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Visit the Iles du Salut
Visit a notorious penal colony spread over a trio of tropical islands, most famous as the setting for the novel and film, 'Papillon'.
Slowly decaying in the corrosive heat and humidity of the jungle, the eerie remnants of a controversial French penal colony guard their brutal secrets beneath the sweltering equatorial sun.
The deceptively named Îles du Salut ('Isles of Salvation') were the dumping ground for France's criminal class between the mid 19th and 20th centuries, during which time they gained a reputation as one of the most hellish and inhuman prison facilities in existence. Effectively banished to the ends of the Earth and surrounded on all sides by hopelessly treacherous, shark-infested waters, many of the unfortunate captives fell victim to tropical disease or met violent deaths at the hands of wardens or other prisoners.
The most notorious of all the islands was the Île du Diable, or Devil's Island, where political prisoners including Alfred Dreyfus were held captive. Its rocky boundary and rough waters make it so naturally impregnable that even now it is completely inaccessible to visitors.
However, it is possible to take a tour of the other two isles, where you can wander amongst abandoned prison buildings clawed back by the jungle, visit the cemetery, guardhouse and museum, and stare out across the cruel sea to the unreachable island beyond.
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Real Latin America Experts
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Evie Oswald - Travel Expert
It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.
Sophie Barber - Travel Expert
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.