Suriname, formerly the colony of Netherlands Guiana or Dutch Guiana, is a country in Northern South America. It has a North Atlantic Ocean coastline in the north and is surrounded by French Guiana to the east, Brazil to the south and Guyana to the west. It is the smallest independent country on the South American continent. The relatively small population lives mostly along the coast.
Tropical; moderated by trade winds; yearly rain average 2200 mm. There are 2 dry seasons (February to March, August to November) and 2 rainy seasons (December to January, April to August). November is the generally the hottest month.
Mostly rolling hills, rising towards maximum of around 1000 meters in the south; narrow coastal plain with mangrove swamps. Mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that is in excellent condition, though is increasingly threatened by new development.
Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically-elected government returned to power in 1991.
Suriname's 10 administrative districts can be grouped into three regions:
If you want to visit Suriname and you are not a citizen of one of the following countries, you have to ensure that your visa papers are in order. If you want to apply for a visa please contact one of the Suriname Consulates listed in Contact.
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Suriname:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Colombia (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Cuba (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Dominica, Philippines, Gambia, Guyana, Grenada, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), South Korea.
Note that in most cases you will receive a single-entrance visa. So you only will be able to enter Suriname one time with that visa. In most cases this is no issue, but it can become an issue if you want to combine your trip to Suriname with a visit to for instance Guyana or French-Guiana. As of december 2010 single entry was 45USD and multiple entry 50USD in Georgetown for EU citizens.
When you arrive in Suriname it is important that you inform the authorities where you are staying. Therefore you must go to the foreigners registration office in the 'Nieuwe Haven' within a week after your arrival. The customs-official will remind you of this.
From Amsterdam you can get the daily KLM flight. Surinam Airways also offers flights from Amsterdam and various caribbean destinations.
From the United States, airline service is available via Surinam Airways and Caribbean Airlines , with a stopover in Trinidad.
You will arrive at The Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, which was formerly called Zanderij International Airport. It is located 45 Kilometres south of Paramaribo. From there you can take the taxi or bus into town. A taxi (if private one) will cost around 80SRD. However, prices will vary between drivers. Make sure to arrange and set a price with the driver before going anywhere. There are weekly flights to Trinidad, Belem (Brazil), Cayenne (French Guiana) and Aruba.
There are no trains in Suriname.
Guyana has road access to Suriname. In Guyana, Georgetown inquire in for mini-buses traveling to Suriname. Note that entering Suriname, Nieuw Nickerie by water travel from in Guyana is illegal. Buses leave Georgetown for the Surinamese border daily. Ask for Berbice car park. In the west(Guyana-Suriname border) there's a regular river ferry between Guyana and Suriname.
There's a possibility of traveling from French Guiana by car (there a small car ferry between Suriname and Guyana). In the east there are small boats and small ferry between Albina (Suriname) and St. Laurent (French Guiana) The price is usually around SRD 10,- or €5,- p.p.
For around SRD 30,- or €10,- you can take the bus from Albina (border French Guyana) to Paramaribo.
In the east there are small boats and small ferry between Albina (Suriname) and St. Laurent (French Guiana) The price is usually around SRD 10,- or €5,- p.p.
In the west there's a regular river ferry between Guyana and Suriname. The ferry from Guyana is $10 US and runs only once a day at 11 AM. The ferry departs the Suriname side for Guyana also at 11 AM (Suriname is 1 hr ahead of Guyana). As of december 2010 there's an additional ferry at 13/14. Check for details.
Since not many tourists visit Suriname yet and the innerland is not within easy reach, the expenses of travel are higher than you might expect. Tourist attractions can be more expensive than in Europe or the United States. It is expected that this will change in the near future since there is an annual increase visible in foreign tourists, creating the necessity of working on better roads as well as other ways of cheaper transportation. The best way to go around in Suriname is by boat or car. There are not that many roads going into the country. At every riverbank you can charter boats at reasonable prices. You can't go alone. It is wise to always travel with a tourguide. The second way of transport is by air. There are mainly two local airlines providing connections with the innerland. Bluewing Airlines and Gumair. It is also an option to rent a car, although some rental companies don't allow you to go into the forrest with their cars. Always rent a four-wheel drive. Suriname traffic drives at the left side of the road.
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve (CSNR) protects some of the most remote, ancient, and pristine wilderness on Earth. It comprises more than 1.6 million hectares of primary tropical forest. The Reserve forms a corridor linking the three most important protected areas in central Suriname: the Raleighvallen Nature reserve in the north, and the Tafelberg and Eilerts de Hann Gebergte Nature Reserves in the central and southern portion of the corridor. The area —an area the size of New Jersey— protects the watershed of one of Suriname's most important river systems, the Coppename River, where there are countless varieties of flora and fauna, many of them endemic. The Raleighvallen Nature Reserve is one of the most important protected areas in South America. Vegetation there consists mostly of moist highland forest, the same forest that covers approximately 80 percent of Suriname. The Tafelberg Nature Reserve is in a remote area that includes the geographic center of suriname. This area is made up of primary rainforest and savanna ecosystems. The Eilerts de Hann Gebergte Nature Reserve has no human populations living within or around its boundaries. This reserve includes parts of the Eilerts de Hann Gebergte mountain range and is made up of primary tropical rain forest and savanna ecosystems. Since there has been very little exploration in this Reserve, very little is known about is flora and fauna. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is an important precendent in protecting large blocks of undisturbed tropical wilderness. But it is only a first step. The challenge for Conservation International and its funding partners is to continue these efforts to protect the ecological viability of the world's last remaining tropical wilderness areas. Conservation International has been active in Suriname since 1991, using an integrated approach that draws on both the knowledge and expertise of highly trained Surinamese conservationists as well as CI's on-the-ground experience in twenty-two other countries of the world.
Rather than sell the country's forests to the highest-bidding timber companies, the Surinamese government made a commitment in 1998 to protect the forests and explore the long-term economic benefits of sustainable development and ecotourism. Conservation International (CI) joined Suriname to help design, fund, and promote this effort to carefully blend biodiversity conservation and economic opportunity.
Seven years later, the uniquely constructed tourist facilities on Foengoe Island—tucked neatly within the CSNR—are poised to become a premier destination for ecotourism in the Guayana Shield, the massive, two billion-year-old geological formation that underlies five countries in northeastern South America.
This nature reserve has an area of 78,170 ha and is situated along the Coppename River. It can be reached by airplane (less than an hour) or by car (120 mi) to be followed by a 3-4 hour boat ride. The reserve headquarters and the tourist lodges are located on Fungo Island in the middle of the Coppename River.
Raleighvallen (Raleigh Falls) is the name for the extensive set of rapids near Fungo Island in the upper Coppename River.
The reserve is internationally known as a bird and monkey paradise. You'll see toucans, macaws and parrots and 400 other species. Hanging from the tree branches on and around Fungo Island you'll notice the pendulum-shaped nests of the weaver birds (oropendulas) which are large, colonial nesting birds with yellow outer feathers. These nests can be close to a meter long.
Another interesting feature is the Voltzberg. This granite sugarloaf mountain can be reached on foot in about three hours by jungle trail from Foengoe Island. The Voltzberg rises about 150 m (375 ft) above the forest canopy. The night can be spent in a hammock in a sinple jungle camp at the base of the mountain. During the night you will be surrounded by the sounds of monkeys, tree frogs, and other creatures from the tropical rainforest.
The reserve is also the home of the spectacular and rare cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola).
There is the possibility, as well, of encountering deer, tortoises, tinamous, and several species of monkey on the 7 km (one-way) hike to the mountain. The trail is good but the damp climate of the rainforest, and the steep climb up the Volzberg, make it a heavy trip, especially for the out-of-shape hiker.
This park is situated 130 km (90 mi) south of Paramaribo, and can easily be reached by car. The park headquarters and tourist bungalow/lodges are situated on the cool, 500 m (1500 ft) high Mazaroni Plateau. At several places on the plateau there is a beautiful view over the Brokopondo Reservoir. And trails lead to creeks, waterfalls and lookouts, giving spectacular panoramic views of the interior. Except for the park staff, there is no permanent habitation in the park itself. The Brownsberg is known for its rich flora and fauna. The Brownsberg is also a paradise for birdwatchers. Of the 650 birds known for Suriname, more than 200 can be found here. Some of the birds are rarely seen because they live in the forest canopy, although their songs and whistling are heard regularly. Irenevallen is a waterfall of about 10 m high in the Brownskreek. It is about an hour's walk from park headquarters. After a heavy rain it is wonderful to stand under this natural shower. Witikreek is a secluded rushing stream at the foot of the Brownsberg. You can walk to it in about a two-hour downhill hike. Once there you can swim, nap in a hammock, and have a picnic.
Galibi Nature Reserve is world famous as a nesting site for endangered sea turtles. Four species come ashore to lay their eggs between February and August. The nearby Amerindian villages of Christiannkondre and Langemankondre can also be visited, giving you an opportunity to purchase Carib indian artwork. This is a wonderful place to relax for a few days. Here are undisturbed sea turtle nesting beaches, where you have the best chance to observe different species of turtles: the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). Eilanti Beach is the only beach where mass nesting aggregations (arribadas) of the olive ridley are known to have occurred in the Atlantic region. The hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) nests only sporadically in Suriname with rarely more than twenty-five nests per year for all of Suriname.
The Galibi Nature Reserve is situated in the Northeast corner of Suriname, at the mouth of the Marowijne River, bordering French Guiana. Because the saline oceanic Guiana Current and the freshwater flow of the Marowijne River collide along the east and north borders of the reserve, it is exposed to many different environmental factors. This results in a great biological diversity characterized by the Suriname coast.
The Galibi reserve and the nearby Amerinidan villages are accessible only by boat, about 1 1/2 hours downstream from the drop in point, Albina. The villagers are allowed to use the reserve for fishing, hunting, plant collecting and small-scale agricultural activities.
This is the most easily accessible way to go far inland. The road south from Paramaribo branches off just before Brownsberg to the south of the Brokopondo Lake. This branch is as of 2010 still under the process of being surfaced. It ends at Atjoni, where the Upper Surinam river begins and where many boats can be found around noon to take you upstream. These regular boats go as far south as Djuumu, where the river branches into Gran Rio and Pikin Rio. In between, the river is littered with guesthouses, way too many of them, so there is plenty of choice and there is generally no need to book ahead.
The culture here is quite different from the coast and misunderstandings are to be expected. For example, a surgarge on the agreed price is often added upon leaving for use of the kitchen. So make sure beforehand if this is the case. And since that can be a relatively high surcharge (eg 10 srd on top of 40 srd for the room), it might be advisible to bring your own cooker. Also, an improptu forest walk with the owner can later turn out to cost 100 srd. On the other hand, if you go paddling in a dugout you are not likely to be charged for that (although it never hurts to ask). And one traveller wasn't even charged anything when during such a trip he ran the boat onto a rock, resulting in a total-loss.
The Saint Petrus and the Paulus Cathedral, the largest wooden structures build in Latin America, within the grave of Peerke Donders, a Dutch declare saint.
Languages Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes referred to as Taki-Taki in French Guiana, is the native language of Creoles and much of the younger population. It is used as a lingua franca between different ethnic groups), Sarnami (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese, Chinese(Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese) and Portuguese
Sranang Tongo was suppressed by the Dutch for many years but it is now the most widely used language in Suriname. It was previously called nengre or negerengels (Dutch, "Negro English"). Suriname has a large immigrant population, many of whom do not speak Dutch or English but everyone is expected to know Sranang Tongo. There is very little written material in Srannang Tongo but, if you know English, it will not be hard to learn.
You will much enjoy the entertainment there like music and watching Association Football.
Suriname uses the Suriname dollar (SRD) as currency, which is roughly a third of a US dollar. One can exchange currency at all banks as well as most cambio's. Automatic teller machines (ATM) are also available in Suriname. The atm's of the RBTT bank accept most international bank cards. Accommodation and food is relatively on the cheap side. Retail prices for clothing, gifts, etc. are similar to most of United States of America.
Things which are well worth buying are:
Because of the ethnic diversity there is a variety of exotic food available. Indian (specially roti with chicken), Chinese, Javanese (Indonesian), Creole.
Although Indonesian food might be appropriate, the Indonesian people we have in Suriname are mostly if not all from the island Java. And Java has its own cuisine which is different from Indonesian food. Furthermore as you might have guessed the food has evolved to a more Surinamese culture and is thus (very) different from food you'd find in Java. Nevertheless it tastes great and you should try it. The most popular places where you would find such food is in 'warung's' Lelydorp on your way from the airport to Paramaribo, or Blauwgrond in Paramaribo, and since recently near the bridge in Commewijne.
Chinese food tastes great everywhere in the world. Suriname is no exception. Good restaurants can be found in Paramaribo Also try visiting the Chinese market on Sunday and many of their Dim Sum restaurants
East Indian food is less spicy compared to original Indian food, but still a well appreciated meal.
International menu are available in the more expensive downtown restaurant and hotels in Paramaribo.
Suriname wouldn't be the tropical paradise it is without its a wide variety of great fruit juices. Even the well known orange juice is a sensational taste, but do not hesitate to try great tropical fruits like passion fruit (known locally as 'markoesa') or soursap, better known as Guanábana (locally known as 'zuurzak'). Since locals have an appetite for sweet, sugar is added to most juices you buy in bottles. For pure juice it is best to ask for fresh made juice.
The Javanese have a pink (and occasionally green) colored drink called dawet, which consists of coconut milk.
Try to get a local 'east-indian' to make you a glass of lassi if you have the chance.
Beer: Try the local 'Parbo-beer', which when comes in 1 liter bottles is called a 'djogo'. In 2008 Suriname finally got Parbo beer in a can, which was somewhat of a major event in the country. Guinness is a popular import beer, and for that reason Parbo also brews a very decent own stout variant: Parbo Stout. Of course imported beer is also available. Rum: Borgoe and Black Cat.
There are several good hostels and guest-houses available in Paramaribo and Nickerie. See the appropriate page for more information. When going into the rainforrest it is best to buy a hammock in Paramaribo. Some guest houses in the forrest provide hammocks, but these tend to be less hygenic, since washing machines are not that available in the forrest.
The University of Suriname Universiteit van Suriname
However, it should be noted that students wishes to pursue education here must have a working knowledge of Dutch as classes are only instructed in Dutch.
Working as a foreigner in Suriname without a work permit is illegal, though granted, there is not much of a force to stop you. However, relations do exist between the Netherlands and Suriname for work exchange programs and extra labour, especially those of skilled classes.
If you are concerned about safety try to avoid venturing at night alone. Try using a bike when possible. When in Paramaribo at night, avoid the Palm Garden as this is a well known crime site where much drug trade is done. The police force is only so large and can only protect you to a certain extent. Therefore, stay where you know police protection is offered. So please, use common sense when venturing outside downtown, which in itself can have problems. Do NOT venture to the bush (binnenland) alone.
To enter Suriname there’s no need for any special kind of vaccination, though some are recommended (see below). If you plan a jungle-trip, which is highly recommended, it is possible that you may want to take precautions against malaria, depending on the area you are planning to visit (altough since 2005 there have not been any cases of malaria reported in Suriname). Be sure to check with BOG, or your local pharmacist or health clinic what prophylaxe you should take. The bigger threat nowadays comes from dengue, also spread by mosquitos, for which there is no prophylaxe, nor any cure. Travelers diarrhea can also potentially be a problem.
Yellow fever vaccination is recommended. (Required to get into Brazil afterwards!) Tetanus-diphtheria vaccination is recommended. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended.
The Adult HIV/AIDS prevalence is reaching 2% or 1 in 50 adults, which is 3 times higher than the US and 9 times higher than the Netherlands. Be sure to practice safe sex.
Be respectful when taking photographs. Like everywhere else, one should respect the environment and the culture. For example the inland-people consider certain trees and spots holy and it is likely you need consent before taking a photograph. Your local guide will usually also indicate so. Ask for consent when you think it is appropriate as you would anywhere else.