With just 40,000 people occupying 5,300 sq. km, Nickerie is one of the leading agricultural regions in north-west Suriname. The wide river Corantijn separates us from our neighbour, Guyana, and the ferry is busy every day.
At the point where this river/border and the Nickerie river meet and flow into the sea sits the city of Nieuw Nickerie, the administrative center and regional capital.
The city morphs from old, sometimes monumental buildings to contemporary ones. The colonial period, which gave us such fascinating architecture, is still evident here.
The sea wall is a popular place, particularly to watch the fantastic sunsets, and the large Hindu temple is well worth seeing. Accommodation ranges from basic to comfortable.
The population is largely of Hindustani origin, descended from the Indian workers who came here after the abolition of slavery. A hard-working community established itself here and became truly Surinamese.
A tour of the district inevitably takes in the vast fields where the rice plants wave in the breeze. Small paddy fields sit next to sprawling areas where mechanical agriculture has brought greater efficiency. Wageningen was at one time one of the great rice centers, modern technology making it a world leader, but unfortunately the bubble burst – it is now a former glory. Hopefully Wageningen’s fortunes will rise again. Despite this, anyway, rice is still big business in the area.
A visit to Bigi Pan is a must. This huge marshy area is an adventure in itself. The vast shallow water fields, the stilt houses, the abundance of birds, the caimans… it’s a different world, a different way of life. Tour organiser Stephanie sees to it that you don’t waste a moment. On a trip to Bigi Pan you are guaranteed surprises, but the experienced boatmen always find their way around. The night is cool and after a good breakfast it’s onwards - to the sea. This, too, is fascinating. It’s great walking on the beach, with the creatures that live here, and the long mud banks. Don’t miss it. And… those who love a mud bath will never forget it.
Last but not least, the Hertenrits! This archaeological site is a mound. Long, long ago the Indians built this in the middle of the swamp - and they built it so big that they could live there. With wooden shovels they dug out the clay and, with help from the women and children, within months they had brought the materials to the site. It’s an almost unbelievable achievement. Something like 14,000 truckloads were moved with their bare hands. On smaller mounds, they planted crops such as cassava. Through their ingenuity, organisational skills, perseverance and sheer hard work, these highly industrious, so-called primitive people managed to accomplish this. There are other examples along the coast.