The beautiful port town Santarém in the Para region of Brazil, it is located where the Amazon River meets the Rio Tapajos. Santarém is a great town to start your Amazon river cruise. Located between the larger cities of Manaus and Belém, Santarém offers a quaint insight into Amazonian town life, with its waterfront promenade and busy port life, it is also close to the national park of Floresta Nacional do Tapajós and the white sandy beaches of the town of local town Alter de Chão. Being a port town it’s possible to arrive by either boat or plane, but the town’s precarious surrounding roads are usually unreliable, particularly during the rainy season, which generally means bus or car isn’t really an option. One of our favorite ships, the Amazon Dream, operates regular itineraries around Santarém visiting the aforementioned areas.
Any flights to the town of Santarém will be via Manaus and Belém, and flying is most definitely the quickest way to access the town. To get to the Santarém-Maestro Wilson Fonseca Airport, you will need to take a one-hour flight from Manaus or Belem, or a 2 hour and 40-minute flight from Brasilia. The airport is some 14 km from the center of Santarém, so to get to the town center from the airport you can either get an extremely cheap daytime bus into the city or take a more expensive taxi.
For those taking a Brazil Amazon River cruise, transfers to and from the Santarém-Maestro Wilson Fonseca Airport to the Amazon Dream riverboat are included. An Amazon Dream cruise representative will meet you at the airport. The transfer time from the airport to the cruise vessel is approximately 30 – 45 minutes. The transfer vehicle is an air-conditioned van.
You can fly directly to Manaus seasonally from Miami with LATAM or Orlando with GOL, and from there you will have to change for Santarém via a domestic airline. However, be aware, that this may not be a direct onward flight – a lot of the cheap domestic flights stop at either Belém or Sao Paulo airport first. Alternatively, you can fly with the following airlines from North America directly to either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro: American Airlines, Air Canada, Continental, Delta and United Airlines and fly from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, Washington, and Toronto. You can then fly directly from Sao Paulo to Santarém, or with one (or more) stops if flying from Rio.
Unfortunately there are no direct services from Europe. British Airways through London, Air France through Paris, Iberia through Madrid and Lufthansa through Frankfurt do however all fly direct to Rio or Sao Paulo. From there you will need to catch a domestic flight, either via Manaus or direct into Santarém.
The only direct flights within South America are within Brazil – you can fly directly to Santarém from Sao Paulo, Belém, Manaus and Brasilia with the domestic Brazilian airlines Gol and Azul. As long as you travel with the same airline it should be easy to change at Sao Paulo, Belém and Manaus and arrive at Santarém fairly quickly and easily. But from other parts of South America you will have to change at one of these destinations. You can fly using LATAM from other countries in South America.
As Santarém is a port town, it’s perfectly possible to arrive at the extremely busy main port in the town Docas do Pará, located just 2.5 km from the central part of the town, by boat. However, you may come across some issues, there are usually just 1-2 boats per week, and unless you opt for a hammock space, it can be expensive to stay in a room, and it takes a lot longer than flying. For example, the recreo (a slow boat) takes two to three days to get from Belém to Santarém. Despite all this, you will get some amazing views of the Amazon and surrounding rivers. Be aware, however, that during the high season these boats can get full, so make sure you book in advance.
Unlike the larger surrounding towns of Manaus and Belém, Santarém is a smaller town that doesn’t have the same number of direct connections. However, short domestic connecting flights are easy to get and can be cheaper and much quicker than traveling by boat. Contact us if you would like more details about getting to Santarém.
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