5 reasons to visit Suriname & Cuba during 1 holiday!
By: Tania van Velthuizen (Pejego Tours) and Eline van Emden (CubaNeo Travel)
Do you want to visit 2 continents during 1 holiday? This is possible! Visit Cuba, an island in the Caribbean known for its vintage cars, rum, cigars and swinging music on the beach. Continue to Suriname, a hidden gem in South America, spot wild animals in the Amazon rainforest and meet the multicultural locals! In five points I will tell you why you should put Suriname & Cuba on your “to-do” list!
Go on adventure in Cuba and Suriname during your summer holiday!
1) UNESCO World Heritage List
Suriname and Cuba are both on the UNESCO World Heritage List! The inner city of Paramaribo with its wooden colonial buildings and the largest nature reserve called Central Suriname Nature Reserve are both on UNESCO’s World Heritage List! A real “must-see” in Cuba, is the colonial town of Trinidad thats also on the UNESCO list. The colonial buildings and squares in the center of this small town have been beautifully restored and there is live music in the evenings in the main square. Because Trinidad is very popular with travelers, the town is losing authenticity. We therefore recommend visiting the town of Remedios because it resembles that of Trinidad in terms of atmosphere, but is not crowded yet!
2) Unique private tours
Travel through Cuba relaxed and carefree with an American classic car with a private driver. Because you the fact that you will have an experienced driver, you will see more unique places along the way. The nostalgia of a trip to Cuba is complete with this unique experience! You can also drive through Suriname on private tours with your own cook and guide if you want to go off the beaten track. Sail in a traditional boat, take impressive forest walks through the Amazon jungle and come face to face with wildlife such as caimans, sloths, agoutis and anteaters. Climb the Voltz mountain and visit Blanche Marie, the largest waterfall in Suriname! In the vicinity of Paramaribo you can spot sea turtles and pink dolphins and sleep in a restored Colonial house on a plantation.
3) Meet the locals and prepare a meal together
To get a better impression of life in Cuba, it is very nice to spend part of the day with a Cuban family. During the excursion “going local in Havana” you get an insight into how a Cuban family lives. Get your groceries together, KEEP in mind this is very different in a country where there are hardly any supermarkets! Help prepare a typical Cuban meal such as the Ropa vieja, Yuca with mojo or Ajiaco that is of course consumed together. Do you also want to sleep with locals in Cuba? Then you can spend the night all over the island in “casas particulares”, freely translated bed & breakfast. These are small-scale private initiatives by Cuban families. Sleeping here feels like staying in a mini hotel with personal attention and service. You have a lot of privacy, but also – if you need it – a Cuban family to fall back on and where you can go with questions. Stay in the Marron village of Semoisi and experience village life up close during your stay in Suriname. Swim in the river, bake your own cassava bread, relax in the Tapawatra waterfalls, climb the Ananas mountain and enjoy a fresh pineapple, if you are lucky! Help on an agricultural plot and dance to the tones of Saramaka traditional music. The feeling of freedom that I experience every time I go there is indescribable!
4) Explore nature!
Where Suriname consists of 90% Amazon rainforest, in Cuba you have to travel longer distances to see the different mountains and landscapes. In the west of Cuba, the village of Viñales is known because the tobacco leaves of the best Cuban cigars grow here. In central Cuba is the mountain range Sierra del Escambray which is well suited for hiking tours that leads to spectacular waterfalls! The largest mountain range in Cuba is located near Santiago de Cuba. The Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro started its from this mountain range in the 1950s.
Suriname is the greenest country in the world and the variety of wild animals is enormous! For example 400 different kinds of birds and 74 kinds of snakes! I came face to face with the tapir while kayaking on the Kabalebo river, it was trying to climb the banks of the river! Wow, it’s huge! Suriname is also home to the largest giant otters in the world! Take a boat safari on the Bigi pan lake to spot thousands of migratory birds such as the Flamingos. Go swimming, kayaking and fishing in the Brokopondo lake which is the same size as the municipality of Utrecht in the Netherlands! On Babun Island I came face to face with a sloth ! A little further on is the Brownsberg nature reserve where all 8 monkey species of Suriname occur! The howler monkey can be heard from afar!
5) Cities that are full of culture and history!
Of course, when visiting Cuba, the capital Havana cannot be missed! The atmosphere in the city is relaxed, visit the old town, the square of the Revolution and the bay of Havana where two fortresses stand. More than a thousand kilometers away on the other side of the island is the city of Santiago de Cuba. Take a look at the famous Basilica “El Cobre” which is located on top of the mountain. The statue of the Virgin of Mercy in this basilica is an important religious symbol for Cubans.
In Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, you can taste and experience the diversity of cultures! The Synagogue that stands fraternally next to the Mosque! Visit the 137-year-old Saint Peter and Paul Basilica, which is built entirely of wood and whose interior is made of unpainted cedar wood. The Presidential Palace, Fort Zeelandia and covered Central Market are also worth a visit and overlooking the majestic Suriname River! You can buy everything from fresh fish to tasty Street Food at the various markets! Enjoy a fresh Javanese satay, a Chinese saw baw or Indian bara on the early Sunday morning!
Want to book immediatly?
Psst…. There are several times a week direct flights from Suriname to Cuba. So… hasn’t the above convinced you to book your summer vacation right away? Need more specific information about Suriname or Cuba? Give us a call or email us so that we can make your wishes come true!
The authors of this blog are Tania van Velthuizen of Pejego Tours and Eline van Emden of CubaNeo Travel.
Tania van Velthuizen is the manager of Pejego Tours. She was born and raised in Suriname. She studied Surinamese law and loves to travel. Before going to Europe, she worked at the Ministry of Regional Development, so she visited every bit of Amazon rainforest. At the time, she fell in love with everything it had to offer, including the Indians and the Maroons, the fauna and flora. She also wrote a book on the land rights of Indigenous people and the descendants of the Maroons.
Eline set up CubaNeo Travel together with her Cuban husband Yuri. During her study International Development Studies, Eline traveled to Cuba for the first time in 2007. That trip did not bring what she expected! Two years later she was back in Cuba and met Yuri. She then got to know the other side of Cuba and this brought deep admiration for the country and its inhabitants. After spending a lot of time together in Cuba, Yuri and Eline got the idea to organize trips to Cuba from the Netherlands. During these trips, the guests get the chance to know Cuba in its purest form in addition to the hotspots!
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