The world’s largest moist rainforest is a unique territory by the indescribable variety of its flora and fauna. In the Amazon you can know three breathtaking roadmaps: National Forest of the Tapajós, State Park of Monte Alegre and Vale do paradise.
Following the banks of the Tapajós River, in the western region of Pará, it is an important conservation unit of nature that in the Amazon summer boasts more than 160 km of beaches with a great diversity of landscapes: rivers, lakes, terra firm, forest, hills, Plateaus, fields, Açaizais and more. We’re referring to the forest
Nacional do Tapajós, which begins in the municipality of Belterra, a municipality that is located a few kilometers from the village of Alter do Chão (Santarém), presented in the previous edition in the Heart of Amazonia.
The Tapajós National Forest covers the municipalities of Belterra, Aveiro, Rurópolis and plaques. It is accessible by highway BR-163 Santarém-Cuiabá. The Chico Mendes Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) is the one administers the conservation unit, so we recommend requesting the entry permit in Santarém.
Starting from the village of Alter do Chão, the first part of this bicycle adventure is a single land road to be traveled for 20 km without flat terrain. The first 8 km are on the road of Piçarra (covering small stones of red color) to the beach of Pindobal. It takes a little skill to carry out the climbs, because sometimes the wheels turn false on the pebbles, but the greatest care has to be on the downhills that almost always end in curves, and if you let to brake in the end, it will easily lose control of the steering. Upon arriving at the beach, the scenery is tranquil and composed of thatched tents that provide a good rest before continuing the adventure. The next 12 kilometres are in sandy terrain, very difficult to be travelled without stop for rest and totally on the bike. It is suffered to perform the intense ascent until reaching the soil of the black land of the municipality of Belterra (Beautiful land).
Belterra began to be built in 1934 as a village with houses and streets, totally in the architectural style of the United States. It was 15 years of American domination, but enough for the inheritance to survive the present day. On its main avenue still has: Red fire hydrants equal to those we see in the old American movies; Wooden houses with the main entrance door facing the street without walls, only with front gardens and the farmhouses to the bottom; Large sidewalks covered by the shade of trees; At the end of the main avenue there are historic buildings made with timbers that are serving as headquarters of the prefecture, secretariats and city Hall.
And why was all this built in the Amazon rainforest? American tycoon Henry Ford (founder of Ford Company) has idealized in the region an immense plantation of rubber trees to be able to extract the latex and invest in the expansion of its businesses founded Belterra. Rubber trees are a species of tree typical of the region and was the main raw material for the rubber used in various parts of its cars. Ford has never been to the Amazon, but has sent its leader in Brazilian soil all the material used in the construction of the houses and the specialized labor for the construction of the village, and also for the plantation and maintenance of the syringes. The project has failed! What’s the point? The company needed 18000 workers, in the meantime, to have a maximum of 5000. This yielded a low production, at the same time as the increase in the commercialization of synthetic rubber in Malaysia. And that’s not all! The death of his only son (Edsel Ford) was still running the company. At that time, the bold structure gave Belterra the status of first-world village in the midst of the Amazon rainforest.
The second part of the adventure is starting from Belterra on a journey of about 15 km. A good portion of the course is flat, only within the city the road is paved, shortly after the first kilometers resumes the land road. At the end of the course is the beginning of the national Forest of the Tapajós (FLONA). Shortly before the portal of supervision of the Unit is the residence of his Luiz, which is an experienced guide of the first community called São Domingos. In the community is the trail of the Curupira, which has approximately 12 km of course with several tourist attractions, such as Ambé, Vine to make paneiros; Muira Puama, known as “Amazon Viagra”; and Samaúma, considered by the indigenous to the “mother” of all the trees.
On a typical day, we will find a lot of warmth and heavy rainfall in the late afternoon. The natives describe the Curupira (a protector of the forest) is a strong little Indian and reddish hair that emits false signals and whistles, and tricks the hunters and travelers by having their feet turned back, making them lose their right course at the time of crossing the forest. The first time I did the track, in the company of a friend and on a day of heavy rain in the late afternoon, we experienced exactly that sensation… His Luiz reported that the Curupira Mora at the foot of the largest Samaúma that can reach 70 meters high, one of the samaumeiras we visited is over 500 years. There were still about 2 hours to nightfall when we arrived at the end of the route. We asked the guide to await us at the entrance portal of the forest and we intend to remake the path. That’s when the experience became unforgettable – we did not combine that with the Curupira. When we arrived again in the Samaúma existing right in the middle of the whole track, I took a huge tumble and hurt me falling over the roots. After a few minutes stopped until I passed the pain, I raised my head and I was in doubt which direction we came from. My friend was confused too. Although there is only one way to give sequence, we have been discussing a little bit about detail of the route and the following direction. Inside the forest darkens early and only starts to lighten a little around 20, if there is moonlight. But all we had that night was the rain and the darkness. We only pointed forward a red led that served as signalling on one of the bikes. We have missed the way, we arrive at the exit of the track at around 9:00 p.m. with very fatigue and thirst. It was cruel! We found the guide already desperate talking to the gate guard about our disappearance. Until that day I didn’t believe in these jungle legends…
The Tapajós National Forest has three main communities for visitation: São Domingos, Maguari and Jamaraquá. At the beginning of the Maguari community is a small thatched tent on the edge of the road. It is the restaurant of its Vicente, a resident of the community that maintains its simple restaurant with quite a good humor. More ahead in this community is possible to visit handicrafts and also objects made with ecological leather. The Tapajós National Forest has thousands of attractions, it is a must for those who like nature.
Far more than 70 km from the Tapajós National Forest is the city of Santarém, also known poetic as the pearl of the Tapajós. Who is born in this town is called “Mocorongo”. In other regions of Brazil, Mocorongo is a derogatory term. But it is worthwhile to highlight that the choice of the name is deliberate and is intent on valuing its original sense, whose roots are in indigenous culture and means humble and receptive people. In Amazonia, Mocorongo is also synonymous with development, education and participation. The name “Santarém” was given by the Portuguese colonists in homage to a homonymous city in Portugal, and the term refers to a species of grape trincadeira in the oval format.
There are several other towns homonymous indications of Portugal in Pará, among them is Monte Alegre. An option to get to the city is by Santarém in Ferry Ferry boat, just on the exit there is the passage through the marvelous encounter of the rivers Tapajós and Amazonas and the journey continues for more 2 hours to the port terminal of Santana do cover, which is on the left bank of the Amazon River.
At this locale initiates PA-255. It is necessary to travel approximately 90 km in mixed terrain (asphalt and land) until reaching the small town of Monte Alegre, with little over 50000 inhabitants. In the same PA-255, distant approximately 17 kilometres from the city, is a land road to be traveled for approximately 10 km to the state Park of Monte Alegre (PEMA). According to the recent archaeological studies conducted by the American Anna Roosevelt, the first man in the American continent was Brazilian and lived about 11,200 years BC in a set of caves in the Hills (Ererê and Paytuna) that are within the area that is now called PEMA. There are fragments of stones and ceramics in the cave region, and in the Serra de Paytuna has many cave scriptures on the wall known as Pestle stone. The caves are no longer populated for approximately 400 years, since the arrival of the Europeans in the region. The PEMA is administered by the city’s environment secretariat, where it is necessary to request authorization for visitation, but in case of the direct route to the park you will find drivers trained for the attractions. It’s a new experience, but it gives the real opportunity to have an odd day in your life.
Another interesting place to know is starting from the PEMA to the municipality of Alenquer, route in the dirt road and trail excerpts that sum approximately 110 km. missing about 42 km to reach the city is the entrance of the exhausting town crier of about 15 km that gives access to the valley of Paradise, in the currency between the two municipalities (Monte Alegre and Alenquer). The Valley of Paradise is the junction of three beautiful waterfalls, refuge from ancient indigenous tribes. It is a valley formed by the extinction of a river, which with time has been transformed into a stream of crystalline waters that flows over stone tombstones and fall brightly forming several waterfalls. Three of these waterfalls can be visited in one day only: Paradise Waterfall (12 meters fall), bridal Veil (18 feet of fall) and precious (35 meters of freefall). It is a spectacle to spend the night in place, the rustic chalets are almost inside one of the waterfalls and in the dawn the sensation is cold, a lot of moisture and a sound that gives the idea of a torrential rain. It is a valley of natural beauties in which the entire forest reserve impresses us for its peace and integration with the forest, ideal place to read, rest and enjoy massage baths in the waterfalls. It is rich in vegetable and animal life, a magnificent and propitious place for adventures like jungle trails, ecological walks, nights in the woods and other activities that are not my specialty, but may be yours.
The Amazon is a place that overflows life. Just as there are places where people breathe work and search for professional success, there are also places where people are happy and accomplished without even knowing the world that was constructed outside the forest.
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