If you are searching for a relaxing, quiet vacation with five start hotels, swimming pools and great comfort, then definitely don't go to the Amazon. Although it is possible to stay in a highly luxurious resort where even some celebrities stay for an astronomical amount of money, I believe that the Amazon is not about comfort. It's about experiencing the raw nature.
This trip was one of those that I enjoyed the most even if it was an organized tour by a travel agency. People who travel to the Amazon are usually very down to Earth and easy going, not afraid to "get dirty", I met some cool friends there. And, it was one of the best adventures of my life.
How to get to the Amazon
First, you need to get to Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state in Brazil. There are many flights that you can book from main Brazilian cities. For traveling into the Amazon rainforest, there are many tour operators in Manaus that run various tours depending on your needs.
If you are on a budget, you should try Amazon Backpackers, they offer good services for a great value. Their office is located in Rua 10 de Julho, Number 679, inside Hotel de Julho in Manaus, very close to the Opera House - Amazon Theater. Phone: +559230847557.
When you buy the trip, it's better to book it in advance, or in Manaus, not at the airport - you might be ripped off by some dishonest people trying to earn money on tourists. Some of the travelers in our tour paid almost double as they bought the tour from an agent at the airport!
The meeting of waters
From Manaus, you will be transported to the port (tourist agencies usually provide the transport from the airport too) and from there you will cross the Rio Negro (Negro River) by a speedboat to the point where it meets Rio Solimoes. The two rivers have different colors, flow right next to each other and, what's interesting, they don't mix for around 6 kilometers (4 miles).
Rio Negro, as the name suggests has dark, almost black color, and Rio Solimoes is yellow-brownish. "she meeting of waters" id one of the tourist attractions of the region and is really amazing. The boat stops at that point to let the tourists take some photos. This phenomenon occurs because the temperature of the rivers differs as well as the speed of the current. Rio Negro is warmer, around 28 degrees Celsius while the temperature of Rio Solimoes is 22 degrees Celsius and it flows more than two times faster.
When you cross the two rivers, you will be taken by a car to another river and from there, you will reach your destination by a speedboat. From that point, you can already start admiring the flooded rain forest, the trees and bushes halfway, and some even completely covered in water, creating little shrub islets on top of the surface of water.
After arrival at the hotel (wooden huts), unpacking and lunch, the guide took us all by a canoe through natural canals that cut the jungle to observe some wildlife and the nature. However, the birds and other animals were scared off by the boat's engine and it's pretty difficult to spot any of them. We were lucky, and we saw a few beautiful birds and a caiman - a type of a crocodile.
While floating down the river, we saw some hotels and also villages of local communities living in such remote region. We had a chance to stop and visit one with rubber tree plantations, pineapple fields and to have a look at some other exotic fruit and vegetables, like manioc for example with the explanation how it is processed by natural methods.
Waters of the Amazon rivers are full of the infamous, well known vicious fish - piranhas. While doing the trip in the Amazon, you will have a chance to catch some (and, if you ask the guide, they can even prepare and cook them for you). You will get some sticks with a string and a hook attached and using some chicken pieces you might give it a try and catch a piranha. The Amazonian piranhas are very small but their teeth -incredibly sharp. After fishing, you can buy some local made souvenirs with the piranha teeth stuck onto them. However, in one of the markets in Manaus they are cheaper.
Canoe ride in the storm -
Tips on traveling in the Amazon - rivers
When traveling to the Amazon, especially during the rainy season, you must be prepared for really heavy thunderstorms that can appear within minutes. We were on a canoe and the day was beautiful when suddenly a huge black cloud came and, in 15 minutes, it started pouring down. And, it wasn't just an ordinary rain, I barely managed to hide and wrap my camera in plastic bags to protect if from water. It was so heavy that the canoe got filled with water and we had to remove the excess of it with plastic bottles or any containers that we could find. We got completely soaked and I made a mistake of wearing jeans and long sleeve shirt. They didn't dry until the last day in the Amazon. Before going on a canoe ride remember to:
- take a raincoat, umbrellas are useless
- wear light clothes or even swimwear to avoid being completely soaked, wet clothes dry for a very long time due to humidity
- take other clothes (long sleeve shirts etc.) in case you to change, for example to go into the jungle
- take a lot of plastic bags to pack valuable things so they don't get wet
- have some waterproof cases for cameras and other electronic devises
- don't forget sun screen as the sun will eventually come out, even during rainy season
- mosquito repellent is a must while on land
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