When it comes to preserving its natural reserves, the small South American nation of Suriname is a world leader in preserving its natural ecology, and for creating reserves which protect the land from human development and allow the natural habitat to flourish unchallenged from human agricultural impediment.
Suriname is located on the north east coast of South America and it is the smallest independent nation on that continent. Fortunately, the government has taken some very proactive steps to ensure that great swathes of Suriname territory remain undeveloped so that the rain forests can thrive pretty much intact and as pristine as possible.
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve encompasses about 1.6 million hectares of rich tropical forest in the central west of the country. Although given the generic name mentioned above, the reserve encompasses three former reserves, so a very diverse range of flora and fauna has been allowed to exist for many years pretty much protected from the excesses of human habitation.
Some of the most noticeable features in the reserve are large granite dome-like monoliths which rise from the jungle floor. The amount of granite in these mounds is enough to heat up and create micro climates in the bush around them, making them a little more diverse than other parts of Amazonia.
Some of these domes are really enormous, with the largest being the 245 metre-high Voltzberg.
Because the majority of the population in Suriname live in coastal areas, much of the interior remains uninhabited and even undiscovered.
There is an amazing variety of animals living within the forest including the Giant River Otter, Lowland Tapir, the Giant Armadillo, jaguars, sloths and eight species of primates. Living within the streams and rivers swims the American Manatee and many types of endemic fish, and the trees are filled with about 400 species of birds.
It is possible to visit the reserve, but tourism is tightly controlled, and the only real way in is to join an organised tour.
These are camping tours and are promoted by STINASU, which is the official nature protection organisation within Suriname, or licensed tour companies. Travel through the area is normally via boat along the Coppername River and its tributaries in an area called Raleighvallen (Dutch is one of the official languages), and includes a visit to Raleigh Falls.
Suriname is one of the least-visited countries in South America so a visit to the Central Suriname Nature Reserve means that you can enjoy pristine rain forest in a small group without the hassle of battling large crowds.