• Guiana
    © Mark Bridger / Bridgephotography / 123RF
  • Guiana
    © iStockphoto.com / Edsongrandisoli
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Guiana

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
A small piece of France in South America, Guiana is the biggest French department. The population is composed of French metropolitans and Creoles, but also American Indians, Brazilians and Chinese communities. Famous for its penal colonies and gold rush, gold washing still happens here, but at the expense of certain tribes. With 96% of the territory covered in tropical forest, it is needless to say that the country contains a multitude of animal and plant species. Wildlife lovers will be more than happy they decided to travel to Guiana.

Our Editorial team's advice

Make sure that you take cotton clothing, a bathing suit, ankle boots, a sweatshirt and a windbreaker coat (for the country's inlands) with you.
If you are going on an excursion in the jungle, it is obviously necessary to prepare yourself physically, but also psychologically; a stay in the forest is a total break from any form of civilisation. Note: you must be humble when you meet the local ethnic groups in the forest.

pros

  • +The immersion of an Amazonian land into a French region.
  • +The summer season in the UK corresponds with the best climatic period to visit Guiana.

cons

  • -The humidity and weather are sometimes hard to cope with.
  • -The coast is not really suitable for swimming.
  • -Holidays here are not always relaxing.

Traditions

From the first Sunday following Epiphany to Ash Wednesday, Guiana celebrates its carnival. Vaval, the king of the festivities, celebrates its opening, then come the queens: the touloulous, women in disguise and the jé farin, symbols of life, joy and gaiety. Everyone is ready for the dances and parades on Saturdays and Sundays, in Cayenne and in the entire region. Other traditions are the local festivities which represent real cultural events; the characteristics of each of them depends on the communities.

Food

The 'savannah palm fruit pulp' stews for several hours with vegetables, smoked fish, crabs, shrimps, chicken or smoked bacon and cucumbers. This is the Awara stew, a symbol of the Guianese gastronomy and a dish of African origin which is made at Easter and Whitsun and which is usually served for a newcomer. Less spectacular, the specialty of meat fricassees is cooked all year long, as are the famous 'blaff' shrimps (shrimps cooked in a spicy and flavoured stew). Cod fish marinades, chicken or smoked fish, sausage and acras are often served as first courses, with the famous ti-punch as a cocktail.

Souvenirs

The Maroons sculpt many objects out of wood: you will find benches, trays, paddles and drums made of red mahogany. As for the American Indians, they make more 'useful' objects such as bows and arrows, basketry and, some of their more recent creations include red pottery bowls and pearl necklaces. The Hmongs people embroider; you will find artwork in the local markets, in the shops and in the villages in the forest. 18-carat gold is also sold in traditional jewellery shops! Shops are open from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 15:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

What to see

The Maroni River, On the Maroni River, Landscapes, Guiana
On the Maroni River
The Approuague river, On the Approuague River, Landscapes, Guiana
On the Approuague River
The village of Saül, Saül village, Landscapes, Guiana
Saül village
Guyana beaches, The beaches, Coasts, Guiana
The beaches
The French Guiana Salvation Islands, Salut Islands, Coasts, Guiana
Salut Islands
The Museum of the Department of Guyana, Cayenne museums, Arts and culture, Guiana
Cayenne museums
Guyanese art, Handicraft, Arts and culture, Guiana
Handicraft
The Amerindians, The Indians, Arts and culture, Guiana
The Indians
The luth turtle, Luth turtles, The fauna, Guiana
Luth turtles
The flight of the red ibis, Red Ibises, The fauna, Guiana
Red Ibises
The black caiman, Kaw swamp, The fauna, Guiana
Kaw swamp
Morpho butterflies, Grabrielle creek, The fauna, Guiana
Grabrielle creek
A jaguar in Guyana, The jaguar , The fauna, Guiana
The jaguar
The Amazon Basin, The Amazonian forest, The flora, Guiana
The Amazonian forest
Guyana marshland, Swamplands, The flora, Guiana
Swamplands