Ilha do Cajual - Spot the Scarlet Ibis
Every year tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds reach the Maranhense coast. An importing nesting area is found deep in Baia de Sao Marcos, on Ilha do Cajual, home of the Wildlife Research and Conservation Station. An extensive estuarine area surrounding the island is a result of the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean salt water with the continental waters of the three rivers and this greatly contributes to the growth of mangroves.
From Alcantara it is possible to do a boat trip by the river and igarapes to visit Ilha do Cajual which is an environmental protected area of the state of Maranhao. Among the waterbirds that nest on the mangrove vegetation of the island is scarlet ibis, one of the most beautiful birds that can be found along the Brazilian coastline. A small crab, present on the ibis' staple diet, is responsible for the strong pigmentation of its plumage.
It is not hard to spot scarlet ibis in Alcantara, especially on Praia da Baronesa. Though it is nothing to compare with the sight of hundreds of bright red birds on the dense green tops of the trees that can be spotted on Ilha do Cajual at sunset. It is really spectacular! Scarlet ibis are always in flocks and are easily scared. A good zoom lens, absolute silence and a lot of patience is needed to photograph them.
- Sailing and Boating
Praia de Itatinga
Praia de Itatinga is 5 km long stretch of beach with firm and flat sand and shallow waters. When the tide is low, you can get there on foot. But most of the time the beach is only accessible by canoe, departing from Praia da Baronesa (the Baroness Beach), the most popular beach of Alcantara. It's easy to arrange the transfer across the canal with the boatman (ask at Pousada das Guaras).
You won't find any bars on the beach. A little hut is the only place that affords some shelter from the sun, and also the place to leave your belongings while you head to swim or take a walk. Don't forget to take a bottle of water with you.
The beach is surrounded by Igarape de Itatinga on one side. You can make a nice ecological walk there and along the beach. The sunsets here can get especially magic so it's worth staying a little longer and agree with the boatman to pick you up only after the sunset.
- Hiking and Walking