I did not choose tourism, it chose me! Words from our wildlife guide Steven.
By: Tania van Velthuizen
In an interview with one of the freelance guides from Pejego Tours, Steven tells us about his career as a guide and according to him which is the most dangerous animal in Suriname! He also lets us know where to find the most beautiful place in Suriname!
Who is the wildlife guide, Steven?
Steven is a young man, 31 years old and a proud father of 2 kids. Certified wildlife guide from UTGS (United Tour Guides Suriname) and certified in the construction of Zipliners.
Why choose the tourism sector?
“I did not consciously choose tourism. As I said before, “I did not choose tourism, it chose me!” It is more my lifestyle and love for the animals and the forest that has driven me in that direction. I started at Bergendal resort in 2007. Here I helped with the setup of their Adventure centre, in particular, the work on the zip lining construction and then I started working for them. I did not even know what a guide was or what he did!! After this, I went to Costa Rica for 1.5 years and worked in the adventure centre. It’s here that I learned more about tourism and being a travel guide! Back in Suriname I first lived in Maripasoela (French Guyana) and then started working for Fietsen & Tour box. I worked there for 1 year as a guide, sales operator and in logistics and now I work as a Freelancer.
A wildlife guide, why that choice?
I like animals very much! By observing them you also know how they will react. I was lucky enough to go on an expedition with real animal connoisseurs. I am also very curious and over the years I have learned a lot about all kinds of animals that occur in the forests of Suriname from the smallest insect to the mighty Jaguar!
What do you like the most about your job?
I like everything about my job! I would like to introduce guests to the forest as how I experience it, with the emphasis on spotting animals and less on luxury! In my current work as a freelance wildlife guide, I also work with Pejego Tours mostly during their family trips.
What is the Most Beautiful animal you have ever seen in Suriname?
There are so many beautiful animals in our Amazon rainforest but the Jaguar is really the tip of the iceberg!! There are beautiful insects, colourful frogs, different types of monkeys, but it’s the moment when you see the animal! That gives it the WOW factor! It could also be super small insects that have not been discovered yet or that was not photographed yet.
Where is the most beautiful place in Suriname?
I think the most beautiful place is the Table Mountain in the heart of Suriname! During an expedition to this mountain, I saw animals that I think can only be found there, such as certain poison frog species, the green toucan and bellbirds. Not many people come to this area and there are no villages in the vicinity, so everything is still pure!! The structure of the Mountain (is like a table), the rocks and rivers all 90 degrees as if God; Creator of the world made it by hand!!
The Most dangerous animal according to you in Suriname?
The common lancehead, fer-de-lance or the Labaria is the most dangerous animal in Suriname! The Labaria is also the only very poisonous snake that occurs anywhere in Suriname! But falling trees can also be dangerous because you cannot fathom them!
Have you ever been bitten by a wild animal?
Yes, I have often been bitten by insects, ants and caimans. Oh yes and also been bitten by snakes, yes yes and also by a Labaria. What to do if you are bitten by a snake? My advice is don’t panic!! If you stay calm, your blood will also flow smoothly and go to the doctor as soon as possible!
How do you get all the knowledge about animals?
I gained knowledge about animals by observing them in their own environment in the forest, my interest and through self-study. And to be honest, I also learned a lot from animal experts who came with me on expedition.
Have you ever seen the boss of the forest, the Jaguar?
Yes, I see the mighty Jaguar at least once a year… but there are 6 cats in Suriname who are also beautiful!
The last question because of the Corona, tourism has come to a standstill, what are you doing now?
I volunteer at a rescue project for Spider monkeys. The monkeys that have lived in captivity are escorted into the forest. I’m in the field team and have to follow and observe the monkeys, and of course, write everything down. This to see if they can live independently in the forest after the captivity.
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Just give us your wishlist and Pejego Tours will take care of it.
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Tania van Velthuizen is the owner 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 the Amazon rainforest. At the time, she fell in love with everything it had to offer, including the Amerindians 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.
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