Last year, I had planned a trip to Paramaribo, Suriname for the big New Years Celebration that they have each year. Since I was going to Suriname, I figured I would attempt to make my way into French Guiana as well, only problem was I couldn’t find any accurate information on transportation, so I just went on a whim and made the trip documenting everything along the way… So hopefully this information will be helpful to any volunteers or fellow backpackers who choose to go into French Guiana from Guyana/Suriname.
Here are just a few pictures from French Guiana.
Getting To French Guiana
The first step in getting to French Guiana is by making your way to Paramaribo, Suriname, which can be done really easily by a variety of bus services that do direct routes from Georgetown to Paramaribo. These buses usually cost around $6,000GY (Note: Cost will vary depending on pickup location.) one way from Georgetown, but if you make prior arrangements, they will pick you up on the way anywhere between Regions 5 and 6 and will take you directly to your accommodation in Paramaribo. Here are the phone numbers for the service I used.
- Bobby’s Bus Service
- Guyana Offices: 234-1343 / 234-1456 / 622-8591 / 621-6010
- Suriname Office: 862-3948 / 892-8133 / 715-5954 / 874-3897
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, once you are in Paramaribo, you will need to head down to the waterfront where you will find several different options of transportation (Government Bus, Public Bus, and a Taxi). Each of these comes with a different price tag, and details of each of these are below:
- V.B. Government Bus – The government bus is the most budget friendly way of getting to Albina, with a price tag of about $8.50 SRD (about $2.60 USD). The bus takes about 2.5 hours to reach but tickets must be purchased in advance (Jeremy’s Traveler Tip: Try to purchase these tickets at least 1 day before you would like to leave). Tickets can be purchased at the NVB Bus Shed that sits between Heiligenweg and Knufflestracht streets down by the waterfront. There are two (2) government buses that leave daily, 8:00AM and 12:00PM. If traveling all the way to Cayenne, you need to be on the 8:00AM bus.
- Public Bus – If the Government Bus is sold out, there are several Public Buses that are down by the waterfront charging around $25 – $30 SRD (about $7.60 – $9.00 USD) for a one way ticket. These buses will also take roughly 2.5 hours to arrive in Albina.
- Taxi/Hired Card – The most expensive way cost about $70 SRD (about $22 USD) and takes between 1.5 and 2 hours to arrive to Albina.
Now that you are in Albina, a small town on the Marowijne River that separates Suriname and French Guiana, you will be bombarded by Boat drivers looking to fill their boats to cross the river to St. Laurent. The boat ride takes about 20-30 minutes and costs around $15 SRD or 3 Euro (about $4.50 USD), when taking the boat, just make sure you tell them to take you to the Taxi’s, not the visitor center. Oh and DON’T FORGET YOUR PEACE CORPS APPROVED LIFE JACKET!
The last step in this journey is a 3.5-4 hour cab ride from St. Laurent to Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana. The cab ride cost 35 Euro (about $40 USD) per person and will take you through a bunch of windy roads, where you’ll get to see the beautiful green scenery of French Guiana. The options are extremely limited for transportation to Cayenne, public busses are non-existent, unless you are in Cayenne, and even then they aren’t reliable.
Just a few more tips for successful travel in French Guiana:
- Brush up on your French skills, most people in French Guiana either don’t speak English or speak very little.
- Search for cheap accommodation in advance, they are rare in French Guiana, you can use sites such as CouchSurfing and AirBnB.
- Make sure you check out the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and try the homemade Rhum and exotic/tropical fruits.
- Plan ahead and visit Iles du Salut, a group of Islands that housed the most dangerous prisoners of French Guiana in the late 1800’s to the mid 1950’s. If you book ahead, you can sleep in a prison cell, in a hammock and have all meals included.
- Visit the Centre Spatial Guyanais, one of the closest Space Centers to the equator. If you time your trip right, you may even get to see a Launch!
There it is… It’s not too bad of a trip, and a nice fun little adventure for those who have the adventurers spirit! Good luck!