Exploring the Guianas

  • 4 weeks

They're expensive, they're hard to reach, they're largely unpopulated, and they can be very, very captivating. And they're definitely off the beaten path. Where you start depends on where you're coming from: Guyana via New York, Cayenne via Paris or Paramaribo via Amsterdam. For the sake of argument, let's say you're traveling overland from Brazil.

From Oiapoque in Brazil, cross the border via the new bridge spanning the Rio Oiapoque into French Guiana. You're now officially off the beaten track. Make your way by bus across the verdant, forgotten landscape (complete with burned-out cars along the roadside) to Cacao. From here, embark upon the two-day hike along Sentier Molokoï for some wildlife-spotting fun. Then make your way up to Kourou, where you can witness rockets blast off from South America's only satellite launcher. Take a ferry (or a more comfy catamaran) across shark-infested waters to the Îles du Salut, a former island prison where you can sling up a hammock in the old prison dormitories! Back on the mainland, head up the coast and watch the turtles nesting (April to July only) at Awala-Yalimopo before crossing into Suriname. Hang out for a few days in weirdly wonderful Paramaribo, and set up a tour into the majestic Central Suriname Nature Reserve. From Paramaribo, continue west to Nieuw Nickerie, where you cross into Guyana. Head up to Georgetown, and make a detour by boat up to isolated Shell Beach or to see the spectacular Kaieteur Falls. Back in Georgetown, get a bus south across the majestic Rupununi Savannas, stopping in Annai and Lethem to savor the vast isolation.