Suriname - Former Dutch Colony
by Günther Eichhorn
In October 2015 I visited Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The private tour was organized by Wilderness Explorers, a tour company in Guyana. Everything worked very well, I was very happy with the organization.
I flew from Ogle Airport, Georgetown, Guyana to Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo, a small local airport in the city. This was much more convenient than flying into the international airport, which is about 45 km (28 miles) from Paramaribo.
My new guide picked me up at the airport and brought me to the hotel. The hotel was very nice, in the middle of downtown. Nothing was planned for the afternoon, so I visited Fort Zeelandia and then walked around town. Unfortunately, it soon started raining real hard, so I had to take refuge in a restaurant. They served reasonably priced beer in large, 1 l (1 quart) bottles. Fortunately, they provided a cooler for the beer, otherwise it would have gotten warm very quickly in the heat. It was around 35°C (95°F) with 95% humidity, pretty uncomfortable.
On the next day was Maroon Day in Suriname. Maroon Day celebrates the nation of African refugees who escaped from slavery and formed independent settlements. The term Maroon itself derives from the Latin American Spanish cimarrón, meaning fugitive, runaway, feral animal. The former slaves spread and settled in North, South, Central and Latin Americas, Caribbean islands and even in South Asian countries.
Maroons in Suriname created several independent tribes, among them the tribe of the Ndyuka. Creation and celebration of Maroon Day refers to the events of 1760, when the Ndyuka signed a treaty with the Dutch. The treaty was forged by a former Jamaican slave who had learned to read and write and knew about the Jamaican treaty. Signing of this treaty defined the territorial rights of the Maroons in the gold-rich inland of Suriname.
In the morning I did a guided walking tour through Paramaribo. The historic inner city of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture in the city is quite nice, lots of interesting old houses. In the afternoon I had nothing planned. It rained again, so I spent the afternoon indoors.
On the next day we visited a smal nature reserve that has fairly intact rain forest with lots of wildlife. From there we drove to Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. This fort was started in the early 18th century and was used through World War II. The next, and last, stop was at a decommissioned cane sugar factory in Mariënburg.
On the next day I was driven east to the border with French Guiana for the continuation of my trip through that country.
The colonial architecture in Paramaribo is very nice, with lots of beautiful houses. It is worth walking around town.
I didn't see much else of Suriname, just Paramaribo and the surroundings. It is a clean country. It was not quite as expensive as Guyana. People were friendly. The official language is Dutch.
Surprisingly, the traffic is left-hand traffic. It dates from the Dutch colonial period. Holland used to drive on the left until Napoleonic times. The Dutch colonies Indonesia and Suriname kept that habit, even after Holland itself changed to right-hand traffic.
Food and beer was good and not very expensive. One of the restaurants had beer in 1 l (1 quart) bottles for about $4.50.
See the separate pages for nature and birds:
Nature in Suriname
Birds in Suriname