Tag: Pará

Amazon sunset

Amazon sunset

Amazon sunset

In Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós, in the middle of the Amazon jungle, state of Pará.

May 5, 2013 | By More
weekly shot: the Amazon gets even greener for the World Cup

weekly shot: the Amazon gets even greener for the World Cup

Alter do Chão, Brazil
Alter do Chão, Brazil

It’s so interesting to see how the inhabitants of the Amazon region manage to add an even greener (and for that matter, yellow, too) touch to their cities and villages while the soccer world cup takes place miles away. The photos were taken in the formidable Amazon destination of Alter do Chão during the celebration of the 2010 World Cup.

If you want to see more photos of Alter do Chão check out our Flickr album.

If you want more information on the destination, have a look at our blog post Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós.

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October 7, 2011 | By More
Alter do Chão, are its beaches worth a trip?

Alter do Chão, are its beaches worth a trip?

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1. Alter do Chão, our Amazon secret

Alter do Chão, Brazil

Alter do Chão is a beautiful and to a large extent unkwon Amazon destination that reached fame not long ago thanks to an article on British newspaper The Guardian británico. It is found near Santarém, in the state of Pará and here at the Brazil Travel Blog we devoted it a destination card back in 2007 (a card we updated recently in Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós and an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão).

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2. Alter do Chão´s recent claim to fame

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

On 15 April 2009 The Guardian published an article with the title Top 10 beaches in Brazil. It is an article that, by the look of the comments and conclusions extracted from it by the tourist trade, was read by very few. On the second paragraph of the article there is an explanation on how the beach ranking was elaborated. “we asked 10 experts to choose their favourites”. That’s all there is about the ranking. The newspaper asked 10 travel specialists to mention their favourite beach in Brazil. One beach each. The list is published in no hierarchical order. Ricardo Freire -one the specialists consulted- explained at Nasce um mito: Alter-do-Chão, “a melhor praia do Brasil segundo a imprensa inglesa” that the specialists were asked not to mention beaches chosen by any of the other 8 experts. Had it not been for this rule we could have expected a heavy Fernando de Noronha presence on the list (strangely, The Guardian lists the island of Fernando de Noronha as if it only had one beach).

Alter do Chão is on the list. Conspicuous by its absence on the description of Alter published by the newspaper is any mention to the fact that the beaches of Alter are covered by the river between January and July. Should you arrive in Alter in April you will find no beaches at all -you will agree this is no insignificant detail. We know of several frustrated tourists that chose the wrong time of the year to travel to Alter and get to know its beaches.

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

On the Guardian list, Alter do Chão appears listed first. We know the beaches were listed in geographical order (from north to south). But the local tourist trade chose to ignore this fact and a myth was born: Alter do Chão as the most beautiful beach in Brazil according to the Guardian newspaper. And once a myth is born it is a mean task to make people understand the mistake.

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3. What are the beaches of Alter do Chão like?

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

Alter do Chão and the region of the river Tapajós contain the most extense collection of white sandy beaches in the Amazon region. Alter owes its fame to the Ilha do Amor beach (“Love Island”) which rather than an island it is a sand bar right in front of the village, contemplated at its best between July and December. The sand bar is bathed by the Tapajós river to one side and by the Lagoa Verde to the other. In the middle of the sand bar there is an endless series of beach huts with restaurants serving Amazon fish. But the Ilha do Amor is just one of many beaches in the region. During the dry season you can walk from Alter to Santarém through the beach following the river course.

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

The Ilha do Amor is a pleasant beach of fine sand and no waves. The river waters are dark, warm and transparent. To reach the beach from the village you need to enlist the services of a boatman that will take you there in no time at all.

During the weekend and the holiday season the beach is filled with tourists from the region and the cities of Belém and Manaus. The atmosphere at the beach is no different from that of any other beach in Brazil. High season means an awful lot of tourists, noise, movement, chaos, plastic chairs and tables and food and drink aplenty. Plenty of rubbish too.

During the low season, if you reach the beach during the week you will have it mostly for yourself.

rio Tapajós, Brazil

We have mentioned there are many other beaches. You can hire a boatman to take you there. Most of the beaches are virgin, with no infrastructure whatsoever. Other beaches, such as the Ponta de Pedras, have restaurants.

If you don’t want to take a boat, you can reach the popular praia do Cajueiro on foot. From Alter’s main square, follow the riverfront to the left and you’ll get there in five minutes.

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4. So, is it worth a trip to Alter do Chão just to see its beaches?

We feel the beaches of Alter are a plus to anyone visiting the rainforest in the region. Alter is a fantastic base for the perfect Amazon experience. So if you go to Alter after a jungle experience, there is much worse you can do than relaxing one day at its beaches.

If you are only after a beach destination for your holidays, and you like your beaches with plenty of intrastructure, we dare say Alter do Chão might not be your place. For the money you’ll pay to get to roustic Alter you can spend a week at a holiday resort.

However, if roustic is your thing and you are after a different type of beach, you might want to give Alter do Chão a try. And if you have in mind a trip combining a beach holiday with a trip to the jungle, then go ahead, Alter is your place.

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RELATED POSTS:
destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós
an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão
destination: Algodoal
destination: Belém
destination: Ilha do Marajó
destination: Manaus
the Meeting of the Waters and the Janauary Ecological Park, near Manaus
Jungle Lodges in the Amazon

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October 15, 2010 | By More
destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós

destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós

Alter do Chão, the Amazon, Brazil"igapó", Alter do Chão, Amazon, BrazilAlter do Chão, BrazilFloresta Nacional do Tapajós, Amazon, Brazil
Canal do Jari, the Amazon, Brazilvitória-regia, Amazonia, BrazilCanal do Jari, BrazilAlter do Chão, Brazil
casa de farinha, Maripá, Amazon, BrazilCanal do Jari, BrazilAmazon, BrazilMaripá, Amazon, Brazil

Alter do Chão is a small town in the state of Pará, council of Santarém. It is located at the entrance of a lake formed on the right bank of the Tapajós river – one of the biggest tributaries of the Amazon and known for its dark-blue waters. When the level of the Amazon river is low, from July to January, a beach of fine and clear sands appears at the entrance of the lake, the praia do Amor. Alter do Chão is known as the Caribbean Amazon for its combination of clear waters and sand.

But beyond its famous beaches, what makes Alter do Chão a remarkable destination is the fact that it makes an ideal base for a perfect Amazon experience in the nearby Floresta Nacional do Tapajós. Community-based ecotourism at its best.

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1. HOW TO GET THERE:

Whether you arrive by bus or by boat, the entry point to Alter do Chão is the city of Santarém.

By plane, the nearest airport is Santarém’s. The main Brazilian airlines fly to Santarém from Manaus and Belém (flight time is approximately 1 hour from both cities). From Santarém airport to Alter do Chão, 25 km away, a taxi will set you back approximately R$90.

You can reach Santarém by boat from Manaus or Belém. Travel time is two days. From Belém to Santarém a cabin will cost you R$170. From Manaus to Santarém, R$125.

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2. WHEN TO GO:

Weather-wise, temperatures in Alter do Chão range from the warm to the hot. Rarely does the termometer fall below 20 degrees Celsius and maximum temperatures usually reach the 30’s. It rains heavily from January to July.

The best time to visit Alter do Chão goes from July to September, when the river levels begin to descend and the beaches appear. From January till June there’s heavy rain and the beaches are submerged. From October to December the heat is intense and the river level reaches the year’s low. The magic igapós (flooded forests) dry up.

If you don’t appreciate crowds, we would advice you to avoid Alter do Chão during the Brazilian bank holidays, when the village and the beaches are crowded with tourists coming from Manaus and Belém. The carnival period is particularly critical.

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3. CAREFUL WITH:

  • trying to visit Alter do Chão during the Sairé festival during the second week of September; finding acommodation is next to impossible and prices shoot up.
  • sting rays. They are found in most beaches, particularly when the river level is low. Accidents are numerous. Before entering the river you need to make sure there isn’t a ray hidden under the sand.
  • entering the jungle on your own. It’s a definite no-no.

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4. WE LIKE THE MOST:

  • the majestic Tapajós river
  • the imposing jungle full of surprises
  • the wide range of trips available from Alter do Chão
  • the development of true ecoturism in the region
  • to spend the day at the Ilha do Amor (literally, “love island”) eating snacks and drinking beer
  • to watch the sunset from the new pier and end the night with a piracaia (barbeque fish) at the beach
  • the remote and untouched character of Alter do Chão

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5. WE LIKE THE LEAST:

  • noise pollution along the river front and the Praça Matriz
  • the Ilha do Amor vanishes for several months
  • Sunday trippers in Alter do Chão; fortunately, by Monday they are gone
  • the unstoppable and destructive advance of men towards the jungle
  • the incredible closure and neglect of the Museu do Índio
  • the closure of the peixe-boi project, preserving the manatees on the Tapajós river

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6. FAVOURITE PLACES:

The Ilha do Amor, the Ponta de Cururu, the Floresta Encantada, the Canal do Jari, the FLONA, the Tapajós river

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7. PIECE OF ADVICE:

  • there are plenty of things to do in Alter do Chão’s surrounding area: a quiet walk along the flooded rainforest and virgin beaches, river-dolphin watching; trekking at the National Parks; getting to know the natives; and even discover two typically American village built by the Ford company during the rubber fever (Fordlandia and Belterra). At an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão we gave details of the most exciting trips around the Alter do Chão region.
  • during the weekend Alter becomes the beach for the inhabitants of Santarem; the place is chock-a-block. During the week it is much quieter
  • you can rent a kayak at the Praia do Amor
  • there is a supermarket and several shops where you will be able to obtain supplies; however, there are no ATM’s in Alter do Chão
  • Alter is an exceptional place if you want to purchase authentic indigenous crafts; some of the shops are real museums
  • there’s a great travel agency at the main square, run by Argentinians: Mãe Natureza. They offer good advice and excellent juices and sandwiches
  • stalls at the main square sell local food and sweets. A must!

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8. IS IT WORTH VISITING ALTER DO CHÃO JUST FOR ITS BEACHES?

We believe the beaches on the Tapajós river are a fantastic bonus to any visitor to the region. But given how costly it is to reach the region, they could never constitute the only reason for a visit to the area. There are much better beaches all along the Brazilian coastline.

You need to bear in mind the beaches only emerge from July to January. Visit Alter do Chão any other time and you will need a wet suit to see the beaches.

More on the topic at our Alter do Chão, are its beaches worth a trip?

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9. ACCOMMODATION:

There aren’t many options of accommodation in Alter do Chão. Those with a web site are listed at hotels and pousadas in Alter do Chão. We stayed at the pousada Tupaiulândia. It has no website but offers an excellent value for money.

Some of the indigenous communities in the National Forest offer very basic acommodation to its visitors.

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10. HEALTH:

If you are visiting Alter do Chão you are adviced to get your yellow fever shot (more information at 10 facts about yellow fever in Brazil“>10 facts about yellow fever in Brazil). Malaria has not been an issue on the region for some time.

The high acidic level of the Tapajós river guarantees low proliferation of mosquitos. You will find them during your treks in the jungle.

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11. LINKS:

There are no specific pages on Alter do Chão worth mentioning. On Mãe Natureza‘s website, with a version in English, there are detailed descriptions of the activities that can be done in the region. IBAMA’s site devoted to the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós has maps of the region available for download in PDF format.

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12. WEATHER FORECAST:

The weather in Alter do Chão (Santarem) for the next 10 days

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13. CLIMATE:

Average temperatures and rainfall in Alter do Chão (Santarém) at msn.weather.

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13. GOOGLE MAPS:

Alter do Chão in Google Maps.

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14. PHOTOS:

Our Alter do Chão photo album in Flickr.

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15. OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE AMAZON REGION:
an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão
“cheia” and “seca” on the Amazon region
tourism on the Amazon region is a foreign affair
destination: Algodoal
destination: Belém
destination: Ilha do Marajó
destination: Manaus
the Meeting of the Waters and the Janauary Ecological Park, near Manaus

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July 19, 2010 | By More
7 full (and free!) tourist guides on Brazil available online

7 full (and free!) tourist guides on Brazil available online

Empresa das Artes

Publishing house Empresa das Artes, with an extense travel-related catalogue, is enabling free online access to the full contents of several of its guides. To read the guides you need to access the tool provided by Book Stand Panrotas.

The available guides are:

Amazonas
Bahia
Goiás
Mato Grosso
Pará
Paraná
Santa Catarina

To open each guide, click on CLIQUE para ler esta publicação. A new window will open where you will be able to read the guide. Unfortunately, the guides are available in Portuguese only, but if you have a basic grasp of the language you will find tons of background information as well as beautiful pictures and maps.

As well as the guides listed here there are a few commercial publications from Panrotas, a trade magazine. Congratulations to the private companies responsible for the initiative.

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RELATED POSTS:
National parks: online brochures

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October 22, 2009 | By More