Viking Ocean Cruises - From the Caribbean to the Amazon
December 26 - Santarem, Brazil
If you click on the video on the left you can get a better feel for the forest that we were walking through. You can see the underbrush and the spindly trees. You can see but not hear the birds and their high-pitched calls. You can also see our group and our guide talking about the tall vine-encased tree that we are gathered around.
There were many other species of trees that reached far into the top of the forest. Many of these trees had special uses for the natives that once lived here. Our guide and the local guide that we met at the forest's entrance demonstrated the use of the plants and trees. The photo at the top of this page shows our assistant guide creating a woven pattern from one of the limbs that would be used for a roof on a house.
Other things that we saw were huge termite nests hanging from trees. In addition, we saw bullet ant nests that we were warned to stay away from because of their extremely potent sting.
We reached the end of the trail where we began our walk. The weather was warm and very comfortable. Our bus was waiting for us so we loaded up and drove back to the ship, passing the fields, rural areas and burbs from the other side of the bus. I took a lot of photos which you can see below.
I would have rated this excursion as excellent except for the long bus ride and the long wait at the park entrance. It is too bad that the ship can not dock next to the forest, but that is the trade off with cruising.
We reached the ship just in time to get some food in in the Pool Grill which was on Deck 7 in the pool area. I had an tasty hot dog that was stuffed with unfamiliar things including shrimp salad.
We relaxed for the rest of the day. A light dinner was in the World Cafe.
Weather high 81 low 72 with scattered showers. Map of Santarem.
This was our first port in Brazil. Ann and got up early because we had an 8:30 excursion and we wanted to have a good breakfast before we left. Our ship arrived at Santarem at 8:00. We were able to watch our approach from our veranda and the World Cafe. We met our Tapajós National Forest Hike excursion in the Star Theater and followed our group down the gangway, up the street and onto our bus. Ellen joined us.
The drive to Tapajós National Forest took more than an hour. It was interesting, though. We could see the urban and rural areas as we passed. There were a lot of colorful houses and businesses. The main roads had decent paving but the secondary roads were not as good. Our guide narrated the whole time on various topics including the generic makeup of the local people. He was a mixture of native Indians, African, Portuguese, etc.
Once we reached the forest entrance, we stopped for a nature break. Our guide said to get back to the bus in 10 minutes. A half-hour later, we were still waiting while various guides give us insights about the area. There were other buses here. When we got going again, we drove down a rutted dirt road for a mile or so to pour drop off spot. I expected to see the other buses and their passengers causing a crowded slow-moving hike. Happily, the guides had this figured out and our busload had its area all to itself. After a brief orientation and a short walk to see coconut, mango, rubber and other species of trees, we plunged onto a narrow trail that led us deep into the forest.
My expectation in coming to the Amazon was that we would be walking through a jungle with dense, lush foliage, swinging vines, colorful birds and exotic animals along with steaming temperatures and stinging mosquitoes. The lower part of the Amazon is not like that. We were in a real forest, not a jungle.