Suriname, a former Dutch colony on South America’s northern Atlantic coast, is a melting pot of cultures, including Amerindian, Asian, Jewish, Dutch and Afro-centric cultures. This tropical paradise, with rainforest and rivers (including the Suriname River), also boasts abundant wildlife, including wild cats, monkeys, crocodiles and boa constrictors, which visitors can spot via guided tours.
Not surprisingly, most of Suriname’s attractions are nature reserves and national parks. Among them are the Galibi Nature Reserve, where four sea turtle species nest on the beaches between February and July, and Brownsberg Nature Park, home to several plant and animal species. Besides exploring these areas, visitors can participate in a number of adventures, including river trips, kayaking, rafting, diving, fishing, cycling, horseback riding, jungle trekking, birding and visiting Amerindian and Maroon villages.
Those who want an in-town experience can visit Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital. This Dutch colonial town offers remnants of pre-Colombian and earlier Amerindian people. The Old City (the historic heart of Paramaribo) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with narrow streets and historic buildings, such as the 17th century Fort Zeelandia on the Suriname River and St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the largest wooden cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors also may want to browse Paramaribo’s local markets or stroll along the waterkant (waterfront). South of Paramaribo is Joden Savanne (Jews' Savannah), site of the ruins of the first Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1639.
Suriname’s main staple is rice, although sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains and red peppers are also part of the diet, as are tropical fruits, which are available at roadside stalls, markets and restaurants. Suriname also offers international fare, including Chinese dim sum and East Indian roti (pancake served with curried potatoes and chicken), as well as Indonesian and Hindustani foods. Nightlife includes international bars and nightclubs, as well as Paramaribo’s many casinos.
JohanAdolf Pengel International Airport (also called Zanderij), located about an hour south of Paramaribo, is served by six scheduled airlines, with Suriname Airways offering service from Miami. Car rentals are available, and the driver sits on the right. Buses are privately run in Suriname, but they follow common routes. There are no schedules; rather, buses depart when they are full. Taxis also are available.
Surinamehas a tropical climate with ocean breezes, and it is located outside of the hurricane zone. Ideal times to visit are during the dry seasons: February through April and mid August through November. Average daytime high temperatures range 70 to 90 degrees year-round.
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