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Highlights of the “3 Guianas” - 6 Nights Itinerary

The three countries that make up the Guianas – Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana – are each different from the other, as well as distinct from all of the other countries of South America. You can experience these unique cultural and environmental differences as you discover everything from “French” wines and hot curry dishes to magnificent waterfalls and mangrove swamps. All of this can be discovered in the “Three Guianas.” This travel experience begins in French Guiana, where you’ll find a curious intersection of Europe and South America. After leaving Cayenne, you will explore the Kourou Space Center to witness the site where the European Space Administration launches its Ariane-5 rockets and Russian Soyuz launch platforms. Later, you will spend an astounding day exploring the 18th century ruins of the prisons on the Iles du Salut, usually referred to as “Devil’s Island” – once the home to prisoners such as “Papillon” and Dreyfus. We will then cross the border into Suriname for a stay in the charming UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paramaribo, where you will meet descendants of the Maroons (runaway slaves).  This terrific sampler of nature, culture, and adventure will also take you to Guyana, where a heady mix of British, African and East Indian culture awaits – not to mention the Kaieteur Falls, whose waters drop 741 feet – five times the height of the Niagara Falls! Discover this and much more in just a week-long journey to the 3 Guianas.

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Highlights of the “3 Guianas”: Highlights

Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, Kourou Space Center, Devil's Island, Paramaribo, Kaieteur Falls

Highlights of the “3 Guianas”: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in Cayenne (French Guiana) – Transfer to the Grand Hotel Montabo
Day 2: “Devil’s Island” Tour (Île Saint-Joseph & Île Royale)
Day 3: Guyana Space Center – Transfer to Hotel in Paramaribo (Suriname)
Day 4: Paramaribo City Tour – Peperpot Plantation – Sunset Dolphin Tour – Plantation Village
Day 5: Georgetown (Guyana) City Tour – Diamond Rum Distillery Tour – Guyana Marriott Hotel
Day 6: Kaieteur Falls Tour (and possibly extensions to Orinduik Falls or Baganara Island)
Day 7: Departure
South America Map

Highlights of the “3 Guianas”: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in Cayenne (French Guiana) – Transfer to the Grand Hotel Montabo

Upon your arrival at the international airport in Cayenne (French Guiana), you will be welcomed by a company representative and driven to your hotel: the Grand Hotel Montabo (formerly Novotel Cayenne), which is close to Montabo Beach and just 3 km from the heart of Cayenne.

This hotels features a 4-star restaurant, a bar with terrace, meeting rooms and an outdoor swimming pool in the heart of a tropical garden. The Grand Hotel features 102 rooms, including 2 suites and 4 rooms for people with reduced mobility. As the hotel is located 16km from the airport, it is suitable for business stays and family vacations alike. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

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Dinner
Day 2
“Devil’s Island” Tour (Île Saint-Joseph & Île Royale)

AM: Following breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to the coastal town of Kourou for an excursion to what is commonly referred to as “Devil’s Island,” which is really a triangle of three islands – Îles du Salut, or the “Salvation Islands” – seven miles off the coast. These islands played a central role in French history as far back as 1792, when they were first employed as transit points for explorers, then for slaves and later for political prisoners. We will set sail from Kourou aboard a fine motorized catamaran to our first stop: Île Saint-Joseph, which is the southernmost island and home to the most striking incarceration facilities that made these islands notorious as a penal colony. Île St. Joseph 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 are slowly but relentlessly reclaiming the land here, and 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 our 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 tide pools on the north side of the island. Unfortunately, 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.

PM: This afternoon, we will travel to Île Royale, which is the site of the oldest buildings of the islands, featuring an old church, administration buildings and officers' quarters, as well as the well-maintained Auberge des Iles inn and restaurant, where you will have lunch.  Afterwards, we will go on a guided tour of the island to see its museum, main buildings, the children’s’ cemetery, convict buildings, and more. We will return to Kourou by catamaran at 18:00 hrs, and then drive to the Hotel des Roches, which rests on a tiny finger of sand jutting that juts out to where the Kourou River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Beside the hotel you will find the Dreyfus Tower, which was used in pre-radio days to communicate visually with the other islands via a semaphore telegraph. Today, this rocky perch serves as a perfect place to relax during sunset. After dinner at a local restaurant, you will spend the night in a standard room at Hotel des Roches.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Guyana Space Center – Transfer to Hotel in Paramaribo (Suriname)

AM: After breakfast at your hotel, we will drive to the Center Spatiale Guyanaise (“Guyana Space Center”) for a tour of this spaceport facility. Launch schedules are closely-held secrets, so our schedule for today might change at a moment’s notice. The usual tour includes a motor coach tour that crisscrosses the center's mammoth facility, and includes stops at various assembly buildings and control centers.

(The entire tour is offered in French, but your guide will translate as often as possible.) After this tour, you will be transferred by vehicle to Suriname via the border town of St. Laurent de Maroni, and cross into the country by small boat.

PM: Driving to Suriname’s capital city of Paramaribo, we will have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to your hotel: the Royal Torarica, which is the most luxurious and prestigious hotel in Suriname. In addition to all the features desired by high-end business travelers, this hotel is also perfect for vacationers who desire abundant luxury. The Royal Torarica features glass elevators, high ceilings, personalized service, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, high-speed Internet and a beautiful saltwater swimming pool. This evening’s dinner will be served at a Javanese restaurant before you turn in for the night in a Garden-View Room at the Royal Torarica.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Paramaribo City Tour – Peperpot Plantation – Sunset Dolphin Tour – Plantation Village

AM: Today you can enjoy a city tour of Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname that has been on the UNESCO “World Heritage Site” list since 2002. Exploring the city by car and on foot, this guided tour will take you to the most prominent historic locations in downtown Paramaribo so that you can appreciate the city’s unique architecture. Your guide will share extensive information with you concerning “Fort Zeelandia,” the Presidential Palace, Independence Square and many other points of interest that are true representations of the colonial history of Suriname. After a stroll down the Waterkant boulevard along the Suriname River and through the Palms Garden, you can enjoy other interesting sites, such as a mosque right next to a synagogue.

We will also visit the Commewijne agricultural area, which is situated to the east of Paramaribo across the Suriname River.  This part of the tour takes us to former colonial plantations, most of which are now abandoned. We will stop at the Peperpot plantation, one of the oldest plantations in Surinamese history, dating back to the 17th century. As one of the last plantations still in its original state, here you can see coffee and cocoa plants as well as the old factory, the manager’s residence and a kampong (workers’ living area). Peperpot is also renowned for the many birds that can be spotted there. From Peperpot, we will stop at the Marienburg mini-museum and a former sugar plantation before enjoying a delicious lunch at a warung (a typical Javanese restaurant) in Tamanredjo.

PM: Before continuing to the confluence of the Commewijne and Suriname Rivers in Nieuw Amsterdam, we will a visit the outdoor museum of Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. This large fortress was built to defend the agricultural fields that were situated along the upper parts of both rivers. We will continue our tour to the pier of Nieuw Amsterdam, where you will be picked up for the “Sunset Dolphin tour.” While having a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), you can enjoy the cool breeze and the river views. Meanwhile the captain will search the horizon for the dolphins. Normally these can be seen swimming by in groups of up to 20. As they’re often very curious, if we’re lucky these dolphins will play and jump up close to the boat.

After having enjoyed our playful company, we will head to a wonderful restored plantation where you can enjoy freshly made local snacks like barra, baka bana or eggrolls while experiencing a striking sunset. All this takes place in a relaxing atmosphere of the old plantation village on a wooden deck off the Commewijne River. After the sun sets, we will get back on board, pour another drink, and slowly make our way to the pier in Leonsberg. We will then head back to Paramaribo, where you will have dinner at a Chinese restaurant before returning to the Royal Torarica for the night.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5
Georgetown (Guyana) City Tour – Diamond Rum Distillery Tour – Guyana Marriott Hotel

AM: Transfer to the Paramaribo airport for your departing flight on SLM (ticket cost not in the final rates). When you land in Georgetown (Guyana), you will be picked up at the airport and driven to your selected hotel. Georgetown – the chief port, capital and largest city of Guyana – is situated on the bank of the Demerara River Estuary. It was chosen as a site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements on the Demerara River. The city of Georgetown was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree-lined avenues and irrigation canals that crisscross the city. Most of the buildings in the city are wooden with unique architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. For the most part the buildings have Demerara shutters and designed fretwork which trim the eaves and windows. Main Street Georgetown provides several excellent examples of old colonial homes, a prime example of which is the State House, built in 1852. The State House is set in large gardens and is painted green and white and has hosted many visiting dignitaries. During your visit to Georgetown, there are a number of interesting sights that should not be missed, with the most famous being St. George’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of the world’s tallest free standing wooden buildings and was consecrated on 1892. Also, at the beginning of the Avenue of the Republic stands the Public Library housed in the Carnegie Building. Other historic buildings along this promenade include the Town Hall, a splendid example of Gothic architecture, and further along are the Victoria Law Courts and St. Andrews Kirk Church, which is the oldest surviving church structure in Guyana.

The famous Stabroek Market, once described as a “bizarre bazaar,” contains every item conceivable – from household goods and gold jewelry to fresh meat and vegetables brought to town daily on the river. Another famous landmark is the clock tower, which can be seen for miles around. Then too, no trip to Georgetown would be complete without a visit to the Botanical Gardens and zoo. The Botanical Gardens houses one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora in the Caribbean and are laid out with ponds, canals, bridges and a bandstand, while over 100 species of Guyanese wildlife can be observed at the zoo, including a wide variety of tropical fish and birds. The National Museum, which contains a broad selection of our animal life and heritage, should not be missed; nor should the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which explains Amer-Indian history and lifestyle. The tour will include walking along the city’s avenues with an experienced guide who will explain the history, rumor and facts on Georgetown and its citizens. Your group will be accompanied at all times by a vehicle, which will be used for travel between areas of interest. During the tour, there is always the opportunity to purchase an unusual gift or unique Guyanese handicrafts; and for the daring, there will be a chance to bargain in the gold and diamond markets.

PM: After lunch we will visit the Diamond Distillery, where you will see firsthand how the company works in tandem with the most up to date facilities and equipment while maintaining the standards and methods of the age-old industry. The unique blends of rums produced here come from a combination of continuous stills, wooden Coffey stills and wooden pot stills, the only such wooden stills of their kind in existence in the world today. The distillery has the capacity to produce in excess of 26 million liters of pure alcohol annually, and is one of the largest Caribbean suppliers of bulk rums and alcohol to brand owners in Europe and North America. After this city tour, you will be driven to the Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Demerara River, close to the main business area of the city. Enjoy the sunset at the pool bar and grill or re-energize in the state-of-the-art fitness center before your “Heritage Dinner” at the Cara Lodge, which will include a local guest speaker. After this dining event, you will be taken back to the Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown for the night.

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Breakfast - Dinner
Day 6
Kaieteur Falls Tour (and possibly extensions to Orinduik Falls or Baganara Island)

AM: Today’s adventure will take you to the Kaieteur Falls, which was first seen by a European on April 29, 1870. Situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, this tributary of the Essequibo River is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Flowing over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge, its waters drop 741 feet – or five times the height of the Niagara Falls. There are no other falls in the world with the magnitude of the sheer drop existing at Kaieteur. According to the Amerindian legend of the Patamona people, one of the tribe’s chiefs (Kai, after whom the falls is named) sacrificed himself by canoeing over the falls in order to encourage the Great Spirit Makonaima to save the tribe from being destroyed by the savage Caribishi people. Kaieteur Falls supports a unique micro-environment in which tiny Golden frogs spends their entire lives inside Tank bromeliads (the largest in the world), while rarely seen Guiana Cock-of-the-rock birds nest close by. The lucky visitor may also see the famous flights of the Kaieteur Swifts or Makonaima birds, which nest under the vast rock shelf carved by the centuries of the falls’ eternal curtain of falling water.

This trip may include an extension to Orinduik Falls or Baganara Island Resort, at no additional cost.

Option 1: Orinduik Falls

The Orinduik Falls is where the Ireng River – forming the border between Brazil and Guyana – thunders over steps and terraces of solid jasper, a semi-precious stone. With a backdrop of rolling grass-covered hills of the Pakaraima Mountains, this is truly one of the most beautiful locations in Guyana’s hinterland. The name of the falls is derived from the Amerindian (Patamona) word “Orin,” which is the word for an aquatic plant found in these falls. In contrast to the Kaieteur Falls, Orinduik is ideally suited for swimming, and you will find it to be a natural Jacuzzi as its waters tumble down the steps of Jasper.

Option 2: Baganara Island

At the Baganara Island Resort, you will be invited to spend the afternoon just relaxing or choosing from a variety of activities such as canoeing, fishing, table tennis or volleyball after having enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch. However, this excursion depends on the availability of flights. On this tour, you will dine at a local Chinese restaurant in the evening, and later spend the night at the Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown in a standard City-View Room.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 7
Departure

AM: Pickup in Georgetown and transfer to Cheddi Jagan International Airport for your departing flight home or onward.   

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Highlights of the “3 Guianas”: Prices

2017 - Price per person
6 - 7 Persons
Hotel CategoryDouble
First ClassUS$ 4,659
Included in the price:
  • Airport-hotel transfers
  • Accommodations (based on double occupancy)
  • Meals, as indicated in the itinerary
  • All road and river transfers in French Guiana and Suriname
  • Domestic flights in Guyana
  • Activities as described
  • Local guides
  • VAT
  • Kaieteur National Park entrance fee
Not included in the price:
  • Personal items
  • Alcoholic drinks, except where indicated above
  • Departure tax
  • International flights
  • Visa
  • Surinam Airways Ticket (PBM/GEO)
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