In case you didn’t know, Suriname is to the east of Guyana. A little history – Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana were all called Guiana a very long time ago but then the different European monarchies came to an agreement and split the country up into three – Dutch, British, and French Guianas. Eventually, British Guiana acquired their independence becoming Guyana and Dutch Guyana became Suriname after their independence. Each speaks their language of their last reigning crown.
So a few weekends ago I finally undertook the task of driving to Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname because I wanted to see what I could see – the architecture, try new food, and I am always up for adventuring and experiencing new places. The drive was long. We woke up at 3 am to leave Georgetown and didn’t get into Paramaribo until about 4:30 pm that afternoon. The drive itself probably took no more than 7 hours but there is a ferry that you must take to cross from Guyana to Suriname that requires you do customs and immigration on both ends and entails a lot of waiting.
I have to warn you that there will be lots ANIMALS! Before we could even cross the Corentyne river on the ferry we had a little mishap which thankfully didn’t turn into a fatal accident.
When you finally do get to Paramaribo, there are quite a few similarities to Guyana such as the names of areas, history, and ethnicities of people. Like Guyana, Suriname is a country that celebrates the holidays of all religions. However, there are also changes as the history strays from Guyana’s post independence and adding to that there were more Jews that moved to Suriname than had moved to Guyana.
In the historic area of downtown Paramaribo, there is lots of colonial architecture that is breathtakingly gorgeous. The buildings are all old and wooden and pay homage to the Dutch history of the country while using readily available materials and adapting to the environmental conditions of the tropical area. The entire area has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site and here are photos for you to see why!
The capital city is actually found on the Suriname river and is home to Fort Zeelandia (there is also a Fort Zeelandia in Guyana) which is now a history museum.
The Palmentuin was across the street and was a garden of tall palm trees.
Another interesting building was the Presidential Palace.
There is a wooden Catholic cathedral called the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral that rivals Guyana’s St. George’s cathedral and is the biggest wooden structure in South America. The interior of the cathedral is all ornately carved wood.
Another point to note, Suriname is one of the only places in the world that you will find a Jewish temple and a Muslim mosque right alongside each other. Many of the religious buildings are so ornately painted and designed, I wish I had the chance to take pictures of more of them.
- if you’re looking for a tour company I definitely suggest Orange Tours Paramaribo, we did a guided city tour but they offer many options for you to choose from
- I can’t describe to you how delicious Garden of Eden was – this restaurant was recommended to us by multiple Guyanese and it was so good we went 2/3 nights we were in Suriname. The meal is finished with an authentic Thai massage
- pay attention to speed limits! The police will definitely be out
Have you been to Suriname as yet? Do you want to go?