Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Another great time in the Amazon: Ecology, History and Wildlife




















Monday, 28 April 2014

Tapajos National, Forest, Belterra, Alter do chao special for cruiser


Alter do Chao, Tapajos National Forest, Beltera
After reading numerous reviews of famous Amazon guide Gil Serique on Trip Advisor, we booked a Meeting of the Waters (Santarem) and Tapajos National Forest (Alter do Chao) excursions with him during our cruise to Brazil in February and March 2014. Our Amazon guide, Gil Serique, is one of those people that truly live up to their reputation and actually deliver more than what they promise. He is the real deal, and a trip with him is a destination in itself. Although this excursion is shown at Santarem on Trip Advisor, we did this tour during our stop at Alter do Chao, where our guide Gil Serique lives. Gil met us at the tender dock with a clean, well maintained, air conditioned multi-passenger van, driven by a very safe and conscientious driver. As soon as we had our group together, we were on our way to the Tapajos National Forest. From the first introduction you know that you are in for a real treat. Gil has an immensely charming, open, enthusiastic and friendly personality that is captivating from the first handshake. He has a very good command of English, is easy to understand, and very approachable for questions. Gil also has a never ending supply of interesting and humorous stories about the Amazon, his family's exploits in the region, and everything you want to know about the history, culture, and nature in the Amazon. Gil told us by email that because of the short time available to us, and the many things he wanted to show us, we would not have time to stop for lunch, but instead he would provide some nuts, fruit, and beverages. What an understatement! When we arrived at the Tapajos National Forest, large platters of pineapple, Brazil nuts, watermelon and many other unfamiliar, but delicious tropical fruits were waiting for us to snack on before heading into the rainforest and a trip to his family's ancestral property, which is now part of the national forest. Gil showed us how rubber is extracted from the trees, and gave us an excellent history of the Brazilian rubber industry, including Henry Ford's failed Fordlandia and Belle Terra rubber plantations. Gil took us to Belle Terra on the way back to Alter do Chao after our rainforest adventure . Gil suggested reading the book "Thief at the End of the World", a novel by Joe Jackson which is a historical account of the theft of Brazilian rubber seeds which had a devastating impact on Brazil's rubber economy. It was good advice. Gil timed our trip so we had time to visit his house on the shore in Alter do Chao, where he treated us to a magnificent platter of fried fish, rice, and vegetables accompanied by wonderful Caipirinhas. If you have the opportunity to do this excursion with Gil Serique, do whatever it takes to make it happen. I also posted a review of our other excursion with Gil Serique, Meeting of the Waters, at Santarem..

Visited March 2014




Maria and Guy at home at Alter do chao as I sign Joe's The Thief




Belterra

Tapajos National Forest

A soy field and a cemitery


"low-impact" logging

from the tower

A brief narrative of a great time in the Amazon


Santarem, Meeting of the Waters
After reading numerous reviews of famous Amazon guide Gil Serique on Trip Advisor, we booked a meeting of the waters (Santarem) and Tapajos National Forest (Alter do Chao) excursions with him in March 2014.  Our Amazon guide, Gil Serique, is one of those people that truly live up to their reputation and actually deliver more than what they promise.  He is the real deal, and a trip with him is a destination in itself.  A trip with Gil should be a "must do" when visiting Santarem or Alter do Chao.  At Santarem, Gil met us at the dock with his chartered boat, and was ready to lead us on our expedition as soon as we got off the cruise ship.  From the first introduction you know that you are in for a real treat. He has an immensely charming, open, enthusiastic and friendly personality that is captivating from the first handshake.  He has a very good command of English, is easy to understand, and very approachable for questions.  Gil also has a never ending supply of interesting and humorous stories about the Amazon, his family's exploits in the region, and everything you want to know about the history, culture, and nature in the Amazon.  The boat he chartered for us far exceeded our expectations, being about the same size as the one used by the ship's excursion, but we only had 14 people plus a very friendly crew on board.  After a stop to see the pink dolphins, we headed into the Amazon flood plain for a full day of seeing the magnificence of this small part of the Amazon basin, meeting to the waters, and a 45 minute canoe trip into the flooded rainforest.  Gil told us by email that because of the short time available to us and the many things he wanted to show us, we would not have time to stop for lunch, but instead he would provide some nuts, fruit, fish bits, and beverages.  What an understatement!  Picture a large platters of cashews and Brazil nuts, pineapple, olives, and perfectly  fried fresh fish nuggets with limes and hot sauce all prepared by his mother-in-law-to-be on the boat.  Beverages were soda, water, beer, and the best Caipirinhas we had in Brazil.  We certainly did not go away hungry.  If you have the opportunity to do this excursion with Gil Serique, do whatever it takes to make it happen.  I will post a review on our excursion with him to the Tapajos National Forest in the Alter do Chao destination.



Maria

a three-toed sloth

leaving to the  flooded forest

Guy and a Sapucaya shell

Pink Dolphin

A kapok tree i used toplay hide and seek