As if you’re in a naturally air conditioned place. This is what a walk under the canopy of Bosque Rodrigues Alves, the well-known botanical garden in Belém, feels like. The official name is: Jardim Botânico da Amazônia – Bosque Rodrigues Alves. I get this feeling as soon as I pass the entrance of these fifteen hectares (37 acres) landscaped forest. The entrance fee is symbolic: a mere R$ 2 (R$ 1 = US$ 0.25 on 27-10-2019, Ed.). The attraction itself is equally accessible. Bosque Rodrigues Alves makes you think of a forest walk in the interior of Suriname, except for the fact that here there are wide, well-maintained trails winding through the trees.
A thick layer of humus says something about the age of the place: 136 years is quite some time. At the solemn opening in August 1883, the intention of the government of Pará was to provide a magnificent tourist attraction. They have succeeded to this day.
Located in the center of the town, in the Marco quarter, Bosque Rodrigues Alves is still one of the many must-dos in Belém. Besides the natural greenery, there are also man-made sections such as the old ruins and grottos. The fauna is also equally diverse; some animals live in cages, while others live freely in the wild. The many seeds beneath one of the trees act like little magnets to the agoutis (Dasyprocta leporina, known in Suriname as konkoni or Surinamese forest rabbit) that roam around freely. In the large pond in front of the restaurant I recognize the krobias’ (a genus of cichlid fish); the other species of fish is well-known in Brazil: the tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum, black pacu). The fauna is represented by reptiles and birds only.
There used to be more animals. Furthermore, the condition of the children’s playground equipment and that of the commemorative monument is poor. The restaurant and the sanitary facilities are also in need of renovation. At the same time, partly because of the oxygen-enriched atmosphere and the maintenance being done, things aren’t as bad just yet. A team of professionals is tasked with taking care of the flora and fauna. Proof of their success is the cajuru, a manatee of over sixty years old, which lives here as the longest living see cow in captivity.
When you travel with Surinam Airways, and you have chosen for destination Belém, make the effort to visit Bosque Rodrigues Alves. A second visit is not too much either. Although the temptation is strong, everywhere there are signs requesting not to feed the animals.
Bosque Rodrigues Alves
Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays (maintenance day)
Entrance: Avenida Almirante Barroso 2305, between Travessa Lomas Valentinas en Travessa Perebebuí, Belém, Brazil.
Would you like to go by bus? Click this link.
Text and photos: Charles Chang, November 2019
Translation: Roline Brahim-Tjen A Kwoei/Equivalence Translations
Want to experience this too? Book a ticket with Surinam Airways: Belém do Pará. You can also book online: www.flyslm.com. The flights from Paramaribo to Belém will be on Thursday and Sunday from November 3, 2019.