Best time to visit French Guiana
The presence of rainforest implies rain, and French Guiana has lots of it; expect torrential downpours and tropical heat almost year round.
Tropical French Guiana is hot and humid all year round. December and January are wet, with intense but usually short-lived rains, while April to June sees heavy rains and suffocating humidity – St Laurent is drenched with around 300mm per month during this time. There’s a short dry season usually in March, but sometimes in February, then the main dry season runs from July until November. By August temperatures are climbing, with September and October the driest, sunniest months, but also the hottest with highs of around 32°C – if you can stand the heat, this is the best time to go to French Guiana.
French Guiana Weather Chart
Things to do in French Guiana
Things to do in French Guiana…
Things not to do in French Guiana
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French Guiana travel advice
Chris Parrot, director of specialist supplier Journey Latin America, shares his top travel tips for French Guiana:
“I’ve been to French Guiana six times over the years and never felt uneasy walking alone around Cayenne, Kourou or St Laurent, even in parts of town which might be considered ‘dodgy’. Cayenne has an identifiable ‘center’ which is compact and interesting to walk around; Kourou is much more scattered and has seen considerable expansion in the last 20 years.”
What to expect
What to expect
“Infrastructure is basic and you'll have to be prepared for delays and for things not going quite to plan. 19 20ths of the land area is effectively impenetrable to visitors – it’s rainforest region called Inini. Effectively there are just two roads. One excellent paved single carriageway runs east-west along the coast, St-Laurent to Cayenne, via the coastal towns of Iracoubo, Sinnamary, Kourou and the Space Station. There’s another from Cayenne to the Brazilian border at St Georges straight through swampy jungle. It’s paved too, but constantly needs repaving (the €50m bridge over the river to Brazil built 2011 is still only open to pedestrians and cyclists). The Space Centre – hi-tech in the tropics – is an absolute highlight. French Guiana feels like France, but not especially modern. Be aware that ATM machines outside Cayenne are often empty.”
Advice on joining a small group
“There’s almost no public transport, and most of what little there is is fairly ramshackle, which can make independent travel difficult. Very few local people speak English, and all tourist infrastructure is geared to Francophones. On a group tour like ours you benefit from a tour leader (our current one speaks Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish) and we charter decent buses. It’s definitely worth going – it’s a different world.”
More about French Guiana
Not on any established tourist trail, French Guiana is a complex and fascinating country; an outpost of France, ruled from Paris, but firmly in South America. Cloaked almost entirely in rainforest, it’s not an easy country to travel around, but our French Guiana travel guide reveals its highlights, from a notorious penal colony to a state-of-the-art space center.