Bananal Island and Cantão lakes at the rivers Araguaia and Javaés
Over 3.000 lakes and lagoons, the beautiful Araguaia river, and the famous Bananal Island, all make this region worth visiting.
With almost 20.000km2, the world’s largest river island, Bananal was found by José Pinto Fonseca in 1773. A widespread area of banana trees is the reason for its current name, although he called it Santana.
As an environmental reserve since 1959, the island is formed by Araguaia and Javaes rivers with a two million hectare area. The National Park of Araguaia is north of the island and the Indian Park of Araguaia is south. During rain season (October through March) two-thirds of land is inundated.
The Araguaia National Park takes almost the whole island extending to Pium, Confusão Lagoon and Formosa of Araguaia. Its vegetation is an assortment of tree patches, low land areas and forests. The Park is administered by Ibama. The access to the Bananal Island depends on an Ibama authorization.
Established in 1971, the Araguaia Indian Park has a 1.600 hectare area where 1.700 Indians of the Javaes and Carajas tribe inhabit in. Both reserves have an extremely rich fauna: jaguars, capybara, tapir, wolves, deers,otter, anteater, rhea and a lot more. The Indian park is administered by Funai.
The cities that compound the region are Dueré, Peixe, Lagoa da Confusão, Formoso do Araguaia, Sandolandia and Pugmil.
Araguaia National Park
The Araguaia National Park was the first Brazilian national park created in 1956. In 1986 most of the Island was declared indigenous land. One third of the Island remained National Park of Araguaia an environmental protected area.
The Bananal Island is situated in the Western part of Tocantins state in Brazil. It is delimited on the left side by Araguaia River in the boarder to Mato Grosso State. In its right side is bordered by Javae River. Bananal Island is part of three municipalities:
The National Park of Araguaia is located in of the north part of the Island and belongs to Pium municipality.
The Inawebohona Indigenous Land belongs to the central portion of the Island and is part of Lagoa da Confucão municipality.
The Araguaia Indigenous Land lays on the south of the Island and it is under the Formoso do Araguaia municipality.
On the east side of the river, in the rural area, you find large farms and irrigated fields. These fields make it easy to see large animals like the deer and the capivara, while the irrigation canals make it easy to see the birds and the reptiles.
Flora and fauna
The landscape is a blend of Pantanal wetlands, Cerrado savanna and Amazonian Rainforest. During the rain period fields are flooded (called Varjões) and forests inundated (called Igapó). Rain period is from November to March. In the wet season the island is flooded, except for the area called Torrão.
The fauna is diversified with species like the Marsh Deer, Capybara, Herons, Egrets, Anteater, Maned Wolf, Jaguar, Giant Otter, Armadillo, Deer , Peccary.
More than 600 species of birds live here. Like Toco Toucan, Water Turkey, American Ostrich, Quail, Partridge., Fish Hawks, Orinoco Geese, Blua Macaws, Hoatzins, Musician Wren. Reptiles like Anacondas, Paraguay Caymans, Black Caymans, Arraus.
In the water Pink River and Tucuxi Dolphins swim among Piranhas, Stingrays, Poraquês, Pacus, Pirarucus, Tucunarés, Curimatás, Surubins
In the north of the island, at the junction of the Araguaia and Javaes rivers, is the Amazonian Chelonians Project. Established in the park since 1985, it aims at protecting the Arrau, or Amazonian Turtle, which lays eggs in the beaches of the region.
During the flood various types of fish migrate to the flodded forest to feed on the fruit dropped from the trees. During this period the forest birds build their nest.
The best period for fishing is September to April, when the rivers are full of water from the rains. From October to February fishing is prohibited. A license is needed to fish the Araguia, but it is not allowed to fish in the park. Contact the Ibama. There are limitations regarding size and quantity. Common types of fish: pirarucu, o pirará, o tucunaré, o pintado e as piranhas.
You can access the river at Aruanã and Britânia in the state of Goiás, at São Félix do Araguaia and Barra do Garças in the state of Mato Grosso and Conceição do Araguaia in the state of Pará.
On the island we can find several Indian tribes, Karajá, Javaé and Avá-Canoeira. The Indians are in conflict with the farmers.
It is necessary to get a permit with Funai (Indian Affairs Bureau) to visit the Indian Park, where you will be able to have contact with the Indians and their customs. In the villages it is possible to buy ceramics handicraft and basketry. Phone (65) 522 1155.
How to visit the park?
The park has little infrastructure to be visited by tourists. In the rain season the island cannot be crossed by car. At the villages near the island you can rent a boat with a rider.
During the dry season, from June to September, nice white sandy beaches appear along the river. Camping on the beaches is allowed, but not in the park.
The best places to enter the park are Barreira da Cruz near Lagao da Confusao, and Santa Terezinha in Mato Grosso.
Lagoa da Confusão
At the margins of a beautiful lake Confusão is all tourism, and even a Tourist Bureau. The lake, only discovered in 1941, is very popular among the local people and even Palmas citizens. So it can be crowded during weekends and holidays. There are plenty of hotels, pousadas and restaurants.
A good place to start your visit to the Bananal Island, 60km away. Distance from Palmas is 200km.
The Lagao is a 4,5 km diameter lagoon of crystal clear waters running 3 m deep. There’s a peculiarity about the waters: a floating-like rock that moves around depending on the viewer’s angle. An ecological club resort offers convenient lodging, camping areas, boating, sport courts, dance halls and swimming pools. Other attraction:
Lagoa dos Pássaros is a multi-colored assortment of rareness: diver birds, rheas, buzzards, “jaburus”, “teteus” and “coleiros”. You can also find trees with a height of 50m. It’s 70 km off downtown at Fazenda Três Fronteiras. Can be visited from June to December.
Parque das Orquídeas, at fazenda Mato Ruim, 5km from Lagoa.
Gruta Igreja de Pedra, at 3km from lagoa, a three kilometer long cave with many exotic chambers. The cave is open for visitation only during dry seasons. In November it celebrates All Souls Mass.
Lagoa Preto, at 25 km away from Lagoa, has waters blackened by shadowing vegetation on its margin. The lake is 18 km long and has rich shoal of “tucunares”.
Fazenda Praia Alta at 35km from Lagoa. Pousada-fazenda with swimming pool at the Formosa river. The owner will show you wild animals on his land, and offers various guided trips, including fishing trips. 063 99872627 063 33641112
Fazenda Formosa do Javae, 40km from lagoa. Many lakes, like Lago dos Cervos and Lago da Prainha. Wild buffalos.
Lagoa do Jacare is 40 km from downtown and obviously named after its large number of alligators.
Formosa Beach is also a great place for fishing located 35 km away from Lagoa.
Aldeia Macauba, 150km from Lagoa. July to December, possible to cross the river to Ilha do Bananal.
Aldeia Fontoura, 300km from Lagoa. June to December, best artesanato.
Aldeia Santa Izabel do Morro, 300km from Lagoa. Access all year.
Aldeia Boto Velho, 60km from Lagoa, access all year.
Aldeia Wari Wari
Located at the northern end of the Bananal island, where the black waters of the Javaés river flow into the green waters of the Araguaia, the Cantão is an ecological sanctuary with rivers, lakes, woods and wildlife. In 1998 the Cantão State Park was created, with 89.000 hectares and more than 800 lakes. This region is connected by three municipalities, Caseara, Pium and Araguacema. It attracts millions of people every year from July through September. It has the State largest tourism structure.
Tocantins state government is aiming to make this area an important ecotourism center.
Cities from north to south
From June to September in summer season the beaches appear in Araguacema as a mirage in an intense green horizon.
The Porto, Meio, Gaivota, Camaleão, Madalena beaches among many others are the most wanted in the state. The Praia da Gaivota (see picture) is famed for having a complete infrastructure. You can taste typical fish dishes and watch the regional dances like the Danca do Tambor, of African slave origin.
The fishing club Araguaia is a tourist complex idealized to fishing lovers. Countless fish schools go up the river in the dry season.
In 1812 the colonization of Araguacema started with the foundation of the prison of Santa Maria, for the protection of the trade and navigation of the steamboat company Companhia de Navegação a Vapor at the Rio Araguaia. It was attacked by the indians of the Xavante and Carajá tribe. The governor D. João VI eventually reestablished the prison.
In 1858 father Francisco do Monte São Vítor iniciates the construction of a chapel meant to catechise indians. A village was created with the name Santa Maria do Araguaia, becoming official city in 1937. In 1945 its name became Araguacema, meaning city of the river Araguaia.
The village attracted pioneers and adventurers from all over the country. The prison contributed to the development, helping to garantuee the rubber transport on the river during the golden ages. Today the economical activities of the city are cattle, agriculture, mining and fishing. Because of the beautiful beaches as well as rich fauna and flora it is expected that tourism will be growing business here. The city is part of the Amptur – Associação dos Municípios com Potencial Turístico do Brasil.
The innumerous beaches are considered the most beautiful of Tocantins, because of the white and fine sand crossed by canals of transparant water. Altogether a mixture of islands and lakes with a rich vegetation attracting birds and fish. Local amateur fishers find their way to the 2.800 lakes or to the river Araguaia which is ideal for fishing between June and September.
The main beaches are Praia do Porto, Praia do Camaleão, Praia do Meio, Praia do Gato, Praia do Mambuca, Praia do Chicão e Praia da Gaivota. The beach Da Gaivota at the Araguaia is well known.
The Praia do Porto is the large island in front of the city, 3,5 by 2,5 km, which rich vegetation.
In summertime, June to September, the beach is prepared to receive many tourists brought with fast boats.
The Praia do Meio is the largest beach, 3km by 2,5km, located on an island with the same name, 20 minutes by boat.Vegetation of Amazone Forest with the presence of saarã, goiabinha and other typical cerrado trees. The beach is a paradise with greenish water with little current. You will see araras, parakeets, tapirs, deers and turtles. Fish such as pacu, tucunaré, jaraqui and pirarucu.
The Praia da Madalena is visited in September by turtles that lay eggs in the sand.
The Araguaia Clube de Pesca is a touristic club for those who like to fish.
The religious festivities of Nossa Senhora da Divina Providência at the Capela de Nossa Senhora da Divina Providencia are a yearly event on March 10th.
Distance from Palmas: 300km
Bar das Gaivotas, Praca Beira Rio
Lanchonete Beira Rio
Beira Rio 8301112
Town hall: 8301132
Departamento de Turismo: Praça Getúlio Vargas, 384 – Phone: 8301132
Caseara is the Cantão Park gateway, and has the majority of the region´s beautiful lakes, with several rivers, streams and rivulets with plenty of fish, being an excellent option for sport fishing. Its islands and beaches, of clear green waters, with pleasant temperature and bucolic landscapes of Amazon features, are an invitation for adventure and leisure you can´t refuse. Praia do Sol, close to the city, is the most sought after in the summer season, and has good infrastructure.
Distance from Palmas: 260km
Churrascaria Nova Querencia 8791150
Churrascaria Bosque, Rua Paraíso s/n.º, regional dish, 150 persons; 24 h
Churrascaria Tarunã, Av. Barão do Rio Branco, n.º 362; regional dish, 300 persons; 24 h
Amor: Av. Campo Alegre s/n.º; bar, 300 persons: open 11 to 23 h
Fazenda Lago Formoso 8791161
Hotel Tarunã, Rua Barão do Rio Branco, n.º 367
Hotel Entre Rios, Av. Br. Rio Branco 260, Sector S. Central, 3791123
Hotel Fazenda Lago Formoso, Av. Campo Alegre Q61, S/nº. Lt6, Sector S. Central, 3791161
Pousada do Araguaia, Faz. Cantao Q Ar, S/nº. Ltsn, Zona Rura, 3791148
Pousada Sonho Meu, Av. Barra do Coco Q 72, S/nº. Lt18 19, S Central, 3791115
Hospital Municipal de Caseara 8791110
Secretária da Educação, Turismo e Lazer – Av. Trajano de Almeida, s/n.º – Phone: (063) 879-1120/1122
Pium is located at the access of the Cantão park and Bananal island borders. Its remarkable points are Lagoa Azul, a Lagoa de Pedra and Lagoa Bonita. The city has enormous reserves of rockcrystal, responsible for the economic development, attracting both tourists and investors. The city has also a prestigious Research Center, responsible for the Carbon Sequestration Project, which uses state of the art technology. http://www.ecologica.org.br/
4. Formoso do Araguaia
Distance from Palmas: 323 km
Population: 17.000 inhabitants
This municipality began in 1949 along with crystal mines exploration. Today it holds one of the largest irrigation programs for rice and soybean plantation in Latin America. Cattle raising, lumbering and fishing are along with breeding of alligators profitable activities tor the local economy.
Alligator breeding started in 1990 through Copraba (Brazilian Forming Cooperative). Due to an increasing rate of these animals reproduction around the irrigation channels the Cooperative decided to install a breeding reservoir aiming to export alligator skin.
Tourism is to become a very profitable source as well.
The Javaés River encircles the right side of Bananal Island and is also one of the countless attractions in Formoso. The beaches start to come into sight in May and Porto Piaui is the most famous one at 25 km from downtown.
Coming out of a groove in the rocks Morro Azul Lagoon is a spring of warm clear waters. Along the side is Morro Azul from where mineral rocks are extracted without affecting much of its original 70 m high formation.
To be present at Aruano, an Indian dance ritual that happens in “Aldeia dos javaés”, means an unforgettable experience. On April 1 st, “Festa do Indio” is also a very interesting feast. Actually, anytime of the year is great for visiting the Indian settlement in Formoso.
Rio Formoso Project brings together machinery, working men and wild animals. It’s an interesting scene to watch: a stretching area of cultivated land and water inhabited by rheas, capybaras, deers, alligators and other animals. The project extends along 27.000 hectares for rice and soya plantation.
Located at Javaes River Valley, near Bananal Island, benefiting itself of the region ambient richness. The main tourist attractions are Barro do Rio Verde and the beaches that appear from July to September in summer at the Javaes border. The Divino Pai Eterno feast receives devoted tourists every year in July.