Guianas

Outside Paramaribo

Inland from Paramaribo

An interesting excursion for a half or full day is to take minibus four, or taxi, to
Leonsberg
on the Suriname River (
Stardust Hotel
, with mid-priced restaurant, café, pool, games; restaurant
Rust Pelikan
on waterfront; at
Leonsberg
restaurant try
saoto
soup and other Javanese specialities, overlooking the river), then ferry to
Nieuw-Amsterdam
, the capital of the predominantly Javanese district of Commewijne. There's an open-air
museum
, inside the old fortress that guarded the confluence of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers. There are some interesting plantation mansions left in the Commewijne district (some can be visited on tours and you can stay at the
Hotel Frederiksdorp
, www.frederiksdorp.com, which dates from around 1760 and is a good base for turtle-watching). From Leonsberg or Paramaribo, there are boat trips to the confluence of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers, calling at villages, Nieuw-Amsterdam and plantations. With luck river dolphins can be seen en route. Braamspunt, a peninsula with nice beaches at the mouth of Suriname River, is 10 km from Paramaribo. Take a boat from the Leonsberg scaffold.

South of Paramaribo

You can drive to
Jodensavanne
(Jews' Savannah, established 1639), south of Paramaribo on the opposite bank of the Suriname River, where a cemetery and the foundations of one of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere have been restored. You can also visit the healing well. There is no public transport and taxis won't go because of the bad road. It is still only 1½ hours with a suitable vehicle. There's a bridge across the Suriname River to Jodensavanne.
Blakawatra
is one of the most beautiful spots in Suriname (shame about the amount of rubbish around). This was the scene of much fighting in the civil war. A full day trip to Jodensavanne and Blakawatra, returning to Paramaribo via Moengo, has been recommended if you can arrange the transport. Bus to Blakawatra at 0800, three hours.
Powaka
, about 90 minutes south of the capital, is a primitive village of thatched huts but with electric light and a small church. In the surrounding forest one can pick mangoes and other exotic fruit. 5 km from the International Airport there is a resort called
Colakreek
, so named for the colour of the water, but good for swimming (busy at weekends), lifeguards, water bicycles, children's village, restaurant, bar, tents or huts for overnight stay. The village of
Bersaba
, 40 km from Paramaribo close to the road to the airport, is popular area for the Coropinakreek. Many people go there and the neighbouring village of Republiek at weekends and on holidays.

About 30 km southwest of Paramaribo, via
Lelydorp
, is the Bush Negro village of
Santigron
, on the east bank of the Saramacca River. Minibuses leave Paramaribo at 0530 and 1500, two hours. They return as soon as they drop off passengers in the village, so make sure you will have a bus to return on; there is no accommodation in Santigron. Nearby is the Amerindian village of
Pikin Poika
. The two make a good independent day trip. Tour agencies also visit the area about twice a
month, including canoe rides on the Saramacca River and a Bush Negro dance performance.

By bus or car to
Afobakka
, where there is a large dam on the Suriname River. There is a government guest house (price includes three meals a day) in nearby
Brokopondo
. Victoria is an oil-palm plantation in
the same area.

An hour by car from Brokopondo, are the hills of
Brownsberg National Park
, which overlook the Professor Dr Ir van Blommen- steinmeer reservoir. It features good walking, ample chances to see wildlife and three impressive waterfalls. Stinasu run all-inclusive tours from Paramaribo. Independent visits are possible. Minibuses for Brownsweg leave Saramaccastraat in Paramaribo daily when full, be there 0800-0900, two hours. Trucks converted into buses do the trip for less. Go to Stinasu at least 24 hours in advance and pay for accommodation in their guest houses or to arrange for a vehicle to pick you up in Brownsweg. Take your own food.

Tukunari Island
, in van Blommesteinmeer lake, is about three hours' drive from Paramaribo to Brokopondo then a two-hour canoe ride. The island is near the village of Lebi Doti, where Aucaner Maroons live.

Raleighvallen/Voltzberg Nature Reserve
(78,170 ha) is a rainforest park, southwest of Paramaribo, on the Coppename River. It includes Foengoe Island in the river and Voltzberg peak; climbing the mountain at sunrise is unforgettable. The reserve can be reached by air, or by road (180 km) followed by a 3-4 hour boat ride. This reserve has been joined with Tafelberg and Eilerts de Haan reserves to create the
Central Suriname Nature Reserve
(1.592 million ha - 9.7% of Suriname's total land area). The Reserve is now part of the UNESCO's World Heritage List. New tourist facilities have been opened.

Saramaka villages
and
Awarradam
. There are many Saramaka villages along the Gran and Pikin Rios, both Suriname River tributaries. These are fascinating places, set up in the 17th and 18th centuries by escaped slaves, originally from Ghana, who preserve a ceremonial language, spirituality and traditions. METS have a comfortable lodge on the Gran Rio at Awarradam, in front of a beautiful set of rapids in thick forest, and many other agencies, such as Sun and Forest, organize culturally sensitive tours to the villages. Independent visitors are not welcome. METS also combines tours to Awarradam with visits to
Kasikasima
and
Palumeu
, in the far south of Suriname, are a series of dramatic granite mountains rising out of pristine forest. The highest is Mount Kasikasima, near the Trio and Wajana Amerindian village of Palumeu. METS have a comfortable river lodge here and organize trips up the mountain, as do other operators.

West of Paramaribo

A narrow but paved road leads through the citrus and vegetable growing areas of Wanica and Saramaca, linked by a bridge over the Saramaca River. At Boskamp (90 km from Paramaribo) is the Coppename River. The Coppename bridge crosses to Jenny on the west bank. The Coppename Estuary is the Coppenamemonding Nature Reserve, protecting many shorebird colonies, mangorve and other swamps.

A further 50 km is
Totness
, where there was once a Scottish settlement. It is the largest village in the Coronie district, along the coast between Paramaribo and Nieuw-Nickerie on the Guyanese border. There is a good government guesthouse. The road (bad, liable to flooding) leads through an extensive forest of coconut palms. Bus to Paramaribo at 0600. 40 km further west, 5 km south of the main road is
Wageningen
, a modern little town, the centre of the Suriname rice-growing area. The road from Nickerie has been renewed. One of the largest fully mechanized rice farms in the world is found here. The
Bigi-Pan
area of mangroves is a birdwatchers' paradise; boats may be hired from local fishermen.

Nieuw-Nickerie
  on the south bank of the Nickerie River 5 km from its mouth, opposite Guyana, is the main town and port of the Nickerie district and is distinguished for its rice fields. It's a clean, ordered town with a lot of mosquitoes.

Border with Guyana

Ferry to Moleson Creek (for Springlands)

From South Drain/Canawiama (Suriname, 40 km from Nieuw-Nickerie, road due to be paved) to Moleson/Crabwood Creek (Guyana), it's a 30-minute trip on the regular ferry. Immigration forms are handed out on the boat. The illegal 'Back Track' speedboat departs 10 minutes from town, by a café on the beach. Seek local advice before using this route. Suriname is one hour ahead of Guyana.

Apura
on the Corantijn can be reached by seagoing vessels with three meals, advance booking from Paramaribo advisable, good).
Blanche Marie Falls
, 320 km from Paramaribo on the Apura road, is a popular destination. There is a guesthouse, Dubois.
Washabo
near Apura, which has an airstrip, is an Amerindian village. No public transport runs from Paramaribo to the Apura-Bakhuis area, but frequent charter flights go to the Washabo airstrip. Irregular small boats sail from Apura to Nieuw-Nickerie and to Springlands (Guyana).

East of Paramaribo to Guyane

Eastern Suriname was the area most severely damaged during the civil war. A paved road connects Meerzorg (bridge across the river) with Albina, passing through the districts of Commewijne and Marowijne. There is little population or agriculture left here. Moengo, 160 km up the Cottica River from Paramaribo, was a bauxite mining and loading centre for Suralco. It can be reached by medium draught ships and by cars. The new bauxite mining centre is at Coermotibo, not far from Moengo.

There are two
nature reserves
on the northeast coast of Suriname. Known primarily as a major nesting site for sea turtles (five species including the huge leatherback turtle come ashore to lay their eggs),
Wia-Wia Nature Reserve
(36,000 ha) also has nesting grounds for some magnificent birds. The nesting activity of sea turtles is best observed April-July (July is a good month to visit as you can see adults coming ashore to lay eggs and hatchlings rushing to the sea at high tide).

The
Galibi Nature Reserve
, www.stinasu.com, where there are more turtle-nesting places, is near the mouth of the Marowijne River. There are Carib Indian villages. From Albina it is a three-hour (including 30 minutes on the open sea) boat trip to Galibi.

East of Moengo, the scars of war are most obvious.
Albina
is on the Marowijne River, the frontier with Guyane. Once a thriving, pleasant town and then a bombed-out wreck, it is now showing signs of recovery with shops, a market and restaurants (it's still not very inviting, though).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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