Three questions: which country first pops into your mind when you think of South America? Which South American country exists of 90% jungle? In which South American country is Dutch an official language? Have you answered three times ‘Suriname’? No. Well, no worries. You’re not the only one. I hope my Suriname travel advice will help you understand this beautiful place better.
Before we planned our trip to Suriname, we didn’t know much about this small South American country. Suriname is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. 90% of this country is covered with jungle. Think trees. Lots and lots of epic trees. 50 shades of green. But better.
We spend 4 weeks in Suriname. Our itinerary: Paramaribo – Saramacca – Domburg – Danpaati (Upper Suriname) and Zanderij.
Places Not To Be Missed: Attraction Highlights
Butterfly garden in Lelydorp
Since we arrived early, we didn’t expect to see big crowds. But being the only visitors was rather surprising. Our own private butterfly garden. Great! Admire the entire lifecycle of butterflies. Start your tour in the garden where 20 different butterfly species fly around, including the wonderful Morpho. Next you visit the breeding program with a guide. Lots of fascinating information about the butterfly and the caterpillar.
By driving an (almost) never-ending dirt road, you get to this magical place. Blaka Watra means Black Water. In the middle of the jungle you can swim in this black water. Enjoy this bathing site with small rapids. Go for this natural bubble bath experience.
The village of Atjoni is the gateway to almost every boat travel to the Upper Suriname. Practically every boat is a ‘korjaal’: this is a long and giant traditional dugout. A korjaal trip on the Upper Suriname is spectacular. Not only do you see fishermen boats and tourists boats, you also experience pure nature. Welcome to the Amazon.
Go for nighttime caiman spotting. Our trip was not that successful when it comes to actual seeing caiman, but the korjaal trip itself in the darkest hours was quite impressive. The only light we had was the lightning in the distance momentarily coloring the dark sky white.
Take a guided bush walk and learn the most interesting survival tricks: which plants and fruits you can eat, which wood you use to build a camp, how to send SOS signals by hitting one type of tree with a stick. Not that I ever plan to get lost in the Amazon. But hey: even Bear Grylls had to start at the beginning, right?
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Bihati Sula. In the middle of the river, between some big rocks, you can swim and relax in the massage water. With parbo in hand, watching the sunset, this is as good as it gets.
Where to stay in Suriname?
Saramacca (near Groningen)
We booked a family room at Landgoed Linde’s Lust because on their website we read the following capital letters: NATURE, FREEDOM and PEACE. We thought: ‘Yes, we can.’ The owners, Linde and Waldie, built this incredible old wooden style house. On their property they have 300 lemon trees, 5 dogs, 6 sheep and lots of chicken. Behind the house is a little creek in which you can swim. Fan-tas-tic!
Nature + open house = nature in the house. I shared my toilet visit – without knowing – with a tarantula. But what this spider did not know, is that I’m very keen on privacy. Especially when it comes to toilet visits. I did not enter this place again, until Linde chopped the tarantula in two with her machete.
The cottage ‘little paradise’ is peaceful and laid-back. Erik, the owner, is helpful and happy to answer all of your questions. He gave us the best advice for daytrips and the Upper Suriname. The cottage is not big for 4 people, but you can sit on the porch or relax in the hammock. Big chance that ‘snowy’, the house cat, joins you in the hammock.
This upmarket lodge is situated on a small lushly island on a 3 hour boat trip from Atjoni. Our family wooden cabin had two double beds with mosquito nets and a private balcony (with hammocks) overlooking the river. From time to time we saw monkeys playing in the trees. One time a snake wanted to enter our cabin without permission. Think again, snake. (dooie spin, dooie slang: ga je geen dierenliefhebbers schofferen?)
On the south end of the island there is a swimming pool and even better: a place to swim in the river. But beware of the strong current. Do not leave your kids unattended.
Jungle and camping is not the most common duo. But our daughters convinced me to go for it. And they were right. Sleeping in a tent in the middle of a savannah forest is cool. We had our own private campsite with two little tents on a platform and a lovely natural swimming area in the black-water creek. There are marked walking trails throughout the forest.
Donovan and Iris make you feel welcome in their nature campsite and can arrange lots of things to make your stay even more at ease : cooking a delicious dinner, drive you to the supermarket and bring you to the airport.
Final thoughts from Chloe
I’ve never heard of Suriname before Lore Dewulf introduced us about the place. What a wild and adventurous place to visit. I believe it takes a lot of courage to visit amazing places like this. Travelers often need to step out of their comfort zones in order to get close to the nature. Lore and her families are definitely the courageous ones! If you like her stories and would like to find out more about her, check out her biography. You’ll be amazed how many countries she has been to with her little kids! Yes, she did challenge the convention of traveling with children. 🙂