful spots for camping. We decided to continue the page anyway, for travelers who would like some tips about camping spots which we enjoyed or found practical. Please note that this is always our personal experience.

You can also check out iOverlander, where you can see where other overlanders spent the night.

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St. George de Oyapock: 3.888120, -51.803770
Cayenne - Dégrad de Cannes: 4.852580, -52.283370
Mont Bourda: 4.937130, -52.297070
Les Salines de Montjoly: 4.922770, -52.271740
Chutes de Fourgassie: 4.625900, -52.310220
Kaw: 4.498420, -52.052370
Kourou: 5.159900, -52.627080
Sinnemary: 5.297080, -53.052120
Awala-Yalimapo: 5.746120, -53.934230
St. Laurent de Maroni: 5.506550, -54.028000
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St. George de Oyapock
St. George de Oyapock. We spent the night in the public parking lot, across the school. A sign says it is only open during the day, but in fact was open at night when we stayed there (Feb '11).
gps: 3.88812, -51.80377
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Cayenne - Dégrad de Cannes
Cayenne - Dégrad de Cannes. This harbor, some 10 kms out of town is a good place to spend the night. Showers and toilets available. Downside: lots of mosquitoes at night (Feb '11).
gps: N 04.51.155 - W 052.17.002
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Mont Bourda
Mont Bourda. An alternative to Degrád de Cannes in Cayenne. is the parking space along the road on Mont Bourda. More wind, less mosquitoes, no facilities. Take the turn off to Mont Bourda on Route de Montaba from Cayenne to Remire (Mar '11).
gps: 4.93713, -52.29707
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Les Salines de Montjoly
Les Salines de Montjoly. The parking near the walking trails of Montjoly. Acces to the beach. Weekends can be busy. Quiet at night. Dead end street (Apr '11).
gps: 4.92277, -52.27174
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Chutes de Fourgassie
At 35 kms from Cayenne to Kaw you pass Chutes de Fourgassie. Easy, lovely hike to waterfalls and at the entrance a large parking lot we considered well suited for camping (we didn't spend the night ourselves).
gps: 4.62590, -52.31022
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Kaw
Kaw can only be reached by boat. We camped in the parking lot of the ramp where tourists boats and local boats pick passengers up. From the parking lot starts a lovely walk up the hill.  At the summit are rock carvings and yellow-blue poison dart frogs (Apr '11).
gps: 4.49842, -52.05237
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Kourou
Kourou. Camped in the parking lot of Hotel Roches Kourou, along the coast. Maybe you'll be more lucky and the hotel's WIFI will work when you are there (Apr '11).
gps: 5.15990, -52.62708
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Sinnemary
Sinnemary. Lovely camping spot near a carbet (open-air hut) where you can stay free of charge. Officially you ought to make reservations at Sinnemary's Maison de la Reserve. The hike near this carbet is spectacular, Sentier de St Elie (Nov '11).
gps: 5.29708, -53.05212
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Awala-Yalimapo
Awala-Yalimapo. Great camping along the beach, with a shaded picnic table. Good place to watch sea turtles lay their eggs. High season: May-Aug (Nov '11).
gps: 5.74612, -53.93423
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St. Laurent de Maroni
St. Laurent de Maroni. Quiet spot along the coast to spend the night (Apr '10).
gps: 5.50655, -54.02800

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For more on French Guiana, check out these articles:

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2 thoughts on “Accommodations & Camping in French Guiana

  1. Hello!

    I was just wondering, what kinda of hammock did you go for? I’m seeing some that very in price from £40-300 and don’t really know how “extreme” I need to go. Was a rain-fly necessary?

    Thanks!
    D

    • Hi, we bought the cheapest we could find in Suriname. I think it was the equivalent of 15-20 euros. As thin as possible for weight because we used it to go trekking as well. Additionally we bought a mosquito netting. You can buy all this combined in one, terribly fancy but, personally, we don’t see the added value in that. You see a picture of the two hammocks with netting (a blue and a yellow one) in this series. The hammock in the top picture is a fancier one, made in Mexico that a friend bought for us, and I believe made of cotton. Very comfy in hot climates as breeze goes straight through. It is much heavier though then those two light-weight with the horrible military pattern and therefore less suited for hiking.
      We hiked in the dry season (or like in the first picture, where it did rain, we found a place to hang the hammock inside), so didn’t add/buy rain-fly gadgets for the hammock.
      I guess your need depend on how you want to use it: to hang in the garden, to bring it where you travel by car, whether you go to the tropics, have to carry it on your back and such. Good luck with selecting the right one.

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