As the smallest country in South America, Suriname is a mixture of the Old World and modern industries. Not only is it rich in natural resources and a major exporter to various developed nations, but it's also mostly made up of rainforests that are home to howler monkeys, toucans, and jaguars. Suriname is a former Dutch colony that's making the best of its colonial past. It still has strong links to the Netherlands, but its great appeal comes from the diverse fusion of Indian, African, Chinese, and Indonesian influences. With that much history and adventure, it may take you a few trips to absorb it all.
The capital of Suriname, Paramaribo is a bustling city whose name translates into "large river inhabitants" from the Tupi-Guarani language. Par'bo, as locals call it, is home to the historic inner city, where people can appreciate the old colonial Dutch architecture and take a trip back to the time that was.
Close to the capital is Lelydorp, home to the Neotropical Butterfly Park. It's a peaceful experience right out of a fairytale to see many Surinamese butterflies fluttering about. You can take a guided tour to learn more about their habitat. Be sure to check out the 360-degree panorama painting by Wim Eriks.
In the largest district in Suriname is Kasikasima, a more-than-2,350-foot mountain that visitors are able to tour with the help of guides. Surrounding the mountain is a rainforest jungle that intersects with the Upper Tapanahony and the Palomeu rivers, where you can camp and enjoy the beauty around you.
Mariënburg was founded in Maria de la Jaille in 1745, and it was originally a sugar plantation that became a coffee plantation before being abandoned. When you take a tour, you can see the original laborer housing units, the remnants of Suriname's first railway, and a monument to the 1902 uprising that left 24 workers dead.
Just an hour-and-a-half drive from the capital, at the mouth of the Coppename River, is the Galibi Nature Reserve. If you go there between April and August, not only do you get to indulge in some quality birdwatching, but you will also experience hordes of protected turtles laying their eggs on the golden sands.
Nieuw Nickerie is the capital of the Nickerie district in northern Suriname. It was built in 1879 after the old capital, Nieuw Rotterdam, was destroyed. Nowadays it's a major industrial hub for bananas and rice. After checking out the local market, take a ferry ride to Guyana.
Hop on a bike and take a relaxing ride along the length of the Commewijne River, which is where you'll see the old sugar, cacao, and coffee plantations, and some other farms. Take a water taxi across the river and you may see some river dolphins if you're lucky.
Enjoy the full outdoor experience at Brownsberg Nature Park. Rent a hammock or bring your own as you enjoy two to three days of clean, fresh air. You have your choice of walking trails that will lead you to breathtaking waterfalls. Keep your camera handy to snap the local wildlife.
Jodensavanne is a plantation in the middle of the jungle that was established in the 17th century by Jews fleeing Spanish persecution. You can learn more about the history of these communities along the river and see the well-kept headstones in addition to the remains of the Beracha ve Shalom Synagogue.
Pronounced OH-NAF-HAN-KEH-LYCH-KITES-PLINE, Onafhankelijkheidsplein, known as Independence Square, is a historical attraction for visitor and locals alike. It's surrounded by some of the country's well-known sites, such as the Presidential Palace, Parliament, and the Suriname River. The square is a relaxed area where visitors can stroll around and maybe catch a local dance class or a friendly frisbee game.
Readytex started off as a craft shop in 1984 in response to the increasing productivity of local artisans. The Art Gallery came into being nearly a decade later due to the country's creativity explosion, which demanded a place for artists to earn income. Readytex is the leading gallery for Surinamese art and crafts, and they offer exhibitions and feature events each month.
Arya Dewaker is designed to reflect aspects of the sun, so there are no images of the Hindu deities inside. It took nearly 20 years to build and its unique architecture is a fusion of the Dutch and Moghul styles with a touch of Moorish design and Hindi symbolism.
The Presidential Palace in Paramaribo is a fascinating monument that used to be the residence of the Dutch Governor-General and past presidents. Walking through the rooms with centuries of history can be a stunning experience. It's mostly used for diplomatic events, and with the Garden of Palms attached to the property, it's a great guest attraction.
The Keizerstraat Mosque is a majestic building with four minarets and a traditional dome. The original wooden version was completed in 1932, while the current stone one was completed in 1984. Its neighbor is the Neveh Shalom Synagogue, which was completed in 1723 and is the only active synagogue in Suriname.
Unlike other structures, the exterior of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral is a striking yellow and gray attraction. What makes it unique is that this 19th-century church is the largest wooden building in South America. It's a must-see in Paramaribo, and if you go, you can leave a donation for continued maintenance.
The Maroon Market in Paramaribo is a must-see experience. The central market tightly packs several sections for local fish, fruits, vegetables, and meats for patrons to choose from. Enjoy the delicious flavors of Suriname Monday to Saturday from 5 am to 5 pm. Beat the craziness by getting there before noon.
Within five minutes of being in the park, you're almost sure to see wildlife. Peperpot is home to a variety of monkeys, iguanas, sloths and other animals that will make you stop for a shot. You can spend a good few hours walking the park, and follow that up with a trip to the nearby plantation.
Situated in the rapids of the Corantijn River, Arapahu Island has the scenery and ambiance of a lost world. The plane ride alone has a great view of lush tropical jungle, and ancient rock carvings give you a peek into the island's prehistory. Get your heart pumping by walking through the bush trails.