The ecotourist explores Suriname

Suriname is the ideal place for the ecotourist. I may be a little biased as it is my country of birth and summer home, but you will soon agree…
 
Suriname’s interior has a wonderful landscape of mystical trees that are part of the Amazon rainforest standing proud and tall along the scenic banks of awe-inspiring rivers. Local travel companies have great infrastructure to enable both locals and globetrotters from all over the world to explore the depts of this vast mystical forest. Numerous eco-resorts allow the visitors to have the comforts they need while blending in with nature without disturbing wildlife and indigenous communities.
When Rosalia was 8 months old we moved to Suriname for nearly 2 years. She took her first step there, planted her first seed and harvested her first fruit. We still harbour a passion for growing our own vegetables even in our little garden in London.

Rosalia at 8 months old visiting my dad in Tamanredjo, Suriname

I was never afraid to take her off the beaten track. We strolled through the paths of the jungle as we listened to birds, spotted monkeys, admired the wonderful leaves and flowers while respecting the insects and reptiles.
Not only is the Amazon home to 1300 bird species (we love bird watching), but it is also referred to as the ‘lungs of the earth’ and provides our planet with more than 20% of its oxygen.
It’s important that our children are aware of nature and wildlife. Learning to respect all things living and understand the circle of life, will most-likely lead to teens and adults who are more environmentally aware and who will hopefully play their part in conserving as much as possible of our planet so it can be admired for centuries to come.
My go-to tour operator in Suriname for over a decade is Orange. I have never been disappointed and they have been extremely helpful at arranging magical and stress-free experiences, especially as a mom traveling alone with a little child.

Maroon ladies making Cassava bread in the traditional way (a boat ride away from Anaula)

Her hand in mine, we walk through Maroon villages nearby Anaula Resort watching the children play underneath a mango tree, feeling the warm hospitality as we walk through the villages are both humbling and inspiring experiences.

Maroon Village near Anaula

Hanging around at Anaula eco resort

Sula’s of the Amazon

Holding her little body close to mine as we explore the tamer parts of the rapids of the Suriname river and comforting her as we sit in a dug out canoe at midnight on a cayman spotting excursion are memories we will cherish for a lifetime.
The city of Paramaribo also won’t disappoint with its cultural diversity and rich history.
A typical day for us in the city would be to stroll past Fort Zeelandia taking in its historical significance and stop for lunch at Le Gadri where we are spoiled for choice in authentic Surinamese cuisine of Pom, Okra Soep, bruine bonen and a range of vegetables that don’t even exist in Europe.
After lunch we head to Tangelo to indulge in our favourite almond drink “orgeade” and just next door we look admiring the beautiful manicured gardens of Torarica, we always walk down to the pier to see if we can spot a Sapacara (no idea what this animal would be called in English, I can best describe it as a black iguana, it looks prehistoric and a little scary but it’s completely harmless and can often we found near swamps and rivers).

Colonial buildings near Fort Zeelandia- photography by Raul Neijhorst

 

Around 5pm the sun is less hot, making it the perfect time for a little boat trip. 10 minutes down the round from Torarica you have Leon’s Berg, where any boatsman will take you across the river to Fort Nieuw Amsterdam and wait for you to take you back. Nieuw Amsterdam is our open air museum, so relaxing to walk around there as it never really gets busy but it teaches so much about Surinamese history and slavery. It’s really a “must” to see.

Leon’s Berg

Boat trip to Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam

Upon our return, it’s nearly dinner time so quickly head home to freshen up and out we go for dinner. Cafe D’Optimist is the steak and pasta specialist in the country. All fresh produce, great service and don’t even get me started on the desserts.
The next day I recommend visiting the Neotropical Butterfly Park, it is truly world class excursion and teaches and shows us everything from the food they grow specifically for the caterpillars, how the caterpillars are cared for, exported and they have beautiful butterfly enclosures.

Neotropical butterfly park

For a spa break, I totally fell in love with Houttuyn Wellness Resort, located only 30 min from the city, it feels like a world of its own: it offers riverside excellence with fantastic massage cabanas, amazing pools, great service and exquisite food and smoothies. I can’t wait until they have finished building the accommodation as that is sure to become my home away from home.

Houttuyn Wellness Resort

 

Frederiks Dorp brings back memories for me as I used to visit with my uncle every year, now they have accommodation too. It’s a short drive and boat trip away but doable as a day trip or an overnight stay. The offer such a diverse and amazing array of tours.
Pink belly dolphin spotting, a nature and historical walk on the grounds of this old plantation, a boat tour of the swamps which used to be coffee plantations that were flooded after the abolishment of slavery, cayman spotting tours at night, and in season you can also witness turtle nesting about 30 min away by boat. The excursions and what we learnt on this stay it was amazing. Did you know many coconut trees house a tarantula?? Me neither! And in the pond in front of our cabanas…. FULL of baby caymans!! But don’t worry, they were tiny and more afraid of us than we were of them.

Frederiks Dorp

Frederiks Dorp – swamp tour

Frederiks Dorp

Tarantula at Frederiks Dorp

Frederiks Dorp

A famous jungle resort is Berg en Dal which is located about 2 hours drive from the city and it is absolutely beautiful. Set proudly along the river, you have the option of relaxing by the pool or visiting their adventure centre. Did somebody say ziplining over the river??? I was there in a heartbeat! I love everything amongst trees, it’s so liberating.

Berg en Dal

Berg en Dal

All in all, my beautiful country has so much to offer. I have visited every years since we moved to Belgium when I was 10 and still I discover amazing new things . There are plenty new and amazing resorts in the jungle that I look forward to visiting on future trip and sharing with you.
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A version of this blog post was published in The Voice newspaper on the 23/2/2017
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