The Amazon - Tapajós River
The Amazon – Tapajós River
We first enter the Amazon filled with expectations… We learn about what threatens the forest and its people, we know that we need to preserve it. But only after getting to know a Munduruku indigenous talking about their struggles and only after walking in a trail all the way to an old giant tree, is when it becomes clear that we have so much to learn with the largest rainforest in the World. This trip will take you to wonderful places of Tapajós river basin and to understand the way of living of this indigenous community, the warriors responsible for not letting more dams to be installed where they belong, in the east side of Brazilian Amazon, in Pará state.
Main picture of a Samaúma giant tree: Tom Alves.
Munduruku Indigenous People
During the late years of the XIX century, when the “rubber boom” took place in the Amazon, a lot of people from other regions of Brazil and Europeans came to explore the rubber trees. Soon the contact with indigenous communities became a problem. The indigenous people Munduruku, known to be a warrior people, that used to take their enemies heads off and have them as magical power symbols, are nowadays responsible for protecting their culture, language and territory against the mega dams, mining, deforestation and other threats. A community with beautiful rituals, body painting, songs and musical instruments, that receives visitors with curiosity and desire to let their history and struggle known as the forest warriors and protectors.
Alter do Chão
Located in a privileged site in front of Tapajós River, a lake, a small mountain and a white-sand river beach! This is the village that welcomes visitors that wants to explore the Tapajós River and surroundings. An easy hike gives access to the top of the small mountain called Piroca (“pira” meaning “fish” and “oca” meaning “home”) that has a panoramic 360-degrees view to the Tapajós River, almost 20 kilometers width in this region. Alter do Chão is also known to be the only urban indigenous community, the people Borari, and to be the center of meetings and celebrations from all Tapajós River indigenous communities.
This beautiful clear-green water river is one of the main tributaries of the Amazonas River Basin (the largest in the World) corresponding to 7% of the water flow of this important river basin. Tapajós River is a combination of two other rivers: Juruena and São Manuel, receiving water from other rivers all the way until it reaches the Amazonas River. Due to its navigability and huge amount of water, there are several dam projects in this river. However, the local indigenous communities depend on the river and consider Tapajós as a sacred river as they struggle to contain those mega dams’ projects to be built. During dry season, when the river levels are lower, hundreds of white-sand beaches emerge reveling the landscape that gives Tapajós the nickname of “The Amazon Caribbean”.
A wonderful mix of the indigenous and African musical cultures! The main instrument is played as the indigenous use to play, seated over the drum and the drum itself has the sounds from the African way of playing it. The dance is a theatrical performance of the couple, with many symbols, gestures and colorful clothes, such as a long skirt, a scarf, neckless and bracelets, besides the lively instruments’ maraca, reco-reco, ganzá and others. The name comes from indigenous language “curi” meaning “wood” and “mbó” meaning “empy” or “hollow”, regarding the main drum played.
FLONA Tapajós National Forest
If you want to take part in protecting the Amazon, visiting its conservation units and supporting the sustainable projects that the local communities develop, is the best way. The National Forests are part of the “sustainable use” category in the SNUC (National System of Conservation Units), which is a more flexible kind of protect area, allowing the communities to develop activities such as colleting, planting and selling food (Brazilian nuts, cacao, pepper, mushrooms and others), producing handicrafts, receiving visitors and researchers. The Tapajós National Forest has over 530.000 hectares of protected forest and many riverside communities that take care of this important biodiversity.
The Amazon Tapajós River Cruise: 5 days/4 nights
This itinerary brings together all the highlights in a very comfortable trip on board of a small cruise. The perfect fit to combine The Amazon with other destinations in Brazil. Picture: Walter Fonseca.
The Amazon Indigenous Community Experience - I want to go wild!
In case the experience you are looking for with indigenous communities is something deeper and wild, we have a special itinerary for you! Please, contact us for more information. Picture: Sérgio Vale.
More info about your trip
When is the best season?
Curiously, this part of the Amazon (Tapajós River) has different seasons for the high and low level of the rivers as the Amazon in Negro River. The rainy season also begins in November, but the river gets high already in January until July – when the igapós arise and the canoe tours through the trees canopy is possible. Then it stops raining too much and it´s time for the beautiful beaches to emerge, from August to December.
You can try this destination in both occasions to know which one you prefer! We recommend all year long.
How to get there
Airport: Santarém. From the airport a 40km transfer (around half an hour drive), will take you to the small city of Alter do Chão, in front of Tapajós River. From there, the river cruise will be waiting to take you to the Tapajós National Forest and the Munduruku Indigenous Territory.
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