Kourou, the Space Center of French Guiana

Devil's Island French Guiana

About Kourou:


Kourou, the Space Center of French Guiana:

Until France decided to build its space station on the coast of French Guaina, thanks to favorable location for space launches, Kourou was isolated, known only for its association with the infamous penal system on the Isles de Salut, or Devil's Island.

Then in the mid-1960's began the transformation from sleepy coastal town decaying in the heat and humidity of jungle, swamp and savannah to a site capable of hosting and maintaining the complex technology required for space launces.


The influx of technology, construction, engineering know-how and the professionals to construct, equip and man a space station changed the French Guianese coast forever. There was no road connecting Kourou with the capital of Cayenne, about 65 km southwest along the coast. One was built, and now Route Nationale 1 runs along the coast from St. Laurent on the Maroni river on the Suriname border, through Kourou and Cayenne, Highway 2 continues past Regina to Oiapoque on the border with Brazil.

Kourou was little more than rusting shacks and a port. It needed considerable modernizing and an infrastructure to create living conditions to house the imported staff and workers.

Today, Kourou has grown tremendously. Modern residential districts, shopping areas, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels service the more sophisticated residents from Europe and other locations and the traveler who comes to enjoy a resort where once prisoners suffered a harsh penal system.


Getting There:


Select flights from your area to Cayenne. You can also browse for hotels and car rentals. Kourou is an hour away by road.

There is a dry season between July and December; a rainy season between April and June; a mixed season of sun and rain in January and February and an "autumn" in March. The average temperature is 28C. Check today's weather and five day forecast. .


Centre Spatial Guyanais:


The Centre Spatial Guyanais, or CSG, is west of Kourou which is located only 500 km north of the equator, at a latitude of 5 degrees. At this latitude, the Earth's rotation gives an additional velocity of almost 500 m/s. In addition, maneuvering the satellites to the desired orbit is usually simpler when the launch is made close to the equator. The European Space Agency as well as the commercial Arianespace company launch their satellites from Kourou.


Practical Data:


  • Be prepared for heat and humidity. Protect your film and camera.
  • Use plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant. Mosquitos!
  • The hotels and restaurants in Kourou are used to international travelers. The Mercure Ariatel Kourou is a favored choice.
  • Euros are the currency used in French Guiana.


What to Do and See in Kourou:


Most of the activities revolve around nature.

  • Fishing, either river or deep sea. Either bring your own gear or contact a local about gear and locations. Palika is one of the deep sea offering sport fishing for tarpon and other fish.
  • Jungle hikes. Again, ask a local
  • Sail to and around the offshore islands
  • Horse back rides
  • Surf
  • Explore the Korou river and the Sinnamary river by pirogue, a hollowed out log canoe Also:
  • Tour the Musée de l'espace, the space museum
  • Visit some of the picturesque villages in the area, such as Organabo
  • Take the ferry for a day tour of Devil's Island Enjoy your trip to Kourou. Bon voyage!
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