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Holiday Guides for South America - Suriname

Surinam Holiday

Surinam has yet to announce itself as a major tourist destination but its sense of the unexplored wilderness provides great allure, and many hidden gems for the visitor can be found.

Beyond the Netherlands Surinam has not yet achieved a reputation as a mainstream tourist destination. In fact, many people are unlikely to have heard of the tropical wilderness.

But those willing to try somewhere a little different will discover a country of powerful influences, be they physical, cultural or ecological.

Derived from its history as a Dutch colony, Surinam boasts an immensely rich ethnic diversity, with African, Amerindian, Asian, Jewish and Dutch influences spilling over into every dimension of Surinamese life and culture.

Physically the country is dominated by mighty rivers, providing valuable access routes into the heart of the rainforest and jungles of the interior, which remain virtually untouched by man to this day.

Indeed, Surinam's status as an unexplored wilderness remains its greatest appeal. As there are no established roads the only way to explore the interior is by boat or light plane, which makes for one of the most spectacular experiences available as the verdant rainforest spreads out like a tropical carpet, alive with all manner of exotic wildlife.

For the adventurous traveler, why not take a tour through the rainforest, where you can spot howler monkeys, giant tarantula spider webs and huge termite nests, or take a chance down at the swamps which crocodiles, piranhas, anacondas and boa constrictors are known to frequent.

But even within Surinam's ecological treasure trove there remain certain sites to see. The Galibi Nature Reserve where you can experience four sea turtle species nesting on its beaches between February and July is a must.

Meanwhile, visitors should also try and make it to the Central Suriname Nature Reserve. This 1.6 million hectare World Heritage Site covers a massive 12 per cent of Surinam's total land surface and is famous for its abundant wildlife and dramatic geological formations.

However, only limited areas of the reserve are accessible, although these do include Raleigh Falls and a spectacular 240 metre tall granite dome called Voltzberg.

Nevertheless, save for a few well organised tour operators and the occasional Dutchman, Surinam remains untouched by the scourge of mass-tourism, making it an ideal destination for both thrill-seekers and those looking for a relaxing break.

Indeed, even the most adventurous of visitors will not want to spend their entire time in the wilderness when there is so much of Surinam to see and experience.

The elegant Dutch architecture of the bustling capital and port of Paramaribo, stands as a clear demarcation between the raw beauty of the wilderness with the rather genteel atmosphere of the capital.

Harking back to its past as a colonial capital, Paramaribo is a friendly and cosmopolitan mix, thriving on its rich cultural diversity, albeit in a rather quirky way.

Surinam is a most bizarre country, blending the elegance and practicality of a European residential infrastructure with the passion and flair of South America and the Carribean.

Whether you come for adventure, wildlife or relaxation, Surinam is an eclectic cultural experience that will not soon be forgotten.