Alter do Chão: Caribbean of the Amazonas, Pará

Beaches of Alter do Chão

Beaches of Alter do Chão

It’s not long time ago that the newspaper La Guardian chose Alter do Chão as the most beautiful Brazilian beach. What makes this choice so particular is the fact of Alter do Chão is in fact located almost 1400 km from the coast. So how can it be that the most beautiful Brazilian beach is located in inlands? Anyone visiting Alter do Chão during the second half of the year can make their own conclusion, but there is not doubt that these river side beaches are incredible and totally comparable with any other beaches when it comes to the beauty. Thanks to the clear waters Tapajós river, this region is often called as the Caribbean of Amazonas. However Alter do Chão is not just a beach destination, in fact it’s raither a destination of eco-tourism, which allows you to combine eco-adventures with relaxing holiday on one of these fabulous beaches.

Rainforest vegetation

Rainforest vegetation

Alter do Chão is a tiny village located in the edge of Tapajós River, approximately 35 km from Santarem. It’s a very popular holiday destination in the region and during the recent years both national and international tourists have found it. Alter do Chão has quite an easy access, at least once you have reached Santarem either by plane or by fluvial access. After having arrived to Santarem, you can either take a transfer organized by your hotel/pousada, or reach Alter do Chão by renting a car. Even though many of the streets are not asphalted, driving in the region is not complicating at all. Once you start planning your holiday in Alter do Chão, there are few points you should pay attention to. If your intention is to enjoy one of those incredible beautiful beaches you have to visit Alter do Chão during the dry season. This means the last six months of the year when the beaches appear. In case you are looking for eco-tourism adventures and different beauties of the nature, other seasons can be considered as well.

Rainforest vegetation

One of the most famous beaches of the area is called Ilha do Amor (Island of love). It’s literally a kind of island with white sand beaches located in front of the village. During the low tide it can be reached on foot, otherwise you will need to take a rowboat accross the river. If possible we would recommend you to enjoy Ilha do Amor during the weekdays, when it’s less crowded. Other popular beaches located in the region are a little further away. Either you have to hire a tour or a car in order to reach them. One of the closest is the beach of Ponta da Pedra, which can be reached also via fluvial access. This naturally beautiful beach is worth visiting and it’s also an excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Other interesting beaches are Pindobal and little bit further away Cajutuba, which is in beauty is totally comparable to Ilha do Amor . The last beach with basic infrastructure is Aramanai. It’s a distant, but very peaceful beach with lovely little guesthouse surrounded by rainforest vegetation and serving also delicious homemade food.

Canal of Jari

Canal of Jari

Visiting the Canal of Jari is one of the eco-tourism adventures organized in the area. This tour takes you to the other side of the Tapajós river, where you will clearly observe how the brownish waters of the Amazon river get mixed with the clear blue waters of Tapajós river. The first stop of this day trip takes you to the beach of Ponta da Pedra, where a lunch can be enjoyed as well. The next stop is on the other side of the river, where the flora and the fauna of the canal can be observed. Please note that crossing the river is not a simple journey. The winds tend to be heavy and you better be prepared to get wet before reaching the final destination. While discovering the Canal of Jari, you will see many different species of birds, butterflies, monkeys, sloths, lizards and if you are lucky also the pink dolphins, typical of the Amazonian region. The families living around the Canal of Jari are a beautiful example of living in full harmony with the surrounding nature. Like we have pointed out earlier as well, eco-tourism is not the same as observing animals. When we talk about the wild life, there is no guarantee that you will be able to see some specific species. Searching them and observing the entire eco-system is part of the eco-tourism and each time you visit any of these rural areas you will certainly find something you never even expected. In the region of Alter do Chão, there is also an opportunity for guided visits to the rainforest areas. Please note that simply due to the safety reasons these areas are not recommendable to be discovered on your own, but always a with professional guide who can also provide you a large quantity of information during the tour.

Sloth

Sloth

Culturally the region has also an interesting history. During the rubber fever two important factories were established in the cities of Belterra and Fordlandia. In Belterra the typical North American style houses built in the years of glory can still be seen, but the welfare of the good old days is gone and for example Fordlandia is today basically an abandoned city. As an overall summary visiting the region of Alter do Chão and Santarem is an interesting experience, which allows you, not only to enjoy the nature but also perceive how is the way of life in these rural areas of the Amazon basin.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão – This cozy hotel offers excellent quality of accommodation surroundend by large tropical gardens. You can stay in a traditional room or choose an alternative option of staying at ecological “three house” with all the modern facilities. BeloAlter is located short walk or a quick drive away from the heart of the village. This is where the Prince Charles stayed during his visit to Alter do Chão..
  • Pousada Aramanai – A very small and simple, but extremely hospitable pousada with prime located in front of the Aramanai beach. A choice for those who prefer the nature and the tranquility out of modern facilities.
  • Hotel Sandis, Santarem – If for some reason you will stay over night in Santarem Hotel Sandis is a good and centrally located tourist class choice.
Cajutuba

Cajutuba

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The Delta of Parnaíba, Piauí

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba has a unique ecosystem, comparable only to the Nile or the Mekong River. It’s located in the state of Piauí, close to the boader of Maranhão and consists of 85 islands covering an area of 2700 km2. The Delta of Parnaíba is a mixture of rivers, lagoons, dunes and deserted beaches. The mangrove trees are home for many different species of birds and other animals, such as crocodiles, monkeys, turtles and crabs that can all be found from the area of Delta.

The unique nature of Delta

The unique nature of Delta

For a tourist , a visit to Delta of Parnaíba is not the simplest thing to do. First of all the access to this ecosystem has to be done from the city of Parnaíba, which do has an airport, but it’s only operated by small regional airlines. Therefore a visit to Delta often forms part of a larger itinery including either Lencois Maranhenses in Maranhão or Jericoacoara in Ceará, or both. The reach Parnaiba departing from Lencois Maranheses your first step will be reaching Caburé and then after you need to hire a 4×4 transfer to Parnaíba. The first part of this transfer takes you over the dunes until you reach a road leading to Parnaíba. In total the journey takes about 5 hours, as the road is not in the best possible conditions. If you are coming from direction of Jericoacoara, the access is done with 4×4 vehicles as well, as leaving Jericoacoara can only be done over the dunes. The total distance is about 220 km and an approximate time of journey is around 4 hours. An another option is to arrive from the direction of the state capital Teresina accessible by major airlines of the country. In this case the distance is about 335 km. If you decide to choose this option and are into active eco-tourism, including a visit to the National Park of Sete Cidades, located in the northern part of Piauí state only about 140 km from Parnaíba, might be an interesting option for you. This National Park is wellknown for particularly interesting stone formations dividing the area into seven different ambients (“Seven cities”, like the names says).

Boat excursion

Boat excursion

However let’s get back to the main point, the Delta of Parnaíba. To get to know the delta your options are either a private or a group excursion, being the second one of course a more economic option for you. Private tours are taylor made according to your schedules, while the group excursions have a duration of a day and are organized on board of a river boat, which in fact is a quite charming way to explore the region. The journey takes you along the river all the way to deserted beaches, where you have a chance for a bath. You will climb up on the dunes to see how wide the area of Delta really is and enjoy a delicious lunch buffet on the board surrounded but the mangrove vegetation. During the excursion you will fully experience the nature of this unique ecosystem. If you are not travelling during the high season try to visit Parnaíba on weekends, just to guarantee that the inexpensive group excursions are organized while you are in the city. Flying over the Delta is also a great way to see the expansion of the rivers and the islands. This is when you really realize how amzingly large the area is.

For those willing to feel the pureness of the nature with all their senses and discover the ecosystem on their own, we would recommend a visit to Ilha do Caju. This island that forms part of the Delta is in fact located in the side of Maranhão, but enjoys the best fluvial access leaving from Parnaíba (approximately 3½-4 hours). Ilha do Caju is under ecological protection and is a perfect destination for those who enjoy active eco-tourism. Due to the private ownership the access requires a reservation in the only pousada located on the island. The numerous cashew trees have given the name for this island, which until today is one of the few places where the wonders of the nature have been totally preserved.

Pedra do Sal

Pedra do Sal

Once you have arrived to Parnaíba visited Delta, it’s not worth continuing your journey immediately. Beside of Delta, Parnaíba has other attractions to offer as well. You may make a day trip to many of the beaches on the litoral of Piauí, being some of the most interesting ones Praia da Pedra do Sal and Macapá. All of them are naturally beautiful offering rustic beach services. Pedra do Sal is characterized by stone formations and Macapá on the other hand is a meeting point for a river and the sea. The most famous beach of the area is Luis Correia, which tends to be pretty crowded during the weekends. Try it out from Monday till Friday, and on weekends head to the more peaceful beach like Praia do Coqueiro located not so far away from Luis Correia. This beach with many palm trees offers also quality accommodation for those looking for to stay in front of the sea.

Our itinerary suggestions including Delta of Parnaiba.

Beach of Macapá

Beach of Macapá

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Dos Ventos, Parnaíba – Centrally located good quality pousada in Parnaíba. Excellent choice for any travelling willing to visit the Delta of Parnaíba.
  • Pousada Ecológica, Ilha do Caju – The only pousada of the island operates respecting the ecological values and is a perfect base for your eco-tourism adventures. Please not pousada doesn’t accept under 15 years old children.
  • Aimberê Eco-Resort, Praia do Coqueiro – A good quality choice for those willing to stay in front of the beach., just a short drive from the city of Parnaíba.

Vote for your favourite Diversity!

Each and every traveller is on the road seeking for something, therefore our preferred holiday type may reflect our values and spare time activities. Many of our friends also share our passion for travelling, though it doesn’t mean that our interests are equal. Among our friends, there are those who look for ultimate comfort and total relaxation on the beach, just to compense the stressfull every day life. Some choose the destination so that they practise their favourite hobby under a sunny sky…or a blue sea, and others prefer finding out as much as possible of the culture and the history of their destination.  There are travellers who travel on the other side of the globe, just to be in touch with the wildlife and those who cannot stay out of the shops, not even during the holiday and for them returning back home with a number of new items is the fullfillment of the trip. We also know backpackers, charter lovers, travellers who prefer the beach and those who prefer the mountain.

Let us know what is your favourite Brazilian diversity by choosing one or more of the following options:

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