Discover Jalapão, the Amazon gateway! Part 3
Part three, the adventure continues:
Back on the bumpy road, destination “amazing surprise” as our guide put it. As the excitement kept building up, this time around I really could feel the bumpy road. We were driving for quite some time and the weather was really dry and hot. Thanks to the well thought out coolers placed in the Jeep by the Norte Tur company, the icy box filled with cold mineral water bottles really kept the group in high spirits and well hydrated during our trip. “Not long to go guys, we are almost there” says our guide!
Behold, the Jalapão Desert!
“Welcome to Jalapão’s Sand Dunes, come on guys, the sun don’t wait for no one” says our guide. “It’s 5 pm, Sunset is coming in fast and we do not want to miss the incredible views from up the dunes” explain our guide. Right, out of the jeep, off goes the flip flops (we were advised, barefoot was the best way to experience the site), bottle of icy water in one hand, camera on the other and off we go. A short walk away following a man made path through the grassland and here we are standing in front of the great Jalapão Dunes. I find it hard to explain my feelings here, I mean, I just stood there, speechless, looking at this beautiful site, massive golden sand hills in the middle of a grassland type of vegetation that seemed to have sprouted out of nowhere.
“C’mon guys!” says our guide, “you do not want to miss this.” Off we go, up to the top of the dunes, good exercise I tell you. The view from the top is something else, you can see a number of oasis popping out at set locations around the dunes with beautiful Buriti* palm trees surrounding the natural springs, the sort of landscape you only get to see on movies or nature programs, hard to believe it especially when this area is known as the Jalapão desert!
*Did you know?
Buriti palm also known as the Moriche palm only grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America, the tree can reach up to 35 metres in height and produces one of Brazilian super fruits, the nuts has a high vitamin C content, and is used to make juice, jam, ice cream, and fermented “wine”. The fibres of the tree is also used to make threads and cords that are locally used on the production of golden grass accessories.
We were on site for about 30 minutes, walking, chatting, taking pictures and enjoying nature it its most glorious point… Now for the special treat, remember the words “the sun don’t wait for no one”, let me tell you this, the sun is very punctual and Sunset was upon us. Sitting on top of the sandy hills watching the sky changing colours from bright blue to warm reddish and purple as the sun slowly sets just over behind the palms in the horizon was just magical. Thinking back now, I sure would endure that treacherous road again to experience that amazing Sunset once more. The Dunes of Jalapão was also the back drop for a Brazilian soap opera called “Araguaia from Rede Globo.”
Back on the road, next stop the city of Mateiros, a small town at the center of the eco-touristic region of Jalapão with an estimated population of about 1.831 habitants.
Before we could settle up for the night, we had to endure another couple of hours on the road , if you are driving around Jalapão the unforgiving dirt tracks will take a toll on vehicles, make sure to stock up on water and snacks and have a well maintained car. As you can see from this picture, these guys got stuck, luckily we were passing through and gave them a little push out of the sand pit!
For the past couple of days I noticed that our guide kept throwing hints about our sleeping arrangements in Mateiros, asking us if we were ok sleeping outdoors on hammocks, near of a ” bréjo ” (swamp like passing water), asking if we minded the sound of frogs singing at night…I was actually looking forward to it, then just before we arrive in the city of Mateiros our guide receives a call. “Hello? Yes we are just around the corner… What? No electricity? I guess that means we are bathing in the dark by the water hole!” WHAT! screams the girl travelling with us, “I’m not bathing with frogs in the dark!”, the whole group goes wild with laughter in jeep, next thing we know we are driving inside this nice villa build specially for the tour operators and their guests, plenty of electricity, swimming pool, barbecue area, bedrooms with air conditioning and hot shower facilities… there was even the optional outdoor hammock for those wanting to sleep outside. We were thrilled, especially our female companion.
As soon as we checked-in at the guest villa, quick shower and change of clothes, off we went into town at around 9pm to have dinner at a local bar/restaurant which really was the front garden of a local lady serving home made cooking, on tonight menu we had a delicious plate of free range roast chicken with tomato salad and fried cassava chips, just what I needed to finish off this amazing day of adventures. After dinner our guide took us to a local bar for a few drinks with the locals and just across the road there was an outdoor “forro” party (forro is a typical Brazilian dance originated in the north-eastern states and involves only three instruments the accordion, zabumba and a metal triangle), great atmosphere and lively people dancing the night away.
“Right guys, time to get back to the villa and get some rest, tomorrow we will be up at 03:30 am, make sure you are dressed well, jumper, light trousers and don’t forget your hand torches!” says our guide… I guess there are more surprises to come!
Continue reading my adventure here: Discover Jalapão! Part 4