There are lots of places on the planet that qualify as the back of beyond, but the tropical South American nation of Suriname can certainly lay claim to the title, as Andy Isaacson reveals in his Dec. 7 story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Once upon a time, long before Costa Rica became a prime eco-tourism destination for North American travelers, Suriname was a haven for birdwatchers, but political troubles in the 1980s shut down the country’s small tourism industry. Just when the country was about to sell off big chunks of forestland to timber interests, Conservation International stepped in and helped convince the government to stake its future on conservation and eco-tourism development rather than strip out its natural resources.
Jungle lodges have sprung up, or rather, been built over time, and it’s possible to explore deep into the heart of the rain forest and stay in a lodge owned and operated by the indigenous people of the region. Tourism numbers are likely to remain small, and with 90 percent of the country covered in rain forest, the opportunities for exploring a world largely unchanged from its primordial state are excellent.
Paramaribo, the capital city, also has its appeal. Its main core is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the Dutch colonial architecture, despite being in the back of beyond.