Like Guyana, the path to independence was a difficult one due to colonization, civil uprisings, and the influx of people who were brought to the country as indentured servants or slaves. With this mix of cultures there are probably very few places with such a diverse population of races, beliefs and languages.
Upon arriving our tour guide extraordinaire, Sieglien, took us on a city tour of Paramaribo where we discovered a Hindu temple, Jewish synagogue, Christian church and a Mosque all within walking distance of each other. The city’s inhabitants decided to live in peace; respecting and embracing each other’s differences.
We also visited two markets, side by side; one full of vegetables, fruit and basic staples and the other was the Maroon market, with herbs, oils and additional natural medicines found in the jungle. The Maroon’s are descendants of African slaves that escaped from the plantations and started a new life deep in the jungle.
The city has many wooden buildings that have weathered but are slowly being restored. Among them is one that was owned by Elisabeth Samson, the daughter of a freed slave who became the owner of many plantations. She was quite controversial at the time due to her wealth and the fact that she married a white man.
Close to the city proper was the Peperpot Nature Park where many people see monkeys, sloths, birds etc., unfortunately I only saw a couple of iguanas. We finished the busy day with a boat ride in the Commewijne River where we encountered pods of dolphins flirting with us for over an hour.
The next morning we boarded a bus to take us on a four hour trip to the busy port on the Suriname River where we loaded ourselves into a large wooden canoe to spend a few nights in the jungle where at night you could see more than a million stars including the milky way. This area is where the Maroons settled centuries ago.
The cabins, the parrots, the hospitality of the staff at the Knini Paati River Lodge and the local guide were exceptional. We did a jungle walk where we learned survival skills in addition to info on the local flora and fauna.
Another highlight was our visit to a village nearby. Some adventurers at this camp opted to hike 4 and 1/2 miles deep into the jungle and spend the night in hammocks pretending to sleep while they kept one eye open for the jaguars and snakes.
Suriname has the most flourishing tourism of the three Guianas as they have international hotels, a thriving capital city, a jungle and beaches while still being “off the beaten path”. The many varied activities we did here was due to Dinesh Ramlal and his team at Travel the Guianas. Next stop: French Guiana!