At the point where the Tapajós and Amazonas rivers meet, half way to the Atlantic, you find Santarém a small and typical Amazonian town with a rich cultural heritage. In this area, it was found the remains of a civilization called by archaeologists – Tapajônica, taking its name from the Tapajós river. The ceramic artifacts: vases, cooking pots are decorated with lovely and intricate designs. Replicas can be bought at a shop in town.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Santarém was the port selected by Henry Ford to install Fordlandia – extensive rubber tree plantations – the extracted rubber tap was exported to a tire manufacture to supply his industry. Called “The Pearl of the Tapajós River”, Santarém with a population of over 300 thousand produces gold, hardwoods, Brazil nuts, rubber, jute, textiles and the famous Amazonian hammocks. The music, literature and folklore in Santarém are creative and unique. Nature and scenery around town is beautiful and a lovely counterpart to the city’s traditional architecture. The waterfront is always busy and cozy bars are the place to meet at sunset or at night. The great attraction is Alter do Chão, a small village, 33 km / 19 mi. down the Tapajós river, easily reached by car or boat. The high season at Alter do Chão – August through February – is when the waters are low and lovely white sand beaches are the attraction. The UK newspaper The Guardian listed Alter do Chão as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world !