The smallest of the three countries of the Guyanas, Suriname is more than 80% pristine and near impenetrable Amazonian rainforest and is slowly becoming one of the best ecotourism destinations in South America and beyond. One third of the country is protected in nature reserves, and it’s home to a wonderful mix of wildlife, such as jaguar, giant armadillo, giant river otter, tapir, sloth, eight species of primates and 400 bird species including the Harpy eagle and the Guiana Cock of the Rocks.
Suriname is a real off-the-beaten-track travel destination; its inland is practically uninhabited save for a few indigenous Amerindian settlements and Maroon villages, and outside the capital, the best way to get about is by canoeing down its latticework of rivers or on the mostly unpaved roads.
Suriname’s residents are proud of their country’s ethnic diversity - an intriguing combination of Dutch, Asian and African roots, which is evident in their culture, festivals and food. This is nowhere on more obvious display than in its UNESCO capital city, Paramaribo, found on the country’s coast. The historical inner city is awash with wooden Dutch colonial architecture; mosques, temples, synagogues and churches all stand happily side by side; and its wide-ranging culinary influences from four different continents mean you can eat something different every night.
It’s remarkable that for such a small country, Suriname makes for such a varied experience for visitors.