Marajó – boats motorbikes and water buffalo

I may have mentioned this before but Brazil is bloody big! Not just mainland Brazil but its islands as well. Our next destination was Marajó, an island the size of Denmark situated in the northern state of Pará and a three hour boat ride from the city of Belem.

Getting to Marajó

We left Jericoacoara and took the bus back to Fortaleza where we picked up the plane to Belem. From there we took the 6.30am passenger ferry from Belem to Camará which cost circa 25 real per person and took just over 3 hours. We had made the decision to stay in Salvaterra and for 4 Real each we got a collectivo (mini van) from the port which dropped us at our accommodation just outside of the town.

Despite its size, Marajó only has a population of 250,000 people and on the day we arrived they were either all on holiday or asleep. Salvaterra was like a ghost town, and we walked down empty streets past closed shops and restaurants and began to fear that this would be a short lived trip. As it was outside of the main tourist season, the beach front restaurants were largely closed and boarded up. However, things started to look up  when we discovered the beaches, long, clean and completely empty except for us and some people taking their horses for a swim… What is strange is that when you look out at the water it is as if it were the sea as there is nothing to see except the horizon. However it was actually just one of the rivers feeding into the river Amazon, just bigger then any we’ve ever seen before.


Across the water from Salvatorre was Soure, the capital of Marajó. For two Real’s each we could take a 10 minute boat ride over to the other side and explore a bit more of what Marajó had to offer. It was hardly Piccadilly Circus but there was certainly a bit more life on this side of the island including water buffalo roaming the streets. Now if you are familiar with your buffalo you may think it strange that they should be residing on an island off the coast of Brazil, and you would be right. As it turned out, a fair few moons ago a ship transporting Asian water buffalo sank off the coast of Brazil. Not wanting to join the mermaids, the buffalo managed to swim to land (Marajó) and set up home there. Role forward time and there are now over a thousand on the island and even the police have been known to use them as transportation (although if you have ever ridden a water buffalo you will know that it is unlikely they are used in the high speed chases)…



Marajó was certainly a slow burner but from being unsure as to whether to stay beyond the first day we ended up being there nearly a week using motor taxis to get about and finding some beautiful beaches with some very friendly local dogs.


There are a number of fazendas (farms) that you can spend time on in Marajó either for a day or even longer term where you can look after the buffalo and see how the mozzarella is made.  Trips are easy to arrange, either directly with the farm or through your pousda.  We spent the time riding on the water buffalo through the rainforest (tip: wear mosquito repellent), then when we reached the river we walked along the beach until we reached a boat which took us up the river back to the farm.

We were actually quite sad to leave Marajó in the end but it did remind us that just because things are not immediately obvious, a bit of hunting can lead to great discoveries!









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