In the interior of Suriname, near the Brownsberg Nature Park and the Brokopondo Reservoir, is the small resort town of Brownsweg. Because of its proximity to the pair, the list of things to see and do in Brownsweg is quite extensive. As of 2012, the town’s population was just under 4,800, but it’s still one of the most exciting locations in Suriname!
Brownsweg is a largely Maroon settlement. The Maroons are the descendants of African slaves who escaped into the country’s interior and mixed with the native Amerindian population. There are also sizable Chinese and Indonesian populations in the area, as well as Indian and Dutch communities. The ethnic diversity in the area creates an eclectic mix that can’t be found anywhere else in the world!
As it’s deep within Suriname’s interior, Brownsweg isn’t the easiest place to get to, but it’s well worth the journey. One option is to catch a bus from the capital city of Paramaribo to a dirt road leading to the Brownsberg area. From there, you’d have to walk or hitchhike the rest of the way.
You can also do what I did, which is book a private tour. I went with Jenny Tours for the entirety of my 11-day Surinamese adventure and highly recommend them! They’ll arrange everything for you and are highly knowledgeable about sites all over the country.
I hit the ground running the moment I arrived after a nearly four-hour journey from Paramaribo. I could not wait to dive into the food, culture, and attractions that the Brownsweg area had to offer. There, I had some wild experiences, went on some unforgettable adventures, and immersed myself in local life. These are the five things to see and do in Brownsweg, Suriname.
Stay on Ston Eiland
Without question, one of the best things to see and do in Brownsweg is stay at the Stone Island Lodge on Ston Eiland. This lodge is more of a campground along the shores of the Brokopondo Reservoir, a massive, man-made lake created in the 1960s.
The construction of the Afobaka Dam across the Suriname River in the early 1960s created the Brokopondo Reservoir. Now the largest body of water within Suriname, the reservoir filled an area that was once a forested valley. Because of this, the beautifully eerie sight of ghostly, long-dead trees rising from the depths of the reservoir now welcomes visitors to the area.
When you book a tour to the Brownsweg area with Jenny Tours, you’ll stay at the local lodge, which stands along the reservoir’s shore. If you visit as part of a group, Jenny Tours will provide a chef who will prepare local dishes from the food you bring.
Stone Island Lodge
The accommodations are quite modest and aren’t flashy or extravagant at all. Despite that, they’re extremely comfortable and offer nice sleeping quarters, clean bathrooms, decent kitchens, and air conditioning. The air conditioning is a godsend, as it’s not uncommon for temperatures to soar into the triple digits in the area.
Ston Eiland itself is a peninsula that sticks out into the reservoir. You have to follow a muddy dirt road for roughly ten minutes to get there. The area is beautiful, tranquil, and secluded, so it’s the perfect place to get away from it all and relax. It reminded me a lot of Malawi, a country I spent 22 days exploring with my wife back in 2013.
Despite its isolated feel, it’s still close enough to Brownsweg that you can easily go into town for anything you need. Its central location and proximity to other nearby attractions adds to its desirability. Destinations including Howler Monkey Island, Brownsberg Nature Park, and Browns-Mountain are easily accessible from the lodge.
Because of their comfort and location, they’re the best accommodations in the area, and staying there is one of the best things to see and do in Brownsweg.
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Fish for Piranha
When most people think of piranha, they envision vicious, bloodthirsty, predatory fish that can strip a human of flesh within minutes. Very few people around the world think of piranha as prey. But at the Brokopondo Reservoir near Brownsweg, it’s not unusual to find locals fishing for piranha and making a meal out of them!
During my time at the Stone Island Lodge, my friend and guide Imro from Jenny Tours took me out on a metal pier on the reservoir. There, we fished for piranha using frozen chicken meat as bait. It wasn’t long before we both caught a piranha, which had the large, scary-looking teeth they’re known for.
After Imro cleaned the fish and had them fried, I got my first taste of piranha meat! It’s a bony, gamy fish, but it’s also quite tasty. The skin had been fried to a perfect crisp, which created a very nice contrast with the soft, meaty flesh. Dig into the cheeks and the head for some of the tastiest meat. It’s a surprisingly palatable fish and I could see why eating some is one of the best things to see and do in Brownsweg.
The only downside to eating the piranha is the number of bones and spines throughout its flesh. I nearly threw up at one point because a bone almost got lodged in my throat, so be sure to pull the fish apart and eat slowly and carefully. Use your tongue to feel around so you catch any bones you missed. It’s a meal you definitely have to work for, but ultimately, the flavor is well worth the trouble!
Check out my VIDEO: Fishing Piranhas for Breakfast in the Biggest Lake in Suriname | Stone Island, Suriname
Visit Howler Monkey Island
Another of the top things to see and do in Brownsweg is to visit Howler Monkey Island. Located in the reservoir, the island got its name from the colony of howler monkeys that call the island home. As is the case with all wildlife in natural settings, sightings of the resident primates can be fleeting, if you see them at all. I had very little luck seeing them during my visit, but they’re there. I hope you have better luck than I did!
The howler monkeys aren’t the only animals to see on the island, so it won’t be a total bust if you don’t see one. There are quite a few lizards there, as well as a farm for chickens and ducks. The most unique animal on the farm is a massive yellow-foot tortoise.
I’ve grown up around these turtles my entire life and I’ve never seen one this big. He’s an absolute monster of a turtle, but such a beautiful and gentle creature. Visiting Howler Monkey Island to see him was one of my favorite things to see and do in Brownsweg!
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Eat Surinamese Barbecue
Speaking of fantastic things to see and do in Brownsweg, I highly recommend trying some authentic Surinamese barbecue in town. It’s the first thing I did after arriving at Stone Island lodge, and I’m so glad it was.
The diverse ethnic makeup of Suriname makes its cuisine some of the most exciting on the planet. Many of the dishes seem familiar at first glance, but after just one bite, you notice flavors you’d never expect. That was the case with my Surinamese barbecue dinner, which consisted of chicken with peanut sauce with fries topped with mayo and ketchup on the side.
I’m a huge lover of peanut flavor, and this sauce had it in droves. It paired very nicely with the chicken, which was perfectly cooked and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The skin was crispy and slightly charred, while the meat had a mouthwatering smoky flavor that permeated the flesh.
There were also notes of Indonesian flavors throughout, which elevated it to the next level. One of my favorite things about the chicken is how fresh it is. In Suriname, food is rarely, if ever, frozen, so you know you’re always eating something that was freshly killed and butchered. It makes a huge difference in the flavor!
And while the fries are pretty good as well, I suggest drizzling some of the peanut sauce over them as well. The flavor combination was insane and I loved the contrast of textures with the different sauces and the crispy potatoes. This meal has to be one of the best things to see and do in Brownsweg. You have to go there and taste it for yourself!
Check out my VIDEO: Surinamese Village Barbecue + Beer Tasting in a Supermarket | Brownsweg, Suriname
Hike to the Waterfalls on Browns-Mountain
As I mentioned earlier, the area around Brownsweg is home to several incredible natural locations. Browns-Mountain in the Brownsberg Nature Park is arguably the most stunning location in the area. There, you can stay at the campsite at the very top, go on hikes through the jungle, and see gorgeous waterfalls.
Getting up Browns-Mountain
Traveling up the mountain is a real mission. The roads are unpaved and full of cracks, mudholes, and potholes. They’re honestly some of the worst roads I’ve ever encountered while traveling, and have to be navigated carefully. Thankfully, the trip is worth it, as the dense, lush greenery of the nature park has to be seen to be believed.
Atop the 500-meter-tall mountain are viewpoints where you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding nature park, Brownsweg, and Brokopondo Reservoir in the distance. But the vistas from atop the mountain aren’t the only breathtaking views you can enjoy at Browns-Mountain.
Hike to the First Waterfall
Cascading down the mountain are a pair of waterfalls that truly blew my mind. The only thing is, you have to take a long, strenuous hike to reach them. The paths are slippery, steep, and treacherous, so I highly recommend wearing hiking boots so you get proper grip. I was able to handle the first leg of my 45-minute hike to the first waterfall in my sneakers, but there’s no doubt in my mind that boots would have been better.
Luckily, as you get closer to the falls, there are ropes strung between trees to create a sort of makeshift staircase down to the first falls. I love visiting waterfalls, so they were worth the hike. They drop 30 meters and splash all over the rocks below.
The trek back uphill is far more challenging, even with the ropes. Take it slow and steady. You don’t want to slip and hurt yourself. On the bright side, it’s an amazing workout that will help you burn some serious calories!
Hike to the Second Waterfall
From the first set of falls, it takes 75 minutes of hiking to reach the second falls. The trek is tough and dangerous in some spots and can get pretty muddy, but it is easier than the first. Just keep moving so the native mosquitoes can’t get you. They’re incessant!
The waterfalls along the path are absolutely stunning. They cascade down three or four tiers in total and continue in a stream further down the mountain. It’s a fantastic spot to have some fun in the water, which is a great way to beat the brutal Surinamese heat! If you’re up for the challenge, seeing these waterfalls is easily one of the best things to see and do in Brownsweg.
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Brownsweg may not appear on most maps, but it’s a fascinating town that is rich in beauty and culture. Whether you’re looking for natural beauty, exotic cuisine, amazing wildlife, or thrilling adventures, Brownsweg offers it all. It’s one of my favorite spots in Suriname and I cannot recommend it more highly. Book a trip to Suriname today to experience it all for yourself!
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