Central Suriname Nature Reserve
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve (CSNR) protects some of the most remote, ancient, and pristine wilderness on Earth. It comprises more than 1.6 million hectares of primary tropcial forest. The Reserve forms a corridor linking the three most important protected areas in central Suriname: the Raleighvallen Nature reserve in the north, and the Tafelberg and Eilerts de Hann Gebergte Nature Reserves in the central and southern portion of the corridor. The area —an area the size of New Jersey— protects the watershed of one of Suriname’s most important river systems, the Coppename River, where there are countless varieties of flora and fauna, many of them endemic. The Raleighvallen Nature Reserve is one of the most important protected areas in South America. Vegetation there consists mostly of moist highland forest, the same forest that covers approximately 80 percent of Suriname. The Tafelberg Nature Reserve is located in a remote area that includes the geographic center of Suriname, and has no surrounding human populations. This area is made up of primary rainforest and savanna ecosystems. The Eilerts de Hann Gebergte Nature Reserve has no human populations living within or around its boundaries. This reserve includes parts of the Eilerts de Hann Gebergte mountain range and is made up of primary tropical rain forest and savanna ecosystems. Since there has been very little exploration in this Reserve, very little is known about is flora and fauna. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is an important precendent in protecting large blocks of undisturbed tropical wilderness. But it is only a first step. The challenge for Conservation International and its funding partners is to continue these efforts to protect the ecological viability of the world’s last remaining tropical wilderness areas. Conservation International has been active in Suriname since 1991, using an integrated approach that draws on both the knowledge and expertise of highly trained Surinamese conservationists as well as CI’s on-the-ground experience in twenty-two other countries of the world.
Rather than sell the country’s forests to the highest-bidding timber companies, the Surinamese government made a commitment in 1998 to protect the forests and explore the long-term economic benefits of sustainable development and ecotourism. Conservation International (CI) joined Suriname to help design, fund, and promote this effort to carefully blend biodiversity conservation and economic opportunity.
Seven years later, the uniquely constructed tourist facilities on Foengoe Island—tucked neatly within the CSNR—are poised to become a premier destination for ecotourism in the Guayana Shield, the massive, two billion-year-old geological formation that underlies five countries in northeastern South America.
Raleighvallen Nature Reserve
This nature reserve has an area of 78,170 ha and is situated along the Coppename River. It can be reached by airplane (less than an hour) or by car (120 miles) to be followed by a 3-4 hour boat ride. The reserve headquarters and the tourist lodges are located on Fungo Island in the middle of the Coppename River.
Raleighvallen (Raleigh Falls) is the name for the extensive set of rapids near Fungo Island in the upper Coppename River.
The reserve is internationally known as a bird and monkey paradise. You’ll see toucans, macaws and parrots and 400 other species. Hanging from the tree branches on and around Fungo Island you’ll notice the pendulum-shaped nests of the weaver birds (oropendulas) which are large, colonial nesting birds with yellow outer feathers. These nests can be close to a meter long.
Another interesting feature is the Voltzberg. This granite sugarloaf mountain can be reached on foot in about three hours by jungle trail from Foengoe Island. The Voltzberg rises about 150 m (375 ft) above the forest canopy. The night can be spent in a hammock in a sinple jungle camp at the base of the mountain. During the night you will be surrounded by the sounds of monkeys, tree frogs, and other creatures from the tropical rainforest.
The reserve is also the home of the spectacular and rare cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola).
There is the possibility, as well, of encountering deer, tortoises, tinamous, and several species of monkey on the 7 km (one-way) hike to the mountain. The trail is good but the damp climate of the rainforest, and the steep climb up the Volzberg, make it a heavy trip, especially for the out-of-shape hiker.
This park is situated 130 km (90 miles) south of Paramaribo, and can easily be reached by car. The park headquarters and tourist bungalow/lodges are situated on the cool, 500m (1500 ft) high Mazaroni Plateau. At several places on the plateau there is a beautiful view over the Brokopondo Reservoir. And trails lead to creeks, waterfalls and lookouts, giving spectacular panoramic views of the interior. Except for the park staff, there is no permanent habitation in the park itself. The Brownsberg is known for its rich flora and fauna. The Brownsberg is also a paradise for birdwatchers. Of the 650 birds known for Suriname, more than 200 can be found here. Some of the birds are rarely seen because they live in the forest canopy, although their songs and whistling are heard regularly. Irenevallen is a waterfall of about 10m high in the Brownskreek. It is about an hour’s walk from park headquarters. After a heavy rain it is wonderful to stand under this natural shower. Witikreek is a secluded rushing stream at the foot of the Brownsberg. You can walk to it in about a two-hour downhill hike. Once there you can swim, nap in a hammock, and have a picnic.
Galibi Nature Reserve
Galibi Nature Reserve is world famous as a nesting site for endangered sea turtles. Four species come ashore to lay their eggs between February and August. The nearby Amerindian villages of Christiannkondre and Langemankondre can also be visited, giving you an opportunity to purchase Carib indian artwork. This is a wonderful place to relax for a few days. Here are undisturbed sea turtle nesting beaches, where you have the best chance to observe different species of turtles: the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). Eilanti Beach is the only beach where mass nesting aggregations (arribadas) of the olive ridley are known to have occurred in the Atlantic region. The hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) nests only sporadically in Suriname with rarely more than twenty-five nests per year for all of Suriname.
The Galibi Nature Reserve is situated in the Northeast corner of Suriname, at the mouth of the Marowijne River, bordering French Guiana. Because the saline oceanic Guiana Current and the freshwater flow of the Marowijne River collide along the east and north borders of the reserve, it is exposed to many different environmental factors. This results in a great biological diversity characterized by the Suriname coast.
The Galibi reserve and the nearby Amerinidan villages are accessible only by boat, about 1 1/2 hours downstream from the drop in point, Albina. The villagers are allowed to use the reserve for fishing, hunting, plant collecting and small-scale agricultural activities.
Central Suriname Nature Reserve