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Can I drive from French Guyana to Costa Rica?

Co-founder Chris Parrott gives advice on a self-drive holiday from French Guyana to Costa Rica.

Ask our Experts

I'm planning a journey and thinking of driving from French Guyana to Costa Rica – is it possible to do this by car? What are the roads like and is there a good time to go? Do you offer any planned trips in this area?

Asked by Amy

Firstly, from December through to February is a mini-wet season along the coasts of French Guyana, Suriname and Guyana. This won’t affect your driving, since all the roads are paved on this section, but it might affect your enjoyment. The roads in this area vary, so I have included a summary below.

Cayenne to St Laurent boasts an excellent paved road all the way and petrol is available in Kourou, Sinnemary, Iracoubo and St Laurent. It’s important to bear in mind that the ferry to Albina does not operate on Sundays and a useful tip is that at Albina people will be happy to exchange Euros for SRDollars (SRD).

Albina to Paramaribo has a good road that’s currently being improved. You’ll find petrol stations in Albina and Paramaribo, but none between, that I can remember.

There’s a good road from Paramaribo to Nieuw Nickerie that’s currently being improved. The ferry from South Drain to Moleson Creek goes twice daily I think. Money changers here deal in USDollars (USD), SRD and Guyana dollars (GYD). I’m not sure about Euros.

From Moleson Creek to Georgetown there’s a good road, all the way, no ferries. Petrol should be easy to find as there’s plenty of settlements along the way.

There’s no road from Guyana to Venezuela. There’s a paved road south to Linden, then a bridge over river, followed by laterite (dirt road) 500km south to Lethem. This is often impassable from June to August, but it should be OK otherwise. Your last chance to get petrol is at "58" which is two to three hours’ drive south of Linden. Your next opportunity is in Lethem, unless you manage to persuade a small settlement (there are very few) to sell you some privately.

There’s also an intermittent flat ferry at Kurupukari, and south of here through Iwokrama forest, the road is closed 4pm-4am. The road is open at normal times again after Surama junction. Keep in mind that there are very few places to stay (58; Mabura; Kurupukari, Surama, Oasis at Annai).

It’s worth noting that there are very few money changers at this border, but you may find that the companies or drivers who operate minibus services (mostly Brazilians) either in Georgetown or in Lethem will exchange USD or GYD for Reais. The roads from Lethem to Bonfim and Boa Vista are excellent. There’s a bridge at the frontier, but little settlement. The bridge runs over Rio Branco.

There’s an excellent road from Boa Vista to Vilha Pacaraima (frontier with Venezuela), with few settlements and access to petrol (it’s much cheaper in Venezuela, and even cheaper once you get south of Santa Elena, but fewer petrol stations). Again there are few money changers at the border between Guyana and Venezuela; you’ll have more luck in Santa Elena, with Reais, USD or possibly Euros.

The road between Santa Elena and Caracas is good and you can find petrol at settlements. There are many police checks until you reach the Orinoco. I haven’t visited west of here for 15 years however I know that there’s a good road into Colombia, but no roads through the Darien gap are suitable for VW vans. You’ll have to ship the van from Colombia to Panama. Thereafter there are good roads all the way to Costa Rica.

In regards to your third question, we do offer the Coq of the Rock Journey, a group tour that takes in magnificent sites like the Angel Falls, includes bird watching in Guyana forest, an insight into community life in a Guyanese village, a 30m high canopy walk and plenty more along the way. For more information on this trip why not read The Telegraph journalist Chris Moss’s article, he embarked on this tour in 2010.

Chris Parrott

Answered by Chris Parrott

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