Suriname – Why you should visit and the best places to see

Since gaining independence in 1975, Suriname has held the title of the smallest state in South America.

It’s mostly covered by jungle, which makes Suriname the perfect place to visit for anyone interested in animals or incredible hiking.

Tours along dirt trails can take you through thick foliage to sights where you’ll see anything from ocelots to poison blue dart frogs. Wildlife in Suriname is unrivaled.

But there’s also so many different places to visit in Suriname, and things to see and do.

Venturing out of the jungle, you may also have the opportunity to stay in an Amerindian village and witness the traditions of a culture that have survived for centuries.

This country only has about 560 thousand people, but the population is so rich in different cultures that it makes up for its small numbers. That’s because Suriname is an extremely diverse country with a population mostly made up of people of African, East Indian, Creole, and Javanese descent.

That diversity is reflected in every aspect of the culture, from Surinamese food to festivals.

Whether you want to explore the Amazon or get to know the unique South American culture, Suriname is the place to visit.

The best places to visit in Suriname, and things to do in Suriname

Visit the capital, Paramaribo

Right on the coast of Suriname lies its capital, Paramaribo. The view from across the water makes it hard to believe you’re in South America for a second.

White houses with red roofs all lined in a row, cute balconies with intricately designed railings, columns adorning the entrances…. From a distance Suriname is easy to mistake for Holland.

The difference lies within the city, within the people, within the myriads of cultures that converge in Paramaribo.

Although Amerindians and Maroons often live further inland, the rest of Suriname’s population is mostly centered around the coast. And Paramaribo hosts over a third of that population, with about 240 thousand inhabitants.

Down the city streets, smells of different cuisines emerge from the windows of houses and restaurants. Small stores sell artisan products from around the world. Markets sell fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, and everything for an incredibly low price!

There are so many different sites to visit in the city, from the Saint Peter & Paul Cathedral-Basilica to Paramaribo Zoo, you could spend weeks here and never be bored.

Surinamese food

Suriname’s incredible diversity is reflected in Surinamese food.

With so many people from around the world, Indian, Dutch, Javanese, African, Jewish, Amerindian and Portuguese cuisines are all included in Surinamese food, making for unusual (but delicious) combinations.

From dishes that heavily feature rice, beans, and meat, to eggplants, okras, fried plantains and peanut soup – there’s something for everyone.

One overlying aspect in Surinamese food is spice. Madame Jeanette chili peppers originate in Suriname, and are the most common method used to make a dish spicy.

For people with a sweet tooth, Surinamese desserts range from raisin-currant-almond cakes to coconut treats. Who would want to pass that up?

Suriname wildlife

Imagine biking down a street near a wooded area and spotting monkeys swinging from tree to tree.

Picture yourself walking down a dirt road with a multicolored parrot soaring above you.

Think about gigantic sea turtles that could be swimming around you.

All of that is possible in Suriname.

Suriname is known for its incredible biodiversity, home to almost 2000 different species of animals, most of which you can only find in zoos elsewhere around the globe.

In fact here, you’ll see some of the most incredible animals you’ll ever see in your life just walking down the street – some people even have monkeys as pets! Suriname wildlife is really special.

Suriname beaches are home to not only four different kinds of sea turtle, but also tortoises, iguanas, snakes, deer, and armadillo.

Whilst the mangroves and salt-water lagoons that lie just inland are home to a myriad of birds, including the orange-winged parrot and scarlet ibis.

As you enter the Amazon rainforest the animals get even more incredible.

Jaguars, ocelots, giant anteaters, red-faced spider monkeys and bush dogs are all protected animals in Suriname. Also living amongst the trees are sloths, wild pigs, manatees, caimans, and over 700 species of birds.

When it comes to animals and wildlife, Suriname doesn’t disappoint.

Brownsberg Nature Park

Just a few miles outside of Paramaribo is Brownsberg Nature Park, a beautiful park complete with waterfalls and innumerable species of plants and animals.

Perfect for hiking, there’s a high chance you’ll come across animals in your way multiple times during your hike. Maybe even a jaguar or ocelot if you’re particularly lucky!

You can choose to go to Brownsberg Nature Park for a morning, day, or a few nights.

It’s easily one of the most accessible nature reserves, with places to sleep (whether hammock camps or actual lodges) and tours available to all.

Although some may want to go back to Paramaribo after just one hike, Brownsberg Nature Park is so full of trails that you could spend days on end exploring it, never getting bored.

Voltzberg

Out of a sea of green, sprouts a series of what look like giant overgrown pebbles, streaky grey and red against the sky and green foliage.

These gigantic formations are granite mountains in the middle of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve.

The most notorious of the domes, the Voltzberg Dome, reaches 245 meters (about 804 feet!) and is a hike you shouldn’t miss out on.

To reach the dome you’ll have to walk four miles through the rainforest, which will make the view even more incredible once you reach it. Look out for Suriname’s incredible wildlife on the way!

Almost no plants grow on the face of the granite dome, making the contrast between it and the forest surrounding even more striking.

From the bottom you can hike up the mountain, to get an amazing view of the rainforest below. The top of the mountain houses more vegetation than the vertical drops, as small crevices in the granite allow plants to take root and grow to form tiny green islands in the sea of red and green.

There are trails leading to some of the surrounding domes as well, and though they are less traveled, they may be worth a visit if you love hiking and spectacular views.