The Guiana Amazonian Park, situated in the middle of South America, encompasses a vast area of untouched rainforest spanning across Brazil, Suriname, and French Guiana. It acts as a haven for numerous wildlife species and local communities, boasting incredible landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and a rich cultural legacy. Tourists can experience the charm of the Amazon and connect with nature in its purest form. Join us on a captivating voyage through this enthralling park as we delve into its past, ecology, and numerous delights that make it a true natural gem.
The Biggest National Park in French Guiana
The biggest national park in French Guiana aims to safeguard a significant expanse of the Amazonian rainforest. Moreover, it covers 41% of the French department. This makes it the largest park not only in France but also in South America. Additionally, the world’s largest parks are considered to be one of them. However, only planes or pirogues can access the park. Furthermore, the park’s protected area encompasses approximately 20,300 square kilometres. Notably, the central region of the park imposes the most stringent protection by completely prohibiting access.
On February 28, 2007, a decree established the park on the land belonging to the native tribes and the Maroons of Guyana and Suriname. The park’s management held its initial meeting on June 7, 2007. While the traditional villages within the park remain secluded, they were not designed as tourist attractions. These villages are the residences of the native individuals inhabiting the park’s boundaries.
Aeroplanes or boats are the only means of reaching the Guiana Amazonian Park. Since there are no roads connecting it to the rest of French Guiana. The few airports and landing strips nearby offer limited services. To visit any of the villages inside the park, it is important to ask for permission as access is restricted. You need to ask for permission to take photographs within the park. Although the park has a website in both French and English, the French version provides much more detailed information.
The Largest Protected Rainforest Area in the World
The Guiana Amazonian Park is the largest protected rainforest area in the world. It covers 40% of French Guiana, making it the biggest national park in France and the European Union. It safeguards one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet and preserves the traditional lifestyles and activities of the people who reside in the forest and along the rivers. However, accessing the park is challenging.
The park is surrounded by two large rivers, namely the Oyapock and the Maroni. Which respectively form the borders between Brazil and French Guiana, and Suriname and French Guiana. The park encompasses an area of about 33,900 square kilometres, consisting primarily of rainforests in French Guiana. Out of this entire area, about 20,300 square kilometres are subject to stringent protection measures.
The central area strictly prohibits any activity related to extracting gold. This area and the adjacent protected area in Brazil together cover a massive 38,800 square kilometres of territory. Making it one of the world’s largest protected spaces. The national park has been established on land that belonged to multiple communities, namely Camopi, Maripasoula, Papaïchton, Saint-Élie, and Saül.
Inside the Guiana Amazonian Park, more than 1500 trees belong to a total of 5800 different species. This area provides a safe haven for various types of animals. Including 400 species of freshwater fish, 192 species of mammals, 261 species of reptiles and amphibians, 719 species of birds, and countless insect species.
The Apalaï, Tilïo, Wayana, Wayãpi, and Téko tribes, along with the Aluku, Maroni, Creoles, and Metropolitans, live within the boundaries of the park’s secondary area. This area encompasses around 13600 sq. km of surrounding land. You cannot directly access the park from the coast. But you can only access it by plane or boat along the river.
The Guiana Amazonian Park for All in Saül
The biggest protected area of rainforest in the world is France’s Guiana Amazonian Park. It is also the largest national park in the country. This place presents a unique opportunity for tourists to explore. Loïc Massué, who is a national park guide and tourism officer, has recommended the Amazon for All programme in Saül. This programme offers visitors a chance to hike along signposted trails that are 45km long, and five of them are suitable even for those with reduced mobility. You can meet the rainforest’s giants, such as the 60m Kapok tree. The primary objective of this programme is to allow every person a chance to safely explore the Amazon rainforest.
Reach for the Clouds on Mont Galbao at Guiana Amazonian Park
Mont Galbao, a mountain that stands tall at 700m and lies approximately 20km from Saül, impresses with its grandeur. Although the hike to the top may pose challenges, the experience justifies the effort. This stunning location harbours a variety of plants and animals exclusive to this region. Visitors can embrace the fresh air and high altitude, reaching for the heavens. People consider the mountain a water tower due to its height and record-setting humidity levels. Efforts are underway to provide accommodations for those seeking to stay. The lush green forests surrounding Mont Galbao boast unique flora and fauna, including tree-like ferns, palm trees, and peculiar mosses. Delightful birdsongs further enhance the hike, contributing to the enchantment of the journey.
Swim with Otters in Memora Creek at Guiana Amazonian Park
Memora Creek is located within the confines of the Guiana Amazonian Park in French Guiana. It is a thriving and secure water system which is part of the Oyapock River’s tributaries. Large otters, displaying a friendly demeanour, inhabit it while swimming alongside canoe-laden tourists. The creek’s lush and verdant surroundings, immersed in glistening waterfalls, provide a singular and soothing canoe paddling adventure which enraptures visitors in a tunnel of calm natural beauty. Jaguars are also present in the area, but they tend to keep a low profile, unlike the cheerful giant otters who regularly frequent the creek. Furthermore, explorers who seek out the marvels of the Guiana Amazonian Park must add Memora Creek to their travel agenda.
Fresh Air at Gobaya Soula Falls
In South America, the Guiana Amazonian Park is home to the impressive Gobaya Soula Falls, which attract many hikers. Tourists can take a canoe journey through the Amazonian Park and paddle upstream along the Maroni River until they arrive at Maripasoula. The Gobaya Soula Falls are only a brief 20-minute canoe ride and a 40-minute walk away. And the stunning location is perfect for a picnic and swim surrounded by the lush greenery of the forest. Experiencing this popular destination for hikers is an unforgettable memory. Furthermore, visitors have the option of avoiding nights sleeping in a hammock by catching a one-hour flight from Cayenne to Maripasoula.
Awaken the Senses in Papaïchton
The Maroni River’s banks house the village of Papaïchton, situated upstream from Maripasoula, and it is a hidden gem within the Guiana Amazonian Park. This traditional village provides visitors with an opportunity to stimulate their senses while exploring the Sentier de la Source trail. This trail takes adventurers to the remnants of a mountain that was highly respected in the pre-Columbian era. During the journey, tourists can try the wild local fruits such as mombin, which is exceptional for making jams. Moreover, the forest’s ever-changing aromas, the fragrance of its flowers, and lush vegetation (including the stunning turtle vine), will all impress the visitors.
After arriving at the lookout point, tourists will be amazed by the stunning view of the river, which makes the journey worthwhile. Papaïchton is a great place to initiate an exploration of the Guiana Amazonian Park. And visitors can opt to prolong their stay in the village for a more comprehensive encounter.
In conclusion, the French Guiana Amazonian Park was the first project in France to establish an Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) process. Its objective was to govern access to genetic resources found in the park and their utilization. Despite difficulties, the French government established the park in 2007, with the purpose of preserving ecosystems, promoting cultural diversity, enhancing living standards, and aiding development. This necessitated legislative modifications, enabling the park to be accountable for promoting sustainable development in the region and acknowledging forest-dependent communities. Overall, the park serves as an exemplar of sustainable development and protection of biodiversity.