It seems my list of destinations keeps growing. I already have an extensive collection of places I want to go, both in the U.S. and abroad, and yet more countries and cities keep popping up on my radar. Many of the most recent additions are lesser known locations that I am super curious to visit.
And so I’ve decided to share why I want to travel to these places.
First on the list: Suriname
If you’ve never heard of it or you’re not sure where it is, you’re not alone. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure where it was until my husband and I glanced at the map. It’s a country in South America, located north of Brazil and squeezed between French Guiana and Guyana. I initially added it to the list because I’d never heard much about it, and thought it would be fascinating to explore a place so few people know about. As I began researching for this post, two fellow bloggers I know published pieces about Suriname. I felt it was serendipitous. The more I read about it, the more intrigued I became.
Suriname is one of the smallest countries in South America. Despite it’s size, it has a lot to offer, from multi-cultural traditions and history to stunning landscapes and wildlife. While there are dozens of reasons to visit Suriname, here are just a few to get you started.
The Nature Reserves
More than 90% of Suriname is covered by dense rainforest. The government made a commitment long ago to protect the forests, a welcome move in a world that’s selling off lands for profit. As a result, Suriname has created 11 natural nature reserves, with the Central Suriname Nature Reserve as one of the largest and most important protected rainforests on earth. Much of the rainforest in Suriname is unspoiled due to lack of civilization and exploration.
But it’s not just forest that makes up these reserves. They are filled with beautiful waterways, such as the Corantijn, Marowijne, Suriname and Coppename rivers, which are the main arteries of the Suriname river system.
High on my list of things to see are Voltzberg Mountain and the Raleigh Falls, located in Raleighvallen Nature Reserve; Brownsberg park, offering beautiful views over Brokopondo Reservoir; and Ston Island, a great place for kayaking and canoeing.
As you can imagine, Suriname’s rainforests are ideal homes for hundreds of bird and animal species. According to the Suriname Tourism Foundation, there are over 700 species of birds, 200 mammals, 130 reptiles and nearly 100 amphibian species.
In Raleighvallen Nature Reserve, you can spot monkeys, deer, tinamous, tree frogs, and even the rare cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola).
If you want to see sea turtles, Galibi Nature Reserve is the place to go. Four species of turtles use the shore here to lay their eggs: the Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Atlantic Hawksbill and Green Turtle.
Bird lovers need to visit Brownsberg, where some 200 of the known species of birds in Suriname can be observed.
This technically falls under wildlife, but personally, this is a big selling point for me. I’ve heard about the river dolphins of the Amazon, and Suriname has some prime viewing areas to see these curious and clever creatures. The conjunction of the Suriname and Commewijne Rivers is supposedly one of the best spots for dolphin viewing. Even though tourism is still developing in Suriname, there are a few tour companies that can take you on this adventure.
The Wooden Buildings of Paramaribo
The capital of Suriname, Paramaribo is a small but vibrant city. Within this historic city are some architectural gems I absolutely have to see. The city center features a range of distinctive Dutch structures. The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral is the largest church in the city, and is constructed entirely out of wood. Even the inside is decorated with ornate wooden pillars, an intricate wooden ceiling and lovely wood carvings. Other notable buildings in the city center are the Presidential Palace, the Ministry of Finance and Congress Hall.
Another architectural viewing spot is Waterkant, the water side street lined with beautiful colonial houses. This is just down the road from Independence Square, otherwise known as the city center. It looks like the perfect spot to take a seat, have a bite and enjoy the daily life of the city.
The traditions and habits of Suriname’s indigenous people is well preserved within the rainforests. A number of villages line the rivers, giving visitors a glimpse at the rituals of these tribes. There are a select number of tours that take visitors directly to these villages, allowing them to meet the people and learn more about their culture.
There are a number of other reasons to visit Suriname, but these are my top five. The more research I do, the more I’m adding to my to-do list. A trip to Suriname is now in the works, and I hope to return with personal experiences, insights and advice to share with all of you.
If I’ve sparked your interest, you can check out Travel Gal Nicole’s blog post to read about her recent trip to Suriname.
Have you ever been to Suriname? Would you like to visit? Are there any other destinations on your bucket list? I’d love to hear your comments!
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