Project Description

GROUP TOUR

 

WORLD HERITAGE

NATURE

CULTURE

 

Highlights:  Georgetown City Tour / Kaieteur Falls / Jungle river cruise and kayaking / Arawak culture / Rum Distillery / Tour of UNESCO World Heritage City – Paramaribo / Pepperpot Nature Reserve / Upper Suriname River Cruise / Maroon Villages & Dancing

Guyana & Suriname, South America’s Best Kept Secrets – 12 Days

Everyone knows the Brazilian Amazon- the largest rainforest on earth drained by a river with more fish species than the entire Atlantic Ocean and bigger in volume than the next ten largest rivers combined. But how many have heard of Guyana and Suriname, two of South America’s smallest countries but best kept secrets? The rainforest here is part of the Amazon, but unlike Brazil, it’s still 90% intact. New species are being discovered here all the time and the two nation’s cultural diversity rivals the biodiversity.

Guyana is a land of superlatives. It boasts the world’s largest waterfall drop, one of the world’s oldest and most remote geological formations, the world’s largest ants, anteaters and otters as well as anacondas – the world’s largest snake. In the former British colony of Guyana and former Dutch colony of Suriname one can find Victoria amazonic – the world’s largest water lily…so massive that a child can sit on a single leaf. Here toucans, macaws and parrots fly over virgin tropical rainforests, jaguars and ocelots prey along the forest floor and rivers teem with piranhas and caiman.

In addition to many Amerindian indigenous tribes living in Guyana and Suriname, the Suriname River has served as a major refuge for runaway slaves and for over 400 years has supported Maroon villages more traditional than the West African homelands their ancestors were stolen from. In many respects this could be called the African Amazon for there is no other region of the world where so many traditional African tribes carry on their time-honored traditions in another continent.

The history of sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations and the need for Chinese, Indian and Javanese laborers after the abolition of slavery led to the incredible mosaic of cultures that is a hallmark of this region. Where else can you find a Jewish synagogue beside a mosque but in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam?

Those fortunate enough to join this adventure will discover in Surinme the world’s largest tropical hardwood city, boat with frolicking fresh water dolphins, cycle through historic plantations, boat safari for caiman by torchlight, spend two nights in a traditional Maroon village, prepare and cook cassava cakes and learn African tribal dancing and other traditions that have survived the centuries.

This trip will not be measured by the number of days, but how long it will hold you in its spell.

Saturday/March 18

Highlights: Arrival

  • Guests depart Miami on Suriname Airways at 5:45 pm and arrive at Guyana International Airport at 9:45 pm. After clearing Immigration we drive 45-minutes to the heart of Georgetown where we check in to a charming boutique hotel for welcome refreshments and a good rest.

Overnight: Cara Lodge, Georgetown, Guyana

Sunday/March 19

Highlights: Georgetown City Tour / Kaieteur Falls

  • This morning after a lovely breakfast at our hotel we will enjoy a quiet Sunday tour of Georgetown’s historic sites. During the British colonial period, the city was built with tropical hardwoods from the surrounding rainforest. Disastrous fires destroyed many of these heritage buildings, but there are impressive ones still standing from as far back as 1833.
  • We will visit the iconic Stabroek Market, Guyana’s Supreme Court, the oldest church, presidential palace, home of the prime minister and end our tour with a visit to the world’s highest wooden building – St. George’s Cathedral.
  • Today is also a day no one will ever forget as we drive a short distance to Ogle Airport and board a charter plane for a scenic flight to Guyana’s greatest attraction – Kaieteur Falls.
  • This 65-min. flight at 6,000 ft. offers spectacular panoramas of Guyana’s wilderness interior. We first skirt the city skyline before crossing the mouth of the Demarara River spanned by one of the world’s longest floating bridges.
  • Flying over the vast sugar cane plantations near the coast and along the Demarara River we gain an understanding of one of the country’s best-known, historic exports – Demarara sugar.
  • We now fly over the vast expanse of primary rainforest that represents 80% of Guyana’s landscape. Below us jaguars hunt for peccary, parrots and macaques scream from the treetops and anacondas lurk in rivers with piranha and caiman.
  • Nearly an hour into our flight we approach the Pakaraima Plateau pressing skyward with Precambrian rock… one of the world’s oldest and remotest geological formations.
  • As we follow the escarpment we suddenly come upon Kaieteur Falls. Five times higher than Niagara and plunging 741 feet into a river carved canyon, Kaieteur has the longest single drop of any waterfall in the world.
  • Our pilot will circle the falls to give everyone an opportunity to photograph its majesty from directly above before we land on a small bush runway nearby.
  • Here we will enjoy refreshments with our Patamona tribe guides before setting off on foot to view the falls from three amazing viewpoints.
  • Breathtaking as Kaieteur Falls is, it is not the only thing special about this place. The Guyana Shield is home to some of the world’s greatest biodiversity including many unique species like the poisonous Gold Frog that lives in the micro pond habitats created by one of the world’s largest bromeliads.
  • The brilliant, crimson colored Cock of The Rock is a rare, endemic bird we might come across during our walk around the falls. We will also see insectivorous plants unique in the world.
  • After several hours to take in the splendor of Kaieteur, we board our charter plane for the return flight to Georgetown.
  • After freshening up at our hotel, we can enjoy sundowners in the relaxed atmosphere of the patio and dine at Cara Lodge’s “Our Bottle Restaurant” that’s regarded the best in Georgetown.

Overnight: Cara Lodge, Georgetown

Monday/March 20

Highlights: Jungle river cruise and kayaking / Arawak culture / Rum Distillery

  • After enjoying a delicious and leisurely breakfast at our lodge, we transfer by mini vans 45-minutes to the banks of the Demerara River where we board motorized launches for a jungle river cruise along Pokerero Creek.
  • Winding our way up this serpentine waterway we should see several species of kingfishers, toucans and other beautiful birds before arriving at Santa Mission, an Arawak community that was converted to Christianity by missionaries in 1868.
  • Arawak guides will tell us about the traditional lives of their people in the past and the present day.
  • Of the nine tribal groups in Guyana, the Arawak are most famous for their woven baskets and they are available for purchase directly from the weavers at Santa Mission.
  • Continuing our cruise another 10 minutes by boat, we land at Arrowpoint Lodge, a beautiful wilderness lodge operated by the Arawak villagers. Here we will enjoy a delicious lunch before setting off in kayaks to explore intimate forested channels alive with birds.
  • Guests can also choose to hike or traverse by mountain bikes several different trails at Arrowpoint Lodge that lead to interesting features like an elevated Arawak hunting hut.
  • Later in the afternoon we meet up back at the lodge to enjoy refreshments and some relaxing time in traditional hammocks before returning along Pokerero Creek to our put in point.
  • On our way back to Cara Lodge we may have time to visit a distillery to see the process of creating Guyana’s famous rum in old oak barrels.

Overnight: Cara Lodge, Georgetown

Tuesday/March 21

Highlights: Tour of UNESCO World Heritage City – Paramaribo

  • It’s just a short drive from our lodge to Ogle Airport where we will check in for a 65-minute scheduled flight to Paramaribo, Suriname.
  • Landing in Suriname (formerly ‘Dutch Guiana’) we will clear immigration formalities and transfer to the luxurious 5-star Torarica Hotel in this beautiful World Heritage City.
  • After checking in to our rooms, we will enjoy lunch and a guided tour through the charming colonial streets of Paramaribo in the cool late afternoon hours.
  • Paramaribo was the location of the first Dutch settlement, a trading post established in 1613. The original town of Torarica (that our hotel is named after) was located further up the Suriname River.
  • Paramaribo is famed for its diverse ethnic makeup, including Creoles (African or African-European descent), Indian (East Indian descent), Maroons (descendants of escaped African slaves), Javanese (Indonesian descent), Indigenous (descendants of native population), Chinese (descendants of 19th-century contract workers), and smaller numbers of Europeans (primarily of Dutch and Portuguese descent), Lebanese and Jews. Paramaribo was awarded UNESCO status in 2003.
  • We will have a full afternoon to relax, lounge in the huge hotel pool, soak up the sun and explore the largest wooden city in the world. In the late afternoon guests can enjoy sundowners at the old Dutch Fort and go out for dinner in small groups in the lively tourist district with great food selections, live music and casinos.

Overnight: Torarica Hotel, Paramaribo

Wednesday/March 22

Highlights: Pepperpot Nature Reserve / Upper Suriname River Cruise

  • This morning we wake to the serenity of songbirds while strolling the lovely grounds of our hotel before breakfast.
  • At 9:00 am we check out of our rooms and travel over the high Suriname River bridge to Peperpot Nature Reserve.
  • There are countless abandoned plantations in Suriname, but Peperpot Plantation has been allowed to grow back into a beautiful forest rich in species: monkeys, agoutis, and a delightful range of Amazon birds and butterflies.
  • We will have the cool morning hours to stroll through the easy pathways of the nature reserve spotting wildlife and viewing the old plantation houses, a coffee mill and the “kampong” living quarters of Javanese workers brought to Suriname to work as laborers after the abolition of slavery.
  • Leaving Peperpot by 10:30 am, we now drive south 3-hours to the put in point for our adventure cruise to the upper Suriname River. We will stop half way to enjoy a good lunch at a riverside resort.
  • By 3:00 pm we reach our launch point where we board open-air boats for a beautiful 1.5-hour trip up the Suriname River to our lodge for two nights.
  • This waterway is the world renowned home of the Maroons, descendants of runaway African slaves that fled up the Suriname River four centuries ago, displaced the indigenous Amerindian tribes and re-established for themselves villages much like the ones they were stolen from in Africa.
  • Anthropologists say that these Maroon villages more closely resemble traditional African villages than those in the motherland as the African continent was colonized and overrun with missionaries after most of the slave trade ended.
  • To see the skill of our Maroon boatmen negotiating the river rapids as we work our way upriver is to see a skill brought from the rivers of the Congo and other West Africa rivers to South America as early as the 1600’s.
  • By 5:00 pm we will arrive at Anoula Riverside Resort, spread out over a large rainforest island. Here guests will check in to beautifully appointed rooms overlooking the rapids and have time to cool down in the outdoor pool or relax in a hammock with a chilled rum before dinner.
  • After enjoying a home cooked buffet dinner in the open-air restaurant, we will gather at poolside for a discussion on Maroon cultural etiquette and tourist protocols in preparation for our village visits the following day.

Overnight: Anaula Lodge, Upper Suriname River

Thursday/March 23

Highlights: Early morning wildlife / Maroon Villages & Dancing

  • Early risers will be rewarded with sightings of Squirrel Monkeys, Tufted Capuchins and possibly Channel-Billed Toucans searching out fruits in the lodge grounds and forest edge.
  • Others guests may choose to just sit back and sip hot coffee on their deck enjoying the river view and jungle sounds.
  • After a buffet breakfast we set off through trails and by boat to visit a number of Maroon Villages.
  • During our village visits, we will learn about the important role of women in Maroon culture, discover traditional medicines and foods prepared from the surrounding rainforest, taste fresh cassava bread hot off the grill, view houses that have not changed in over 400 years and be captivated by the delightful children.
  • Returning to our lodge for lunch, we have an afternoon to cool down in the pool or in the nearby rapids of the Upper Suriname River… a real Jacuzzi in the Jungle!
  • This evening after dinner we will close out our Maroon cultural immersion day with a vibrant drum and dance celebration as nearby villages arrive at the lodge to perform. Any lingering doubts that this is true African culture will be dispelled tonight.

Overnight: Anaula Lodge, Upper Suriname River

Friday/March 24

Highlights: Cruising the Upper Suriname River / Bergendal

  • After breakfast we will boat further up the Suriname River in search of birds and to see more of the daily river life of the Maroon peoples.
  • Checking out of our lodge after lunch, we then boat back down river to our waiting mini vans at the nearest road.
  • Our destination this afternoon is Bergendal Lodge, the largest riverside lodge in all of Suriname. Guests can have their choice of elegantly appointed rooms beside the lower Suriname River or high on a rainforest ridge surrounded by jungle sounds.
  • We will have a free afternoon to lounge in the resort’s infinity pool, take in a massage or pedicure, stroll through the extensive gardens to view agouti and weaverbirds or just chill out on the beautiful riverside deck bar and watch the setting sun work it’s magic on the landscape.
  • After a sumptuous dinner, we will gather on a riverside lounge for a candle circle to share some of our favorite memories of the trip thus far.

Overnight: Bergendal Riverside Resort, Lower Suriname River

Saturday/March 25

Highlights: Scenic flight to Kabalebo National Park / Wildlife Viewing

  • After enjoying an early breakfast by the riverside, we pack up and drive to the airport for a charter flight to Kabalebo National Park set in one of the most unspoiled tropical wilderness areas remaining on earth.
  • Flying over Suriname’s vast expanse of tropical rainforest that is 96% intact, guests can look down for 70 minutes on a rainforest that makes its own rain and a canopy that supports half of all life on earth.
  • Landing on a jungle airstrip deep in the Amazon Rainforest – 150 miles from the nearest road or village, we’ll be about as remote as most of our guests have ever been in their lives.
  • After welcome refreshments and a resort orientation at the main lodge run by indigenous Amerindians and Maroons, we will check into our rooms and prepare for our first wildlife viewing adventures.
  • There’s almost no better place in South America to see the whole range of Amazonian wildlife than here at Kabalebo… often right from the doorstep of the lodge.
  • After touring the river by kayak or dugout canoes in search of birds, caiman, anacondas and giant river otters, we will gather back at the main lodge for a delicious buffet dinner.

Overnight: Kabalebo Nature Resort

Sunday/March 26

Highlights: Exploring Kabalebo National Park

  • No one will want to miss sunrise over the rainforest, that magical time of day when nocturnal creatures are calling it a night and daytime species herald the dawn.
  • We may choose a number of wildlife viewing options this morning by kayak, motorized boat or on foot in search of Kalabelo’s abundant wildlife.
  • The more adventuresome may choose a trek and climb Misty Mountain, or explore some remote waterfalls. Other guests may wish to go with a guide to a cool, secluded place and let wildlife come to them. Sometimes the most intimate discoveries are the most rewarding. Kabalebo offers a digital detox… tonic for the soul.
  • Kababelo National Park is one of the best places in South America to see the elusive jaguar, but even if South America’s biggest cat eludes us, we can pretty well be guaranteed sightings of ocelots that frequent an area near the resort each evening.

Overnight: Kabalebo Nature Resort

Monday/March 27

Highlights: Wildlife Spotting / Boating / Fishing / Night Safari

  • We have one final full day to take in the wonders of Kabalebo. Some may wish to set off right after breakfast to try landing one of the huge fish the rivers here are famous for Red-tail catfish, Trahira, Surubim and Peacock Bass. Others may prefer trail hikes in search of howler monkeys, toucans, macaws and parrots.
  • This evening everyone will come together for a delicious buffet dinner and a chance to see some of the amazing night creatures after dark. Amazing frogs, toads, night insects and caiman can be found within a short walk from our lodge.

Overnight: Kabalebo Nature Resort

Tuesday/March 28

Highlights: Scenic Flight over Amazon Rainforest / Frederiksdorp Plantation / Dolphin Spotting / Mangrove Birds / Sea Turtle Nesting

  • After enjoying a leisurely breakfast in Kabalebo, we bid farewell to this extraordinary setting and fly back to Paramaribo on a charter flight.
  • Arriving 70 minutes later, we board a boat for a short cruise up the Commewijne River to a restored plantation house from 1760.
  • Before the colonization of Suriname, the indigenous Arawaks lived along the Commewjine River. (Cammai means Tapir and wini is water in the native Arawak dialect) By 1745 so many plantations had established along this river that the indigenous peoples were forced into the remote interior.
  • After checking into our rooms in the historic plantation house, we enjoy a good lunch and have time time to lounge in the pool and explore the beautiful grounds before we set off on a late afternoon adventure to spot Amazonian pink-bellied dolphins, see scarlet ibis in marshlands and view massive leatherback sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.
  • Returning to our lodge shortly after sunset we will clean up and enjoy a delicious dinner under the stars.

Overnight: Frederiksdorp Plantation

Wednesday/March 29

Highlights: New Fort Amsterdam / Victoria amazonica water lily / Closing Ceremony

  • Today is our last full day on this remarkable journey. Guests may wish to stroll through the lovely plantation grounds before or after breakfast.
  • Packing up, we boat down the Commewinje River to the confluence with the Suriname River where we will stop to explore New Fort Amsterdam that was set up to protect the hundreds of plantation owners along the Surinam and Commewijne Rivers from slave rebellions as well as attacks from foreign European powers.
  • A munitions depot here was disguised to look like a church so Christian European powers would be reluctant to shell it. Right beside the building is a pond containing the giant Amazon waterlily – Victoriana amazonica … with leaves big enough to rest a child on them.
  • Returning to Paramaribo, we check back into the luxurious Torarica Hotel and Casino for our final night. Located right in the heart of the tourist district and just steps from the UNESCO World Heritage old city, guests will have plenty of time to shop for souvenirs.
  • We will gather together at sunset for our closing dinner and ceremony at a private restaurant located on the elegant grounds of the Torarica Hotel.
  • In a beautiful closing candle circle, guests can retell some of their favorite memories of a trip measured not in the number of days, but how long it held us in its spell.

Overnight: Torarica Hotel & Casino, Paramaribo

Thursday/March 30

Departure

  • After a big buffet breakfast at our hotel guests will be transferred to Suriname’s International Airport for the scheduled flight to Miami or other destinations home.
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