March 28, 2011 3

Manaus, Brazil: An Introduction

By in Brazil, Manaus, South America

No roads lead to Manaus. Smack dab in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, the only way to reach Brazil’s seventh largest city is by boat or airplane. I was lucky enough to fly in and then board Iberostar’s Grand Amazon river boat, the only hotel/ship in the area.

The bustling boat docks are more akin to floating bus stations, with boats crammed in and brazenly advertising where they are headed. Men carrying oversized packages – I saw one guy with three buckets of tar balanced on a piece of wood on his back – load onto the ships via planks.

For the most part, the ships appear to be a “standing room only” type of deal.

But some ships – probably for excursions up the river that last several days – have a few hammocks strung between the beams.

Manaus itself is a city of about 1.8 million people (more than Philadelphia!) that is located where the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimões converge, creating the swirl effect seen above. The dark, black-ish water is the Rio Negro, while the murkier, muddy-looking water is the Rio Solimões. It really was a sight to see.

For the most part we cruised along the Rio Negro (although the ship also has a leg on the Solimões). The water is so dark and glass-like it clearly reflects everything on the surrounding banks. I kept trying to capture the perfect mirror effect, but no pictures seem to really do it justice.

Manaus is a far out destination, but one that is well-loved by ecotourists. On one boat trip, we breezed by the Ariau Amazon Towers, a collection of wooden towers built in the rainforest that are connected by raised catwalks (not a design decision, but instead a way to avoid flooding as the river rises and falls). Our guide told us the room with the balcony pictured above used to belong to Bill Gates – which also might explain why there is a huge cell phone tower outside of the hotel, the only place where we could get any reception during the five-day trip.

Stay tuned for stories of ant attacks, feeding pink dolphins, caiman hunting, visiting an indigenous village, and consuming copious amounts of cocktails.

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3 Responses to “Manaus, Brazil: An Introduction”

  1. Fabiano says:

    You should have gone to the neighbor city of Presidente Figueiredo and its wonderful waterfalls.

    XOs from Manaus

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