Ilha do Marajó – Getting away

“Even for Brazilians, who have left almost no nook or cranny of their vast country unexplored, the island of Marajó, at the mouth of the Amazon River, seems a distant and exotic destination.

The size of Switzerland, Marajó abounds with exotic wildlife, jungles, beaches, lagoons, mangrove swamps and flood plains, but has few permanent human inhabitants and is permeated with an end-of-the-world feeling. No wonder then that “At the Limit” – the Brazilian equivalent of the television reality show “Survivor” – was once shot on Marajó.

For the adventurous or curious, though, Marajó and the group of smaller islands that surround it have an almost irresistible appeal. Rarely does nature in all its intimidating majesty seem so close at hand: Two gigantic bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon River, confront each other offshore and together shape human life onshore into a battle of another sort, against the stifling exuberance of the tropics.

Which is not to say that conditions on Marajó are necessarily spartan. Yes, luxury is hard to obtain, but in three trips over the last five years, what has impressed me most is how much more welcoming to visitors the archipelago is today than at the time of my first sojourn, in 1978. With the construction of several hotels in recent years, it is now possible to sample the wilds and then return to the comfort of an air-conditioned room and a cold drink.

That’s exactly the routine I followed on my most recent visit, in October. After strolling along an isolated beach, where waves lapped the white sands, I would return to my hotel, the Ilha do Marajó, and relax poolside or play table tennis. After the tide had changed, I would return to the same spot on the beach, only to find that as a result of the eternal struggle for supremacy between the Amazon and the Atlantic, what had earlier been salt water was now fresh water, or vice versa.”

The rest of the entertaining three-page article is at NYT.

According to Notícias da Amazônia, the boat ride to Marajó has been shortened (from 3 hours to 2 hours) thanks to a new departing point and a new boat company (Álamo). Now, one can depart from Estação das Docas on any day (except Wednesday), leaving at 8:30 AM and coming back from Salvaterra (on Marajó) at 4:30PM. Tickets can be bought at the kiosks at the Terminal Fluvial in Estação das Docas or if you find yourself already in Marajó, at the Terminal Hidroviário de Camará as well as commercial centers of Soure and Salvaterra on the island.

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2 thoughts on “Ilha do Marajó – Getting away

  1. I’d like to recommend a great pousada in Salvaterra, Marajó. Bosque dos Aruãs was fantastic. The owner and his daughter chatted with me at length and were super-educados. It’s right on the water, has beautiful grounds and was like 60 reais a night. Also, the kitchen there has been mentioned in the Guia 4 Rodas, and it was some of the tastiest food I ate in all of Brazil – really, really delicious. Salvaterra is just a 5 minute ferry ride from the main city, Souré. Walking through the street in Salvaterra one night I also passed by a building where there was a carimbó rehearsal going on, and the sounds coming out of it were amazing.

    There’s an artisan in Souré, Carlos Amaral, who makes ceramic objects out of and using the same materials that his indiginous ancestors used 1000 years ago. His work is really beautiful and his wife leads a nice tour of his studio.

    Thanks for bringing back these memories!

  2. Pingback: Articles from the other Eyes On « Eyes On Brazil

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