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Travel back in time to the wild Amazon
of the Rubber Boom era
Amazonian winter on Tapajós River
The Rubber Path Cruise is the first exclusive Eco Adventure designed for Bucket List Fly Fishing and is a total Amazonian experience. It is a result of the years Karim Abu Bakr spent in the Adventure business in the Amazon around Santarem Brazil, and his time studying and visiting places Like Fordlandia, and the history of the rubber tree. Karim had all kind of experiences there – from kayaking to Indigenous villages and sleeping in the middle of the jungle to hosting luxury cruises and being part of scientific expeditions. The goal is to make you feel like a turn of the century explorer, travelling, discovering and even eating like Barons. At the end you’ll find out the best about that place – people. We love Amazonian people, Amazonian hidden history and exaggerated stories of its inhabitants – from manioc planters, rubber tappers and fishermen to descendants of Aristocrats, American Confederates and German scientists. It’s all about being not just authentic or “not touristy”, it’s about showing you what this part of the Amazon was, what it is today and who the Amazonians are so that you can write your own story. Make sure you open up to it and enjoy every step of The Rubber Path.
A boat trip on the Tapajos River is always fascinating. Tapajos is probably the most beautiful tributary of the Amazon which meets Mother of All Rivers right in front of Santarem where we depart. Santarém is the only place where you can see 5 different eco-systems within a 150 mile range. The muddy Amazon waters provide us with beautiful floodplains right at the beginning of our journey and offers the best scenery for those interested in local fauna diversity. When we sail up the Tapajos it gets totally different – red clay riverbanks are replaced by white sandy beaches, in the background we see tall, virgin rainforest and by the river we see low forests flooded by black and transparent water – “igapó”. Houses built on stilts switch to in-land villages that make their living of natural rubber handicraft, manioc flour production, all before we get to our ultimate destination – Fordlandia. Our guests will get to see a fascinating part of the history of the Amazon across the last two centuries. The creation by Henry Ford in the middle of the Amazon rainforest still has the traces of the last breath of Brazilian Rubber Boom apart from being hidden in a beautiful part of the Tapajos River.
Unlike in fishing trips, there’s more than one answer to the question “What is the best time to come?” Number one, it depends on your taste. Amazon and Tapajos rivers have an enormous gap between the dry and the wet seasons – up to 45 feet. They shape forests, villages, beaches. If you want to see enormous white sandbars of the Tapajos River and its postcard Alter-do-Chão – September through November is your moment to come. Enjoy half-flooded white sandy beaches – August is the best. Prefer canoeing to hiking – May and June are your best months. In the wet season rains only hit harder in March, while your chances to see more wildlife and enjoy all shades of green of the rainforest are much higher. So, we pick up May and June for our wet season program, when the Amazon and Tapajos Rivers are at their highest point. Our dry season version of the cruise happens in August and September. It allows us to see the beauty of Tapajos River with its hundreds of miles of white sandy beaches and, islands that pop out of floodplains and horseback riding begins replacing canoeing in some of the sites.
The spirit of the Rubber Path cruise is exploration and discovery. Every place we visit has its mysteries, many of which are still veiled. Careful, you might want to stay longer.
The whole cruise is built around the most incredible part of Amazonian history – the Rubber Boom. Natural rubber comes from Hevea Brasielensis, a tree that is indigenous to the area. Latex was used by several civilizations of Central and South America dating back to 1500 BC however, Europeans only saw the arrival of rubber from the New World over two centuries later because their focus had been on gold. The French astronomer Charles Marie de La Condamine, brought the first rubber to Europe in 1735 and in 1752, Jean de Magellan, son of the famous navigator, presented his creation to French academy of science a piece of solid latex able to rub pencil marks away from paper – the eraser. For decades, uses of natural rubber like making bottles, coating clothes and shoes were copied from indigenous cultures, but European cold would greatly affect the products. Until Charles Goodyear, almost by accident, invented vulcanization (the process of hardening rubber) in 1839. From that moment on rubber could be used to make shoes, tires, bags, belts – anything. And the only source of the raw material was South America and, particularly, Brazilian Amazon.
Some Portuguese aristocrats were long told to be insane for exploring the Amazon. It didn’t offer crazy amount of resources like Andes, had a terrible humid and hot climate, tons of dangers. Then, Amazonian resources were identified – Black pepper, cocoa, Brazil wood – all grew naturally in the Amazon and ultimately became more valuable than gold. By the time rubber drove the world crazy, the whole Amazon already had new owners known as “Rubber Barons”. Because the Rubber tree only grew naturally in this area, Brazil became a monopoly in rubber exploitation and supplies. While rubber was available from neighboring Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, it to get through quickly developing port of Manaus,. The Rubber Barons began enslaving rubber tappers and gaining fortunes which they spent on architecture we can still see today : Manaus Opera House, Teatro da Vitoria in Santarém, Fazenda Taperinha on Maica Lake in Santarém. The latter became a “naturalist’s paradise” and belonged to Baron of Santarem, Miguel Antonio Pinto Guimarães. It hosted naturalists like Henry Walter Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace. The Amazon was now flourishing and numerous confederate families arrived there to have “a fresh start”.
Among them, the Riker family which for 150 years owned most of the land on Maicá and Ituquí channels – our first destination when the Rubber Path Cruise sails off Santarém. The Rikers have a long story of adapting to every economic circle of the Amazon – from bringing the first water buffaloes to Santarém to Aero taxi company during the Gold Fever on Tapajos River. They even created the first artificial plantation of the Rubber Trees. Later this plantation was studied by Henry Wickham, the British explorer who arrived to Santarém shortly after the Rikers. His study based on naturally grown and planted Rubber Trees around what today is Tapajos National Forest and villages like Boim motivated him to commit an action which was the turning point in the Rubber Age history and is seen in the main stop on our tour – Fordlandia The saga of Fordlandia, built in 1928 by Ford Motors, was the result.
Demanding birdwatchers, animal lovers or those who prefer contemplating landscapes have room on board of the Rubber Path Cruise. Here’s why.
Santarém is a special place for many reasons. Being able to see 5 eco-systems in a 100 square mile span is one of the reasons we say that. Our journey begins on Maicá Lake – an area flooded by the Amazon River. In the last two centuries Maicá attracted naturalists, archaeologists, birdwatchers from all over the world. The reason? Well, you get to see over fifty species of birds in one morning, including 3 different species of Toucans and Macaws and hordes of Hoatzins, an Amazonian bird who’s history dates back over 20 million years. There are pink and grey river dolphins, up to 6 different species of monkeys, tons of sloths… If you use a cast net you may raise up to 20 different species of fish in one cast and looking around you there will be the biggest giant water Lilly pads in the world, strangler figs, palms and a variety of trees adapted to spend 6 months a year partly or entirely covered with water. The place is stuffed with wildlife and incredible flora. Add to that an enormous chain of hills with primary forests that benefitted from Indian black soil – land fertilized by civilizations over 8,000 years ago. Around Taperinha farm you get to see iconic Amazonian trees like Brazil Nut, Ipê, Jatobá, Cumaru. Then, when we get to the Tapajos river, forests grow taller and thicker – “Terra Firme” forests are hosts of the true giants. Little inlets of the river flood the forest with “black water” and we get to do canoeing touching the canopy of the igapó forest. This extends for over 150 miles all the way from Santarém to Fordlandia. Landscapes are breathtaking – giant sandbars, lakes, crystal-clear creeks, tall forests steaming and putting together clouds. Night skies are so clear that Milky way looks unreal. Finally, back to an area closer to Santarém we visit Alter do Chão – the postcard of the region surrounded by savanna-like “capoeira” forests. From Silver Marmosets to Hershkovitz’s titi and Amazonian monkey among others.
Indigenous cultures have been intriguing explorers for centuries and many of their mysteries are yet to be, if ever, unveiled. The Rubber Path takes you on a truly immersive journey.
When people ask, who lives in Brazilian Amazon the answer is far from simple and it is not “Indians”. The Tapajós region has attracted people from all over South America and the world for being the “sweetest” part of Brazilian Amazon. It is not as humid as deep in the jungle, clean water resources are abundant. Fish, fruit trees, rich soil and a geographic position offer shelter from the brave new world and has made the western part of the State of Pará very attractive for everyone. As a result, locals assimilated indigenous culture from numerous ethnic groups like Kayapo, Xingu and Mundurucu. A western culture touch from France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain and United States as well as an African influence, as many runaway slaves from Northeastern Brazil settled in the Amazon forming villages called “quilombo”. That said, meet CABOCLO. Caboclo is a word that came from Tupi language word “kaa’boc” meaning a “person having copper-colored skin”. Today the word refers to any person of mixed Amerindian, African and European ancestry. Caboclo from Tapajós River region is way more complicated. The dwellers of “varzea” (lands flooded by the Amazon River) are referred to as the strongest of them. They live in houses on stilts and move around their villages in canoes for a half year. In the dry season they work hard on fertile soil that pops out as the Amazon descends. Many of them have mixed indigenous and German/Italian ancestry. So, it is not surprising to come across someone with white skin and or blue eyes. These people are brave farmers and fishermen and even today are responsible for feeding quickly growing Santarém and nearby towns. The Riverine population of the Tapajos river is different. They are men and women of forest and their livelihood relies on manioc plantations, hunting, fishing and collecting. They have a more Amer-Indian look as their ancestors were far more isolated and lived further from the riverbanks. Finally, there are indigenous tribes that could still preserve their ethnic identity. Munduruku people are an example of that and no matter how many links they have with “civilized” world, the way they look, their culture and their religion remained untouched. Along your Rubber Path you will have a close contact with most of what this culture represents – from carimbó dancing of caboclos to fire rituals of Mundurukus. You will taste their food, hike with them, fish with them, dance, weave palm leaves and cast nets. And yet, discover their role in the Rubber Boom era in the Amazon. It is a colorful experience.
The “Fabico” is our home away from home for the journey. The boat is 20 meters long and 4 meters wide, built of steel, aluminum and wood in a traditional shape used in the Amazon. One of the highlights is the open-air top deck, perfect for birdwatching and viewing the landscape, as well as our evening cocktail meetings. Fabico has a total of 5 cabins: 2 suites, 1 cabin with a bunk bed and a single bed and 2 cabins with bunk beds. All of the cabins have A/C and direct access to dining and recreation areas. Although the boat capacity is 12 passengers, we are working with groups of up to 8 people to guarantee comfort, service quality and a personal approach in the work of our guide and the team. Our support speedboat is used for our floodplain exploration and transfers to and from villages. The crew is made of 6 people: your bilingual host, the captain, navigating officer, waiter/bartender, the chef and his assistant. All the crew members have a Brazilian Navy certificate and an incredible knowledge of life on the river – we will not get lost and definitely won’t starve.
Meals on board are a gastronomic experience. The cuisine of the Brazilian Amazon, particularly of the state of Pará is not widely known but is getting more and more exposure as the finest in Brazil. The combination of the best local fresh fish and Amazonian seasoning makes it unique. In Santarém we have access to ingredients you might’ve never heard before and we make sure to please the most demanding palate with a menu specially developed for The Rubber Path Cruise by the chefs Ricardo Branches and Saulo Jennings. Just for you to have an idea, we will be tasting Arapaima bacon, Duck in Tucupi (Manioc juice), Arapaima with Brazil Nut Milk sauce, shrimp with bananas, crispy Tambaqui Ribs and tiger catfish with coconut milk. These are only examples. Desserts combine internationally known presentations with Amazonian flavors coming from seasonal tropical fruits. Cocktails and appetizers are also typically Amazonian. Apart from that, you’ll be able to delight in simplicity of village cookouts. You will carry Amazonian flavors for the rest of your lives.
Bucket List Fly Fishing has a number of environmental and social programs in different locations but we can’t avoid highlighting that The Rubber Path takes you to the very Jungle Preserve where Rain Forest Expansion started. Not only part of the profits from this cruise goes to help preserving and expanding forest preserves in Tapajós region, but we also take our Care & Share supplies to a number of villages. The whole concept of community-based tourism is widely applied in this program, benefitting over a dozen villages in many aspects. You will have a chance to visit Zero Impact Brazil – a facility in Santarém that is transforming a logging business into craft from Dying, Dead and Down trees. Check out our Care & Share section of the online store to see how you could contribute to this cause.
Our inauguration cruise will happen on May 5th (Wed), 2021. That means, the boat will leave Santarém on May 5th at 5:00 (local time). You will want to get to Santarém before 3:00. Our program has you arriving to Santarém a day earlier and includes dinner and a night in the hotel. We understand there are several flights that arrive to Santarém and we are responsible for all the transfers either the group arrives together or separately. Also, if for any reason you don’t get to Santarém on time, we arrange the transfer with a water taxi to the boat. We still highly suggest arriving to Santarém a day or two earlier. You can get more info on the flights to Santarém in our trip planner. [DOWNLOAD TRIP PLANNER]
ARRIVAL TO SANTARÉM.
Your arrival to Santarém is going to be through Manaus, Belem or Brasilia. We usually don’t include any program in those cities in our package, but if your layovers there are long enough we can arrange with our partners to have you taken care of. We have optional day tours in Belém and Manaus, transportation and guiding service if needed. Getting to Santarém you will be received by our team, followed by the transfer to London Hotel and a dinner at Piracema Restaurant. You will spend the night in individual rooms in the best hotel in town to be ready for your adventure.
WELCOME ON BOARD. Santarem-Maica Lake-Riker Farm-Taperinha.
Waking up at London Hotel is, probably, going to be your first Wow-I-am-in-the-Amazon moment of the trip. Breakfast area is at the top of the building where you have a privileged view at the meeting of the Amazon with its fourth biggest tributary – the Tapajós. Right there at the “Encontro das Águas” you will see the Fabico Boat. Embarking will be with the help of the support boat which will meet you in front of the hotel. Our team will receive you, show you the cabins, present the security guidelines and we’ll set to sail East – the Rubber Path begins in the murky waters of the Amazon. The very first day of the boat journey can actually be the greatest highlight for those who love wildlife observation. While we sail for 2 hours from Santarém you’ll be seeing tons of birds from the upper deck of Fabico. We’re sailing through Maica Lake – “the Naturalist’s paradise”. Here we’ll be going out for lunch at the “Fazenda Paraiso” – the farm belonging to the Riker family, very important in the history of the Rubber Boom and the development of the Amazon. After an afternoon zodiac ride for birdwatching and spotting three-toed sloths we arrive to Taperinha – the farm of the Baron of Santarem. Taperinha had the first meteorological station in Santarém, the first sugar cane plantation and it was extremely important in Natural History of Brazil, archeological research and, again, in the history of Rubber Age. Our dinner will be aboard Fabico with a bonus of a fantastic night with jungle noises – on Maica you sleep hearing howler monkeys, giant Amazonian river toad Cururu, boat-billed herons and caimans splashing in the water chasing fish.
Taperinha-Amazon River-Meeting of the waters-Jari
Sunrise, again is the best time to spot wildlife along with the sunset. Those who love birdwatching don’t want to miss the first boat tour around Maica before breakfast. Coffee will be hot at 5:30, we’re leaving to chase toucans, macaws, hoatzins, horned screamers, tanagers, orioles and dozens of other species waking up to show their color under the morning sun. Back on the boat for breakfast, we set to go out again to look for capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, silver marmosets and a lot more. Lunch will be on the boat again, which will be sailing towards and past Santarem – out on the Amazon river itself, giving you another opportunity to see the meeting of waters with pink and grey dolphins, as well as to have a better perspective of the town. Our destination is Jari channel – at the meeting of The Amazon, The Tapajos and The Arapiuns River – our fully naturalist’s destination that guarantees the best sunset in the world. On the way to it we might be able to stop on another channel that links the Amazon and the Tapajos – Igarape-Açu, where we’re guaranteed to see giant water lily pads Victoria Amazonica and a big variety of birds – right across the river from Santarem. Hanging out on Jari later on will bring its surprises.
level and climate conditions can be different every particular month and year and we’ll always look for the best options. However, you should know the main sights featured in this adventure:
Jari is another place where waking up early will reward with perks – our plan is to do canoeing in the flooded forest of “Trilha da Preguiça” (“Preguiça” in Portuguese stands for both – sloth and laziness). Magnificent strangler figs, Sapucaia nut trees and other monsters of the floodplains flourish here, attracting beautiful birds like emeralds, toucans and a variety of monkeys. Sloths are a highlight here, though – you probably can’t get any closer to them here than anywhere else. A couple of hours of exploration will yield a ton of impressions before we set the course up the Tapajos River. The Navigation will take over 6 hour to get where we intend – Lago Marai, a beautiful lagoon that hides the village of Munduruku tribe. Mundurukus are proud warriors dispersed across the Amazon basin. The ones we visit have their land inside Tapajos National forest. Although they have contact with the city, Mundurukus keep most of their traditions and lifestyle. The evening will be on them – we’re not giving spoilers about that one.
Another big sailing day starts off with canoeing – exploring the flooded forest igapó of the Marai Lake is a completely different experience as opposed to doing it in the waters of murky Amazon, doing it with Mundurukus is outstanding. So is learning the secrets of the rainforest they hold and their role in the Rubber Boom in Brazil. Back aboard Fabico we sail off towards the apogee of the trip – Fordlandia. We’ll arrive there by the end of the afternoon which allows us to have a first look at the lost city of Henry Ford located in one of the most beautiful parts of the Tapajos River. The Rubber Parth is the only river cruise that sails all the way up to Fordlandia and we know why we put that place in the bucket list. This evening you have a chance to take a night out not worrying about waking up early the next day and enjoy doing a walking tour and meeting people that inhabit Fordlandia.
Exploring Fordlandia will take the whole morning as we visit its main sites like Vila Americana, the church built right after the departure of Ford Co. and some more. The whole town is a monument and we’ll do our best to walk you through its surprises. Our lunch will be back on Fabico as we start off the longest navigation we’ve done so far – back down Tapajos River. In the evening we’ll be in Maguary or Jamaraqua – charming villages that still work with natural rubber. The sailing, though, won’t be the boring part of the day – before we get to our destination Chef Ricardo Branches will give you a master-class of dealing with local ingredients. Learning to cook the Amazonian way might turn out to be the highlight of this trip.
Maguary-Alter do Chão
Morning in Maguary will be your chance to have the closest contact with the old-growth rainforest during this cruise. Yes, we’re off for a hike, a long one. You’ll see big trees, the work of a rubber tapper and learn about multiple uses of what you can collect in the jungle. Back from that hike and aboard the Fabico you can finally enjoy swimming in the Tapajos River – a very good idea when you’re 200 miles away from the equator. And then we’re heading to Alter do Chão. Brazilian Caribbean, the Post Card of the Amazon, Amazonian Saint-Tropez, land of carimbó dancers and the festival of the Boto. While in the high water season one of the top beaches of Brazil is hidden under waters of the Tapajos, Enchanted Forest is a fascinating place to go at this time of the year. Sad to admit it, your transition back to “civilization” starts here.
Maguary-Alter do Chão.
Even though The Rubber Path is a river cruise, an experience of a road trip in the Amazon is worth being part of it. That’s right. After breakfast aboard, we’re switching from Fabico to a microbus to drive from Alter do Chão to another fascinating forest – the 766, a private forest preserve belonging to our friend Rick Paid and the birthplace of Rain Forest expansion. Your input in the environmental and social contexts of the present of the Amazon will be here. Soybean fields is also part of the legacy of Henry Ford, as well as Belterra – the second town built by his company in the middle of the biggest rubber tree plantation in the world. Both, Rick’s forest and Belterra stand on BR-163 – a historical highway that cut through the Amazon rainforest in 1970s all the way from Cuiaba, capital of Mato Grosso state, to Santarém – 1767 kilometers. Back in Alter do Chão you’ll finally have a chance to do the last shopping before going home – at Arariba, which is more like a museum of indigenous art than a store. And your last evening of the cruise will have carimbó music as a soundtrack – we can’t unveil more than that.
ONE LAST THING
Your last breakfast on Fabico will be in front of Serra da Piroca, with a glance at the most recognizable landscape in the Amazon. If your plane is leaving in the morning, our team will organize an earlier breakfast and transfer to the airport of Santarém straight from Alter do Chão. But we suggest you stay at least until evening. We’ll let the boat sail while taking a microbus to get to Casa do Saulo – the best restaurant of Northern Brazil and the house of an extraordinary man. Saulo Jennings has a one-of-a-kind hospitality in his little wooden palace on top of the hill at Carapanari beach. While you taste the delicacies you’ll be watching the Tapajós River from 400 ft height. From Casa do Saulo we drive to Santarém or straight to the airport, depending on your tickets to the next stop in Brazil.
SEE YOU SOON!
If you are still in Santarém, that’s because you did the right thing and took an extra night in that charming town. Bon voyage!
Days aboard are shaped by two main factors – the climate and distance to the next destination. If you ever heard the word siesta you know that most of our activities will happen early in the morning, at sunset and in the evening. We are almost at the equator. Birdwatching and wildlife observation are best at dawn and at sunset (as well as light conditions for photography), while hot late mornings and afternoons are perfect for swimming, sailing and getting ready for evening programs. Here’s an example of what a typical day would look like:
6:00 AM – breakfast on board
6:30 AM – boat tour
10:30 AM – meeting the mother boat, back on board
11:30 AM – briefing and cocktails
12:00 AM – lunch aboard
14:00-16:00 – Navigation/siesta time
17:00 – boat/land tour
19:00 – briefing and cocktails on board
20:00 – dinner on board
21:30 – (optional) evening ride for nocturnal wildlife observation
Every part of the program is obviously optional, we always stay close enough to the mother boat for those who might need to return. Although we have an ambitious goal to show you maximum of the Amazon in a few days, we still remember you’re on vacation (unless you’re a documentary team) and we will always let you know when we don’t want you worn out. Every day has at least 2 tours and every day we move the boat to a new destination. Tour and navigation times are approximate as things like wildlife observation and village visits can take longer or shorter and we always consider people with mobility issues.
International Airfare for this trip from the USA is usually done through American Airlines. American is the only Airline currently running a nonstop flight from the U.S. It flies from Miami FL. INT. to Manaus Brazil (5-hour flight time). 1-hour flight from Manaus to Santarem is performed by all major Brazilian Airlines. There are other options out there but usually have long layovers and much longer travel time.
Our Travel Partner, Martin Travel has been booking flights with us for over 15 years. They have vast experience booking these flights and have our itineraries. We highly recommend booking your flights with Martin Travel. They can access frequent flyer miles, deal with the occasional schedule change with the airlines and in many cases get preferred seating.
Phone – 954-748-6881
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Brazil requires a valid Passport with at least 6 months available time before expiration date upon arrival to Brazil.
Brazil Tourist Visa – (The Visa requirement has been suspended as of June 2019 and is no longer necessary for traveling to Brazil)
Currency and Credit Cards – Reals is the standard currency of Brazil. The exchange rate can vary from 3.5 – 5 to 1 There are places in Manaus to exchange currency and the rate will be much better than in the U.S. Most Major Credit Cards can be used as well. Tips and Gratuities can be done in U.S. dollars.
Santarem is the third biggest city in Brazilian Amazon. It is growing quickly but still keeps the charm of a “Big Village”. It is very safe, above average, and has tons of things to do within short distances. Santarem stands at the confluence of the Amazon with its 4th biggest tributary – the Tapajos. A simple walk on the riverside avenue is an experience itself. A tour in Santarem is one of the highlights of our trip.
Santarem is the state of Para, Brazil. You will experience Rainforest climate your entire trip. Average air temperatures range from 65* at night to as much as 95* during the day. It is important to drink lots of water and electrolytes during your visit and wear tropical clothing and wear sunscreen.
Your contact with insects will be mainly in floodplain areas of the Amazon River in the first couple of days of the trip, but those carry no deseases. We do recommend you carry bug spray with you on the trip. Our boat is very clean and we seldom see any bug life while staying on the river going on land tours.
Currently there are no Medical requirements or vaccinations needed to enter Brazil.
Consult with Your Local Travel Medicine Expert for Personalized Recommendations! All vaccination recommendations and other health-related information provided on this website are general in nature. Your exact immunization and medication needs will vary depending on a variety of factors including your personal medical history, vaccination history, current outbreaks and other health risks in your destination country, and the particulars of your travel itinerary. The information on these pages is not intended to replace a visit with a licensed Travel Medicine Specialist. We do our best to provide up to date information regarding any changes in medical requirements but in no way is it meant to replace correct medical advice from a licensed travel specialist.
+1 (775) 742-1754
Whatsapp: +55 (93) 99174-3780