A visit to Bigi Pan national park has been recommended by several travellers we met and, now that we have done it, i can say it is really worth it. The wildlife, in particular birds, you can see here are amazing and staying a night on the lake is fun. Would have wished for a little higher water-level, so you could swim, but heh that is dry season for you.
Suriname Day & a bit more of Paramaribo
Every 25 November Suriname celebrates its independence from Holland. I am not sure it was such a smart decision given how much the country has fallen behind french guiana, but heh. Still a good party with plenty of live music in the palm garden putting Surinamese cultural diversity on full display. A welcome change from the hospital environment we enjoyed in the afternoon during Laura’s check up…
We also had more time to explore Paramaribo and finally made it to the fortress, which is a mere 5min walk through the Palm garden from Zus & Zo guesthouse. Has a distinctly different feel than most of the city … Nice.
Heading to Bigi Pan National Park
The park is located in the North West of Suriname and takes some 4/5h bus or shared taxi ride. We used the time to continue with Laura’s German lessons we had started for real at Zus & Zo while waiting for transport.
Bigi Pan covers 130,000 hectare – half of which is water (it name big pan comes from the pan like shape of the lake and the river) . Water levels are entirely regulated by rain fall and hence it was good to wait for a few days of rain, as the waterways are very shallow (50cm). To separate the canal leading to the lake from the salt water of the river, there is a barrier over which the boat needs to be pushed.
Birds, Birds, Birds …
Bigi pan is a bird watchers paradise with more than 100 species about, many staying here for winter. To name but a few, just on the way to our lodge we saw kingfishers, the black eagle, brown hawks, owls, the white ibis etc.
Later in the afternoon and after a brief kayak tour we headed further out on the lake towards a sleeping place for birds with hundreds of pink flamingos that can be seen from afar, pelicans, the famous white ibis and the impressive red / scarlet ibis. Sadly, mobile pictures dont do the amazing scenery any justice 📸
On our night tour we also saw caiman eyes 🐊 and a snake 🐍 sleeping in the tree before heading back to our lodge on stilts right on the lake.
Amazing sunrise in Bigi Pan
The night was a decent one albeit a bit short to make it up in time for a beautiful sunrise over Bigi Pan. Pictures speak a thousand words …
Before we headed back to Nickerie, we enjoyed a mud bath with the other (all Dutch) travellers… Fun and apparently good for you.
Nieuw Nickerie, skipping British Guyana 🇬🇾
We had a night in Nickerie as the locals call it on both ends of our Bigi pan tour. While it is the 2nd largest town in Suriname, there isn’t much to see here. However, it eases travel stress given 4/5h one way journeys to / from Paramaribo.
Nieuw Nickerie is the gateway to British Guyana – either through an official ferry (10am daily) about 1h south of Nickerie or by ‘backtracking’ in speedboats from Zeedijk (SRD70 one way). The latter is semi-legal, as the government wants to prop up the use of official ferry services, combat smuggling and prevent accidents that frequently cost lives.
We decided to skip Guyana. We had only 4 days left and would need two just for the commute. That would leave us with a little time in Georgetown, which is a pretty dangerous place these days.
Instead we headed for the city of Groningen… Very early on …