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“The Best Surprise of the Trip”
Review of Marshes of Caw

Marshes of Caw
Ranked #1 of 23 things to do in Cayenne
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This nature reserve is outside the capital city and is a major attraction for nature lovers in French Guyana. I was there last week.
Level Contributor
103 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“The Best Surprise of the Trip”
Reviewed February 18, 2013

Had no idea about this place and picked it as a 'last resort' when other tours (such as Devils' Island) was unavailable. However, it proved to be the best day of the trip to French Guyana. See thousands of colorful and interesting birds, marshlands and swamps, crocs and snakes.

Visited August 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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204 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Castries, St. Lucia
Level Contributor
51 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Great day trip”
Reviewed February 11, 2013

We went for a day visit to this beautiful reserve, and really enjoyed it a lot!! It is very good organized, friendly guides and driver, very good lunch in a unique place. The most important of all, we saw so much nature, fantastic birds, monkeys, cayman, paraba, turtle, etc. Really good!!! Don't miss it!!

Visited February 2013
2 Thank OurPlanet55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
38 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 176 helpful votes
“Seasonal abundance of wildlife - always a remarkable landscape”
Reviewed April 18, 2010

The Marshes lie 1.5 - 2 hours outside Cayenne on a dirt road that (in spring 2010) is in poor condition but undergoing renovation. It is a nature reserve known for birds as well as four types of caiman: black, grey, red, and spectacled.

I've done some research on this little swampy corner of French Guiana and it seems clear that what you see depends on a) luck; b) weather; and c) season. On my visit in late March, wildlife was definitely not the highlight, with less than a dozen species of birds observed and only one type of caiman spotted. Alas, that's nature for you: you can't just order up a convenientlty-scheduled display.

That being said, this is a beautiful nature reserve worthy of a visit.

Typical tours are aboard small boats/canoes seating 6-12 people, propelled by gasoline outboard motor. They last from 1400hrs to 2200 hrs, giving you late afternoon and night time spotting options. I saw a number of these boats and most don't have shade, several didn't have seat cushions and a few didn't even have backrests. These are semi-traditional "Maroon" canoes. When you book a trip, ask to see pictures of the boat to be sure you are prepared to sit on it for 8+ hours in variable weather conditions. Bring plenty of sun protection and be prepared to get wet.

Also inquire about the english skills of your boat crew. On my boat, no one spoke english, and I was traveling solo, so I was really at a loss.

There are a few craft that offer overnight options too - I spent the night on a mini-barge (The "Morpho" see pictures) that had slide-down cots for sleeping. While it was a bit cramped, and I definitely didn't sleep well, watching the fading light of day from the roof was pretty terrific. The crew's hospitality was very good, with snacks, drinks, decent meals (even for vegetarians), and even wine at dinner - a nice touch of class.

The Amerindian guide on my boat, as previously noted, spoke no english so I was out of luck on his extensive commentary. However it was clear he knew the marshes inside and out. My only concern was the extensive handling of animals pulled out of the water: two baby caiman were passed gleefully amongst boat guests with copious flash photography stunning the poor critter into submission. If you happen to visit, encourage your guide to use respectful and sustainable practices to provide guests up-close observation opportunities.

The other annoyance here - as with other water-based tours in the area - is the use of noisy and smelly gasoline engines. If ever there was a place where electrified boats are called for, its the Marshes of Caw. Just as you start to enjoy the tranquil surroundings, the buzz of yet another two-stroke engine starts droning its way into your consciousness. To their credit, the operators of my boat had a supplemental electric engine on board but it was such a puny little device its utility was severely limited.

16 Thank MRMinSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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