Santarém / Alter do Chão / Tapajós National Forest / Belterra
Halfway between Belém and Manaus, Santarem, a small and typical Amazonian town with a rich cultural heritage, is the third largest city on the Brazilian Amazon and definitely the most pleasant and safest.
Standing at the confluence of the Rio Tapajós with the Amazon it is surrounded by wildlife sanctuaries, small communities and amazing fresh water beaches. Santarem is known to have hosted Victorian Naturalists, many American confederates and the infamous Wickhams that ended up leaving with 70000 seeds of rubber tree after living there for 7 years.
The meeting of the waters can be contemplated from most parts of the city, especially from Richard Hennington Pier, Mirante do Tapajós and Museu Joao Fonna located downtown.
Alter do chão is only at a 30 minute drive from Santarem. When the Amazon basin waters are low a visit to Alter do Chão is a must. This river beach has been appointed by The Guardian as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Brazil.
From both cities, there are several activities and cruises on typical Amazonian boats, watching lovely sunsets and visiting untouched forest with abundant wildlife like Pink Dolphins, Sloths, Monkeys, Giant Water lillies, oatzins and lots of other bird species.
Riding south you can reach Belterra, the second city found by Henry Ford in the Tapajos Valley and the impressive pristine Rainforest in the 60.000 hectares that form the Tapajos National Forest.