REPUBLIC OF SURINAME
PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION
Capital city: Paramaribo
Currency: Suriname Dollar
Km travelled: 985
Days in Suriname: 30
Languages: Dutch (official language), Creole, Caribbean, Hindustani and many indigenous languages
Suriname is the smallest state in South America, as of population and area. It was primarily known as Dutch Guiana or Netherlands Guyana. Its official name is Republic of Suriname and is situated along the River Suriname. This land is covered by rainforest and for the same reason is abundant in flora and fauna. Suriname has got several attractions. It is one among those few places which are really blessed by nature. It is a wonderful tropical country where natural reserves are found in plenty. Most of the 550000 inhabitants live in and around the capital Paramaribo and the North East Coast. November 1975 Suriname became the country of Suriname and left the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The south of the country is noted for it’s flora and fauna. Suriname is one of the few countries in the world where synagogue is located next to mosque. The two buildings are located next to each other in the centre of Paramaribo and have been known to share a parking facility during their respective religious rites, should they happen to coincide with one another.
Authentic cultures, an enchanting nature and unique people from many different origins and the biodiversity of the Amazon rain Forest, the original customs and habits, mark Suriname with a cultural blend that is one of its own kind in the entire world. Suriname is known for its pristine rainforest, exotic plants and animals, wild rapids, large rivers and stunning mountainous areas in the southern part of the country. Dark creeks run through the savannas where white sandy grounds contrast intensely with green trees while palms and huge forest giants in different sorts and colours decorate the magical panorama. Maroon and Indigenous tribes with well-kept ancient traditions and habits have their settlements mainly in the interior of the country. The coastal area is the most populated part of the country and its capital Paramaribo offers an abundance of night life activities. Suriname is one of the few countries in South America where casinos are legally allowed and most of these casinos are in the centre of the capital. Paramaribo is often called the Wooden City for its colonial architecture of wooden structures and unique designs. Shame so few international tourists visit Suriname. Its unadulterated inland forests and national parks make it an ideal place for a South American adventure. Everything here in the country of Suriname exhibits one or the other unique quality.
the capital of Suriname located on the Suriname river. The historic inner city is placed on the UNESCO world Heritage list. Other highlights are Fort Zeelandia build in 1640 by the French, later renamed by the English and taken over by the Dutch in 1667. After the Surinamese independence in 1975, during the military government of Desi Bouterse it became the location of the December murders in 1982. 15 young prominent Surinamese men who had criticised the military dictatorship were taken to Fort Zeelandia (head quarters of Desi Bouterse at the time). This is where they were shot dead after being tortured. Bouterse claimed on National TV that all detainees where shot dead while trying to flee? Circumstances still have not become clear. Fort Nieuw Amsterdam was built between 1734 and 1747 and is now open to the public. The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul is the largest wood structure in the western hemisphere and it is in the centre of Paramaribo.
THE CENTRAL SURINAME NATURE RESERVE
Right in the middle of Suriname, the Central Suriname Nature Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage) consist of more than 1.6 million hectares of tropical forest. It plant life is above 5000 plant species. The animals that live here are typically oriented to the region and include the giant river otter, giant armadillo, jaguar, many species of primates, sloths, tapir, and about 400 species of bird have also been recorded which includes the endangered ones like the scarlet macaw and harpy eagle.
The savannah is near the Zandery International airport. Also, other places in and around the airport and on the road running south of Zandery, towards Brownsberg are very quiet and can as well be beautiful and full of birds, both during dawn and dusk. Pieces of remaining forest and more savannas can be found along this road. Another great savannah is the Sipaliwini sharing the border with Brazil.
BROWNSBERG NATURE PARK
A safe refuge to a wide variety of wildlife, the Brownsberg Nature Park is located on the 500-meter-high plateau of Mazaroni. The area has plenty of splendid views over the Brokopondo Reservoir too. It serves as a paradise for bird lovers, with more than 200 species.
One of the highlights of a Suriname visit is to travel south on the Suriname River all the way down to the Eilert de Haan Mountains. The river is lined with a few dozen small settlements and in the northern part it has river side lodges catering for tourists. We stayed at Anaula before heading further south. The main feature of the Suriname River is its rich traditional culture. The only inhabitants of the region are the Saamaka, or Saramacca, descendants of escaped slaves who made the river their home several hundred years ago. The ancient African roots of the Saamaka are manifested vividly not only in the physical appearance of the people, but also in their social structure, in the organic wood and palm frond constructions that typify their smoky villages and in a traditional culture steeped in animism and ancestor worship. Meet the locals in small dugouts visiting neighbouring villages or fishing for their evening meal.
The coastal area of Suriname, which is around 40km wide and around 100km wide, found in the western part of the country is extremely flat and contains plenty of marshes. The Bigi Pan area located in the west of the country is famous and many water birds are found in its shallow marshes.
Lying just North of the equator, Suriname has a hot and wet humid tropical climate, with year-round temperatures between 30 and 38 degrees. Night-time temp of around 25 to 27 degrees. Suriname has 2 wet seasons April to August and Nov to Feb. Dry season is Aug to Nov and from Feb to April
PART 2, BLOGS PICTURES AND GALLERY 2017
Suriname is known for its pristine rainforest, exotic plants and animals, wild rapids, large rivers and stunning mountainous areas in the southern part of the country. Dark creeks run through the savannas where white sandy grounds contrast intensely with green trees while palms and huge forest giants in different sorts and colors decorate the magical panorama of the jungle. Approximately 94.7% of Suriname is covered by dense tropical rainforest harboring numerous species of exotic animals and plants while storing vital amounts of carbon and generating fresh air for the entire planet. Suriname is one of the greenest countries on earth with Dutch colonial architecture and a melting-pot culture. The magnificent Amazon rainforest in the southern part of Suriname with its boisterous rivers, imposing waterfalls and an unprecedented flora and wild life, is barely trodden and not yet discovered by mass tourism. Suriname, the smallest country in South America. Population just 560000 most of whom live on the Norh coast and in Paramaribo the capital of Suriname. Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands until 1975. Suriname is a largely unknown country among most people around the world.
BORDER to PARIMARIBO
The GOOD NEWS, the photo camera has been repaired in Paramaribo and we are up and running again, the BAD NEWS is, the Samsung S7 Edge is not.
We have arrived in Suriname; many of my Australian friends had never heard of Suriname.
From Albina, in French Guiana, we followed the East West Road. This road links Albina with Paramaribo to Nieuw Nickerie (border Guyana). Having seen the leatherback turtles in French Guiana we did not visit Galibi, famous also for the leatherback turtle laying their eggs on the beaches between April and July.
Our first stop was Domburg located on the Suriname River around 13 km south of Paramaribo where via IOverlander we found the Domburg Marina. The marina caters for the local Dutch population and the ocean sailors on around the world trips. For us it became 7 days of relaxation and visiting the sites around Paramaribo and the repair of our camera.
Paramaribo is full of surprises, it is small, some buildings might appear to be out of place in this drowsy tropical South American capital, sometimes it looks more like the West Indie islands of Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. This may lie in Suriname’s colonial history. Disappointing is the fact that many very nice buildings are not maintained. Parts of the inner city of Paramaribo became UNESCO World Heritage listed in 2002. These include Fort Zeelandia, a 17th and 18th century cluster of buildings on the Suriname River that was the disembarkation point for arriving colonials. More recently it came in the news due to the “December Killings” on December 7, 8 and 9 in 1982. 15 prominent young Suriname men who had criticized the military dictatorship were arrested on December 7 and taken to Fort Zeelandia where they were tortured and shot dead. The victims were lawyers, journalists, businessmen, soldiers, and university teachers. This has led to an international protest by many western countries & human rights organizations and Holland froze all development aid to Suriname.
While having our base at Domburg Marina we met Rob and Edith, both are spending 50% of the year in Suriname and 50% in Holland. We need to thank them for all the trips they did with us and the suggestions they made. The Suriname River side is not very suitable for recreational swimming. Close to Paramaribo a few resorts have sand spread on the bank in different places along the river, such as White Beach and Overbridge. To protect swimmers from piranha’s nets are drawn.
It was time to leave Domburg and to Explore the southern part of Suriname.
Like French Guiana this is an area of natural beauty. Lots of cultural influences and authentic villages. Over 85% of Suriname is pristine rainforest and home to Amerindians, Marroons, Creoles, Javanese, Chinese, East Indians, Brazilians and Dutch. 5 days floating around on the Suriname river was amazing. The Suriname River is fed by two rivers, the Gran Rio and the Pikin Rio. The Suriname River is home to about 15,000 Saramaccan Marroons. The Marroons are descendants of runaway slaves who fled into the forests of Suriname from the second half of the 17th century. Because of their isolated habitat they have retained much of their original African life style. In Atjoni the bitumen road stops. Most locals and tourists come here to proceed by boat further south to as far as Kajana, about 100km downstream. Along the way there are many villages where you could stay overnight, explore the village and go to the next village the following day (Lodge Hopping). You don’t have to plan your trip before and just go, look around, ask, negotiate. This is the cheapest way to travel. The price depends on where you’re heading and the choice of your boat. We worked out around 80 SRD per hour travelling. For us the only disappointing part was the lack of coloured birdlife like we saw in French Guiana. Three explanations were given to us 1. It is the end of the wet season, not many birds around. 2.Birds are hunted and eaten by the locals. 3. Birds are hunted and sold on international markets. Let’s hope it is the end of the wet season. By the way, I was never interested in bird life but the variety of colours they display as we saw in French Guiana was just incredible. We stopped off at Anaula Nature resort for a few nights, located on the banks of an idyllic island in the Upper Suriname River, near the Ferulassi rapids. We got acquainted with the unique Marroon culture, virgin Amazon rainforest, turbulent rapids, and unique flora and fauna. On the last evening, we enjoyed the cultural show featuring traditional songs and dances of the Saramacca tribe. Our last stop before returning to Paramaribo was Lake Brokopondo, official name Prof. Dr. Ir. W.J. van Blommesteinmeer. This is a reservoir that was created after the construction of the Afobakadam in 1964.
The former hill tops have become islands and nowadays these have lodges and are tourist destinations. With an area of 135 thousand hectares it is among the largest reservoirs in the world. Bare treetops still protrude above the water surface. From our bush camp at the lookout we had a perfect view of the lake. It was time to go back to the Domburg marina for some more R&R, truck cleaning and service, change the tyres and enjoy the swimming pool before heading towards the west of Suriname.
PARIMARIBO TO GUYANA BORDER
After a lot of R & R and meeting heaps of friendly people it was time to leave Paramaribo. (Domburg Marina). It was time to start exploring Western Suriname. First stop Lelydorp and the Butterfly farm. The park was average but the tour was great and we learned that butterflies are being exported all over the world from this farm. We continued via Groningen, Wageningen and we arrived late afternoon in Nikerie. Nickerie lies at the mouth of the Corentyne River that forms the border between Suriname and Guyana. The main source of income in this area is rice cultivation and fishing. Our main reason for being here is the Bigi Pan Nature reserve. The western region of Suriname has three coastal districts between Paramaribo and the border with Guyana: Coronie, Nickerie and Saramacca. It’s a region full of bird life and the Bigi Pan nature reserve is one of the highlights in Suriname for bird lovers and those who loved to be eaten alive by mozzies! This wetland area of 250000 hectares has according to locals 122 types of birds. Many can be seen all year round. The area consists of open water, mud flats and mangroves. The water level is influenced by the ocean tides where salt seawater, as well as fresh inland water, alternately stream in and out. The boat gives no shelter for the merciless sun, and with 35 degrees and high humidity it was hot. Tomorrow our Suriname adventure will come to an end. For us Suriname was a highlight and we are at a loss to understand why so few overlanders visit the 3 former Guyana’s: French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. All 3 are dynamic countries with many cultures from ancient tribes. 85% of the 3 countries is pristine rain forest. Our highlight in Suriname was without a doubt the 6 days we spent on the Suriname river, floating along lush rainforest, many icy cold creeks with cola coloured water and the sula’s to cool down and swim in (small rapids in the river). The people living on the river have a very close bond with nature.
They also are well aware of the use of medicinal plants and herbs to heal many illnesses and other disorders. Their knowledge and implementation of thousands of plants used in traditional medicine are unrivalled. We loved the people and we hope the future of Suriname will improve as the country faces some serious political and economic challenges. Since independence from the Netherlands in 1975 Suriname has endured coups and a civil war. Former military strongman Desi Bouterse dominates politics but things are not improving.
PART 3, VIDEO
- Surinam Part 1, Eastern & Northern Surinam
- Surinam Part 2, Amazon Region and Western Surinam
- Compilation South Amrica Part 1, 2016 to 2019
- Compilation South America Part 2, 2019 to 2020
1. Surinam Part 1, Eastern & Northern Surinam
2. Suriname Part 2, Amazon Region and Western Surinam
3. Compilation South America Part 1, 2016 to 2019
4. Compilation South America Part 2, 2019 to 2020 (Under Construction)