The Tapajós National Forest is known for its natural beauty and complex waterways. The rivers here change color throughout the day…
various shades of blue, yellow, orange, red and silver. The constantly fluctuating water levels during rainy season fill large swaths of the rainforest and
create igapós. A canoe is necessary to go for ‘a walk in the woods’. As the summer approaches, water recedes and white sandy beaches appear.
This area is filled with palm trees such as bacaba (along with others) that provide an important food source for the local people. The tree above was recently
submersed and is just now showing its new growth near the top. While our hike into the rainforest presented us with an incredible vantage point of this protected area,
canoeing through the flooded forest gave us a close up look at life along the water. We were quite lucky to have experienced a multitude of viewpoints during our stay.
Water levels rise 30-40 feet during rainy season (December-May), creating one massive body of water. Trees depend on seed dispersal that occurs when
herbivorous fish consume their fruit or when it simply floats downriver. The expansive amount of water during this season poses difficulty for predators who rely on fish
as a staple of their diet. Both humans and jaguars have learned to mimic falling seeds (jaguars by using the tip of their tail) to attract fish such as the tambaqui.
Animals are readily visible in the transparent waters. It is possible to spot various fish, turtles, alligators and birds, some of which
are rare. The creeks that cut through the Flona consist of cold, clean water, making them conducive for a good swim.
We visited during the month of July, just as the waters were receding and dry season was kicking in (typically June-November). Predators like arapaima or pirarucu
(large catfish), dolphins, anacondas, and jaguars thrive during this season as the Amazonian fish become more concentrated in the shallow rivers and tiny lakes.
While I cannot imagine there being an unfortunate time of year to visit the rainforest, I am grateful that we arrived during a transition of
the seasons. The sister and I thoroughly enjoyed kayaking around pristine beaches AND swimming in an underwater rainforest surrounded by wildlife.
Typically in this land of extremes, only one of these might be possible. Please do let me know if you intend to visit… I already want to return!