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.
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.
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.
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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
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
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
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
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
| St. Laurent de Maroni |
St. Laurent de Maroni. Quiet spot along the coast to spend the night (Apr '10).
gps: 5.50655, -54.02800
Do you have information we should add to this page? Please share it with us in the comments below so other travelers may benefit from it. Thanks.
Putting together information pages like this cost a huge amount of time. I’m happy doing that and spreading the good vibes for traveling the world. Would you like to support us in any way? See how you can fuel our adventure, or shop around among Coen’s T-shirts, stickers, and other goodie designs. Thanks!