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Last update Februari 01 2012.
Last month we did an excursion into the Jungle of Suriname and driving around by rental car together with Maarten and Daan of SY Lola.
First we did a trip with the car to fort Nieuw- Amsterdam. Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam is located on the split of the Suriname- and Commewijne River. This defence fort was built between 1734-1747, the occasion was an attack by the French at Fort Zeelandia. Everything Is beautifully maintained and the 2nd gunpowder House is surrounded by super-big waterlillies. After this historic site we go towards Marienburg, a former sugar cane plantation and since 1880 property of NHM (Dutch Trade Society). There was a huge central sugar factory here that made sugar and rum untill 1986 when they closed the factory. Our volountary tour leader had been a former higher class worker in the factory and together with his stories and photo book we get an impression of how it has been. After this we drove to Moengo but that was a bridge too far, Surinam is bigger than we thought. So back to Paramaribo we went, where we passed a police checkpoint, had to stop. The checkpoints are there to intercept drugs and illegal immigrants who arrive in Suriname through neighbouring countries, and thus on the road from Moengro.
2nd gunpowder house at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, Surinam.
Our next tour with a 4 WD mini bus brings us up the Brownsberg. The Brownsberg is described as follows: 'the Brownsberg is a jungle paradise within easy reach' and that's exactly as we experienced it. The drive takes only 3 hours and we sleep in a hammock under a canope in this National Park. As we go up the mountain with the mini bus, the mountain road is narrow and slippery of the rainfall. The bus creeps upwards to the Mazaroni plateau. From here our first hike to the Leo Falls start. We see a Surinamese rabbit and 5 minutes later a troop of trumpet birds in the same piece of forest.
The trumpet bird's a beautiful black-blue with grey bird.
During our walks our guide Boyke tells us much about the jungle, he seems very knowledgeable. We see primary forest all around us, lianas hanging from trees, high treetops, ferns, bright blue butterflies, flowers with deep colors, the beauty around is indescribable. At the falls we also find the parasol ants which are known throughout the whole of the Amazon. They wear small pieces of leaf to the nest as food for the larvae. The Leo waterfall is small but nice, the environment surrounding it impressive, here we see shiny large beetles, bats and a Caiman.
Later that day the sounds of the jungle guide us up again to the plateau, for back at the camp when we put up our hammocks for the night we get a visit from a bunch of monkeys. One small howler monkey gets too curious, falls out of a tree and runs for another tree again. Our second hike that day is to the lookout point over the Brokopondo reservoir. The view is great, you can even see the treetops of the dead submerged trees sticking out above the water.
When night falls and it starts to rain, the jungle awakens and many sounds fill the air. The howler frogs are the champions (or it must have been those two homo-sapiens, subsort Brabo by the name of Maarten and John that we heard). At nighttime the temperature goes down pretty fast on the mountain, it's cold in those hammocks!
We wake up with low-hanging clouds. First breakfast and then a 4-hour hike to the Mazaroni falls. Nature continues to amaze us and it is a pity that the jungle in Suriname is attacked by agricultural land, illegal logging and goldmining.
View from Brownsberg, Surinam.
On 10 January, John's parents come. The days that follow we do a lot of site-seeing. We begin in Paramaribo at Fort Zeelandia, our first stop which we still haven't seen for we knew mum and dad would want to see it too. This beautifully restored fort gives a glimpse into the history of Suriname. After that we walked through the old district of Paramaribo, on the world heritage list of Unesco since 2002.
John and Leo arrange a rental car so we had three more days of crossing the country. First we drove to Nieuw Nickerie, this village is located on the border with Guyana. A long and exhausting drive, but one that offers us an astounding diversity in landscapes, almost all varieties that Surinam can boast.
Sunday 15 January we go for nature instead of history. There is a butterfly farm in Lelydorp where they breed and sell butterflies to the US and EE. We watched the whole process, from harvesting to growing the butterflies and back to harvesting again, much more intensive then you can imagine.
We drove to Santigron, a Maroon village. We didn't really feel welcome, but after we meet a local person that presents himself as a tour guide of sorts we walked around the village. The village has traditional wooden huts and recently stone houses. And big 4WD SUV's... We get a brief explanation about the life in Santigron, very westernised with only some traditional ways left to our eyes. After the tour we made a lunch stop at Domburg, where there's a market and a small cruiser community as it is the official anchorage in the Surinam.
Day three of the rental car tour we have a plantation day. First stop is Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, for us again but we don't mind as it's really nice to walk around there. Second stop is Frederiksdorp, just across the Commewijne River with a corjaal (local crafted river canoe). Frederiksdorp is the best maintained plantation in Suriname and now serves as a hotel and restaurant. There is still one last plantation on the menu before we drive back home and that is the Peperpot plantage, unfortunately for us it is closed.
After all the sight-seeing we had some relaxing days at the Torarica Resort pool with John's parents before they flew back to Holland.
Now John's parents are gone and we make JoHo ready for departure. The departure comes faster than we had in mind, but there seems a wonderful weather window from tuesday 24 to friday 27 and as we want to try to get to Barbados (which is close-hauled, beating all the way) we like the wind and seas to be gentle. So we will sail to the Carieb somewhat sooner than we thought.
23rd of January we checked out from Suriname, that night we said goodbye to our friends Ciska en Johan from MV van Straelen. I think we will see them in july again somewere in the Southern Caribbean. We say bye bye to Suriname, thanks for the nice time we had , we will remember you, we love Su. It is Tuesday 24 January, the correct time signal is 07.35 when we pull out our anchor and flow along the Suriname River to the Atlantic Ocean again.
Initially there is little wind and low seas, remaining for two days. Beautiful comfortable sailing conditions, we don't go fast with only 120 miles a day as we move slow against wind and tide. Then it changes, in what seems a squall we hit 35 knots of wind. Seems a squall as we never saw one that lasted 4 hours. And because of that we get high, steep waves. I'm too late with my seasickness pills, feel terrible, lying on the couch. Unfortunately for John, he had to stand watch outside for 2 days in rain and high waves (while still recovering from dengue fever).
Well, despite all the trouble we arrived in Barbados in just over 4 days, not bad. We got a suprise (well, we did expect them here somewhere) Catamaran Slapdash is at anchor right next to us. As we know Jaime and Seth from our sailing time in the Bahamas and the Keys in 2008 and they have been around the globe in that time we've got lots to talk about.
If you're interested in sailing the BAHAMAS, BERMUDA, MALDIVES or BONAIRE have a look at our books at SAILADVENTURES where the books are available online.
You can always mail us for more info on these cruising grounds or cruising in general, we'll gladly help you out.
JoHo is on anchor at Carlisle bay, Barbados at 13 °05,5' N - 59°36,9' W.
To go off again and sail to less explored areas and generally nice cruising grounds, maybe begin the start of a circumnavigation (although to circumnavigate is not the goal).
JoHo will be our main address, floating office and home for this year.
Still we'll have to work some in between where and when possible, we may compile a few cruising guides on our way.
John and Jolanda