Published: August 7th 2009August 6th 2009
kayaking on the Surinam river
The road leading to Brownsberg Nature park was just hellish, unpaved dirt road with dibs left and right, being at the back of the van did not help and arriving at the Nature park i felt a bit dizzy and nauseous i have to walk it off, pacing back and forth until i regain my composure, was it worth the trip? let's backtrack a bit.
Andrew and Diana owner and operator of Rainbow tours picked me up from Zus and Zo GH in Parbo and we drove straight to Bergendal, honestly I haven't a clue what this place is all about, i just wanted an excursion out of the city, and tonight i will spend the night there sleeping in a hammock. The road after leaving the city got bad but the Chinese apparently were building the road and according to Andrew 600 Chinese men live in a village, there was a sign when we passed it that Andrew pointed to me, and for 2 years they will try to finish the road. Also on that same road there is a bauxite processing company, raw material for aluminum, Surinam is one of the biggest producers, along with gold mines(Rose Bel
company is also here) etc. we are on the only highway in Surinam and most of it is under construction.
Bergendal I soon find out is being advertised as an Eco park, they have kayaking opportunities in the Surinam River, hiking on top of the hill thru dense forest and the canopy ziplines which is very popular here.I immediatley thought, what the hell am I doing here but a chance to stay out of the city was better than anything. They started me up with the canopy tour, ziplining thru 11 platforms. Done this before in Costa Rica and that was cool so looking forward to this one. As usual I was the only non Dutch speaker, I was grouped with a family from Aruba and they spoke Papimiento a mix of English, Dutch and Spanish , made me remember my old pal Joey from Bonaire. The ziplining was fun but at the same time we are on it 2 maintenance guys from Costa Rica are also doing repairs so that made us a bit worried, what if they forgot to tighten some bolt or whatever, nevertheless nothing happened to anyone, except for the young kid on the longest
my home for the night sleeping in a hammock
zipline crossing the river ending in the canopy, he got scared he cried while ziplining.
There was an older woman who seemed to enjoy every minute of it! I think it was the mom of the group.
I wished I can relate to them but i cant chit chat as i dont speak Papimiento, only time i understood them is when one guy had a chat with the maintenenace guys from Costa Rica in Spanish. this would be the pattern for me always the only non Dutch speaker, Surinam maybe not yet so popular with the backpackers but extremely popular with the Dutch people for summer holidays, lots of packaged tours from Holland, keeps the tourism industry busy, one wonders if they ever have a need for backpackers at all here, they made visa issuance in French Guiana stricter to 20 visas a day I was told. LP has to update that information.
After the zipline, trouble started for me, next activity kayaking down the river, i was grouped, since i was alone with a Chinese/Dutch family,we went out the river and 10 minutes out we came back already! they are so busy they try to rush all
the activities and a very bad customer service too, when Andrew and Diana left me they endorsed me to them but they have forgotten about me and hence i missed the last activity the one I was looking forward to, a walk in the forest! They were even surprised i was not with the group, someone screwed up and I was annoyed, later on after they shut, the manager apologized to me and promised me tomorrow i will get a private tour. Everyone else left and i was alone now there were maybe 4 or 5 huts with hammocks, I was the only one who stayed and slept in the hut. At sunset i noticed as it got darker that the embers from last night's bonfire on the beach was still glowing so i rekindled it and put some left over wood and it came roaring again, so i entertained myself with that while getting drunk with Parbo beer. Andrew and Diana left me some bread and peanut butter and jelly, and lots of soda, but where is dinner? Either they forgot to leave it to me or they were expecting me to have a peanut butter jelly sandwich for
supper and for breakfast the next morning!
The hammock was ok, not the most comfortable but I fell asleep quickly to the sound of bugs making noises, was not bitten by mozzies luckily. I got bothered many time by this golf cart that comes every hour or so, i think it was the security guard making his rounds, one time he stopped on the hut next door and i was woken up by this loud horrendous snoring! he fell asleep in the hammock . he woke up later never to return thank goodness. Got up and got ready for the hike, 9am already still they havent called me so fuming i went up the desk but they explained the guide is not here yet, 10 minutes later a dude with rasta looking headress approached me, mild mannered and very polite, this is Hans, the resort historian and guide to the trekking up the hill. I told him what happened yesterday, he apologized, he was told he had everyone for the last trek of the day, not his fault but the management. As we have no time to hike, he showed me the museum he built with artefacts from the
river from the old plantation, he told me the sroty of the place and also gave me some lessons on herbal medicine, and why he wears the headress! Very funny guy and down to earth, my anger subsided and enjoyed my conversation with this interesting dude. Born in FG he is a memeber of the tribes of Israel, he never tried to convert me, in fact if i did not ask he would not have told me about his beliefs. Anyway eventually Diana turned up to pick me up so i said bye to him.
6 of us are going to Brownsberg, all Dutch again except me, yipee! I felt left out because they all speak in Dutch and occasionally in English, Diana asked me why i was so quiet, i told her because i cant relate, there is nothing to say when you cant understand the conversation, i felt bad for her she was trying her best to make me feel at ease. I told her if i have questions i will ask her, go on and speak Dutch with them all you like, so long as you dont talk about me! the road was horrendous! We go
Historian and trekking guide, Hans
up the mountain in this zig zaggy dirt road the van was rocking leaft and right we felt like martinis, badly shaken, not stirred. relieved, we finally arrive at the park, we try to get our composures back, as i have said i felt a bit dizzy with all the shaking. we went to the view point to see the Lake then had a delicious lunch of beand and chicken something. One lady in the group spoke to me she had been to Galibi last weekend while I was in Matapica and she saw turtles as well, one time she said 4 turtles nesting in a row, next to each other! But it was at night and it was in FG, they were taken there by boat.
Went for a walk to the nature trail to see the waterfalls, the walk was nice but tough, getting down to the irene Falls the biggest Diana said, took 45 minutes, along the way enjoyed the forest, with big trees, and insects, birds, was a pleasant walk for me a struggle for most, we made it to the falls, very underwhelming, to me it was just a trickle, you cant swim, you
can only shower. We hung out there for a bit then went back up along the way encountering some monkeys. 3 of us decided to see the other waterfall Leo falls, nothing special, quite disappointing really, the only consolation is the walk in the forest was nice. We got back, had a snack then left. I was a bit disappointed, i wished i waited for a better excursion like to the interior but this is what was available for my schedule, at least i have seen it but wont do it again, i will have to wait till Guyana to do a proper trek in the forest. Suriname is a wonderful country, my only complain is its infrastructure is still developing, you cant go to attractions on your own you have to do a tour, there are no buses that goes to the main attractions like Brownsberg or Tafelberg, Stone Islands etc.The best thing i have done is the turtle thing, if i come back here it would be because of them and the best time to go is end of April to 3rd week in May where you will see tons!
There are more photos below