Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest's Suriname birding tour explores a country that is one of South America's best-kept birdwatching secrets. Our Suriname tour achieves comprehensive coverage of this bird-rich but small country and records numerous great birds, including Rufous Crab-Hawk, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, Guianan Red-Cotinga and Crimson Fruitcrow. This has to be the best place in the world to see trumpeters, with the Grey-winged Trumpeters of Brownsberg awesomely tame and approachable.
Monday 5th March —
Monday 19th March 2018
Palumeu Extension: Monday 19th March — Saturday 24th March (6 days)
Leaders: Sean Dilrosun and Eduardo Patrial
Group Size Limit: 9
Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and accommodations ranging from comfortable to simple (and one night very basic)
The delightful country of Suriname (sometimes spelled Surinam) is the smallest sovereign state in terms of area and population in South America. It had a turbulent history of colonization and immigration and is ethnically, linguistically, culturally and religiously extremely diverse. Hindus (shipped in from India as workers), Creoles, Javanese, Maroons (descendants of escaped West African slaves) and Chinese form the bulk of the population and there is a distinctive Dutch heritage, which results in a very characteristic and unique flavour.
Suriname does not form part of South America’s Latin cultural and language heritage and exudes a more Caribbean essence. The official language is Dutch, but the inimitable Sranantongo is the lingua franca. Most of the inhabitants live along the Atlantic coast and in the easy-going capital Paramaribo, where old Dutch-style wooden buildings beg for paint.
Suriname lies on the Guyanese shield, just north of the equator, between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers and is wedged in between the small countries of Guyana and French Guiana. More than three quarters of the country is occupied by forests, which are still mainly untouched by humans, so the evocative calls of howlers and spider monkeys still reverberate through the jungle. The country has several splendid nature reserves and national parks including the fabulous Central Suriname Nature Reserve (where the Raleigh Falls and the Voltzberg are situated) and the Brownsberg Nature Park.
This small country incorporates a variety of habitats including grassy savannas, freshwater marshes, coastal mangrove swamps, tropical lowland jungle and scrub-covered granite outcrops, resulting in a rich flora and fauna. The birdlist tallies just over 700 species, but the main attraction for the international birder is the occurrence of a handful of birds that are rarely recorded elsewhere like Rufous Crab-Hawk, Green-throated Mango, Blood-coloured Woodpecker, Arrowhead (or Guianan) Piculet, Black-throated and Band-tailed Antshrikes, the diminutive Dusky Purpletuft, the rare Crimson Fruitcrow, the glorious Guianan Red-Cotinga, White-fronted Manakin, the very rare White-throated Pewee, Boat-billed Tody-Tyrant, the ultra smart Blue-backed Tanager, Finsch's Euphonia and Red-and-black Grosbeak.
Tiny Suriname is also a great place for magic encounters with the highly prized Grey-winged Trumpeter, flocks of which can still regularly be encountered in its pristine forests. The trumpeters at Brownsberg have become quite tame and offer an out of this world birding experience. In addition, an accessible lek of exhilarating Guianan Cocks-of-the-Rock will leave us stunned, as the bright males display only feet away.
We will start our travels in sleepy Paramaribo, from where a day trip will take us to an extensive area of mangrove, which is home to the striking Rufous Crab-Hawk. We will also search for the restricted range Blood-coloured Woodpecker, Arrowhead Piculet and Crimson-hooded Manakin in coastal swamp forest, while nearby marshes hold beauties like Black-collared Hawk and Long-winged Harrier.
On our way south to the Brownsberg, we will make an extended stop in the savanna and the nearby low stature woodland, where we should encounter Bronzy Jacamar, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Black Manakin and Rufous-crowned Elaenia. A stretch of riparian forest should give us Cayenne Jay and Finsch’s Euphonia.
The large Brownsberg Nature Park is a forested laterite plateau situated about 70 miles (115 kilometres) south of the capital. Gold mining activities in the beginning of the 20th century have created some high waterfalls, which form a great attraction for visitors. The diverse forest types hold a different selection of species, and include marvels like Black Curassow, the restricted range White-fronted Manakin, the tremendous Blue-backed Tanager and the hard to see Red-and-black Grosbeak. Monkeys are well represented here and we may well encounter Brown Bearded Saki and the delightful Guianan Saki.
Further inland lies the large Central Suriname Nature Reserve, which is mainly inaccessible, but luckily the Raleigh Falls-Voltzberg core area provides easy entry into fabulous lowland rainforest. Jungle edges along the Coppename River should produce wing-rattling Marail Guans, mind-boggling Red-fan Parrots and gorgeous Spangled Cotingas. The Voltzberg is a barren granite outcrop with a height of about 460ft (140m) that offers spectacular vistas over the surrounding endless jungle. The amazing spectacle of lekking Guianan Cocks-of-the-Rock will be one of the climaxes of the tour, as seeing these improbably-adorned birds dance and display is a truly riveting experience. Patient stalking along the forest trails may yield goodies like Band-tailed Antshrike, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Spotted Antpitta, Tiny Tyrant-Manakin and the obscure Boat-billed Tody-Tyrant. The evocative roars of Black Spider Monkeys and Guianan Red Howlers will greet the dawn, while pairs of flying Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaws offer a magnificent spectacle.
Upon returning to Paramaribo a boat trip in a mangrove-lined estuary will produce mega views of stunning Scarlet Ibises and a great selection of other waterbirds.
The extension will take us far to the south, to the remote Indian village of Palumeu. We will spend several days working the narrow paths of the magnificent forests surrounding this cozy lodge, situated near the convergence of the Tapanahony and Palumeu rivers. The highly sought after Crimson Fruitcrow can usually be found from a viewpoint on top of a granite outcrop. The extraordinary Crimson Topaz is not uncommon here, Guianan Red-Cotingas can sometimes be found in the canopy and we have a fair chance of encountering the rare Red-billed Woodcreeper.
Birdquest has operated tours to Suriname since 2012.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel in Paramaribo is of good standard and the lodge at Palumeu (extension) is of medium standard. Elsewhere accommodation is simple but pleasant, with shared bathroom facilities (and there may have to be more than two people per room at Brownsberg). At Voltzberg we will spend one night in hammocks in a guard-post building deep in the forest. It is a wonderful location but conditions are very basic, with washing at a nearby stream and toilet facilities a quiet spot in the forest. Road transport is by small coach and roads are reasonably good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy to moderate.
Climate: Mostly hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes overcast and it may rain at times. It is often very humid.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £3190, €3760, $4170 Paramaribo/Paramaribo. Palumeu Extension: £1420, €1680, $1860.
Price includes all transportation (including Paramaribo-Palumeu-Paramaribo flights), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £115, €136, $151. Extension: £115, €136, $151.
The single supplement for the main tour applies to the hotels at Paramaribo and Zanderij. Elsewhere, single accommodation may be available on arrival at Brownsberg and Raleigh Falls provided there are enough spare rooms available. There is no extra charge for single accommodations at these locations. No single accommodation is available for the night at the guard post at Voltzberg.
Deposit: £400, €480, $520. Extension: £200, €240, $260.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
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