Suriname: The Bradt Travel Guide, by Philip Briggs
While I greatly enjoyed this book and found it to be deeply informative, at the same time there were times I was reading a sentence and wondered what exactly the author was trying to say. There were definitely some moments where I felt that the book could have used some editing to make the syntax and grammar and word choice of the book more plain and more comprehensible. Even with these flaws, though, this book is certainly an excellent, if quirky, travel guide to the obscure and quirky nation of Suriname . I am not familiar with the Bradt travel guides, although I am an occasional reader of travel guides in general, but from what I could tell, the company prides itself on writing about neglected and obscure parts of the world that deserve a bit more attention, and the book was written by an admitted novice who wrote from his own experience, one would think, of being based in the capital and traveling to far-flung and remote areas over boats, planes, and occasionally dodgy roads. As a quirky traveler myself, I found the approach of this book to be a generally enjoyable one.
There are twelve chapters to this book, organized into three parts, that combined equal about 250 pages of enjoyably quirky material. The first four books focus on general information needed before one goes to Suriname. The book opens with some background information about the country and its people before looking at the natural history of its flora and fauna, some practical information dealing with safety, budgeting, travel, and accommodation, as well as health concerns that one might have traveling to the country. The next five chapters provide a detailed look at Paramaribo (the capital of Surname) and the coastal belt where most people live in the country including the Commewijne plantation loops and beaches, the border region of Marawijne with French Guiana, Saramacca, Coronie and Nickerie, and the suburbs of Wanica and Para, which include the nation’s international airport. The third part of the book looks at the rugged interior of the country and contains three chapters on Brokopondo, Upper Suriname, and the deep interior with its many mountains and nature reserves and deep jungles untouched by roads. The book closes with some further information and language notes.
Aside from the quirkiness of this book, there was a lot that I found of interest about this volume. For one, the book did a good job at providing details about transportation and about the effect of the country’s political instability on its infrastructure. Likewise, the author did a good job at showing the various animals of the country, including the odd but adorable tapir and ring-tailed coati as well as the deadly bushmaster snake. In general, this is a book that appears to be very helpful to the reader, not least because the author’s lack of familiarity with the country before he took on the project meant that he was writing as a beginner figuring things out rather than an expert who might take a great deal for granted. This book is such an enjoyable one that I may end up buying a copy of the guide for myself after I return this volume to the library, so long as I can find one for a reasonable price online, which I hope would not be too difficult. At any rate, this is a book that for all of its strange wording is still a worthwhile and notable guide that deserves attention for those who are traveling to Suriname and who want to be at least somewhat prepared for its quirks.
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