- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
Having worked in the town, I can tell you that Belém is just as fun as its neighbors, Manaus and Santarem. Nestled at the mouth of the Amazon, when the heat becomes unbearable, head to Estacao das Docas, find yourself a shady terrace and freshen up with an 'Amazonas', the local beer. If you have a sweet tooth, go to the best ice cream parlor in town, Cairu, and try a local fruit sorbet made from cupuaçu or açaï.
But most of all, don't miss the riverside market at Ver-O-Peso, which springs to life at 4am when local fisherman arrive with their catch. You can also pick up some stunning crafts, made by local, indigenous tribes. It's a great place to buy some souvenirs.
There is, of course, the river itself. During a boat trip I was able to get up close to the local plant and animal life, particularly when we went down the river's little tributaries or iguarapés. If you don't get the chance to see the local wildlife in its natural habitat, you can always visit the Emilio Goeldi Park, a little primary rainforest in the heart of this Brazilian town.
It was Sunday when I arrived in Belém. There was a market atmosphere around the Plaça Republica (Republic Square). Large historical buildings in the city recall its golden age, when it was Brazil's rubber production capital. In the middle of the market, in the park, I allowed myself a moment's relaxation lying on the grass beneath a large mango tree. A few minutes after selling me a chocolate sweet, a Rasta came back towards me shouting: " chuva chuva !" Rain? it didn't take long before the shower began and the rain was pelting down on me. I would later learn to recognize the light breeze that signifies approaching rain. On this occasion, however, I went to shelter a short distance away to wait for the Amazonian sun to return.
With Belém being the gateway to Amazonia, be sure not to remain just on the threshold! People go to Belém above all to get closer to the forest – to see parrots flocking together at dawn on Ilha dos Papagaios ("Parrot Island"), to explore the immense island of Marajó ("ocean shield") located at the mouth of the Amazon, or to visit the ribeirinhos ("riverside dwellers") that live along the banks of the rivers throughout the region. Belém sets visitors on the path to explore Amazonia and admire all the beauty it has to offer.