Transit to Suriname

Saint Laurent du Maroni Travel Blog

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We reserved this day for a transit to Paramaribo in Suriname. We did not know how easy is to get a bus to the border and we had no idea how easy it will be to cross the river. The Lonely planet book said that there are only 3 ferries per day (early morning, noon and evening), but it mentioned you can get to other side by private boats. But without trying one never knows, so we rather woke up before 6AM to be sure we can get to Paramaribo in one day.
After waiting for about 1,5 hour at the bus stop, none of the buses goes our direction. One of the bus drivers asks us where we want to go and then he replies it will not be easy to catch a bus from where we were waiting. He tried to explain us where to go, but then he called someone and voila, in 5 minutes we're sitting in a minibus heading to St Laurent du Maroni.
The driver is very friendly, speaks very good English and drives very fast. When he tell us he's from Suriname, we understand why... One hour later, we stop at Iracaubo where we have to change a bus (and it is supposed to come very soon). That 'very soon' turned out to be 2,5 hours.
We arrived to St Laurent around 11AM, so we still had about 2 hours to the ferry. We asked taxi driver to take us there, but he drops us at another place where private boats leave from. Suddenly, there are 10 people around us trying to get us on their boat. We pick one guy who is not shouting that much, and 10 minutes later, we're checking out at the customs in the harbor and crossing the river. The guy asked for $15 but on other side he says it was misunderstanding and he wants 15 euro.
I don't care about that, it was still cheap and very comfortable to do it this way. He also shows us where to go and brings Surinamese immigration officer. After passing through immigration, we pick a very nice minivan, which is supposed to take us to Paramaribo. The driver takes a quick ride through the streets of Albina to pick some more people. It does not leave until full, but it took only 5 minutes to find enough passengers. This is completely different world than French Guiana. People are selling fruits, food, everything on the streets, they want your attention, they want your money.
After some minutes we stop at some village and are asked to change the bus. The nice new minivan we picked goes back to the border to fool another people and we are left in the old one, quite crowded and without the air-con. Also the driver changes and we get a boy, about 16-17 years old who is probably a son of our first driver.
Anyway, it did not turned out to be bad. He drives very fast, 100-130 on very bad road, with lots of pot holes, apparently he knows the road very good, because we don't hit any of them as he slows down before the worst parts.
Still at day light we're entering Paramaribo by a huge bridge. The driver takes everyone to his house or hotel. We are staying in a very cheap guest house just few minutes from the center. In the evening we only take walk downtown to find some place to eat (very good Indian fast food) and leave the main sightseeing for tomorrow.
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Saint Laurent du Maroni
photo by: IvanR