Type of horses:
Nature of horses:
Hardy, strong, resilient, sensible.
Height of horses:
13 - 15hh
95kgs / 210 lbs
Traditional, simple bridles and saddles.
The Amazon is a huge place, full of rich experiences and the locals say that it would take many lifetimes to experience it all.
Marajó is an island located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. It is the largest fluvial island in the world, with a land area of 40,100 square kilometres (15,500 sq miles) and is roughly the size of the Netherlands and Switzerland. It is approximately 295 kilometres (183 mi) long and 200 kilometres (120 mi) wide.
Together with several smaller neighboring islands, separated from Marajó by rivers, it forms the Marajó Archipelago, with an aggregate area of 49,602 square kilometres (19,151 sq mi). Large parts of the islands are flooded during the rainy season because of higher water levels of the Amazon River along the coast and heavy rainfall in the interior. Marajó is almost entirely flat and during the rainy season much of the island turns into a large lake.
The east side of the island is dominated by savanna vegetation. There are large fazendas (ranches) with huge herds of domesticated water buffalo on the island – c. 700,000 of them (breeds include Carabao, Jafarabadi, Murrah and Mediterranean).
Marajo island was also the site of an advanced pre-Columbian society - the Marajoara culture - which existed from approximately 400 B.C. to 1600 A.D. Washed by fresh and salt water at one of the world's most majestic deltas, Marajó Island is an alluring destination for riding in the Amazon environment.
No more than a dozen towns are scattered on Marajó, and most of Marajó's 250,000 inhabitants live on the main island's eastern shores, where the towns of Soure and Salvaterra are located. Just like the ancient marajoara mound builders, whose culture thrived between the 5th and 14th centuries and whose survival was closely tied to the Amazon river, today's marajoara life greatly revolves around water.
To give a succinct overview of the complete fauna and flora of the Amazon is difficult. The rivers and streams of the basin teem with life, and the forest canopy resonates with the cries of birds and monkeys. There is a notable paucity of large terrestrial mammal species; indeed, many of the mammals are arboreal. Avifauna is particularly rich with about 540 species. Marajó is a birdwatcher's dream. The scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), or guará is one of many species of birds which can be seen on the island - roseate spoonbills, parrots and little blue herons are some of the other birds easy to spot during the dry season (roughly May-November).
The Marajoara horse breed was derived from Portuguese stock from Cabo Verde and introduced into the Marajó archipelago in 1702. Since then, these animals have been submitted to natural selection and became adapted to the adverse climatic conditions of the region, facing two very distinct seasons: the rainy and the dry. The insects and the mud of the rainy season are compensated by the occurrence of a great variety of pastures. However, since these pastures do not offer them an adequate food balance, they had to develop survival alternatives against energy and protein restrictions. The Marajoara horse breed was submitted to the same conditions as the wild animals and consequently, they developed a great rusticity. They have adapted well to the flat, low-lying terrain of the archipelago, aquiring a number of morphological adaptations, such as rounded hooves and modifications of the muscles of the thighs, rump, and back related to trotting in flooded marshland, which is typical of the Marajó region. Standing only 13-15hh, Marajoara horses are small but very strong.
You stay in a 3 star hotel in Belem, but for the rest of the trail, you stay in traditional fazenda's (ranches). Some have double, triple or quadruple rooms. It is not possible to guarantee single accommodation every night.
On Day four, the farm has only two rooms, each with three beds - if there are more than six riders in the group, then additional riders sleep in hammocks.
The Amazon rivers and forest provide endless exotic ingredients! The fruits are too numerous and plentiful to list and you will probably have never seen or tasted any of them before!
There is plenty of fish served on this itinerary - both the huge Pirarucu, known as the Amazonian Bacalhau (cod) and the Filhote. Both may be included in stews with coconut milk, potatoes and beans. Crab is also very popular.
Brazil nuts are plentiful in this region and can be found plain, salted or caramelised.
Acai is the fruit of the typical palmtree of the Amazonian lowlands. This dark purple and pungent fruit is consumed in many ways - as a drink with tapioca, as a pap with manioc flour or just as a juice with sugar.
Buffalo meat and cheese are also popular ingredients in the rich marajoara culinary. Frito do vaqueiro, or the "cowboy's fry", is a local dish which consists of buffalo meat cooked in its own fat and served with a kind of pirão made from buffalo milk and white cassava flour. Filé marajoara, the local buffalo steak, is smothered with melted buffalo cheese. Shrimp fritatta, chicken with fried bananas and Brazil nut farofa are some other delicacies you'll find on the ranches where you stay.
The emphasis on this holiday is observing the unique flora, fauna and birdlife of this Amazonian delta. Horses are used to cover the ground, but there are also boat trips and guided tours and museum visits. Non-riders cannot be catered for, but anyone willing to give riding a go can be accommodated. The riding pace is not fast and beginners are welcomed.
Languages: English, Portuguese
Health requirements: General good health
Age limit: 10 years or older
Included: Accommodation; all meals; riding; transfers
Not included: Flights; insurance
There are no direct flights from the UK to Belem and so you will have to route through another European hub city, the USA, or a Brazilian hub city such as Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. There are direct flights from Lisbon to Belem three days a week with Air Portugal (TAP) and this will be the most direct route for most European riders. However, there are also direct flights from Miami to Belem with LATAM twice a week. Other flights are possible so please do check with us.
There is no riding on your arrival/departure days to allow some flexibility with flights. Airport transfers are included.
Ride through the delta wetlands of the Amazon river through the Marajo archipelago and experience the rustic lifestyle of water buffalo farmers whilst marvelling at the diverse wildlife and birdlife. This new itinerary explores this freshwater and salt water paradise and is suitable for all abilities of rider.
You will be transferred from Belem airport to your 3* hotel in Belem. Depending on your time of arrival you may be able to explore the town a little. You will be taken to Mangal das Garcas for a visit and dinner in the evening.
After an early breakfast you will start your tour of Belem by visiting the Ver-O-Peso traditional market. There isn't much that you'll wish to buy but the colourful displays of fruits, vegetables, plants and fish are fascinating, not forgetting the local people. The most intriguing section is filled with medicinal herbs and roots, dead snakes and amulets for every possible occasion.
Afterwards, take a private boat to Cambu Island in the Amazon river, where a woman cacao farmer makes chocolate and grows cacao - she supplies some of the most famous Brazilian chefs with her chocolate. Born on Cambu Island 50 years ago, she grew up watching her father plant, harvest and process cacao her entire life. She will show you this process and let you taste the final product. After your chocolate visit, you will head to Eladi's to see and learn about some of the herbs found in the Amazon and the famous Acai.
On your boat trip back to Belem there is a good chance of seeing the pink dolphins in the river! Lunch at Estacao das Docas (the docks) will be waiting for you before you return to the hotel for a siesta. In the afternoon you will have a guided visit of Emilio Goeldi museum with its zoological-botanical garden and ethnology museum. The zoo has manatees, jungle cats, alligators, snakes, monkeys and many Amazonian birds. The museum, which was founded in 1866, holds one of the greatest collections of Marajoara ceramics (from Marajo Island) and other Indian artefacts.
Return to your 3* hotel in Belem to overnight.
Early in the morning you will transfer to the docks for your boat to Marajo Island. Little known Marajo Island is one of the best preserved ecological sanctuaries in the Amazon. It's natural beauties are divided between the plain covered with dense forests and savannah; there are river beaches, various lakes, dunes, forests and a rich flora and fauna. During the next few days you will explore this unique environment.
Upon arrival in the little city of Soure you will visit a typical marajoara ceramic atelier and later a saddle maker who makes the unique Marajoara saddle. A light lunch is served in a restaurant near the dock before you take another, faster boat (c. 1.5hrs), to the first fazenda (ranch). On arrival you will have your first meeting with the Marajoara horses and a short familiarisation ride before overnighting in this fazenda.
After breakfast you ride to a lake where you can watch the farm fishermen catching the giant pirarucu or arapaima fish - these fish are some of the worlds largest freshwater fish and can grow as large as 3 metres (9.8ft) and weigh over 100kg (220lb). The ones you will see will likely weigh c. 20kg and later you will get to eat them too. You ride through beautiful Inga forests and palm tree fields where you may see buffaloes and horses grazing as well as hear other animals passing through the forest. In the afternoon you may see local vaqueros (cowboys) working their cattle and horses too. After a quick stop to view the ruins of the famous Tapera one (once the largest on Marajo, with 45,000 hectares) you reach the traditional farm of Ilha das Rocas where you overnight.
Today's ride takes you to Fazenda Desterro, past more buffalo and horses as well as marrecas and other seasonal birdlife. Stop at Fazenda Flecheiras to watch them making buffalo cheese - this fazenda is also close to an important Indian burial ground. Continue riding past one of the islands largest leafy trees which is home to many heron and maguaris nests. On arrival at Fazenda Desterro you can try out the typical mount of the Marajo Island people - the buffalo!
After lunch, ride to the banks of the river, where a fast boat will be waiting to transfer you to Fazenda Sanjp where you overnight.
After breakfast you ride on the land surrounding the fazenda. This is an amazing area with scarlet ibis, snowy herons and roseate spoonbills all seen together - a paradise for bird lovers and a colourful spectacle for all. After lunch, continue riding through these glorious forest, full of surprises. Spend a second night at Fazenda Sanjp.
After breakfast, depart Sanjp and ride across Fazenda Bom Jardim and its forest. There are many animals in their fields and after lunch you can help the vaqueros bring c. 250 farm horses into the corral and watch them work with them. Tonight you sleep at Camburupy, another traditional Marajoara farm.
After breakfast, start riding to Soure. You ride mainly on the beach, crossing some creeks and watching scarlet ibis - some of the most spectacular birds to view. There are also lots of spotted sandpipers, a bird which migrates north during the warm seasons. You will be amazed at how high some of the tree roots reach and you may be able to ride underneath them!
On arrival at Soure there is time for a light lunch before taking the catamaran boat back to Belem. Overnight in a 3* hotel.
You will be transferred back to Belem airport for your flight home.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||8|
|Ability description:||All abilities can be accommodated. This is not a fast ride and the emphasis is on appreciating the flora, fauna and birdlife of the Amazon Delta.|
|Type of ride:||Trail ride|
|Total riding time:||9 days / 8 nights / 5.5 days of riding|
24 May - 1 June
Additional dates can be booked on request from May to August.
The price varies depending on the number of riders confirmed in the group - we will advise when you book and confirm nearer your time of departure.
2 riders: £3174 per person sharing
3-4 riders: £2278 per person sharing
5-6 riders: £2161 per person sharing
7-8 riders: £2103 per person sharing
Single supplement: £273
Please note that single rooms are not possible on every night.