Brazil-French Guiana border crossing

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by mamboman, May 3, 2019.

  1. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Has anyone done this border crossing lately? When I entered Brazil from Uruguay at Jaguarao, the Federal Police said I did not need a Temporary Import Permit as the bike was considered a "personal possession." This flies in the face of what I experienced on a previous visit from Bolivia, where I was issued with a TIP. Now I have heard from another reader the border post up there in the far north is quite strict. Just wondering what will happen if I turn up there with no TIP.
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  2. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Interesting. I entered there, and I definitely needed a TIP, which they definitely provided. However, this was ~9 years ago, so who knows? When I exited Brazil to French Guiana I went through the process to close out my TIP, but it did seem as if I could have just left without bothering (as people routinely do into Ciudad del Este). That was before the bridge opened, and the aduana was fairly distant from the ferry dock, so maybe it's different now. I do not remember the French paying any attention to whether I'd done everything legal in Brazil.

    It's you who's at risk, not me, so take with a grain of salt: the northern border from Atlantic coast at least as far as Venezuela is rife with corruption of various sorts. I assume that anything is possible, since there is all sorts of smuggling going on in plain sight. "Strict" sometimes means they look through your paperwork carefully for reasons to extract bribes.

    I don't know if that's useful or not. I remember a couple of police checks at random spots along highways within Brazil, so I'd want to sort things out sooner rather than later. Sounds like you need some local contacts to check things out surreptitiously.

    Good luck!

    Mark
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  3. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Thanks Mark! I have been in contact with another rider, who rode there recently, and said they did not ask to see it on the Brazilian side.
    I have one other question, maybe you can answer, I have insurance from ATM in Argentina, valid for Brazil but its not valid for the Guyanas and Suriname. Is there a place you can buy it beforehand or on the French side? Seems a lot of companies I email dont cover that part of the world, if they bother to reply at all!
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  4. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Suriname insurance can be bought in the last town before you get to the ferry from French Guiana. You didn't ask, but Guyana insurance can be purchased in the first town past the border--they made me get a Guyana license as well, which was slow and frustrating, but worked out. French Guiana insurance has been a real problem--when I was there it was merely expensive, but later it became totally unavailable. Don't know what it's like now. People have reported not being asked for proof of insurance until they tried to board the ferry to Suriname, at which point it was suddenly essential.

    Best idea I've seen is to purchase European green card insurance which covers France. Even though it'll exclude French overseas territories like French Guiana, it seems to work--I met up with some French nationals traveling by RV, and their home insurance was accepted. Green card is available from at least one or two people who post frequently on Horizonsunlimited.com, and for all I know they may post here, too. Check the European forum.

    Aside: most insurance is national, not international. You shouldn't expect a Brazilian or Argentinian company to cover the Guianas. The Mercosur insurance you had in the southern part of the continent is an exception, not the rule. And personally, I don't find Latin American companies very attentive to email--if I want something badly, I use the phone.

    Caveat: My experience is old, and might no longer apply. Plus: it might not have applied even when fresh.

    Hope that's helpful.

    Mark
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  5. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Thanks Mark. BTW, can you recommend a biker-friendly hostel or pousada in Belem and Macapa?
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  6. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    I don't track that kind of information. Macapá is small, with only a couple of possibilities. Belém is big, with limitless possibilities. Neither of the places I stayed were in any way remarkable, and I can't remember names or locations anyway. Just go.

    Edit to add: But whatever you do, maybe post some more information for the benefit of others.
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  7. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Ok, here is some info for the benefit of others. I ended up just using google maps hotel search and came up with Hotel Unidos. ( Rua Ó de Almeida, 545) and arrived today around 11am. Very central, has an underground garage, air con, free breakfast, hot showers and wifi that actually works! I am paying 85 Reis a night, somewhat more than I usually pay, but its location and security and cleanliness warrant it, and in any case its a bit less than their advertised price.
    Regarding insurance, I found this company: Mototouring. Their website says they cover France, and doesnt say they exclude French Guiana, so I emailed them asking if they cover FG, but they havent replied. Bit pricey but very convenient.
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  8. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Further info: got the Beatriz VIII ferry from Belem to Macapa, took 29 hours, cost 170 reis for me, 200 for the bike. I bought it directly from their ticket booth at Belem's main river port terminal, I figured best way to avoid conmen and high commissions. Breakfast was included free, but lunch was not. I dont know about dinner because I missed the announcement because I dont understand much Portuguese! They have plenty of showers and also unlimited free chilled filtered drinking water. Be prepared for lots of noise, both partying Brazilians at the bar and diesel engine noise, and incredibly cramped hammock space. At the other end I had to pay another 15 reis to leave port, (only a couple of dollars, it was signposted at the exit gate). In Macapa, which is about 16 kms north of the port of Santana where the ferry leaves you, I am staying at a place called Hotel Orla, (06 A, Av. Pedro Lazarino - Santa Ines, Macapá) on the riverfront, 90 reis with wifi, decent hot water, great unlimited buffet breakfast and lock up garage, 90 reis per night

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  9. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    xx.jpg
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  10. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Made it to Oiapoque, in the rain. The mud wasnt that bad, only in few spots was it deep, more of a problem were the pot-holes. But Ive ridden much worse roads in Bolivia. Staying at Pousada JK, 60 reis with lock up garage, AC, breakfast, private bath. xx2.png
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  11. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    I made this 3 minute video of the last leg, Calcoene to Oiapoque
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  12. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Ok, I am now in St Georges, in French Guiana. All went smoothly exiting the Brazil side. There are two Brazilian immigration offices, one in Oiapoque town (Policia Federal), and another at the bridge. The one at the bridge waved me through when I showed him I had already been stamped in the town. They asked to see my insurance at the French side, and also title / ownership papers for my bike (but did not ask to see my Yellow Fever certificate). A printout of the policy emailed me from Mototuring satisfied the authorities. Luckily I was dealing with a Gendarme who spoke English. No T.I.P. asked for or given at either check point. All ok, but there are only two hotels in this little town, the cheapest is Hotel Caz Cale, is 60 Euros a night, and breakfast and garage parking add another 8 and 10 Euros each. But it is spacious, clean, has wifi and aircon, so not too bad.
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  13. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the posts (and photos)! It’s great to have some up-to-date information on this route. Sounds much easier, so far, than a decade ago.

    Don’t expect the capital to be any cheaper than St. George’s. Further west the prices seemed to moderate a bit, continuing to drop thru Suriname and Guyana.

    Mark
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  14. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

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    I am returning to Belem in Dec to thank the people that helped me put me and my Verde Amiga KLR 650 back together a few years ago.
    Whats your route? Where ya heading to?
    ATTA BOY!!!!!!!!
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  15. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Whats your route? Where ya heading to?
    I was planning on an anticlockwise ride: Brazil-French Guiana-Suriname-Guyana-Brazil-Peru, but talking to Ural Guy and a few others the ferry service to Guyana has been out of action for a few months now and they are impounding bikes that tried to cross by small boats. So, I am going to wait and see. Hopefully the ferry will start up again by the time I get there, but if not, I will have to backtrack.. or even end the trip in Suriname. Bit sad, as I have spent 8 years meandering 75,000kms around South America and Guyana is the only country I haven't visited...

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  16. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    Thanks for the update, I regret not being able to ride the Guyanas and Suriname but I was bleeding money when I was riding north in Brazil and decided to re-route south through Paraguay and back to Bolivia where travel was easier on the wallet.
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  17. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Crossed into Suriname today (23rd Sept 2019). A couple of points worth noting:
    1. True to reports posted here by others, the French authorities wanted to see my insurance for French Guiana at the departure window at the port. Luckily mine was still valid. I don't know what they would have done if it was found to be expired, seeing as I was already stamped out of the country at that point.
    2. The ticket for me and the bike combined was 16 Euros. Only one other passenger at that time, about 7.30am, a driver and his box truck.
    3. The Aduana man gave me a 30 day Temporary Import Permit, the same as my entry stamp. I can extend another 30 days in Paramaribo, he said. before issuing the TIP, he asked to see my insurance for Suriname, ownership title, and international driver's licence. I bought my insurance for Suriname in French Guiana, it cost 40 Euros for a month. But they also sell it in Albina in a shop adjacent to the port, for about a third of the price.
    4. Both the French Guianese and Suranamise officials all spoke English.
    5. The Suriname customs guy said his information was that the ferry from Suriname to Guyana would be back in action by the end of September. But, he added dryly, they said, last month, it would be back in action by the first week of this month, so take with a grain of salt.
    6. The Gabrielle ferry service between Saint Laurent and Albina - the one I just used today - is closing for scheduled maintenance from the 26 sept 19 to 29 Oct 19. However, unlike the British Guyana side, the Aduana office will remain open for business on both sides of the river, so you can bring your bike across on a smaller launch.
    7. The 140km road from Albina to Paramaribo is in very good condition. Remember to stick to the left hand side though! I got a bit confused at the first intersection left-hand turn. But after that, it became natural. Interestingly there is a village along that route where a small church faces a mosque.
    8. I am lodging at a place called Guesthouse TwenTy4. Quite close to the center, clean and tidy, seems to have been recently renovated. 15 euros buys me my own room with shared bathroom, free wifi, free parking for the bike around the back.
    9. People seem very friendly here and English is widely spoken. This lady asked for a selfie at a gas station about 90kms from the capital

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  18. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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  19. mamboman

    mamboman Adventurer

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    Ok one more update, now that I am in Guyana. The replacement ferry service, called the MB Sandaka from Nieuw Nickerie to Guyana is up and running, its schedule is once daily at midday. The old ferry is at the same dock, looking very rusty, on the Suriname side, being worked on, but to my eyes looks like it might be a long time before its finished. The Sandaka arrives from the Guyana side, so there could be minor delays if its departure is delayed, note there is a 1 hour time difference between the two countries. I arrived at 10 am on Saturday, but I was told it was too late to clear all the customs and immigration checks. Everyone speaks English. They also said I had to have insurance for Guyana before leaving Suriname. They told me a place in Nieuw Nickerie where I could buy it, and I rushed back the 45 kms or so to get it before it closed on Saturday afternoon. (note you can also buy Guyana money in Nieuw Nickerie at a place called Surora Exchange near the casino (but not possible in Paramaribo in the exchange houses I tried), you get a slightly lower rate on a Saturday, but its still higher than what the money-changers at the ferry dock offered me). Insurance only cost US$14 for a month, from a company called Parsasco, Waterloostraat 15b ( here is is on google maps).
    In Nieuw Nickerie I stayed at a place called Hotel Luxor, 150 Suriname Dollars a night, parking on the street, but they have a night watchman, it is near the centre of town, situated between an Indonesian restaurant and multi-faith funeral home (here it is on google maps).
    On Sunday I was back there a lot earlier and everything went smoothly, more or less, on the half-hour ferry ride, till I got to Guyana. They gave me 30 days, Australians dont need visas. They gave my bike and documents a thorough examination, checking chassis number etc. Probably because they have never seen a Peruvian plated Chinese bike before, and its title paper on a green plastic card in Spanish, they wanted everything to be in order. They ask for International and national Drivers Licence and yellow fever certificate, and of course insurance. There was a problem when their computer could not generate a T.I.P. because the mark of my Chinese bike, Ronco Demolition, was not in their list of manufacturers, but after an hour or more of tweaking the computer, I got the T.I.P.. They only gave me 14 days however on the T.I.P. however, I didnt notice till later on. Probably I can get it extended. Then, you have to present your drivers licence again at the adjacent Police Station where an officer notes your particulars by hand in a log book and you are set to go.
    I rode to New Amsterdam and stayed at a hotel called Church View Hotel (opposite a mosque!) Cheap hotels are hard to find, youre looking at around US$40-50 a night for something basic with no breakfast. I tried to book a cheap place in Georgetown online but my credit card was refused. I had been forewarned that credit cards, as opposed to debit cards, are not widely accepted and ATMS dont like them either, I found my card only worked sporadically in Suriname, and if you are lucky enough to find a machine that pays out anything, the maximum daily withdrawal amount was pitifully small. I met many frustrated European tourists outside these ATMs. Debit cards however are more readily accepted, but its always a good idea to stock up on cash in French Guiana or Brazil before coming to these countries. But Air BnB website refusing me, I can only guess its because my bank blocked its use in Guyana altogether. Today I will see if I can withdraw here in Georgetown, if not I will have to delve into my cache of emergency funds. The road from the ferry dock to New Amsterdam to Georgetown is an almost uninterrupted line of houses, shops, schools and temples, each hamlet having its own name and number. Some of the names are quite amusing (see pic below). There are many police check points, so far they have been quick and easy going affairs, they just want to chat about my bike and how long I have been on the road etc. Speaking in English removes so much confusion and suspicion.
    Here is the GPX track and map of the ride from Nieuw Nickerie to New Amsterdam including the ferry ride: https://gpsloglabs.com/share/b5a819eab387826c4c6607409f3ccc80d6b4c47a/

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  20. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

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    [nhttps://gpsloglabs.com/share/b5a819eab387826c4c6607409f3ccc80d6b4c47a/[/QUOTE]

    Very nice!!!! I am still on schedule for my return to Belem on Dec 5th, sans Moto, great thread,,, curious?
    what are your plans after Georgetown? I was going to ride up, but couldn't find anyone to ship my moto?
    Hopefully in my lifetime I will be able to ride through Venezuela.
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