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Surama Eco-Lodge
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Iwokrama River Lodge(Iwokrama Forest)
$220
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All reviewseco lodgemosquito netthe riverstayed longermain buildingdouble bedcold beerfamily friendsserved buffet styleno hot wateravailable for purchasejungle survivalexcellent foodsurrounding areacultureamerindianforest
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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
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6  Thank MRMinSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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2  Thank llewellynroger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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2  Thank MyrtleWiltshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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4  Thank mark121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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4  Thank Nuthatch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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