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5 – 7 March 2014

I had initially decided to go further into the Surinamese interior – a public bus to Atjoni and from there a boat/canoe up the river. However, everybody I talked to said it would be very expensive and a commercial rather than local experience. Consequently I skipped it and instead decided to go to a small guesthouse by the Brokopondo lake close to Brownsweg. Besides being much cheaper it also had the advantage that I could walk there (20k) and wouldn't get stuck with transportation (can I get a boat back down the river at a fair price in time to catch the bus to Paramaribo, are there a public bus and if so is there a seat available; etc.?)... I was ready to leave at 9am but heard monkeys in trees close by and found 6 howler monkeys (a.k.a. baboons) - it was a good spot for eating because they stayed for an hour... what a great finish to my stay in the park. I left at 10 and walked down the dirt road – so much easier downhill and with a much lighter bag. After 10k two Dutch guys (Jan and Stan) gave me a ride the last 3k to the main road - they had visited the park for a couple of days and were on their way to Tonka Island in Brokopondo Lake close to Brownsweg.... We talked a bit and they ended up inviting me along – it was even be free except for what I had to pay the owner which ended up being very little. We stocked up (well, they already food for a small army – “camping in style” Stan called it) and drove to the boat where we set out after a bit of waiting time. A strange experience cruising the lake with all the dead trees sticking out of the water – the enormous lake was artificially created about 50 years ago when they built a dam to provide electricity for a bauxit company (what we humans do out of greed). Besides the few caretakers the island was desolate except for visitors – there was room for 80 guests but there was only us three... After settling in we did a short walk in the forest before dinner and the evening we spent talking on the balcony enjoying the pleasant temperature...

Stan got up early next morning and did a short walk while Jan and I slept in. Stan is an arborist which is cultivation, management, and studying of trees. The island forest is supposedly pristine but he didn't have that feeling when we walked the trail the previous afternoon. So after breakfast he and I did a walk randomly through the forest off the trail and it gave him a better feeling – besides the trees and plant we saw countless parrots and a big group of (unknown name) monkeys passing by quickly in the tree tops. After lunch Jan and Stan borrowed a canoe and went fishing while I spent almost 3 hours walking around the island – great weather when I took off but later it got overcast and I had a couple of short showers. I saw countless tracks on the banks but relatively few animals/birds – small parrots, vultures, numerous small black monkeys, an agouti and 5 caymans.... For dinner Jan barbequed a delicious chicken and then early to bed after a long day.

After breakfast we packed our stuff and the boatman picked us up at 10 and took us back to Brownsweg. Before heading to Paramaribo we shortly visited nearby Stone Island and had a picnic close to upscale Bergendal. We were back in Paramaribo mid afternoon where I got my room. What a great experience with two amazing guys – friendly, interesting and very generous. Stan opened my eyes to the world of trees and Jan – living most of his life in Suriname – provided a lot of information about history, culture, society, etc.

As everything in Suriname organised tours are expensive – 2 days 1 night to Brownsberg from Paramaribo is around EURO 160 or USD 220 – by doing it myself I had an 8 day trip to Brownsberg and Tonka everything included (also accommodation and food) for around USD 130. It takes a bit of preparation and patience but so much the greater the experience...

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