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Just 5 km from the hustle and bustle of Paramaribo lies a serene nature reserve situated around a former coffee plantation - Peperpot Nature Park. An easily accessible walking trail leads through a jungle that thrives among the remnants of the historical buildings. Today the area has become the habitat for monkeys, birds, butterflies and lizards. There is also an abundance of tropical plants.
This lush 700-hectare nature park on the other side of the Suriname River is perfect for walking or cycling. Peperpot Park is easily accessible, just a quick cab ride from the city. You can also rent a bicycle to ride out to the park, or perhaps take the ferry or a wooden charter boat (a korjaal or dug-out canoe) to Meerzorg in the Commewijne district. You can follow the east-west connection to the road to Peperpot to reach the park’s ticket office. Along the way, don’t forget that traffic in Suriname drives on the left!
What makes Peperpot Nature Park special is that this relatively small area is home to many different tree and animal species. One of the plant species is the coffee plant, seeded by Dutch plantation owners centuries ago. Even today the plants are lovingly flanked by the fragrant ‘kofi-mama’ trees, an appropriate name for the tree that provides shade to the coffee plants.
Observant visitors will quickly spot troops of squirrel and capuchin monkeys swinging through the plantation forest. Visitors also frequently encounter large iguanas, lizards, butterflies and brightly coloured dragonflies. But the most eye-catching jungle residents are the birds. Look for parrots, toucans, ibises, vultures and dozens of species of tropical song birds. Around the former boat channel that runs parallel to the trail grows plenty of ‘moko-moko’, a native marsh plant that is the perfect nesting ground for birds.
“Peperpot was one of the oldest plantations in Suriname”
The 3.2-km walking path leads to the historical buildings of the former plantation. Here you will find a coffee warehouse, a factory and wooden directors' homes. Nearby there is the still inhabited kampong, the village where the slaves and workers used to live. Peperpot was one of the oldest plantations of Suriname: at the end of the 17th century, settlers began to cultivate tobacco here, later adding coffee and cocoa as well. The canals that still run through the plantation forest were used to transfer the coffee to the pond. The current owners have planted vegetable gardens among the brick locks of the canals.
A half-day visit to Peperpot Nature Park can easily be combined with a visit to Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, which also lies on the right bank of the Suriname River. This fort, which dates from 1747, now houses an open-air museum and visitors can learn everything about the military past of the colony. Thanks to the parkland around the fort there are many beautiful native trees, plants and flowers to admire. The wall around the fortress offers a sweeping view of the point where the Suriname River and the Commewijne River converge. River dolphins are frequently spotted here.