Into the Wild: Hiking Through the Amazon Rainforest

Picture this: backpack overflowing with hiking gear, bucket of food to last a week, hammock slung over your shoulder, heading into the World’s largest rainforest. Alone.

This isn’t a fantasy. It’s real and doable. And I’ve saved the best for the last – it would cost you less than USD 20 per day once you get to Brownsberg National Park, Suriname.

The trickiest bit of this trip is booking accommodation at the camp. The local STINASU office in Paramaribo allows you to book a shed where you can hang your own hammock for USD 10 per night. The shed also features a gas stove and a few multipurpose utensils allowing you to cook your own meals. For the lazy and more affluent campers, a restaurant (nothing fancy) serves meals near the park headquarters.

The Trails

Leo Val

Val in Dutch translates to waterfall in English. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, it took a hike to Leo Val for me to figure this out. Leo Val is the most easily accessible waterfall. Although it’s reduced to a tiny trickle during summer, the view’s still worth the trek. More interesting though is the tiny cave right next to the falls. A few decades ago pork knockers, testing their luck, dug this cave. This would be gold mine was abandoned as soon as the forest was converted to a National Park and now plays home to a noisy bat population. Being no Bruce Wayne, I couldn’t work up the courage to walk into the bat cave but had to settle for a few pictures from the outside.

Mazaroni Top

Seated at the top of a tiny hill, this is one of the highest points in the park. A painless 15 mins walk will get you to this sunset spot. A shelter at the top makes this a good picnic spot. Depending on the number of people at the camp, you might have to share this spot with other happy campers.

Witti Creek

By far the most rewarding trail of the lot and also the most arduous trek of all. The creek at the end of the trail is a reward that makes the 2.5 hour struggle worthwhile. Flowing through this hidden creek is the best tasting water I’ve ever drunk. This is truly a tropical paradise hidden away in the middle of the forest. And if you get this far, you’ll have it all to yourself.

Kumbu Val

One of the hardest trails to follow, the path disappears once you get to a creek. No sign of any waterfall. After a mini ramble through the woods, I gave up on falls after getting lost.

Mazaroni Val

A 2 hour walk gets you to this cascading waterfall. Part of the trail uses a well-traveled road and is quite easy to follow. The going gets tough once you get off the road. As you approach the waterfall, the eerie forest silence gives way to the sound of flowing water. The beauty of this trail lies not in the magnificence of the waterfall but in how remote and inaccessible it is. One glimpse of the waterfall and you know that you’re one of the few people who have gotten this far.

Warning

  • Trails are often partially wiped out by a huge tree falling across them and it is likely that you’ll stumble around for a while until you find the real trail. While this is a bit scary at times, it adds to the experience. Just be sensible and let the park rangers know which trail you plan to tackle each day.
  • Attacks from Boa Constrictors and Anacondas are not uncommon. Carry a penknife in your pocket when you’re out on the trails. Despite my greatest efforts, neither of these celebrities made an appearance during my foray into the wild.

 

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