French Guiana Extension A - Wilderness Explorers
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French Guiana Extension A

Guyana Itineraries
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Tour Cost: From USD $1997
 
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Departures: RATES 2014 US$ 3,213.00 per person, minimum 2 persons US$ 2,498.00 per person, minimum 3 persons US$ 1,997.00 per person, minimum 4 persons Single Supplement: US$ 248.00 Rate Includes: - airport transfer - double or twin accommodation - meals as indicated - local guides - activities as described - all road transfers Not Included : - international flights - visa’s - departure tax - items of a personal nature - alcoholic drinks
 
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French Guiana Extension A
Explore the curious intersection of Europe and South American on this brief jaunt into French Guiana. You'll explore the Kourou Space Center where the European Space Administration launches its Ariane-5 rockets as well as the new Russian Soyuz launch platforms. Then spend a remakable day exploring the 18th century ruins of the prisons on Iles du Salut, sometimes known as "Devils Island."


Day 1 - Enter the European Union at St. Laurent du Moroni, travel to Kourou (Saturday)
We make an early start to comfortably pace ourselves through the journey. The first leg of our travels takes us eastbound along Suriname's coastal road, a throughway that is intermittently getting a much-needed facelift, to Albina border station. Formalities here rarely take more than a few minutes, and soon we find ourselves in Piaka canoe crossing the Maroni River headed for French Guiana or "Guyane" as it is frequently (and confusingly) called locally. Arrival at St. Laurent du Maroni is relatively uncomplicated, and our French guide will be on hand to help us navigate the usual customs and immigration formalities. French Guyana is a Department of France, so technically you have entered the EU upon landing here. And, evidence of this connection to the "1st world" is immediately evident: every car seems to be a late-model Mercedes, Volkswagen or Peugeot, the roads are in near perfect condition, espresso coffee is on tap nearly everywhere, and the Euro is the currency of choice.  Afternoon city tour of Saint Laurent Du Maroni and Camp de la Transportation where we will make a brief visit to the well-preserved Transportation Center. The facility once served as the transit point for slaves and indentured servants imported from overseas and destined for plantations throughout South America and the Caribbean. A hard-to-miss curiosity just offshore is the British steamer Edith Cavel shipwreck, so overgrown with trees and shrubs that it could be mistaken for a natural island. It partially sank in bad weather in 1924. A relaxed 2 and 1/2 hours further east by road gets us to Kourou. Our day concludes at the Hotel des Roches, resting on a tiny finger of sand jutting into the Kourou River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The tower adjacent to the hotel, Dreyfus Tower, was a communication link to the Iles du Salut: its rocky perch serves as a perfect place to relax during sunset. (B)
Hotel des Roches


Day 2 - Travel to Iles du Salut
What is commonly referred to as “Devils Island” is really a triangle of three islands - Îles du Salut, or the Salvation Islands - seven miles off the coast of Kourou. After a dizzyingly varied breakfast buffet at the hotel, we set sail aboard a fine motorized catamaran towards our first stop, Île Saint-Joseph. The islands played a central role in French history as far back as 1792 when they were first employed as a transit point, first for explorers, then slaves and later for political prisoners. Île Saint-Joseph is the southernmost island and is home to the most striking incarceration facilities that made up this notorious penal colony. Île Royale is the site of the oldest buildings on the islands, featuring an old church, administration buildings, officers' quarters, and today, a good restaurant and lodging facilities. Ironically, the actual Île du Diable (Devil's Island) is inaccessible to visitors due to dangerous shoreline conditions. This is the island where the prison's best-known occupant, Alfred Dreyfus, was famously secluded. Your tour begins on Île St. Joseph which can be easily circumnavigated on foot in less than 2 hours. The prison buildings here are quite well preserved, and you can meander at will through the cell blocks, dormitory buildings, and other structures while taking photographs or simply soaking in the powerful ambience. The countless scenes of nature slowly but relentlessly reclaiming the land here are really quite remarkable... you'll lose count of how many tree roots you see growing out of one cell door and curving around to enter an adjacent cell. If your walking tour wraps up early, there are plenty of shady trees under which you can catch a cool breeze, or you can dip your toe in one of the shallow tidepools on the north side of the island. Return to Kourou by Catamaran and transfer in bus to hotel. (B)
Hotel des Roches


Day 3 - Return to Suriname
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Kourou to the Center Spatiale Guyanaise (Guyana Space Center) for a tour. Launch schedules are a closely-held secret so our schedule today may be amended on short notice. The usual tour includes a motorcoach tour which criss-crosses the center's mammoth facility, including stops at various assembly buildings and control centers. The entire tour is offered in French, but your guide will supply translations as often as possible. After tour transfer by vehicle for the Suriname border via St. Laurent de Maroni and cross by small boat. Transfer to Paramaribo. (B)
Eco-Resort Inn


Day 4 - Depart Suriname
Transfer to the airport for departing Caribbean Airways flight. (B)