Lace up your hiking boots and head to jungle-filled Suriname for tropical rain forest adventures.
In Suriname, visitors – intrepid all – head with binoculars into lush, green, wild rain forests to spot exotic birds, oversized foliage and wild animals. Many take time for a spell along the Atlantic coastline which, ironically, helps give this country its Caribbean feel. Nesting sea turtles are one of the beaches’ main attractions.
Suriname is all about untamed nature. Eighty percent of the land is covered with thick Amazon rain forest, including the 3.95-million-acre Central Suriname Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The northeast portion of the country is home to one of the largest reservoir lakes in the world. Howler monkeys and more than 700 species of birds make their homes in this tropical setting.
Outside the capital of Paramaribo (known as Parbo), the population averages about six people per square mile – making Suriname home to more plants, mammals, birds and reptiles than people. Much of its wildlife can be found nowhere else on earth.
Jungle treks reach breathtaking sites, such as thundering waterfalls. Sparse dining facilities, accommodations and creature comforts in the countryside are the price travelers pay for the occasional spotting of jaguars and yellow-rumped caciques – be sure to hook up with an established guide. Outfitters usually begin trips in Parbo and take travelers into the wilderness for three to 10 days. Eco-lodges have become popular, and tents and improvised shelters are also available.
In the capital, visitors can find shade under palm trees while touring the colonial brick buildings and wooden houses lining mangrove riverbanks. For a reminder of the Dutch influence, stop by Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Independence Square) in the center of town, which is flanked by the graceful Victorian-style presidential palace and the Palentium (Garden of Palms), once a private enclave for the president but today open to the public.
Experienced divers enjoy the Van Blommenstein Lake, with old train tracks at the bottom.
BWIA, DCA, KLM, META Linhas Aereas, Surinam Airways, Universal Airlines
Passport with a visa ticket, two valid passport photos for the Alien Registration Bureau, insurance papers and proof of vaccination against yellow fever. Some areas require a malaria prophylactic; contact the Bureau for Public Health at 597-499494.