After exploring Venezuela in North America, the four of us wanted to explore more of wildlife and forests. Hence we decided to continue our adventure in to the deep rainforest of Suriname, South America’s smallest republic.
Suriname is located on the northeastern coast of South America in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon basin. Suriname is all about wild nature and much of its flora and fauna can be found nowhere else in the world. Suriname gives out a Caribbean, African and European feel. More than 80% of Suriname is pure rainforest and lush savanna. So here we were, ready with our binoculars to dive into the lush, green rainforests to spot exotic birds, unspoiled greenery, wild animals and an array of thrilling events and adventures.
We arrived at Paramaribo, the lively capital and largest city of Suriname, located on banks of the Suriname River in the Paramaribo District. Paramaribo has a population of roughly 250,000 people which is roughly more than half of Suriname’s population. We met our tour operator who received us at the airport and took us to the hotel where we stayed for 2 nights. The unique location of the hotel offered a simply magnificent view of the Surinamese River and mangrove forest. Our spacious rooms were stylishly furnished and were fully loaded with modern amenities.
We started our guided tour of this vibrant city in the morning after breakfast. We visited the Independence Square which is located in front of the Presidential Palace, and is surrounded by historical buildings from the Dutch colonial era. Both these are very popular landmarks of Paramaribo. It was a great location being neat and green. The Presidential Palace is a huge white building with a striking front façade. We spent some time here before heading to this garden called Palmentuin which is behind the Presidential Palace. The beautiful breezy garden was an ideal spot for relaxation. We took a stroll along the palm trees and enjoyed the calmness in the atmosphere.
Next in line was Fort Zeelandia, a fortress built by British colonists. Visit to this historic place and the museum inside gave us a great glimpse at the Dutch history which comes alive here. After snacking a bit in a nearby restaurant, we proceeded towards Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, a majestic wooden historic church. The exceptional wood work was elaborate yet delicate and covered the whole church. We were quite impressed to see this stunning work of architecture.
After spending two eventful days in Paramaribo, our next destination was the Central Suriname Nature Reserve. We took a flight to Palumeu, a peaceful home to the Trio and Wajana Amerindians situated on the banks of the Tapanahoni River. We stayed at a small Jungle Lodge which had simple and neat rooms and a lovely terrace which provided a panoramic view of the River Tapanahoni. After we had settled our luggage in the room, the staff and the guide took us to the beautiful Palawa Island for a picnic lunch and a refreshing swim in the river water. Post lunch, we did a guided tour of the village where we met few families and learnt about the lifestyle of the ancient old inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest. We spent the evening watching the sunset from the terrace and munching some nice home cooked food.
The next morning, we woke up to the sounds of the howler monkeys and chirpy birds. After breakfast, we left the lodge in a canoe to the opening point for a walk to Pot hill. The canoe ride was quite interesting since we saw a lot of birds and animals on our way. The Pot hill was a granite hill which we all climbed to see a magnificent view over the jungle. We saw the jungle at its purest form. The next day, we again headed towards the river in the dug-out canoe through some good rapids to enjoy the early morning dews in the Jungle. We took some bow and arrow sessions from a local trainer during the day and also tried our hands on it. This day was dedicated to swimming, embracing the waterfall, bow and arrow classes and a nice barbecue lunch in the company of flora and fauna. These 3 days gave us a full-fledged and satisfying jungle experience – interesting jungle hikes, visiting local villages, swimming in the rapids, mouthwatering Surinamese food, fishing piranhas in the river, camping, mountaineering and much more. On our last night, the lodge had organized a small entertainment session and a camp fire by the river where we sang and danced to the local music.
After an ultimate jungle experience, we headed back to Paramaribo for an overnight stay in the hotel.
The next morning we flew to Georgetown which is the Garden City of the Caribbean for a full day excursion to the Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls. Kaieteur Falls are the largest single drop falls in the world at 741 feet. Kaieteur Falls are known to be one of the world’s natural wonders. Both these falls are 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. The first glance at Kaieteur and the rainforest was truly breathtaking. Our guide told us about the history of the falls and the wildlife of Kaieteur as we hiked around the falls, exploring the mountain rainforest around and appreciating the view of Kaieteur from different angels, each angle more stunning and magical than the last.
We walked around the falls for about an hour post which we returned to the plane and flew to watch the Orinduik Falls. These are situated at the edge of the Pakaraima Mountains. The Orinduik Falls were also impressive but not as majestic as the Kaieteur Falls. We had a refreshing swim around the Orinduik Falls. The pressure from the falls was equivalent to a good therapeutic massage.
We also did a guided city tour the next day. We visited the St. George’s Cathedral, a 43-meter high Gothic cathedral which is a beautiful landmark in downtown Georgetown along with Georgetown Lighthouse which offers a remarkable view of the city. We also explored the Stabroek Market which is located in downtown Georgetown. This old building is considered as the main shopping point for the city locals as well as the tourists.
Our last destination from Georgetown was to Surama and Annai. Annai is an isolated Amerindian village located in the northern savannahs and some 25 km north of Annai is the Amerindian village of Surama. We stayed at a comfortable lodge which offered authentic Amerindian hospitality. We spent two days engaging ourselves in a number of activities like walking up the hills, horse riding, cycling, hiking,
visiting the local Surama community. We even took the cattle out to the savannah for a day’s grazing. The Iwokrama rain forest which is more than 3000 sq kms and one of the four last pristine tropical forests in the world was a sight to see. The entire forest consists of tall tropical trees with a dense canopy 20 to 30 mts. This forest is known to have the highest species of bats and birds and we witnessed a lot of exotic and colorful birds.
We then flew back to Georgetown and then Paramaribo for our final overnight stay before departing. We spent our last night at the casino winning some and losing some.
This was an amazing adventure trip which brought us closest to Mother Nature as we couldn’t stop admiring her serenity, beauty and innocence.