Suriname is a small South American country in the continent’s northeast. It’s a one-of-a-kind fusion of tropical rainforest, rushing rivers, Dutch colonial history, and ethnic cultures worldwide.
Alternatively, you can divide your time between dense and untamed interior rainforests and bustling urban districts, which provide a broad array of shopping opportunities, fantastic restaurants, and unexpected nightlife.
Ancestors of British and Dutch colonial immigrants, African slaves, indentured Indonesian, Indian, Chinese laborers, and indigenous Amerindians lived there. Speaking and eating are both delightful pastimes in a society where so many different languages are spoken. Prepare to be wowed by hot and exquisite flavors wherever you go.
The following are some fascinating Suriname facts.
Paramaribo resembles a combination between the American Wild West and Amsterdam.
It’s the most amazing capital in the Guianas, a bustling metropolis packed with attractions and activities. Here are a few you could do:
- Learn about the inner city of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts grassy squares bordered with black and white Dutch colonial architecture.
- Eat lunch at one of the several Indian roti cafés.
- Buy art from the Maroon artists selling their work outside the ancient Dutch forts.
Nature Reserve of Galibi Coppename
This stunning natural reserve was established in 1969 near the mouth of the Coppename River and is a must-see for tourists to the area.
It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, the home of the critically endangered manatee and hundreds of thousands of turtles during the nesting season (April to August).
The Surinamese Nature Conservation Foundation, STINASU, arranges several tours to and from the area (STINASU).
The organization’s mission is to promote environmental conservation through natural resource management, scientific research, and ecologically responsible tourism.
Your tour guide will almost certainly give you crucial information.
TIP: You are more likely to see the enormous leatherback turtles who come to this location year after year if you visit during their breeding season.
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
This early-twentieth-century Roman Catholic cathedral may be found in Suriname’s capital city of Paramaribo.
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, founded in 1882 and designated as a Minor Basilica of Suriname by Pope Francis in 2014, is located in Suriname’s capital. With 48 feet, the cathedral is considered the Caribbean’s highest wooden construction.
The edifice is a beautiful example of Gothic-Roman architectural architecture, with neo-gothic spires, a big rose window, and massive side windows.
The cathedral is now used as a working holy site and a tourist attraction. It is open seven days a week and can provide guided tours upon request.
To defend against a British invasion in 1640, the French built a timber fortification on the banks of the Suriname River, which the Dutch bought and renamed Fort Amsterdam.
Suriname’s early structures were mostly made of wood, plentiful in the country’s Amazon forest. The fort complex tour includes:
- two-story main fort building
- a 1790s storehouse
- wooden commanders’ quarters
- a guardhouse
The fort will give you a sense of what Suriname was like during the colonial period in the nineteenth century.
TIP: It is best to go during the dry season, which lasts from August to October or February to April.
It is derived from the Dutch word “palmentuin,” which translates literally as “palm garden.”
The park, which sits just behind Suriname’s Presidential Palace, provides a peaceful respite from the city’s bustle.
It is home to over 1000 royal palm trees planted in the 1600s by the first Dutch governor of Suriname.
There is a playground for youngsters, various statues depicting Suriname’s history, and a plethora of chairs from which to take in the scenery.
PERSONAL NOTE: While the garden is a pleasant spot to relax, especially on hot afternoons, avoid staying until late afternoon because it is poorly lit.
Suriname’s Central Nature Reserve
Central Suriname is the country’s largest natural reserve in land area, accounting for more than 12% of the total land area.
Around 40% of the plants and animals found here are only found in the Guianas. Raleighvallen, commonly known as Raleigh Falls, is one of the reserve’s most beautiful features.
A long, low-water staircase descends from the Coppename River’s head.
There will be spider monkeys, Guiana cock-of-the-rock, electric eels, and uncommon birds to see, among other things.
Within its confines, STINASU Park also provides tours and lodging.
Voltzbergisa, a 240-meter granite dome well worth the effort, is a must-see if you prefer hiking. After a two-and-a-half-hour arduous trek, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree perspective of the entire jungle.
The largest Hindu temple in Suriname is located in the capital city of Paramaribo.
For the nearly 30,000 Hindus who live there, it is without a doubt the most important spot in the country.
The two-story octagonal edifice was designed by a Dutch architect and includes conference rooms, a library, and a ceremonial area.
Everything in the temple is designed to mirror different aspects of the sun, and while there are no deities on exhibit, there is plenty of Sanskrit and Hindi symbolism throughout.
The architect aimed to create a fusion of Dutch and medieval Moghul styles found in India, with a dash of Moorish architecture tossed in for good measure.
Brownsberg National Park
Suriname is a naturalist’s dream, with numerous parks dedicated to the country’s ecological diversity.
The highly forested Brownsberg Nature Park attracts thousands of visitors each year. The park is located on a small mountain around 1600 feet above sea level and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding vegetation and Brokopondo Lake.
TIP: You’ll need strong boots with a solid grip to walk its tough rainforest treks. Also, during the dry season, the trails are the safest.
Brownsberg Nature Park is also home to seven rivers and two waterfalls.
The Commewijne River gets its name from the Commewijne highlands in northern Suriname.
River sightseeing can be accomplished by boat, bicycle, or by renting a car and exploring the river banks.
Coffee plantations dating back to Suriname’s colonial era can be seen on both river banks.
While traveling down the river, keep an eye out for many bird species, and don’t miss the open-air museum at Fort Nieuw, which houses exhibits from the slave trade era.
PERSONAL NOTE: While the river’s water level may be higher during the wet season, the best time to visit is during the dry season.
Suriname’s only zoo, the Paramaribo Zoo, should not be missed.
Suriname’s zoo has been in operation for over 40 years and is home to the majority of the country’s animal population, inclusive of:
- Surinamese monkeys, cayman, jaguars, boa constrictor, and anacondas are prominent animals.
- Birds such as the kingfisher and red ibis are also prevalent.
There is also a children’s playground with swings, seesaws, and slides. Because of its size and absence of visitors, the zoo is ideal for a peaceful stroll.
TIP: Plan your excursion during the dry season, preferably before midday, when most animals are awake.
Pepperpot Nature Reserve
Pepperpot Nature Park is located on an 800-hectare parcel in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo.
The park is situated along the banks of the Suriname River in what was previously known as Pepper Pot, a coffee and cocoa plantation.
Bird enthusiasts flock to the park, home to over 400 different bird species. It also acts as a home for adorable monkeys, butterflies, and lizards.
NOTE: To avoid mosquitos when sightseeing, you will need bug repellent.
The trails in the park are well-marked and simple to follow, so you won’t need a guide to enjoying them.
Warappa Kreek is a beach village in the Commewijne District of Suriname.
There are several historical sites to explore, including:
- an operational steam-powered sugar plant
- a steam automobile
The creek is set in a natural mangrove habitat with tunnels, trees, and lush flora. Furthermore, Warappa Kreek provides a spectacular view of North American bird species such as the scarlet ibis.
The Kreek, a private museum with a stunning collection of antiques, will transport you to the colonial age of Suriname.
Jodensavanne, a farming town founded in the 1600s by Jews fleeing Spain and settling in Suriname, has many historical travelers.
Suriname’s earliest synagogue, which still stands today, was built by Jews. Around 216 elaborately adorned tombstones constructed of imported European stone can be seen in other cemeteries.
The synagogue and cemeteries are the principal monumental elements of Jodensavanne.
PERSONAL NOTE: You should visit Suriname during a dry season, as the monuments and much of the rest of the country are prone to flooding during the wet season.
Onafhankelijkheidsplein (no it’s not spelling error)
Onafhankelijkheidsplein, also known as Independence Square, is home to Suriname’s most notable structures, including colonial government buildings and the magnificent presidential palace.
It’s a standard square in many ways, ideal for an afternoon siesta or picnic lunch; you might even come across a signing bird competition. The birds are known as “twatwa” in Suriname, and fans enjoy gathering them for tournaments.
Don’t figure out how the winner is chosen; the mystery is part of the enjoyment.
Butterfly Park in the Neotropics
Suriname’s high forest cover and abundant water supply make it a perfect habitat for butterflies and birds.
Suriname is also one of the top countries for butterfly species due to its temperature and vegetation. The Neotropical Butterfly Park, located just outside Paramaribo, is a lovely nature reserve with dozens of Surinamese butterflies.
The park also has an insect museum with examples of several bug species peculiar to Suriname’s rainforests. An exhibition hall adjacent to the Insects Museum houses a collection of remarkable paintings.
Suriname is apart from many other destinations in that it is both spectacular and delightful. Because of the pleasant weather, you will enjoy its outdoor natural features.
Furthermore, several of the wildlife species found in Suriname are not found anyplace else. Suriname cuisine is unrivaled among food enthusiasts.
Finally, Suriname is sometimes underestimated, yet there is little doubt that the sightseeing opportunities it provides are appealing.