On Marajó, numerous buffalo fazendas, or farms, are open to visitors. Aside from a chance to get firsthand insight into the daily lives of Marajoanos and a behind-the-scenes look at a working buffalo farm (you can often ride the buffalos), many of these farms are located on plains and wetland areas that are rife with wildlife. Among the creatures you’re likely to see are monkeys, capybaras, jacarés (caimans) and the flamboyantly pink and scarlet ibises, known as guarás. In all cases, advance reservations are necessary.
Located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Soure, Fazenda Bom Jesus (4a Rua Km 8, tel. 91/3741-1243) is owned by Eva Abufaiad, a veterinarian and agricultural engineer who really knows her buffalo as well as birds such as blue storks, parrots, and guarás, all of which can be easily spotted here. During the day, three-hour visits cost R$20 and include a home-cooked Marajoara snack.
Only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Soure, Fazenda Araruna (tel. 91/3741-1474) has its own lovely river beach that is popular with guarás and can be reached by a two-hour ride on the back of a buffalo. Those who are buffalo-shy can explore the area by horseback or canoe. Outings cost R$20–30.
Some fazendas offer accommodations as well. Although no longer a working farm, Fazenda São Jerônimo (Rodovia Soure-Pesqueiro Km 3, tel. 91/3741-2093, R$110–130 d) is a picturesque estate (close to Soure) with lots of creeks and a private beach where you can swim. You can take a guided hike through groves of coconut palms and native fruit trees, or a canoe trip through mangrove swamps. Each two-hour activity costs R$25–30 per person. Accommodations in a low-slung ranch house are simple but appealing, with regional furnishings and air-conditioning. The restaurant (reservations required), serves delicious home-cooked food (including buffalo) for both lunch and dinner.
A 45-minute boat trip and buffalo-cart ride away from Soure, the Fazenda Sanjo (tel. 91/9145-4475, tel. 91/3242-1380, www.sanjo.tur.br, R$350 for a two-day package) is an authentic family-run ranch where you’ll be made to feel so at home that before you know it, you’ll be rustling up the buffalos on horseback. Once you’ve finished helping out with milking and making cheese, you can savor some delicious dishes made from the farm’s herds. Lodgings in the main farm house are simple, but cozy and comfortable.
More secluded is the Fazenda Nossa Senhora de Carmo (tel. 91/3212-6244, amazonstar [at] amazonstar [dot] com [dot] br, R$800 for a three-day package including transportation from Belém), which is reached by taking a boat inland down the Rio de Camará. Accommodations are in the rather grand-looking whitewashed, tile-roofed ranch house. Although lacking in luxury (no air-conditioning or private bathrooms), the rooms are comfortable and quite atmospheric. The common areas are charmingly decorated with antiques. Rates include all meals (prepared with fresh farm produce) as well as diverse nature activities such as kayak and canoe trips, horseback and buffalo riding, fishing, birding, and wildlife safaris led by English-speaking guides.
While you can make reservations directly with these fazendas (often cheaper), several agencies in Belém sell packages to them, including Amazon Star (tel. 91/3241-8624, www.amazonstar.com.br) and Valverde (tel. 91/3212-3388, www.valeverdeturismo.com.br).
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition