Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 23, 2013

18. Caribbean – Brazil – Santarem

Hi All,

We now have cruised up the Amazon River for a full day and night, and today, Friday, Feb. 22nd, we stopped at our first port down the river, Santarem.  Santarem is located at the meeting of the Amazon River and the “Rio Tapajos” (Tapajos River).  The Tapajos River (named after the Indian tribe first found in this area) is a large fresh water river over 496 miles long.  Here’s is where we can see , for the first time, the meeting of a large fresh clear water river with the muddy Amazon.  They do not mix for a long time and what you see is a line with clear water on one side and muddy water on the other side and this goes on for a long time.  We will encounter several of these clear water/muddy water lines as we go toward Manaus, including at Manaus.  Here is a photo of this phenomenal.


I’ll try to get some more photos of this clear/muddy water line in some other places.  The muddy water is always the Amazon River.  You might be interested to know that the Maasdam, as most cruise ships, has it’s own fresh water chemical plant, making fresh water out of salt water.  While we are sailing up the Amazon, however, the plant has to be shut down because of the mud and filth that might get thru the filters or plug them up.  That means that the whole ship is on a “water usage alert” as we only have what is in the storage tanks.  Laundries have been shut down and you are only allowed to change your towels, etc. every three days.  This has gone on since Feb. 20th and will end when we leave the Amazon, Mar. 1st.

Now let’s look at Santarem, our first upriver port.  It has been a small but important port because of it’s location at the junction of these two great rivers.  It’s economy is based on agriculture, cattle, and mining.  Recently soy has become an important product of the area as soy plantations are springing up around Santarem.  Susy didn’t join me today, so I just walked from our pier into the port (about a mile or two) and back.  Most of what you will see is boats, but since this is our first inland port I thought you would be interested in the type of boats used on the Amazon.  OK, let’s go, first port signs:



Here’s a look at the port from the ship.  Way off to the left, you can just barely see a church tower which is the Cathedral in the center of town.  In the center and to the right you can see the “large” river ferries.  You will see why I say “large” as we go along.  The ferries hold cars and trucks as well as people and goods.


Shortly after leaving the port I got on a promenade along the shore line that led to the center of town.  All along this promenade the various river boats were tied up.  Here’s photo after photo of some of the hundreds of boats I passed.








Yes, just about every kind, size, and shape of boat imaginable.  As I walked along this promenade it was like a thriving city.  With the exception of that last photo the boats were docked one after the other with not a space in between.  Along the way there was a pier with an open air restaurant, and a market place.  The road beside the promenade was filled with trucks off loading goods to be hauled into the interior of the Amazon.  All of the boats that were large enough had hammocks slung across the decks, where the crew and passengers could sleep in there long treks.

Just a quick look at the downtown. The cathedral:


The downtown local open air market:


and again the promenade which was quite colorful near the center of town, with statues such as this huge piranha:


That’s it for Santarem.  Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 23rd we visit the smallest port of our cruise, a village with 75 inhabitants.  More on that to come.  Hope you enjoyed todays first look at the boats of the Amazon.  Until next time:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)



  1. Gary and Susy,
    You are entering a part of Brazil that I really love. In fact, I will be fishing (and photographing) on the Tapajos River in July, exactly where it begins as a result of the meeting of two other rivers: Juruena and Teles Pires. This place is located 405 miles from Santarem on a straight line and, as you pointed, 496 miles following the river.
    Enjoy the Amazon

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