Top Things to Do in Palumeu, Suriname

Deep within the Surinamese rainforest, in a remote region bisected by the Upper Tapanahony River, is Palumeu. Despite the fact that this Amerindian village lies deep within the jungle, there are many things to do in Palumeu. In fact, the lush greenery and winding river offer a wide variety of activities and learning experiences. As my guide said to me during one early-morning boat ride, when you come from the city, the jungle has a lot to teach you.

Many think of paradise as white, sandy beaches, the sun blazing overhead, and serene, turquoise waters. But for me, paradise is a rustic cabin in the heart of the South American jungle, overlooking a murky river, with nothing but pure nature all around you. For me, paradise is trekking through the jungle, fishing for piranha, and touring villages most people don’t think to visit. For me, paradise is Palumeu. These are the top 5 things to do in Palumeu, Suriname.

Ride a Charter Plane To and From Palumeu

Because Palumeu is so isolated, there is a grand total of two ways to reach the village. You can travel there by boat from the town of Albina along the Maroni River, but that will take you 12 days. If you’re like me and have limited time and a packed itinerary, you’re much better off flying there. A flight from the capital city of Paramaribo to Palumeu is quite short and only takes 75 minutes. After I arrived at the airport, I met up with my guide for the next two days, Julius from Mets Travel and Tours.

Flying from Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo

Flights to Palumeu can be caught at Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo. But because Palumeu is located deep in the South American rainforest, you’ll need to take a very small charter plane to get there. The plane I took only had 10 seats. Because the plane is so small, you and your luggage will be weighed at the airport to ensure the plane won’t have too much weight on it.

I admit I’m a bit of a nervous flyer when it comes to small planes like this. The turbulence in tiny planes is always worse than in larger planes, especially when you fly through clouds. During your flight to and from Palumeu, you should be able to take your mind off any turbulence by gazing out at the rainforest passing beneath you.

You’ll fly over the Suriname River, the Brokopondo Reservoir in the Brownsweg area, local gold mines, and much more.

Arriving at Vincent Fayks Airstrip in Palumeu

You may have to make a quick pit stop to pick up other passengers. Suriname is a big travel destination for tourists from the Netherlands, and we picked up four of them at a minuscule airstrip on my way to Palumeu.

From there, we spent the next fifteen minutes flying over villages and mile upon mile of greenery before we landed safe and sound at the tiny Vincent Fayks Airstrip in Palumeu. The airstrip is short, so it looked like it would be a close call, but my pilot was a pro and knew exactly what he was doing!

You’ll follow the same route back to Paramaribo during your return trip. It’s yet another fantastic opportunity to see the scope and breadth of the Surinamese rainforest from above. It’s massive and stretches on and on as far as the eye can see!

My flight to Palumeu was the start of a beautiful adventure and is definitely one of the top things to do in Palumeu, especially if you don’t have time for a 12-day boat cruise!

Check out the 5 Things to See and Do in Brownsweg, Suriname

Explore the Jungle

If you visit Palumeu and don’t explore the jungle, you didn’t visit Palumeu. Period. Immediately upon arriving, my guides Julius and Ose took me out for my first of two treks through the jungle. The first trek began with a ride down the Tapanahony River, one of the largest branches of the Maroni River.

We rode in a motorized canoe to a campground, where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch of fried fish, a tropical coleslaw, peanut sauce, and one of my favorites, yuca frita.

Jungle Trek #1

After another 20-30 minute rude further down the Tapanahony, your 60-minute jungle trek will officially begin. The first thing I noticed was the aroma of parrot feces and the sound of a very loud bird in the dense canopy overhead.

But while the canopy was so tight it barely let in any light, the trails were clear of most debris with the exception of quite a few fallen logs. Along the way, you might get a look at some of the native wildlife, like macaws, apes, toucans, otters, and parrots.

I didn’t see any animals, but I knew that that’s the nature of any kind of excursion through the wilderness. The hike through the rainforest, and eventually up the steep, granite hill known as Poti Hill was more than worth it! Just make sure to wear long pants on the hike.

Poti Hill is covered in hardy, spiky plants that will slice up your legs as you climb to the summit. My trek was reminiscent of the 22 days I spent exploring Malawi with my wife back in 2013. It was so peaceful and is without question, one of the best things to do in Palumeu!

Jungle Trek #2

My second jungle trek came the following day and started at the base camp known as Mabuka. The trails leading from Mabuka were created by the local Amerindians so they could move through the forest easily so they can visit their families.

We traveled through a secondary forest with lots of low, dense brush, as well as a majestic primary forest with super tall trees that soar up into the sky. One of these trees, I was told, contains a bark that is used by the locals to treat malaria.

As far as wildlife sightings are concerned, my second trek was more of a success than my first. As we traipsed through the rainforest, we came across a tarantula’s burrow as well as a pair of dry leaf frogs, which were camouflaged against the vegetation on the ground so well that I could barely see them at first!

And while I had hoped to see more animals, I still realized what an honor it is to visit this pristine area of the world, so I couldn’t be disappointed. Going searching for animals is one of the best things to do in Palumeu and I highly recommend it!

Check out the 5 Reasons to Visit Isadou Island in Suriname

Tour the Local Village

Of course, when you visit the Palumeu area, you must take the time to actually visit the village itself. This quaint, Amerindian village is located just a short walk from the local accommodations, the Palumeu Jungle Lodge. Visiting is one of the top things to do in Palumeu and is simply a can’t-miss.

The Village

Upon entering Palumeu village, you’ll see that the local houses are built on stilts so they don’t flood when it rains. There are about a dozen or so houses in total, as well as a small, wooden Baptist church. Not far away is the Tapanahony River, which is the village’s lifeline. It’s their food and water source, their main transportation route, and where they wash and bathe.

The largest structure in the town is the communal hall, a massive, open-air hut where meetings, feasts, and celebrations take place. I learned that it’s also used as lodgings of sorts if there is an overflow of people.

Crafts and Beers

When I travel, I’m always on the hunt for unique souvenirs. I’m not a big fan of things that have the name of the destination on them. I’m much more into locally-made, hand-crafted goods. After I asked if there was anything in town I could buy, I was shown a whole selection of local crafts including bracelets, necklaces, a knife, maracas, a flute, and an arrow. I bought two bracelets, which were made from seeds and leaves, for my daughters.

You can’t leave Palumeu without trying their locally-made beer. Sipping this local specialty is one of the top things to do in Palumeu. The people there were very generous and shared some with me in a bowl. It’s a little thick, cloudy, and earthy, and you can definitely taste the fermentation! I’m a bit of a beer snob, but I admit it wasn’t half bad! The beer was extremely refreshing, so I even enjoyed a second round. At only three to five percent alcohol content, I could have had more!

I visited the village in the early afternoon. It may sound kind of odd, but I recommend wearing long sleeves and covering your legs and neck when you explore Palumeu. There are lots of wide-open areas and in the afternoon, the sun will be directly overhead. You’ll want to cover up so you don’t get sunburned. Sure, you’ll probably be hot, but it’s better than being burnt to a crisp!

Check out my VIDEO: Surinamese River Village Tour + Shopping For a Paddle | Isadou Island, Suriname

Go Fishing in the Rapids

The Tapanahony River in Palumeu is home to some of the most epic and beautiful rapids I’ve ever seen. When you book with Mets Travel and Tours, you’ll head out on a one-hour boat ride that will take you through these rapids. They’re created as the river water gets funneled around and between the boulders in the river. Traveling through them is a wild and thrilling experience, but your guide is a pro and knows how to handle them!

You’ll eventually land on the banks of the river. There, your experienced guides will hop across stones within the rapids to find a good place to catch fish. Their objective is to use small fish as bait in order to catch piranha. During my outing with them, they caught a large, monstrous fish using a machete and used its organs to fish for the infamous meat-eating fish.

I didn’t go out nearly as far as they did, but I did cross a few rocks to get a decent view of them as they fished. While they fished, I couldn’t help but marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the rapids. The water flows over the rocks, revealing bright green seaweed clinging to them and the river bottom. And while we didn’t catch any fish, I will always remember the glorious sight of these rapids. They are absolutely stunning and fishing in them is easily one of the top things to do in Palumeu.

Check out the Top 5 Things to Do in Galibi, Suriname

Stay at the Palumeu Jungle Lodge

If you book your Palumeu itinerary with Mets Travel and Tours, you’ll stay at the Palumeu Jungle Lodge. Staying there is easily one of the top things to do in Palumeu. This resort is made up of large, wooden bungalows, which are split into two smaller, rustic units.

The accommodations consist of two twin beds with mosquito netting, a small desk, and a small bathroom. It may seem basic to some, but for me, it was everything I needed. Make sure to use the mosquito netting beginning around 6 p.m., as that’s when the mosquitoes start coming out in full force.

They will attack you mercilessly throughout the night if you don’t! Another perk of the lodge is that they have electricity. This is important to me, as I always need a place to charge my electronic gear for my next day of activities!

The lodge also has a dock overlooking the river, where a few hammocks are strung up. It’s the perfect place to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the rainforest.

There is also an on-site open-air dining hall. There, you can enjoy a tasty meal of roti with fresh chicken, aloo, and sweet pumpkin mash. They come with spicy chilies, which are extremely hot! There’s a distinct Indian influence in the cuisine. The sauce that was used on the chicken was outstanding! Trust me, eating the chicken at the lodge is one of the best things to do in Palumeu!

Check out my VIDEO: Fishing Piranhas for Breakfast in the Biggest Lake in Suriname | Stone Island, Suriname

My two days in Palumeu flew by in a blur. But even though it ended as quickly as it began, I had experiences there that I will never forget. Waking up at six a.m., watching the rainforest come to life, and trying jungle beer were all magical. If the outdoors, wildlife, thrilling experiences, and learning about other cultures is your thing, you can’t beat this place. Book a trip to Palumeu today to experience it all for yourself!

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