Here, at the heart of the Amazon, there is no question, a boat or a canoe is their link to the world. Any person in the Amazon ecosystem regardless of age can row a canoe and go places. In Santarém it is no exception, explore the Tapajós and the Amazon river riding either a typical Amazonian 2 decker, a speedboat, or a motor canoe. On these very shallow draft boats, you will see much more – and much closer, discovering a treasure or two.
Could it be said that the Amazon is the Waterworld? Yes and on a boat each place is an attraction apart!
Alter do Chão, formerly the land of the Borarí indians and today a jewel guarded by some 3,000 villagers. The emerald waters of a lake, white sand beaches and the imposing Tapajós are the attraction and the scenery is just perfect! The village of Alter to Chão is welcoming and the restaurants and bars serve the savoury and simple Amazonian meal with fresh water fish, cassava root, vegetables and a display of tropical fruits. Alter do Chão lives two marked periods every year – the high and low waters. The best time for a visit is June to December when the waters are low.
Arapiúns the place to see the untouched and pristine forest.
Igarapé Jari, the community here preserves the traditional caboclo way of living, the flour house, cassava root plantation and other vegetables, fish and their use of the forest as a “supply storage” for their daily life. Caboclo is the Brazilian mestizo (indian and european) and the word derives from an indian word – caa-boc, meaning “who comes from the forest” and the word Igarapé, freely translated as “the way of the canoe”, is the name of canoe depth rivulets and channels that crisscross the forest.
Maicá Lake, in the Amazon lakes are not like the ones existing in other places. An Amazonian lake, always a type of connection to a river, igarapé or another lake. Locals know that the Maicá is a fish nursery thus attracting birds, mammals and reptiles. A special spot for birdwatchers and also if one wants to have a go at trying to fish the illusive piranha, famous for nibbling at the bait without the fisherman noticing!
Óbidos, on the left bank is where the Amazon is “narrow” – 1890 m / 1.1 mi. wide. The city of Óbidos is called the “Gorge of the Amazon” or “Golden Buckle”. In compensation for being so narrow, its average depth is 100 m / 328 ft. A fort, built by the Portuguese in 1697 marks the first settlement and from this vantage point a garrison supervised the river and movement of vessels. The history of Óbidos is rich by the constant fighting with invaders trying to explore the Amazon without a permission from the Portuguese crown.
Alenquer, in general the Amazon is quite plain but here, one finds gorges, valleys and a number of waterfalls and rock formations. At the “City of the Gods”, carved on the rock walls one finds a number of prehistorical drawings. A hike is the best way to visit this area full of surprises and beautiful places.
Monte Alegre, very close to town, on the Ererê ridge, prehistorical sites dated 12000 years b.C. are a clear indication that the Amazon was inhabited long before our time. Trek the forest for a visit to the sites.