A map of the Guianas
When is the best time to visit the Guianas?
April to November: July onwards is a moderately rainy season with drier spells of warm sunshine; year-round temperatures hover at around 25ºC.
December to March: Expect a short ‘dry’ season and festivals. Indian Holi (March) and Mashramani (Republic Day; February) are big in Guyana, while Pagara Estafette marks New Year’s Eve in Suriname. In French Guiana, Mardi Gras (the world’s longest) runs January to March.
Is it safe to travel to the Guianas?
All three nations are pretty crime free, but it pays to be up to date on your jabs. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required at Suriname immigration; and while malaria is not widespread, it is present.
How do you get to the Guianas?
The author flew into Suriname, took a light aircraft to Guyana, then overlanded to French Guiana for a flight back to the UK.
An openjaw ticket from London to Suriname on KLM, returning on Air France from Cayenne to London and costs from £833 return; one-way travel takes around 22.5 hours. KLM has four weekly flights via Amsterdam to Paramaribo; Air France operates daily flights from Cayenne via Paris.
What are the best ways to travel around the Guianas?
The author used shared taxis, private transfers, buses, charters and scheduled light aircraft flights. In Guyana, the author reached Surama via a charter flight, which is expensive; it’s cheaper to use Trans Guyana Airways’ scheduled one-hour flights from Georgetown to Lethem, which cost US$30 (£23) for a one-way ticket.
It’s possible to reach Surama by minibus, but expect a 12-to-14-hour journey. To get from Georgetown to Paramaribo, a minibus-taxi with Oswald Transportation (+592 662 2627) costs US$30 (£23). In Suriname, head to Ajonti, where a flotilla of boats travel upriver daily.
In French Guiana, a shared taxi from St Laurent to Cayenne costs around £38. Trips to the Îles du Salut by catamaran can be booked via La Hulotte and cost from around £44 return.
How much money do you need to take to the Guianas?
Of the three countries, French Guiana is the priciest, with above-European costs for accommodation; budget for £50 to £125 for a double. Main courses there are from £15 to £25, but South-East Asian market fare is much better value.
Guyana is more competitively priced; cheaper accommodation options range from £20 to £30 per night, with great local street food. Likewise, Suriname is well-priced around Paramaribo, with clean guesthouses like TwenTy4 (+597 420751) from €15 (£14) per night.
It’s when you start adding jungle lodges and excursions that prices add up. For instance, a day trip to Kaieteur Falls, including flights, will cost from US$290pp (£219) if booked with local operators like the excellent Wilderness Explorers (wilderness-explorers.com).
Where are the best places to stay in the Guianas?
Where to stay in French Guiana
In French Guiana, the author was based in Hotel des Palmistes (Cayenne). It has a dozen elegantly decorated rooms set in a century-old property above Cayenne’s liveliest bar; B&B doubles from €125pn (£107).
Where to stay in Suriname