Floresta Nacional do Tapajós

Top choice in Pará

If you came to the Amazon to see primary rainforest, look no further than the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós. Wildlife is a possibility – from birds to primates and even the (very) occasional jaguar – but it's the sense of deep forest and some of the largest trees anywhere that are the real drawcards here. Access is from either Santarém or Alter do Chão.

All three riverside villages (Maguarí, Jamaraquá and São Domingo) have well-maintained forest trails, although the primary rainforest (as opposed to the degraded secondary rainforest), and hence the really big trees, is a two-and-a-half-hour hike away, inland from the river. To experience the primary rainforest, we recommend the tours by Gil Serique, whose family once lived in the forest.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

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1. Belterra

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Henry Ford briefly moved his Fordlândia operations to this tidy little town in the 1940s and this site, 40km from Santarém, makes for an easy day trip…

2. Praia do Cajueiro

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A few blocks west of the town center along the waterfront promenade is this pleasant beach, wrapping around to the Tapajós River.

3. Ilha do Amor

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A small slice of paradise just offshore from Alter do Chão, the 'Island of Love' is especially striking when the water is low (August to December) and…

4. Lago Verde

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This huge three-fingered lake is surrounded by forest and has places to swim, snorkel with fish and spot wildlife (including a resident family of monkeys)…

5. Ponta do Cururú

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Most afternoons, large numbers of pink and grey dolphins congregate just offshore from this sandy point near the mouth of the Rio Tapajós for an evening…

6. ZooFIT

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Enclosures are rather desultory at this rehabilitation center, but the animals are not intended to stay for long. Affable guides lead interesting tours …