Werehpai - Rock carvings from long ago
Four hundred kilometers south of Paramaribo is situated the native village of Kwamalasamutu. It numbers about 800 inhabitants from not less than 12 different tribes. Kwamalasamutu, which means 'bamboo sand' was established in the 1960's. A school was build in the new settlement and several tribes joined the settlement and Kwamalasamutu grew into one of the largest combined Amerindian villages where mainly Trio- and Wai-Wai Amerindians live in tribal relationship. In 2000 petroglyphs were found in the nearby cave of Werehpai.
In the year 2000 Kwamalasamutu became the focus of attention when a very special discovery was made in the immediate environment. A Trio Amerindian named Kamanja had lost his dog during the hunt. While looking for the dog he encountered an enormous rock formation and while he entered it through a caverne he discovered numerous rock drawings that later tuned out to be petroglyphs, symbols used to write.
The Foundation 'Suriname Museum' and the American Smithsonian Institute were mobilized. A team of researchers was assembled and from that moment on the caves of Werehpai, as het rock formation is called, were quietly subjected to a thorough investigation. Only in March of 2008 the caves were officially opened to the public. Until now a number of the rock drawings have been identified and what can be distinguished are illustrations of animals, human-like figures, people with animal heads or head from strange beings, decapitated bodies and other complex illustrations. To the question of who made the drawings and why, no answer has been found yet. It can be stated though that the Werehpai petroglyphs are dated 5000 to 7000 years back and are one to the most impressive and extraordinary archeological discoveries in the world.
Those who decide to make a trip to Werehpai will experience more than seeing the mysterious rock paintings. The reception is heartily unaffected. Immediately after landing the visitors are greeted by native youngsters in traditional garb. Naturally a visit to the village chief, the granman, is not missing and in his residence he welcomes guest wholeheartedly. The village has a few things to offer as well. There is the possibility of participating in a crash course of bow and arrow shooting, listening to music from a flute made out of the bones from a deer. Or a look can be taken in the kitchen where cassava bread is being made. A visit a to genuine shaman clinic is possible.
Kwamalasamutu has no accommodation. For that a 15 minute boat trip down the river to the Iwana Samu Rain Forest Lodge must be made. This accommodation, consisting of two separate buildings, is equipped with six double bedrooms with sanitary accommodations and a comfortabel shower. Breakfast, lunch and diner are served. In the evening a camp fire. In order to reach the caves of Werehpai, another boat trip must be made. It takes about twenty minutes to sail from the lodge to the entrance of the jungle trail. The hike will take approximately 2 1/2 hours through the virgin jungle. The hike is generously rewarded. When you arrive at the entrance of the caverns and the guide take you inside, the mysterious traces of an ancient civilization going back more than 5000 years is reveled to you.
Day 1: 11.00 we depart by plane from Paramaribo to Kwamalasamutu. Upon arrival around 13.00 we take the boat to the Iwana Samu Rainforest Lodge, a guesthouse built in Trio style out of wood and bamboo, along the high river bank with a beautiful view on the river. After check in we take a small exploration tour with a local guide. After this you can take a cool dip in the river, swimming, canoeing or just relaxing in the hammock. Day 2: In the morning we bring a courtesy visit to the great chief of the Trio Indians. After this we make a village tour where we will visit the various tribes with their traditional lifestyle and their daily household. In the afternoon we make an educational trip through the tropical rainforest with explanation of the many medicinal plants that our forest is enriched with. After that you can have a little bath in the rapids or rainforest scuba diving with diving masks or Trio style bamboo surfing. In the evening we set off for spotting and luring nocturnal animals with local guides. Day 3: The highlight of this day is the visit to the caves of Werehpai with a breathtaking scenery of the 5000 years old petroglyphs. In the afternoon we have some arrow and bow shooting and traditional wrestling with the guides. In the evening we have a cultural show with singing and dancing by the locals. Day 4: After breakfast we prepare for departure to Paramaribo. On the way to the airport, we make another stop at the shaman and his clinic. There is also some time to buy souvenirs in the women's center. Around noon we arrive in Paramaribo.
Since July 2018 I started this blog for information about Suriname. Some contributions are from guests of my resort, Kekemba Resort Paramaribo. For the moment the blog is only in english.
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