Click for more information about Amazonas, Brazil
2010 Nov by
I have traversed Amazonas on several occasions, both by boat from Manaus to Belem and by bus from Venezuela to Paraguay.
I was one of the lucky ones to have had the adventure of crossing Amazonas from north to south via the BR319 highway in the mid-1980s. It was a several hundred kilometer mud track linking Manaus to Porto Velho. The bus I took from Manaus got stuck in the mud on numerous occasions, requiring all the men on the bus to get out and push it back onto the road. Rain, mosquitos and mud were just some of my memories of that long journey, as was the comaraderie of fellow passengers as we shared snacks and food and made pitstops for toilet breaks in the bush. Arriving in Porto Velho, covered in bug bites and mud, I checked into the best hotel in town to take a hot shower and sleep in a comfortable bed in an air conditioned room. |
2007 Feb by Veikko Huhtala*
While traveling around Brazil by bus we wanted visit also in Manaus. Because the roads are not good enough for buses we had to take flight from capital Brasilia. Manaus lies the place where Rio Negro River meets Amazon River. It is very big town where lives more than 1,5 million inhabitans.|
Manaus is good place to make your cruise in the river, but they are not very cheap. In the town we took hotel near bus station, because we were going to Boa Vista in Roraima next morning. This hotel was very cheap. If I remember right we paid only 20-30 US Dollars our double room. Of course it was not five star hotel, but enough for us. We always take cheapist hotel what we can find. Taxi drivers knows all hotels and if you ask them they will find cheap accomodation for you. We never make hotel reservations advance, because normally you can make it only for expensive hotels.
2006 Nov by Ted Cookson
-"An Amazon Adventure Cruise," written for the expatriate community in Cairo, Egypt by Ted Cookson in April 2003|
Amazon rainstorm, 29-second video clip
On 1 March 2003 I sailed from Manaus, Brazil to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on the 208-passenger Bahamas-registered cruise ship Seabourn Pride. During the 16-day cruise the Seabourn Pride called at: Brazil's Anavilhanas Archipelago; the towns of Parintins and Santarem along the Amazon; Devil's Island off French Guiana; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas in the U. S. Virgin Islands. I will confine my remarks in this article to the Amazon portion of the cruise.
Brazil, the world's fifth largest country, is nearly as large as the continental United States. Brazil shares borders with all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile. It is 4,350 km (2,700 miles) from Brazil's northern border to its southern border, and the distance from east to west is nearly the same. More than half of Brazil's population is under 30 and, collectively, Brazilians represent one of the world's broadest ethnic blends.
The Spanish soldier Francisco de Orellana was the first European to explore the Amazon in 1541. He is said to have given the river its name after reporting battles with tribes of female warriors.
The Amazon River is the largest drainage system in the world in terms of both water volume and basin area. The total length of the Amazon from its headwaters in Peru to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean is about 6,400 km (4,000 miles). Although this is slightly shorter than the Nile, it is still equivalent to the distance from Rome to New York City. The westernmost source of the Amazon lies only 160 km (100 miles) from the Pacific Ocean. The system consists of several main waterways and about 1,000 tributaries.
The Amazon Basin, South America's largest lowland, occupies an area of 6 million square km (2.3 million square miles). This is almost twice as large as the basin of the Congo River, the earth's other great equatorial drainage system. Stretching some 2,782 km (1,725) miles from north to south at its widest point, the Amazon basin includes most of Brazil and Peru, major parts of Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, and a small portion of Venezuela. About two-thirds of the Amazon's main stream lies within Brazil.
Some 20% of all the fresh water on earth flows through the Amazon. The maximum flood discharge at the mouth of the Amazon is 175,000 cubic meters (6,180,000 cubic feet) per second. This is four times that of the Congo and more than ten times the amount of water carried by the Mississippi. A single day's discharge into the Atlantic is sufficient to supply New York City with a nine-year supply of fresh water. The Amazon's immense volume of fresh water dilutes the ocean's saltiness 161 km (100 miles) from shore.
More than two-thirds of the Amazon basin is covered by an immense rain forest. In fact, the Amazon rain forest, which represents over one-third of the earth's remaining rain forest, also constitutes earth's largest reserve of biological resources. During recent decades deforestation has accelerated due to the development of new highways and airports and the discovery of minerals. The current population of Brazil's Amazon region is some 17 million, or 3.4 inhabitants per square km. 62% of this population lives in urban areas while only 38% lives in rural areas.
In Brazil the name "Solimoes" is used for the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru to the mouth of the Rio Negro. Brazilians use the term "Amazon" (actually "Amazonas" in Portuguese) for the river only from the Rio Negro east to the Atlantic Ocean. Manaus (pronounced "Man-awsh'"), the largest Amazon river city with a population of 1,300,000, is situated near the junction of the brownish-yellow (muddy) Rio Solimoes and the "black" Rio Negro. Interestingly, due to their different densities, velocities and temperatures, these two great rivers flow together for 6 km (4 miles) before mixing. A distinct stripe flows down the center until the two rivers eventually blend into a single uniform color.
Manaus' most famous monument is its opera house, the Teatro Amazonas, which was inaugurated in 1896. Built over a 15-year period during Brazil's late nineteenth century rubber boom from materials imported from Europe, the 681-seat neoclassical opera house was last restored in 1990 and is still in use today. Only the wood for the floors and the chairs came from Brazil, and even that wood was sent to Europe for molding before being returned to the jungle for installation.
Manaus' ingenious floating docks, constructed by a Scottish engineer at the beginning of the twentieth century, rise and fall by up to 10 meters (32 feet) with the Rio Negro's varying water level. At the Museu do Indio in downtown Manaus I viewed artifacts, costumes and weapons from the region's principal tribes. Due to a favorable exchange rate, the museum gift shop offered expertly-woven baskets from as little as USD 3; and I was able to purchase one large basket which stands a full meter high for only USD 9. One of the other highlights of my visit to Manaus was attending the very colorful Carnival parade there.
On the second day of the cruise the Seabourn Pride anchored near the 145-km (90-mile)-long Anavilhanas Archipelago which consists of 400 islands and is situated northwest of Manaus on the Rio Negro. Unlike the muddy Solimoes (Amazon), the Rio Negro flows over a bed of fine sand that is free of sediment. Even though the Rio Negro's water appears black, it is said that its water is purer than tap water found in most urban areas. Also, incredibly, the Rio Negro is free of mosquitoes and many other types of insects. It is thought that the river absorbs plant materials which dissolve and add natural toxins. Though not harmful to fish or jungle animals which drink from the river, the poisons apparently inhibit the reproductive cycles of most insects.
The Anavilhanas Archipelago is a developed jungle resort area. I took the opportunity to tour Ariau Amazon Towers, the largest tree top lodge. Established in 1986 with a mere eight rooms, today the resort boasts a helipad and can accommodate hundreds of guests. Ariau Amazon Towers has been frequented by the likes of Jimmy Carter, Helmut Kohl, King Guftav of Sweden and Susan Sarandon. I was shown the suite once occupied by Bill Gates which, incidentally, was even furnished with a PC and printer!
Because the resort is built at the canopy level, the exotic flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forest are close at hand. Further exposure is also provided to guests through canoe rides in the creeks nearby. The Amazon region is host to 311 species of mammals, 2,600 species of birds and more than 400,000 kinds of insects. At Ariau Amazon Towers I saw and heard monkeys in the canopy as I walked along the resort's high wooden walkways, and both piranha and pink dolphins are said to live in the river there.
Most people picture exotic animals and giant reptiles when they think of the Amazon. While there are many snakes and lizards, the Amazon Basin supports no large herding mammals like those found on the plains of Africa. Monkeys are the most diverse Amazon mammal group. The Brazilian rain forest supports six feline species, including jaguars, of which now only some 15,000 remain. Their biggest threat nowadays is deforestation rather than hunting. Rodents are the most abundant mammals in the Amazon. The Amazon's capybara is the world's largest rodent. The tapir, the largest mammal in the rain forest, grows to be up to 2 meters (6 feet) long. Tapirs feed on fruit and leaves and weigh about 182 kg (400 pounds). Northern Brazil's fish stocks are also abundant. More than 1,500 species have been classified. Some marine biologists estimate that up to 500 additional species may have yet to be discovered.
The Seabourn Pride next called at Parintins, 564 km (350 miles) downstream from Manaus. With a population of 30,000, each June the 200-year-old town hosts a festival similar to Rio's Carnival. Amazonian legends, forest creatures and local and Andean rhythms are incorporated into this bizarre but fascinating spectacle. At the time of the annual festival the population swells more than tenfold as visitors arrive from all over Brazil. A special evening performance by exotic costumed dancers was staged for cruise passengers in the local open air cultural center.
The final port of call on the Amazon was the city of Santarem. There a piranha fishing tour was offered. Piranha were caught and grilled on the spot with manioc flour. In fact, I saw fierce-looking mounted piranha being sold as souvenirs all along the Amazon. However, while piranha do certainly possess sharp teeth, it turns out that they are not nearly as fierce as their Hollywood-inspired reputation suggests. Locals bathe throughout the Amazon Basin alongside piranha without this fish causing them any harm.
The final two days on the Amazon were among the most interesting, even though there were no ports of call. During the first portion of my cruise down the Amazon, the river and its tributaries were all very wide. However, northeast of Santarem as the ship began to weave through narrow channels to reach the Atlantic Ocean, vignettes of local life along the shores of these channels were presented to cruise ship passengers. While the backdrop was always dense rain forest, now I could easily see and photograph local people in their canoes, individual houses, small villages and even sawmills. Finally at Macapa our Amazon River pilot disembarked, and the Seabourn Pride sailed north to the Caribbean.
HOW TO GET TO BRAZIL'S AMAZONAS STATE:
TAM offers daily air service between Miami and Manaus (pronounced "Ma-nawh'" in Portuguese), the capital of Amazonas State.-Postscript: In November 2006 I sailed on Holland America Line's Prinsendam up the Amazon as far as Parintins which lies just inside the eastern border of Brazil's Amazonas State.
Manager - Maadi
Egypt Panorama Tours
22 April 2007
2006 Oct by Joshua Stevens
Flew into Manaus from Miami and then headed up the Rio Negro about 2 to 3 hours by boat to the Ariau Jungle Lodge. Hung out there for a few days in our tree top lodge where I fished for piranha (and caught one which I later ate), swam with pink river dolphins and vistied the "Meeting of the Waters" on my way back to Manaus. The "Meeting of the Waters" is where the Amazon and Rio Negro meet, but strangely the rivers do not immediately blend due to their different temperatures and chemical compositions . . .it was a very unusual sight to behold (see my photo in Amazonas, Brazil link). Manuas can be reached by plane from just about every other major city in Brazil, can be reached from Miami on TAM Airlines (about a 4 hour flight) and can be reached from Panama City on Copa Airlines. It's probably the best starting point for any expedition in Brazil's Amazonas State. |
2004 Jan by Carolyn Broadwell
I took my first trip on the Amazon in 1963, in a hammock on a very small typical cargo riverboat. We were returning to Iquitos, Peru after delivering oil to Brazil. Ever since, I'd wanted to go from Manaus to Belem, and in 2004 I finally made it. I had to fly from Cayenne to Belem, then to Manaus, and then find a boat. There were a number of guys soliciting passengers, and there didn't seem to be a way to see the boat you'd be on, so I had to take the word of the guy I chose. The boat I ended up on was certainly not luxurious, as I saw others at the docks that appeared to be so, but it was more than adequate. There were quite a few hammock passengers, but I was older now, and chose to get a cabin. It had two "bunks" that were simply boards with a grass mat on them, and I had a cabin to myself. No bedding, so I had to put on more clothes at night, as it was cold then. During the day it was pleasantly warm. The single toilet doubled as a shower (over the toilet) which was for all the passengers in cabins. The cabin passengers also had a slightly better dining area, which was probably cleaner, although before I discovered that, I ate with the hammock passengers and had no complaints. The trip took four days and nights.The river itself has always interested me, and it was wonderful to see the span of the river, to see the color change of the water when other rivers flowed into it, to visit one town along the way (Santarém), to see the jungle vegetation, and especially the large shell that contains the smaller Brazil nuts (almost impossible to open), and to see the dwellings along the shore and the pirogues that came out to meet the boat. Those who had been before knew that those pirogues would be there, and threw out plastic bags tied tightly containing stuff that was probably needed. Most of them (the pirogues) had kids rowing them, and some came out with coconuts, and machetes to open them, to sell to passengers. It was quite a trick to hang onto the moving boat, prepare the coconut, and collect the money!It was definitely quite a different trip than the first one! |
1986 Aug by Jorge Sanchez
One of the best journeys that you can make in Brazil is the one by boat along the Amazon’s River from Belem, in the State of Para, to Iquitos in Peru, via Manaus, although you can do it in several parts.|
Manaus, for instance, the capital of Amazonas State, deserves a couple of days visit.
Here is what I wrote in my diary during my visit to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira with four more travellers:
After five days of navigation from Belem to Manaus through the Amazonas, sleeping in hammocks, I made friendship with four intrepid companions: Fernando had been travelling for about six months around South America and now he was heading back home to Mexico D.F. together with a friend, an Argentinean Jew called Diego; Manfred and Heinz were from Munich, and wanted to travel overland until USA to culminate their around the world journey flying over the Pacific Ocean to Japan, and back to Germany through the Tran Siberian train. Arriving to Manaus we soon found a cheap dormitory behind the splendid and famous Theatre Palace. My four friends had planned to continue the journey by river until Tabatinga, followed by Iquitos in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and further north until Mexico. Then I proposed them to reach Colombia throughout an exotic way that no other traveller since the times of Alexander von Humboldt ever dared: across the unknown jungles bordering Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. Once in Bogota we would separate. They would continue their journey through the Darien gap and I will descend to Peru to visit the Machu Picchu. They agreed. We were travelling on a budget (I was almost broken) and had arranged the following to travel on the cheapest way sharing the minimal expenses: Fernando, who was the tallest of us, would pick up the fruits from the trees (papayas, bananas, mangoes, etc.) and would fish; Diego would prepare the food since he was cook by profession; Manfred and Heinz would collect firewood and would wash the dishes, and I would negotiate the prices of the transport with the captains of the boats carrying garimpeiros (gold seekers) going up the River Negro until Pico da Neblina, the accommodation with the chiefs of the villages, and the permissions with the authorities of the FUNAI (Fundaçao Nacional do Indio).
AMAZONAS. We left Manaus by boat and stopped for a few days in Barcelos, then Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, and finally spent one week in beautiful Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira (Cachoeira means waterfall in Portuguese). Our objective now was the small town of Mitu, in Colombia, but it was not easy to get there. Only after drinking several bottles of cachaça with a Greek garimpeiro who owned a motorboat, and beating him in an exciting chess game, he agreed to take us until the border with Colombia in a journey that would last ten days, sleeping in villages inhabited by leprous and eating piranhas and coconuts. In some villages we were the first Europeans that the Indians had seen in their life. They looked at us with naïve curiosity and touched our body, arms and the hair of our chest. At the border there were neither military control nor FUNAI agents nor garimpeiros, so we paid to the Greek and crossed the River until a village called Yavarate, in the Colombian Indian Reserve of Vaupes.