Be careful,when you enter the ruins ! I wanted to take a picture of the beach through an old arch of one of the prison-ruins. I entered the ruins of that arch, just concentrating upon the floor and when I turned around and started to take the photo I realized, that on top of the old ruin-arch there was a tropical Bee with a thorn of about 1 inch sitting and fixing the net or so. And I had just almost touched the arch with my head some seconds before !
Of course you will not be able to see such insects when it is dark in that arch, but against the light outside you will all of a sudden see it - when it is almost too late !
I was lucky !
Its done here, lots.
Be careful on the roads between towns at night, treat other drivers with extreme caution.
In towns do the same, if you're walking give every car the benefit of the doubt.
Probably hit a bad note here but........
I can only speak for Kourou (cuz I live here), but the Gendarme, whilst officially being against drink driving, won't do a huge amount about it unless there is an accident or you give them reason to stop you, occasionally they set up road blocks, but only occasionally, the thinking behind this is, they would rather deal with an occasional drink drive incident then lots of muggings from people walking.
There are taxis in Kourou, you can get the numbers from any hotel, if you're going to go out then use them, if not, and you're comfortable with it......................not gonna say it cuz its wrong. But
Due to the location of St Laurent, it tends to be the entrance point for a lot of clandestine immigrants, drugs and weapons into the country, the police there really do have their hands full controlling the security situation, be careful at night, muggings and rapes, whilst not common, are far from unkown in the area.
St Laurent probably has the best character of any town in French Guyana, there is a lot of history there, but recently there have been demonstrations by the people who live there against the lack of security in the town. There are a lot of Guyanese there, and without trying to make a sweeping generalisation, a lot of them form gangs that can be violent.
As with all things south american, you have to keep your eyes open for trouble, be on your guard recognise potential problems and try to avoid them, go everywhere in groups of 2 at the very least.
If your heading towards Suriname, try and get a Pirogue driver who has someone with a taxi at the other side, if you get a collective, make sure there are other people in it, on the Surinamese side there aren't too many problems, if there are any, its usually on the road between Albina and Paramaribo at night.
'La Ville Blanche' as it's known is unique and therefore presents its own set of security issues.
Home to CSG (the space centre), which provides 25% of French Guyanas income, Kourou has a lot of money, people working in the space centre have 90% of their mortgages (or all of it) paid for by their respective companies, leaving them with a fair amount to play with, there is various amounts of work going on with the Vega and Soyuz launch sites being built, but for every resident of Kourou that works, there are probably 2 that don't therefore lots of bored youth with nothing to do all day when people are working.
There are peaks in violence here, in 2005 there was a Guyanan gang operating who specialised in holding children to ransom in their parents gardens, this year seems to be crimes aimed against shops and small businesses, most of the time violence or crime isn't aimed against tourists, but for Kourou take a few safety tips on board.
At night, take a car, don't walk anywhere, there is plenty of parking everywhere, and besides, everything is quite spread out so you probably won't want to walk anyway.
Go to places where people are, you can go to 'the village' without problem, just as long as there are people around, the atmosphere in the town (and village) can be great, enjoy it.
Cayenne, as with all capital 'cities' has its fair share of gang and drug related problems, from clandestine immigrants setting up squats there to shootings and murders there are areas you should avoid, especially at night, one area that springs to mind is located right next to the Cayenne fish market, to be honest, you wouldn't be there at night unless you lived there or wanted drugs, or to be mugged.
Cayenne is an interesting place and reasonably safe during the day, as with all towns, especially in south america, don't present yourself as a target, this isn't France so don't treat it like it is, by all means carry a camera with you, just not round your neck, and be aware of your surroundings at all times, don't wander off into deserted areas you're not sure of, if in doubt, take a car.
Due to the geographical location of La Guiane, clandestine immigration is a problem, to the west you have Suriname, formerly Dutch Guyana, a beautiful country but not with a lot of opportunity or money, further to the west you have Guyana, the former British colony that is suffering from lack of employment, racial tension and severe flooding, to the south you have Brazil, not so bad in itself, but in the North of the country (i.e. close to the Guainese border) there isn't a lot of money.
Add into this mix French Guyana, a French Colony that takes the Euro, has money poured into it from Metropolitan France, good roads, good education system, hospitals and ongoing work, the attraction is obvious. Also fairly obvious are Mr Sarkozy's immigration plans, so if people can't do it legally they do it illegally and this is where the problem arises.
Illegal gold mining is a problem here, mostly Brazilians set up camp in the middle of the jungle and pour kilos of mercury into the environment to burn off gold, which they then sell, the French Foreign Legion conduct operation ' Anaconda' to try and stop this but how effective it really is is open for debate. This 'work' then lures Brazilians from the North of Brazil up to try and mine gold, this in turn leads to 'bandits' on the roads between Cayenne and St Georges d'oyapoque, with carjackings being reported, albeit not very regularly.
Really, Oyapoque and St Georges are the entry and exit points for Brazilians illegally entering French Guyana, the threat doesn't exist so much in St George as on the roads outside it.
Avenue de St. Exupery, Kourou, 97310, French Guiana
Good for: Families
Route de Montabo, Chemin Hilaire, Cayenne, 97300, French Guiana
Good for: Solo
Lac Bois Diable, , KOUROU 97310
Good for: Families