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“Surama is a special experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Surama Eco-Lodge

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Surama Eco-Lodge
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Surama Village, Guyana   |  
Hotel amenities
DC
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Surama is a special experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2010

We did a too-short birding trip (10 days) to the Rupunini region of Guyana, flying from Georgetown to Annai and then overland to Iwokrama and Surama. We are used to fairly rugged travel, but that wasn't what we found at Surama. We had spotless, comfortable private rooms (individual cabins with private bathrooms) although they also have a dormitory-type building. The food was terrific and the company was the best. We really enjoyed just sitting and talking to the staff of the ecolodge and of Surama Village. Our guide, Gary Sway, is extremely knowledgeable about the birds and other wildlife and he's great fun to be with. Surama is an amazing place - they are proving that ecotourism can work and can get the money to the local people (instead of the tour operators). They are very dedicated to protecting the forest and they deserve to be supported. Be sure to tip your guides and be sure to buy some souvenirs (they don't make much effort to let you know that they have souvenirs but they do - some beautiful embroidery of local scenes and wildlife are especially lovely) and also consider making a donation beyond what you've paid for the accommodations. If you can, spend a night by the river, sleeping in hammocks under mosquito nets, and then canoe up the Burro-Burro river the next day. It is really special. You will be in unspoiled rainforest. Amazing. It is really hot there so be sure to take a hat and be sure you wear long sleeves, long pants to protect yourself against chiggers and other stuff that bites or scratches. Spend the heat of the day swaying in a hammock, watching the iguanas and birds.

I won't talk about the birds because birders know about the amazing bird species that can be found at Surama, but everyone - birder or not - should take binoculars and a bird book.

We felt privileged to have the wonderful people of Surama share their nature and homes and knowledge with us.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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37 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Berkeley, California
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
163 helpful votes 163 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2010

This is a gem of community tourism: the connection to the surrounding village is quite strong, and the overall experience is similar to staying at someone's home... very familiar, casual, low-key, and caring. Because everyone speaks english, this is a rare opportunity to really get to know a Makushi community and learn about indigenous Amerindian life in Guyana.

The rainforest and savannah here is rich with wildlife, and a trip on the Boro Boro river is a great way to spot critters in the water and on land. A hike up Surama mountain at sunrise is somewhat strenuous, but the view is terrific. The walk to the river is sometimes complicated by flooding and mud, but the area is dense with birds, lizards, spiders, howler monkeys, and any number of other fabulous surprises. There are a few outlying camps (Rock Landing, Carahaa Landing) where you can spend a few nights in hammocks if you want to get deeper into the rainforest. Wildlife spotting only gets better, the farther you get away from human habitation.

The guides, including Lionel, Gary, and Milner are friendly, curious, and knowledgeable. In particular, I was impressed by Gary's extensive knowledge of rainforest medicine. Former village chief ("Toschao") Sydney is often on hand, too: Sydney is a national treasure and a prominent member of Guyana's Amerindian community. If you happen to meet him, take a moment to ask him about his vision for Surama, Guyana, and the intersection of nature and culture. His great sense of humor belies a rich intellect and commitment to his country's future.

Accommodation here is not posh: there are four 'benab' huts with three basic twin beds and a built-in bathroom. See the pictures to get a feel for it. There is a newer four-room building with double-sized beds in each room, but these rooms are small and there is no door separating the bathroom from the bedroom. These rooms lack hooks and shelves and the widows are regrettably small. These rooms would be OK for a single traveler.

No internet on-site, but you can walk (20-30 minutes) to the village office where WiFi is available most of the day. It's a very slow satellite-based connection, best reserved for urgent email needs only. Laundry services are offered onsite, but service may not be speedy. Some electricity is solar powered, and water is pumped from a (tested/clean) well onsite. Food is simple home-cooking fare - they can accommodate most special diet needs if notified in advance. The main benab building has two levels: meals are typically served in the utilitarian lower level, while afternoon sundowners can be enjoyed from the upstairs patio. The bar is inconsistently stocked with beers... if the fridge is empty, persist in your requests for them to restock at the village store a mile or two away. Coffee (Nescafe) and tea (Lipton) are available all day. Three cheers to the first person who brings a french press to donate to the catering team!

Surama is a few miles off the main north/south road connecting locations throughout the Rupununi. It is a typical stop for those also visiting Iwokrama, the Canopy Walkway, and Rock View Lodge. As the only Amerindian-operated facility of the bunch, it stands out as a uniquely special place. The pace, surrounding beauty, and kind people make a few nights here very rewarding. It can take a day or two for Surama's charm to really sink in.

A word on value: the transportation costs to get around the Rupununi grossly inflate nightly costs... here and elsewhere in the area. Prepare yourself for clean but very basic accommodation that shouldn't be compared - on a cost basis - to more heavily touristed parts of the world. Part of what you're paying for is the opportunity to visit very remote places that see too few visitors to benefit from any kind of economy-of-scale. The lack of tourism volume and overall infrastructure also permits you to get very close to pristine nature, a rare commodity in our modern world.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
161 reviews 161 reviews
153 hotel reviews
Reviews in 139 cities Reviews in 139 cities
178 helpful votes 178 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2009

As we travelled with Myrtle, the previous contributor, I won't add much except to say that we too thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this well run community lodge,our room, though simple, was kept spotlessly clean,and our guide Milner was first class-well informed, enthusiastic,and keen to share his world with us.Our encounter with river otters was magical.Worth a 2 night stay, wish we had!
The savannah is a lot hotter than the rainforest, and the mosquitos worse, this is the only place that we had our bed nets put on properly, and our net had no holes.The design of the rooms allows for a welcome through breeze.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Devizes, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
118 reviews 118 reviews
112 hotel reviews
Reviews in 109 cities Reviews in 109 cities
118 helpful votes 118 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2009

We recieived a warm welcome from the 2 ladies running the lodge and enjoyed nature walks and a walk through the village with a good guide. It was a beautiful quiet place to spend a night. We went on an early morning 3 mile walk across savannah and through rainforest to the Burro Burro River where we then had a very pleasant boat trip, seeing many birds and a family of giant river otters, which was a treat. We did not know then how much of a treat as we were expecting to see many more at Karandmbu but we did not see any wild otters there.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
175 reviews 175 reviews
163 hotel reviews
Reviews in 145 cities Reviews in 145 cities
411 helpful votes 411 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2009

I'm not sure that it's fair to give Surama Eco-Lodge ratings for location, rooms, service etc. in the same way that I would if this were a city hotel. However, this place is stunning.

There is a central two-storey rotunda building, and this is surrounded by 4 (soon to be 5) huts. The huts are simple but have fairly comfortable beds, mosquito nets and flush toilets ... so pretty much the lap of luxury out here.

The whole project is community run, and we were very well looked after by Jackie (who was running the logistical side of things) and Gary (our guide). Each day we'd be well fed and set out on a variety of walks with Gary, who was friendly, very knowledgeable and an absolute delight to be with. We saw various types of monkeys and a lot of bird life. Boating down the river was also a real treat, especially when we came across the giant otters. And the night walk was memorable, not for the animals, but the shear spectacle: a full Moon striped with high cloud; a billowing thunderstorm and lightning show in the the distance; stars glittering in the inky sky; and millions of fireflies blinking in the grass all around us.

If you enjoy wildlife and nature, this is definitely a place to go. But you will need to be reasonably fit. I only wish we could have stayed longer here and done an overnight in the hammock camp by the river.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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UK
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2009

Surama was our second stop in the North Rupununi, after spending one night at the hammock camp at Atta. We spent two nights at Surama. Surama Eco-lodge is a community run lodge set on the edge of this Makushi Amerindian village in the North Rupununi. The lodge had 4 'benabs', each sleeping 2 people, when we stayed in January 2009, but they were just finishing a fifth building which was to have 4 twin rooms, all en-suite.

The 'benabs' are wooden cabins on raised legs with thatched roofs. They are undoubtedly basic, but our double bed was comfortable and the mosquito net did its job. The en-suite bathroom was also basic, but functional, with flush toilet and large shower – cold water only. Power was provided in the evening from 6pm till 10pm, but an oil lamp was also provided in the evening for when the generator was turned off.

Meals are eaten in the main 'benab' around a communal table. When we stayed we were the only people there, so dining was effectively private. The cook, Clarice, explained what all the dishes were and often came for a chat after we had finished eating. The food was excellent! On the level above the dining room is a large, open seating area, with chairs and hammocks for you to relax while overlooking the surrounding savannah and the forest beyond.

All activities were included during our stay and we were guided by Gary. He tailored our itinerary to our interests and made the stay extremely interesting and rewarding. Unlike many other “Eco-lodges”, Surama is truly a community project and the entire village is involved in either working at the lodge itself, building the new cabins, or in making decisions as to how the lodge is to develop.

We were transferred to Surama by Rock View Lodge in Annai, about an hour from Surama. The various lodges in the North Rupununi coordinate with each other closely to transfer clients between lodges and we found this all worked very smoothly. The setting of Surama Eco-lodge is beautiful. It is set on the edge of the village with views over savannah – where we were assured anteaters can be seen in the dry season – to the nearby forests where parrots, macaws and toucans can be heard (and sometimes seen). Within the grounds themselves there were Black Vultures, Savannah Hawks and Fork-tail Flycatchers. This is a great spot for those interested in wildlife, birds and to get a real feel for the challenges facing the indigenous population of Guyana.

The accommodation is basic, so don't expect 4 or 5 star luxury, even though it isn't cheap. It is comfortable though, the food is excellent and the staff are superb. You will be treated like a family friend, not kept at a distance. If you demand creature comforts then this isn't the place for you. You'll be disappointed and the staff will probably be upset that they cannot provide all that you want. If you are prepared to make the most of things and accept some limitations, you will have a fantastic time in a wonderful place.

  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Surama Eco-Lodge

Address: Surama Village, Guyana
Location: Guyana > Rupununi > Surama Village
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Surama Village
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surama Eco-Lodge is a community tourism project operated by the Amerindian community of Surama in Guyana's Rupununi district. Offering basic but clean and comfortable lodging, the Eco-Lodge is the perfect place to learn about Amerindian culture while exploring the pristine Guyana rain forest. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Surama Eco Hotel Surama Village
Surama Eco-Lodge Guyana/Surama Village

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