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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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Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
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.
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 Waterhouse - Travel Expert
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
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.