OK to park - the President is away!
We are currently parked within the World Heritage Site of the "Historic Inner City of Paramaribo" in Suriname, right next to the president's palace (N05.825985 W55.149362). We are told that it is OK to park here as the president is away (so if you are planning to park here, you might like to check on the president's movements first). It is a splendid, quiet, central place to park. There is room in our car park for 50 cars, we are the only vehicles parked here today (Sunday).
The journey from Georgetown in Guyana to Paramaribo in Suriname is a journey from old Britain to old Holland. For example in Guyana, most of the trucks (still quaintly referred to as lorries) are Bedfords. In Suriname they are DAFs. In Guyana everybody speaks English. In Suriname everybody speaks Dutch (and as in Holland, they also speak good English). In Guyana there is a muddled mixture of house styles and religions. In Suriname there is a tidy mixture of tidy houses and religions. Suriname also has dykes, canals and bridges all in a Dutch style.
Two ferry crossings are involved in getting here from Georgetown. The first ferry is in Guyana at Rosignol (N06.270457 W57.534403). This ferry is unusual in that you load from the side of the ship onto a turntable that rotates thru 90° and you then park on the ship lengthwise. Well that is what you did years ago when the turntable worked! This ferry runs every hour or so and costs around $20USA for a campervan.
The second ferry is between Guyana and Suriname and the terminal is 13km south of Springlands (N05.780765 W57.170998). This ferry runs only once a day departing Guyana at 11:00. You need to be at the ferry by about 08:00 to be sure of your place in the queue. (It looks as if you could wild camp just outside the ferry terminal gates.) In contrast to what it says in our guide books, this ferry and the associated customs and immigration offices on both sides of the river are tidy, and well organised, if rather slow. You should expect to spend from 08:00 to 14:00 getting out of Guyana and into Suriname.
First you report to Guyana police (just outside the ferry terminal), then you buy your ferry ticket:
Some return tickets cost more than two single ones! Tickets can be paid for in Guyana dollars or USA dollars or a mixture. There is also some sort of customs charge of about $1USA payable in Guyana dollars(?).
Immigration formalities start around 09:30 (or when they turn up) with customs a little later. When we bought our ferry ticket we were given a customs form relating to our vehicles. This we duly filled in and handed to customs. This turned out to be a mistake, with customs getting very confused and at one point refusing to let Clive board the ferry. Eventually everything was sorted out.
Note however that you do need evidence of third party insurance in Guyana to board the ferry to Suriname! You do not need evidence of insurance in Suriname (yet).
The ferry is in excellent condition, very clean, with straight thru dive on/drive off. The crossing takes less than 30 minutes.
Immigration and customs on the Suriname side was very simple. However insurance was a potential problem. Insurance seems to be compulsory in Suriname and is not sold at the border. After some discussion, customs agreed that we could drive to customs headquarters at Nieuw Nickerie where they would arrange for an insurance agent to meet us. The first half of the 35km drive to Nieuw Nickerie was over poor dirt road with big pot holes and some corrugation.
Customs at Nieuw Nickerie (N05.947798 W56.994393) could not have been more helpful. Not only did they arrange for us to get insurance (about $30USA for one month), they also arranged for us to change money and let us park up for the night within their secure compound.
Paramaribo has turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant place (at least the old town). There are lots of beautiful wooden buildings in the Dutch style.
The old fort (right next to where we are parked) has free guided tours at 10:30 and 12:00 on Sundays (but only in Dutch and you do have to pay to get in).
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changed on 2006-10-15
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