Brownsberg, Suriname is a national park that is not too far away from Paramaribo. Using a tour company it can be quite pricey to visit, however we got to and stayed at Brownsberg on a budget! During our stay, we enjoyed getting up at dawn when it’s still misty and cool to explore the jungle and find waterfalls. You can do all the hikes at Brownsberg independently, and it often feels like you have the whole jungle all to yourself.
Why you should visit Brownsberg, Suriname
We spotted monkeys, lizards, beautiful butterflies, snazzy birds and so many amazing insects. The low rumble of howler monkeys in the morning and evening sounds unearthly. The viewpoints took my breath away. In the restaurant, basic but tasty homemade creole food is cooked up. It’s definitely a back to nature experience worth having if you are visiting Suriname. We found our 2 night stay at Brownsberg extremely relaxing and rewarding!
Visiting Brownsberg Suriname with a tour companies
Most tour companies in Paramaribo offer Brownsberg National Park tours, these are usually day trips but can be multi day. These are offered at around €65 (or about £55) per person for a day trip, and €135-€165 (£115 – £136) per person for an overnight stay. For both of us, these prices were out of our backpacker budget! And we didn’t want to leave as soon as we arrived – we wanted to spend a couple of nights there.
The budget option
Instead, we made our way to Brownsberg ourselves using public transport and a fair bit of walking (I am not exaggerating on the walking). But it cost us the grand total of 87p each one way, which is around €1 (SRD 8.50). A bit more pocket friendly!
As far as getting a tour there, I loved Brownsberg but I would say it isn’t worth the money. I think if we’ve spent €300+ on our 2 nights there, we’d have been disappointed. Unless they are hiding a luxury resort somewhere, the facilities are very tumble down and basic! We spent around that on my diving qualification, so for us it doesn’t appear to be value for money. If not having a guide is what really concerns you, you can hire a tour guide at Brownsberg for £7ish (€8 or SRD 70).
The way we did it made it affordable, gave us enough time there to explore the jungle and we didn’t feel like we were out of pocket, so thus we found the whole thing more enjoyable.
Planning our trip to Brownsberg Suriname
We wanted to go to Brownsberg independently and for a few days to see more animals and make the trip more worthwhile. If we had only visited for a day we’d have been a little disappointed. It’s a long old drive (3 hours if you drive the whole way) and most of the animals hide out during the day – I don’t blame them, it’s hot!
A number of people on TripAdvisor had complained they hadn’t seen any animals and doing a 6 hour round trip drive to Brownsberg in one day was tedious. I’d say if you want to do it, and you don’t mind pretty basic accommodation and being in the middle of nowhere, stay for a minimum of two nights like we did. We wished we stayed longer but it was nice to get back to a room that wasn’t like an episode of Nature Watch – Jungle Special!
We received a lot of misinformation when trying to work out how to get to Brownsberg on the cheap, but we got there in the end. This blog contains all the information you’ll need to get to Brownsberg independently on a budget, we did the work so you don’t have to!
Stinasu Office, Paramaribo
As a starting point we headed to the Stinasu office in Paramaribo, which is responsible for the Brownsberg nature reserve. This is located at the following place:
Google maps isn’t clear where it actually is, so head for Het Rumhuis museum as it’s next door (and you can sample some rum whilst you are at it!). The office isn’t open weekends and closes at 2:30pm on weekdays (Surinamese-style).
You have to book your accommodation and potentially pay the park fees at the Stinasu Office, more details further down!
We spoke to the lady at the Stinasu Office, and she said that to get to Brownsberg independently we could do the following:
- Take the public bus to Brownsweg then get a taxi (jeep) to Brownsberg from there. The taxi would cost £20 – £25 (around $200 Surinamese dollars) per person each way. We later found that the pricing she told us was incorrect.
- Hire a car to go all the way to Brownsberg.
- Take the public bus to nearby Brownsweg and then walk “2 hours” to get to Brownsberg. We later found out the walk is actually 4 hours.
Option 1: Take the public bus to Brownsweg and then get a taxi (jeep) to Brownsberg National Park
We discounted the taxi (jeep) straight away, as we thought it would mean spending £100 (€116) to get both of us there and back to Brownsberg from Brownsweg when the bus journey from Paramaribo to Brownsweg return was less than £4 for both of us! However, after talking to a few people we met at Brownsberg, it turns out the taxi (jeep) isn’t as expensive as what we were told at the Stinasu Office.
There is a guy called Eddy who works in the Brownsberg area and offers a one way jeep ride for 300 Suriname dollars (£30/ €35) but you’ll have to negotiate. This is not per person like we were told at the Stinasu Office but 300 Suriname dollars per jeep, so much more reasonable.
Eddy’s number is:
You need to give him a ring before you get to Brownsweg. You could feasibly jeep all the way there and walk back to save money. This means you won’t have to do the sweaty 4 hour long walk up the hill we had to from Brownsweg to Brownsberg…I’ll explain later!
Option 2: Renting a car to get to Brownsberg National Park
We looked into renting a car. We found a more affordable option of £35 (€40) per day including all the insurance. This seemed more reasonable!
There was a catch though, the road between Brownsweg and Brownsberg is atrocious. It will destroy a normal car. You need a SUV. Which brought it up to £76 (€89) a day with insurance. Yikes! I repeat, if you do want to hire a car, you cannot do it without an SUV. This is the road:
Normal car (which you can’t get to Brownsberg): 10 Surinamese dollars (£1/€1.20)
SUV: 12,50 Surinamese dollars (£1.20/€1.40)
10-15 person bus: 15 Surinamese dollars (£1.50/€1.80)
25 person bus: 25 Surinamese dollars (£2.55/€3)
Option 3: The cheapest way to get to Brownsberg Suriname
Finally, we decided the best and cheapest option was to take the public bus to Brownsweg (the nearby town) and walk to Brownsberg. This option is not for the fainthearted though, the walk is epic and pretty hard (and we’ve hiked in the Himalayas!). We wouldn’t recommend doing this in the wet season, it would be a real struggle to get up the hill in the mud.
Getting the public bus from Paramaribo to Brownsweg
We checked the government website which said there are buses at 6am and 1pm but wanted to double check if we were going to get the 6am one! So we asked at the Paramaribo main bus station information desk (the Nationaal Vervoer Bedrijf shack in between Heiligenweg Street and Knuffelsgracht Street), and found out there is a public bus at 8:30am from the following location:
Basically just outside the church called St. Rosakerk in Paramaribo. The bus station information desk actually gave us it left from Saramaccastraat outside the Tropicana Casino, which is broadly the right area, so maybe it leaves from there occasionally. We asked around and people pointed us in the right direction. The bus left at 8:28am. Punctual.
When you are looking for the bus, look for a larger bus which either says Brownsweg or Waki Basu (sounds like wacky baccy teehee). Ignore all the guys with mini vans, they will bother you and can be confusing! The government bus is what you are looking for, not a private mini van.
The bus was a little hot with limited legroom but absolutely fine. It can’t go very fast as the road is a little patchy in quality (some bits new, some bits old and bumpy). It took 2 hours to get from Paramaribo to Brownsweg and it stopped for a toilet/food break once.
The bus dropped us off at the main shop (Super Liu Market and petrol station) in Brownsweg. If you are doing the walk between Brownsweg and Brownsberg, pick up supplies and make sure you have water. The packets of current buns taste just like hot cross buns and are pretty cheap!
The epic walk to Brownsberg National Park from Brownsweg
To find the way, face towards the main shop in town, called Super Liu Market and Petrol Station, turn right and walk down the main road. The road to Brownsberg is the 5th turning on the left from Super Lui Market. You are heading in the correct direction when you pass another supermarket on your left (called the Brownsweg Supermarket) and then another supermarket on the right hand side of the road (Hui Fen Supermarket). Do not turn off at any of the smaller roads, whatever google map says! It’s wrong!
You need to find this very faded sign which says 13km to the Rainforest School. The Rainforest School is in Brownsberg and you need to head down this road.
From this point, you are about a 4 hour walk from Brownsberg, which is pretty tough and uphill!
After around 45 mins / 1 hour walking on this road, the road splits. You will see this faded grey sign to the Rainforest School. Turn left at this sign. At this point, you are around a 2 hour 45 – 3 hour walk from Brownsberg.
The next important sign is the one that says “Verboden te jagen” (which means no hunting in Dutch). Keep left at this sign. Brownsberg is around 2 hour 15 – 2 hour 30 minutes walk away. This will be the hardest bit of the walk, as much of it is uphill. Do not go down any side roads, keep to the main track.
After around 2 hours walking along the track, you will see the “Welcome to Brownsberg National Park” sign. Yes, this is the only point you explicitly know you are on the way to Brownsberg National Park and you are actually in the right place. Keep left at this sign. You are almost there!
Then finally you will see a sign for the reception, keep left here as well.
4 Hour Sweaty Walk
We were told in the Stinasu Office in Paramaribo that the walk was only 2 hours, and that it was only 7km. It’s 13km to the accommodation at Brownsberg. I would only recommend it to people of a high level of fitness. It’s a friggin long hot road, with a lot of it uphill. It took us over 4 hours (with a couple of 10 minute breaks).
We Got Lost
We did get lost twice as there are no useful signs and the road splits a number of times. Luckily locals helped us out. I’m glad we packed lots of water and enough food as we weren’t expecting such a tough trek just to get to the accommodation. We were picked up by a jeep 1km from the accommodation, typical! But at least I got to have my first hitchhiking in the back of a jeep experience.
The walk was pleasant and we saw loads of lizards and pretty butterflies, but sometimes it was hard to enjoy as we weren’t even sure we were going the right way. I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the rainy season – there are lots of places bits where the path is flooded when there isn’t much rain, and the mud is very slippery and sticky! Trying to get uphill through that, with all your stuff in the rain would not be fun.
Brownsberg Suriname: Booking accommodation and paying the park fees
You can book the accommodation at the Stinasu Office in Paramaribo and they will call ahead for you. There are 5 main options regarding this:
- hammocks at 50 Surinamese dollars (£5/€6) per night but you have to bring your own hammock
- camping at 50 Surinamese dollars (£5/€6) per night but you have to bring your own tent
- room for 4 people with shared bathroom without a lake view at 200 Surinamese dollars (£20/€23) per night
- room for 4 people with shared bathroom with lake view at 300 Surinamese dollars (£30/€35) per night
- lodge for 700 per night (£70/€83)
We stayed in the room for 4 people without a lake view. This is actually in the Rainforest School (or I guess what was the school at some point) towards the back of the site. It was pretty basic, that 200 Surinamese per night isn’t covering having any cooking equipment, a bin, proper curtains or a fan and the whole place feels like a scout lodge, but it was fine for a few nights. We had a few visitors in the night – big spiders, moths, frogs, toads and more. If you are terrified of all bugs then Brownsberg might not be the place for you!
Please note, although the 200/300 options include kitchens, our one had no kitchen equipment (e.g pots, pans, kettle, plates and cups). It had some gas hobs and a broken fridge though – helpful… There’s no shop around either.
Park fees can be paid at the little office at Brownsberg or beforehand at the Stinasu Office. Park fees are 35 Surinamese dollars (£3.60/ €4.20) per person for the entire time you are staying.
Things you’ll need for a 2 night stay in Brownsberg Suriname:
- towel (we love our lightweight travel towels)
- sleeping sheet (the sheets provided are stained and don’t fit the grubby mattress properly)
- waterproof coat
- mosquito repellent
- rucksack suitable for trekking (I use the older and no longer available version of this Osprey backpack. This newer backpack has good reviews too though)
- t-shirt’s (x2)
- trousers or zip offs (1)
- sun hat
- walking boots/shoes (for travel, I recommend this amazing pair of Salomons)
- underwear and socks
- drinking water or a travel water filter (although you can buy water from the café)
- toiletries (shower gel, shampoo etc)
- hand soap
- hand sanitiser
- swimming costume
- garbage bags
If you want to cook:
- all your own cooking equipment and food
Price of food at Brownsberg café
As of 2019, the food cost around 40 Surinamese dollars (£4.10/€4.80) per meal and 27.50 Surinamese dollars (£2.80/€3.30) for a litre of beer.
The restaurant serves nice homemade food, drinks and crisps and you can animal watch as you eat your dinner.
Cool insects LOVE the restaurant, we spotted a large praying mantis, a big beetle and a giant grasshopper chilling out in the window frames of the restaurant.
Getting back from Brownsberg National Park To Paramaribo
The walk back from Brownsberg to Brownsweg took us just over 3 hours as it was cooler and downhill. We met a cute tortoise on the walk back, we rescued him from the middle of the road.
We asked what time the bus went from Brownsweg and got told multiple different times. One person said 10am, another said 11am, another said 12noon and then someone else said 1pm. The government website says 6am and 1:00pm and the bus info shack in Paramaribo said 1.30pm.
Turns out the bus back to Paramaribo actually left at 12:40pm. So none of the times stated above.
The bus leaves from outside the ALU supermarket (just across the road from the Super Liu Market and Petrol Station).
We got there at 10am, but there is no need to get there that early unless you enjoy watching the locals drink beer at that time and rowdily negotiate the price of a goat’s leg. Head there for 11:40am in case the bus decides to leave early. All the locals got on at 11:40 and it sat there for an hour before it left. The bus on the way back did not stop for a toilet/food break. It took just over 2 hours because of traffic and we got off close to Central Market in Paramaribo but it was carrying on, presumably to the main bus stop.
Top tips for Brownsberg Suriname
- The route from Brownsweg to Brownsberg is on Maps.ME, so download the Surinamese map before you go. If you search for Brownsberg Nature Reserve you should find it.
- A Dutch couple we met were given some info sheets including a hand-drawn map at the park office, but we weren’t given anything. The map was useless and the start of the walking routes are marked and easy enough to follow (although the terrain is quite tricky with steep and slippery hills – probably even more so in the wet season). All the routes are also on Maps.ME
- It’s worth downloading the Dutch language pack for the Google Translate app as well! You can take pictures of signs and translate them as well as translating conversations with people. The staff speak little English at the park (although we were asked about Brexit randomly!). There’s very little signal in the park so download this before you go!
- I would recommend going to Mazaroni Top in Brownsberg in the evening. You get a cool breeze and amazing panoramic views of the lake and little islands! There is a sheltered bench there so alternatively take a book and spend the afternoon.
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