04-Jan-2015 -- This is the last out of 3 reports, describing confluence visits in Suriname and French Guiana. The story continues from 5°N 57°W.
Without exception, all 7 confluence points of French Guiana are not easily accessible. At least 2 km jungle has to be traversed or a longer canoe trip is necessary. I had focused my ambition on this unvisited confluence point located in the north-west of French Guiana with a distance of 2.3 km from the nearest forest track.
Coming from Suriname, we crossed the border on a Saturday afternoon. Both car rental companies had already closed for the weekend. So we walked in on Monday morning at 9 AM to rent a 4WD car. Unfortunately this was not possible, but at least we got a vehicle that we could use to approach the confluence point. At 10 AM we were able to set off from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, located 50 km straight line from the confluence. The drive took much longer as one would expect: 10 km after leaving town, the road became a potholed track. The deeper we got into the jungle, the worse got the road. Half way, we passed a police checkpoint, where we had to state our destination and return time. I said that we intend to visit the Voltaire Falls and that we would be back before nightfall. The Voltaire Falls are a nearby tourist destination (ca. 10 km from the confluence point) that is accepted by the police as a target (probably much better understood than a virtual confluence point). The police warned us about the road conditions in the sense that if it rains we should immediately turn around.
Even without rain, the road became impassable by our small personal car. At a distance of 5.6 km we had an obstacle in front of us that we couldn’t overcome. We parked the car and decided that I would make an attempt while Elionora would wait in the car. We agreed that I would be back within 4 hours – it was 12:50 so I had to be back at 16:50 at the very latest.
Since the road was curvy, I had to run some 7 km in the humid heat until I reached the point to leave the road at 1:35 PM with a remaining distance of 2.3 km. Now the hard part began. Progressing through the jungle was possible and seemed quick, but when I looked at the distance after 30 minutes, I had only advanced 500 m. This is due to climbing over tree trunks, avoidance of thorns, crawling under thickets etc. I still had to hike 1.8 km plus 2.3 km for the return would mean 4 km and with my speed of 1 km/h I would not be back to the road before 5:35 PM which means being back at the car around 6 PM. Since there was no mobile phone connection I was not able to inform Elionora of my late return. Under these circumstances I had to give up at this point. At least Elionora was happy to see me back sooner as expected.
We then tried to visit the Voltaire Falls, but this road turned out to be impassable for us as well – so we returned empty-handed. If we had started at 6 AM with a 4WD it would have been possible to visit the confluence without haste. As a conclusion, the reservation of proper transportation would have been crucial here.
We spent another 5 days in French Guiana, visiting various places such as the European Space Center in Kourou and the Laotian village Cacao. More pictures about our trip can be found here.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to a road: 40 km
- Distance to a track: 2.3 km
- Distance of car parking: 5.6 km
- Time to reach the point of return from the road: 30 minutes
- Time at the point of return: 1:35 PM
- Measured height: 111 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 1.79 km
- Position accuracy: 14 m
- Topography: hilly
- Vegetation: rain forest, various palm and deciduous trees.
- Weather: partly cloudy, 27° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Late Rental Car Confluence