Private Journeys

Cultural Suriname

6 days from £2,450pp

Suriname

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive Paramaribo, transfer to hotel, city tour.

You'll be collected  at Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport  and escorted to your hotel in Paramaribo, a journey of about 75 minutes. You'll soon realise you have arrived somewhere very special, and very different from anywhere you may have been before in South America. More than half of Suriname's tiny population of just about a quarter of a million lives in the coastal capital, which has a pleasant small-town feel. Suriname was colonised by Holland, and Dutch immigrants founded this unusual town, which expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries. As a result of its unique charms and cosmopolitan mix of cultural influences, Paramaribo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

The original and highly characteristic street plan of the historic centre remains intact, partly owing to low economic activity. Its buildings illustrate the gradual fusion of Dutch influence with traditional indigenous techniques and materials which blend to create a new architectural idiom.

This tropically-infused architecture is characterised by wooden mansions embellished with ornate balconies and a smattering of Dutch churches. Present-day culture and cuisine are manifested in the town with an intriguing fusion of indigenous South American, European, African and Asian elements.

Isabelle Mazille ©

Day 2

Guided excursion to former plantations, sunset dolphin-spotting tour.

You’ll be escorted to the Commewijne district, east of Paramaribo across the Suriname river, travelling through former colonial plantations, most of which are now abandoned.  You make a stop at Peperpot, one of the oldest plantations in Suriname, established by the English before Suriname was conquered by the Dutch in 1667. This is one of the last former plantations still in its former original state: you can still see coffee and cocoa plants as well as an ancient shed and factory, the manager's residence and a kampong (workers' living area). Peperpot is renowned for the many birds which can be spotted in the grounds.

Later you make a stop at the mini-museum of Marienburg, a former sugar plantation before enjoying lunch in a typical Javanese restaurant before moving on to the confluence of the Commewijne and Suriname rivers at Nieuw Amsterdam to visit the outdoor museum, a fortress built as a defence for the crop fields which were situated along the upper parts of both rivers. 

Continue on to the pier at Nieuw Amsterdam for a sunset dolphin tour. Enjoy a drink and the breeze while the captain scans the horizon for dolphins. Normally pods of up to 20 dolphins can be seen, sometime they're curious and may breach and play close to the boat. Continue to another former plantation for snacks on a wooden deck near the waterfront of the Commenwijne river.

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Day 3

Transfer to Danpaati River Lodge, evening caiman spotting.

Depart Paramaribo, travelling on a road through remote hilly landscapes for 190km and arriving at the Maroon village Atjoni.  Maroons originally arrived as slaves from Africa, many escaping from plantations and others intermarrying with indigenous indians, creating a Creole population. For hundreds of years they were able to develop a culturally rich community life in relative isolation, although economically they always remained dependent on the coastal markets for certain manufactured goods.

This little river port is a staging post for local villages but is now also a base for ecotourism, still in its early stages. Motorised canoes are lined up on the beach, painted in bright primary colours, and you climb aboard one for the next stage of your adventure. A skilled crew will navigate up the rainforest-fringed upper Suriname river - known for its breathtaking rapids - to the Danpaati River Lodge. Your day comes to an end back on the water with a river trip looking out for caiman sprawling on the banks.

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Day 4

Guided visits to local communities and rainforest walk.

Today you will visit one of the 12 villages which are affiliated with Danpaati. There will be a guided tour through the village where you will be introduced to the way of life of the local population and to the traditions brought from Africa by their ancestors. After the tour you visit the Maroon museum Saamaka which is dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Saramak Maroon population. Pikinslee is located 30 minutes by boat from Danpaati. In the museum you will learn about the history of the Maroons, their ancient traditions and crafts. After the tour you return to the lodge for lunch.

In the afternoon, you will discover the secrets of the rainforest during a walk in the woods. Afterwards you could choose to enjoy a massage using a combination of traditional and Western techniques. Opportunities to explore the surrounding area are available; go fishing or take a dugout canoe around the island.

After dinner, settle down to watch  traditional dancing performed by the local population. Your guide will explain the cultural significance of each dance.

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Day 5

Morning exploration on your own; return to Paramaribo.

This morning you still have some time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and take pictures. After saying good bye to the staff, you depart by dugout canoe from Danpaati to Atjoni. From Atjoni you continue your journey back to Paramaribo by road.

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Day 6

Transfer to the airport for your international flight.

Consider extending your stay by moving on to neighbouring Guyana and French Guiana to encounter strikingly different cultures and the vestiges of a chequered history., 

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Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

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    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

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    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

Meet the team