Trip Report: Traveling Solo in Suriname

Hello, everyone. I am a U.S. citizen who recently returned from a self-organized trip to Suriname. There don’t seem to be many detailed trip reports available in English, so I felt that I should post some of my experiences for other travelers planning to do the same.

Getting to Suriname was a challenge in itself. Because I live very close to Toronto, I decided to drive there and catch a Caribbean Airlines flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, connecting after a LONG layover on a Surinam Airways flight into Paramaribo. Out of curiosity, I tried adjusting dates and times to see if this was standard procedure. If visitors are arriving from the United States or Canada, it seems that they cannot avoid the very long (usually about 15 hour) layover in Port of Spain. I was traveling on a tight budget, so could not afford overnight accommodation in Trinidad. This meant that I had to sit up all night watching my bags in the airport. This made me exhausted before even touching down in Paramaribo, which was somewhat problematic. Dutch visitors have the option of flying directly from Amsterdam, but if you live in North America, consider yourself warned: The journey to Suriname will be deceptively long!

… One of the most fun activities came like a dream in the middle of the night. A group of Saramaka villagers showed up after dark to light a large bonfire, sing, dance, and make friends with guests. I had an excellent time talking with visitors from Paramaribo and participating in the festivities. Looking up at a clear sky filled with stars while the ancestral African voices carried across the water… this is what I came to Suriname for! …

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Why Would Anyone Go to Suriname?

PARAMARIBO, Suriname—A president accused of murder and convicted for drug smuggling. Rogue gold miners and outlaw timber harvesters, most of them foreigners drawn to the lawlessness. Roads that end two hours outside the capital, leaving travelers with the choice of either taking handmade canoes through rivers infested with anacondas, piranhas, and giardia or flying on prop planes with alarming safety records.

Why would anyone want to go to Suriname? That’s what I traveled there to find out.

Actually, I had been invited by the recently formed Suriname Tourism Foundation, who had seen some of the consulting I did with the Belize Tourism Board a couple years ago. Like Belize, they wanted advice on how to best reach prospective travelers. With the number of Dutch tourists declining each year—Suriname is a former colony of the Netherlands—the country is eager to tap into new markets, and North Americans are, geographically and financially, the demographic most likely to take a chance on the smallest country in South America.

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