Playing with Snapseed

OCT 8, 2015 – A friend recently recommended me the Snapseed app by Google for editing photos. While there are many other apps that do similar things and that I haven’t tried out, I find this one quite easy to use, and its results are impressive at times. Like Instagram, it contains a bit too many retro-style filters for my taste – but even those can be useful when applied correctly and sparingly. During my extra days in French Guiana, I edited some photos, which I will share below. Some of them had already been posted or sent as postcards.

Parting Ways

CouchSurfing near Roura

Oct 7, 2015 – Last Saturday, the group travelled back to Switzerland and my solo travels officially started. I spent an extra night at the hotel in Cayenne to get organized, and ate at the excellent Restaurant Paris Cayenne, which didn’t have a table for us the night before. On Sunday I really wanted to get out of Cayenne, so I took a taxi to the airport and rented a car there. I had received a CouchSurfing offer near Roura, in the middle of nowhere, so that was my first stop. Once I found the hut, I was warmly received and spent the following night in a comfy hammock. For the remaining two days in French Guiana, I drove to Saint-Georges sur l’Oyapock, visiting Regina on the way. The border town to Brazil is small and has little to offer, but it was interesting to discover the Brazilian town of Oyapoque, just ten minutes away by boat. It felt much more alive, and I did some shopping there for my host as groceries are much cheaper than on the French side. For the night I chose to stay on îlet Sophia, which was cheap, but there was nothing to do on the island and I had trouble getting a boat back to Saint-Georges the next morning. Back at my host’s place, I prepared my first Rösti in several months.

Hut in Saint-Georges
Saint-Georges town hall

Oyapoque (BR)

Hammock surfing
Rösti for four hungry people

Back in Space

Ariane 5 rocket model (to scale) and me (to scale)

OCT 2, 2015 – After a first night in Cayenne, we returned to Kourou to visit the Guyanese space center. The Ariane launcher was not accessible yet, but we got to see the Soyuz launcher and the main control rooms.

The Soyuz launcher
Ariane 5 launcher control room
Jupiter control room

Formerly Deadly

OCT 1, 2015 – We went on a day trip from Kourou to the îles du Salut. These former prison islands, once feared for hard work and deadly diseases, are now full of overgrown ruins, and inhabited by numerous animals (Agouti, monkeys, turtles, chickens, iguanas, lizards and more).

Spectacles of Nature and Technology

SEP 30, 2015 – After a more streamlined immigration to France, we spent a first night in a simple B&B near Kourou. A short jungle hike led to a viewpoint whose main attraction were the numerous large spiders. One of them was fed a half-dead beetle that we found nearby – and nature provided us with a magnificent spectacle. In the afternoon we attended a much bigger, man-made show: The launch of Ariane 5 flight VA226. Images cannot transport the intensity of light and sound during such an event!

Overgrown shipwreck at St-Laurent du Maroni
Part of the former labour camp in St-Laurent

On Wheels and Waves

SEP 28, 2015 – Today we had breakfast at the market and went on a bike trip to an old plantation near Paramaribo. Later we participated in a dolphin watching tour that was an unforgettable experience.

City market

Suriname has lots of beautiful mosques


Different cocoons ready for export

SEP 27, 2015 – We spent most of yesterday waiting in queues and the rest in a minibus. The immigration/emigration processes are very inefficient here. Random inland passport controls are an additional annoyance. Anyway, we’ve arrived in Paramaribo, Suriname, and today we visited a butterfly park which hatches and exports butterfly cocoons. Afterwards we went for a walk through town.

Palm tree park
Bike parking at our hostel

Back to Georgetown

SEP 25, 2015 – In the morning we set out to find some of the tiny yellow frogs that are endemic to Kaieteur. As opposed to poison dart frogs, these are not venomous. We then flew back to Georgetown in small planes.

Over Snakes and Slopes

The Labario snake (Bothrops atrox)

SEP 24, 2015 – On Thursday morning, we left the guesthouse early to hike up to the top of Kaieteur Falls before midday. Even so, the weather was very hot and tropical. Shortly after departure, we encountered a highly venomous Labario snake –  it didn’t attack anybody, but I think we would all have preferred to see it behind glass rather than on the trail in front of us. At the top, we enjoyed a first view of the gorgeous waterfall. We had lunch at Kaieteur guesthouse and spent the afternoon in the area. Some of us were lucky enough to see the “Cock of the Rock”, a beautiful orange bird.

Welcome to the Jungle

SEP 23, 2015 – We spent a day around the guesthouse, walking through the jungle, fishing, swimming, and relaxing. It turns out there is not much wildlife in this area, at least not many larger animals. But we did encounter some beautiful butterflies, bats, spiders, and ants.