Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let's go to Suriname!

After spending about 5 days in Georgetown, we were ready to go and Jill was anxious to get to Suriname. The drive to the border takes a few hours through several coastal towns. We were again traveling on a Sunday, so hoped that both the ferry and the borders were operating. You must take a ferry at the Guyana/Suriname border to legally enter Suriname. Lots of people illegally enter (backtrack) by taking smaller boats across. The ferry used to only run once a day, but now it runs at both 9:00am and 1:00pm. We lucked out because the ferry runs on Saturday and Sunday now too. It does not run on holidays. We arrived at the ferry at 12:00 with no Guyanese dollars left, just US, hoping to board.

There were already several people and vehicles waiting for the ferry. We would recommend getting to the ferry no later than 1 hour before it is scheduled to depart. When you arrive, first you park with the other vehicles, then buy a ticket. Tickets cost $10 per person and $10 per bike, but must be paid in either US dollars or Guyanese dollars.  (NOTE:  you must show both your Suriname visa and proof of Suriname moto insurance to purchase the ticket.)  There are plenty of money changers outside the gates, but their rate is not very good for Surinamese dollars.  Once you have your ticket, do not lose it and wait for the Immigration to start working. There must have been some kind of silent signal because everyone got up at the same time and approached immigration in mass. Checking ourselves and the bike out of Guyana was straightforward and handled at the same place you buy tickets. Once you are checked out you go to a waiting area that has food and restrooms.

The ferry is about a 35 minute ride across the Corentyne river.

Once to land, the vehicles drive off the ferry and everyone gets in the immigration line for Suriname. After passing immigration, the customs line is right beside it. Unfortunately for us, the maximum time you are allowed into Suriname at that border is 1 month.

The closest town is about 30 km away, New Nickerie. It is the 3rd largest city in the country with almost 15,000 people. We stopped at a halal food shop and Jill got to eat her favorite, Saoto soup, again. We were also able to get directions to a really nice hotel that cost us $25. We learned that the cheap hotel in town had burned down about 3 days prior.

We walked around town trying to find a place to eat. We happened upon Nancy Land, which we thought was great. It was set up for kids, but had lots of booze too. The food was not bad.

New Nickerie also has a large market you can check out. In all, it is a decent place to spend a night or two, but not much more time.

Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname is about 200 km from New Nickerie. The 2 lane road has been redone recently, is well signed, and it was a smooth and quick trip to the city.

(crop duster plane next to us)

(we quickly learned that drempel is Dutch for speed bump - there were lots along the way)

(despite driving through many small towns, there were not many food options until we got to Coronie, where we found this typical warung with delicious food)

As seems to be a recent tradition for us, we got rained on again for the last hour or two of the ride. We rode through the suburbs of Paramaribo for some time in search of downtown. Once Jill found some familiar landmarks we were able to find the hostel she stayed in frequently. Unfortunately, it was completely booked, so we had to stay across the street, which cost us about $27 a night, for a very small room with shared bath.

We were both excited to be in Paramaribo.  The timing was perfect.  We needed to be here before December 1, Jill's official start date for her Peace Corps Response position.  We hoped to be here before Thanksgiving, as that evening the US ambassador hosts a dinner for all PC volunteers, which would be a great opportunity for Jill to meet some of the people she'll be working with, without having to travel hours to meet them at their site.  And we made it on Sunday, with 3 days to spare!


  1. Im doing this in a few months, some great information, cheers

  2. Any idea how much it was for a car across the Corentyne River - Guyan to Suriname

    I know it was a while ago ;)