Santarem – Route BR-163 – Belterra – Rainforest – Trans-Amazonian – Fordlandia – Ruropolis Waterfalls – Maica Floodplain
HAVE YOU EVER IMAGINED that it would be possible to see and learn all the aspects of history, flora, fauna, environment, culture and livelihood in the Amazon JUST IN FOUR DAYS? Well, we found out that it could be done while having lots of fun. After a great summer with photographers, filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, backpackers, inventors, politicians, and people of all ages and nationalities, Big Tree Adventure Tours has just created a product that most of the Amazon explorers have been seeking for decades – a complete flash tour that will include all kinds of activities in all kinds of terrains. This will now become our most loved tour. This is what we really like to do – this is the real Amazonian Adventure.
Before we describe the content of this tour, consider the following: this tour is made for people who are looking for a unique experience and has nothing that a typical tour agency would offer. It is far from being low-budget, but it has a competitive cost. We care about your safety and we provide the maximum security as well as working to prevent accidents. What you will see in the tour is what the Amazon really is, which is in many cases different from what you might expect. It is going to be unforgettable.
Wake up at 6 a.m. and come over to Zero Impact Brazil (ZIB) for breakfast. ZIB is our headquarters and sawmill. It is also the gallery of our non-waste philosophy of treating wood and other products of the rainforest. During the breakfast, which will represent the most traditional dishes of the region, we will tell you more about the logging business in the Amazon and why we created Zero Impact Brazil. Leaving from the sawmill, the van takes us to Belterra, the second town that was a site of Ford’s attempt to build an American Dream in the heart of the Amazon. After a glimpse into the story of the place, contemplation of breathtaking landscapes and tasting Cupuaçu (instead of latex) we head to 766. That’s what we call our 766 hectares (2000 acres) prime forest reserve. And that’s how we introduce you to the rainforest. 77 km away from Santarem by route BR-163 (Santarem-Cuiaba highway) lies our “island in the ocean of soy.” This is where you see the contrast between destruction and preservation, traditional lifestyles and cruel multinational business. Meet Raimundo and his huge family, who are our dear neighbors, partners, traditional manioc farmers and just extremely nice people. With them you do not have to worry about traveling through 766 hectares of dense forest with a surprise at every step. And yes, be ready to sleep in the middle of it all in our little wooden cabin. This afternoon will belong to trekking, watching the giant trees, learning about plants, swimming in the crystal-clear freshwater stream, water jumping with a rope, making barbecue , setting a fire, cooking the dinner on the wood-burning stove, singing, playing the guitar, getting to tie a hammock or put up a tent… Well, you will be in the Amazonian rainforest! Good night, fellows, have a good rest, in the morning we will hit the road again!
Wow, are you still there? Good to see that! Now, have your breakfast, jump into the river to wake up, pack your stuff and let’s go! We have 280 km ahead. And that is not as easy as it sounds. Getting to Ruropolis is no trouble – almost all the way there the road is paved, just a couple of kilometers of clay and rock they used to explode with TNT in order to finish the 50-year-old construction of the second of only two roadways that link the Amazon with the South of Brazil. After Ruropolis, we still have 130 km to get to Fordlandia. That is why we first go and get a refreshing swim in the waterfalls. By the way, the steakhouses around that place are great. Well, after an early lunch we start a real journey along the Trans-Amazonian highway. Whatever you have heard of bad roads is about that place, which doesn't make it any less beautiful. A couple of hours of careful driving and we’re finally in Fordlandia – the ghost town. We drop ourselves in a small hostel, sit for a snack and go out for a ride to have an overview of the American village. It’s time to find a badass to climb on the 86-year-old water tower some 40 meters high. It’s worth that! One of the greatest sunsets of a lifetime looks greater from the top. But that’s not the end… Fordlandia at night is astonishing… But we don’t want to tell you too much.
Early in the morning it’s time to break in the old houses, check if Ford’s machinery is still working and tap a couple of rubber trees. We have to investigate something – too many parts of the history of Fordlandia are still hidden and every tour like this adds a piece to the puzzle. Apart from that, we have delicious cocoa juice to taste (it comes from nearby plantations). Well, it’s time to leave the ghosts behind – we’re heading back to Santarem! We will complete those 350 km in about 6 hours, and be back to Santarem for dinner. The closer we are to the city, the stronger the smell of Pirarucu, Tambaqui, Tucunare, Pirarucu and other weird-named fish. The important thing is that it is delicious. All the flavors and aromas of the Amazon you will find in our friend’s restaurant – Piracema. And then, after the dinner, we need a bed. Or a hammock. The last day is still ahead.
Ah, the last day! Have you heard of Amazonian floodplains? Have you heard of Riker Island in NY? What do they have in common? Well, welcome to Riker’s Farm on the Maica River to the east of Santarem. The history of confederate families, the oldest rubber plantation, water buffaloes, giant water lilies, birds, piranhas, sloths are all in one place. But before that we’re going to our friend’s country house – to the “monkey tower.” This day will be devoted to fishing, spotting the wildlife and chilling with an old and very nice family in the middle of a unique bio system of the Amazon basin. What a culmination for your journey! After over 1000 km travelled, dozens of different locations, all kind of adventures – we’re finally letting you relax and probably go to the beach. You have so many of them to choose from…
And remember: there’s still too much to be explored – consider coming back!