Suriname lies in the heart of one of the greatest wilderness regions of tropical South America. Its sparse population (only about 750,000 people) is settled almost entirely near the coast, leaving the vast interior in a wild, unspoiled state. Formerly Dutch Guiana, Suriname has been a sovereign, democratic nation since 1975. It's a delight to travel in Suriname -- things generally go at a relaxed, even-keeled pace. Field Guides has operated many tours to Suriname in the recent past, and we're delighted to be going back to Suriname with this revised, succinct itinerary visiting several bird-rich venues.

Isolated from both the Amazon basin to the south and the northern Andes to the west, Suriname maintains a flavor all its own, both in its natural history and in its people. Its population reflects a rich mixture of cultures and religions, from Javanese, East Indian, European, Chinese, African, and Amerindian to Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. Add to this Suriname's Dutch heritage, and you have a country distinctly different from any other in South America. Infrastructure within the country continues to improve, and a growing number of good birding sites have become accessible.

The bird life here is also quite distinctive. Rufous Crab Hawk, Gray-winged Trumpeter (here, probably the easiest trumpeters anywhere in the world), Caica and Red-fan parrots, Green-throated Mango, Crimson Topaz, Guianan Toucanet, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Arrowhead (Guianan) Piculet, Black-throated and Band-tailed antshrikes, Dusky Purpletuft, Crimson Fruitcrow, Capuchinbird, White Bellbird, Guianan Red-Cotinga, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, White-fronted and Black manakins, White-throated Pewee, Pale-bellied Mourner, Glossy-backed Becard, Rose-breasted Chat, Blue-backed Tanager, Finsch's Euphonia, and Red-and-black Grosbeak are just a few of the many specialties birders come to Suriname hoping to see.

With vast areas away from the coast still untouched by humans, Suriname offers an outstanding lowland rainforest experience, and this will be the primary focus of our tour. Taking advantage of the country's extensive nature reserve system -- particularly at Brownsberg Nature Park -- we'll spend a considerable portion of our tour birding in the very heart of the forest. We'll have simple but adequate accommodations in the park and at a new lodge to the southwest of Brownsberg with some great birding trails literally at our doorstep. On daytrips out of the capital city of Paramaribo and nearby Zanderij, we'll also visit Suriname's grassy savannas, marshes, remnant coastal plain forest, and coastal mangrove swamps.

We can expect to tally about 375 species of birds on this tour, all of which are well illustrated in the new Suriname field guide (Brill). Many of the typical Neotropical bird families are well-represented, including the following cross section: 5 species of macaws, 25 hummingbirds, 6 jacamars, 8 puffbirds, 40 antbirds, 10 manakins, 11 cotingas, 70 flycatchers, and 30 species of raptors. Join us for this fabulous tropical birding experience to Suriname!

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