Cruising the Brazilian Amazon
Pictures this, steamy jungles as far as the eye can see, an abundance of rare wildlife, uncontacted tribes all unique with their own culture. This is the Brazilian Amazon and it has so many adventures for travellers. Brazil occupies one of the largest regions of the Amazon jungle and the remote city of Manaus is the starting point for all adventures into the Brazilian Amazon region. Traveling this part of the world cannot be done by road, but instead must be done by boat making it not only an extraordinary rare travel experience but a unique one that cannot be found easily in the modern world. Venture with me into Brazil’s final frontier, the Brazilian Amazon!
Getting to the Brazilian Amazon
The roads end when you enter Brazil’s Amazonian regions and travel is done by either boat or small planes. Most remote communities do have airstrips that connect them with the capital of Brazil’s Amazon, Manaus, but they are infrequent and frankly quite expensive.
The best way to travel here is via passenger ferry, this is how the jungles are meant to be traveled! Before you get on a ferry boat most journeys into the jungle will still start in Manaus or Belem. I recommend taking a cheap flight to Manaus as this is where the more uncharted feeling jungles begin! There are direct flights to Manaus from Brasilia and Sao Paolo.
Manaus Top Sights
Manaus is a lovely city sitting alongside the Amazon River. It has a frontier feel to it with its bustling markets, historic center and chances to see many minorities from different corners of the Amazon Jungle all living together in one place. Most come here just as a jumping-off point into the jungles, but it’s good to stay a few days and see what Brazil’s Amazon regions capital city has to offer!
Manaus Amazon Theatre
Set right in the center of town on the plaza in Manaus most easily recognized landmark, the Amazon Theatre. Its an old opera house dating back to colonial times 120 years ago back when the region was flourishing from the rubber boom.
Mercado Adolpho Lisboa
Nowadays Mercado Adolpho Lisboa is selling mostly tourist knickknacks, but you can still find many artifacts from remote tribal communities here. In the back of the market, there are stalls selling fish, this is where you can sometimes see the giant Amazon river fish!
Shopping in Manaus
A few stores have opened selling hand made artwork and artifacts from the tribal communities around the Amazon. Even if you don’t decide to buy anything its nice to see what the tribes are making from mostly natural products. You can find a few of these stores in the main plaza near the Theatre.
Manaus Restaurants and Bars
On the plaza, you can find a few restaurants serving up local craft beers and dishes made from Amazon Ingredients including catfish, insects and various other wonderfully strange stuff! This is a great way to experience the flavors of the Amazon as the majority can only be found here.
Which Cruise is Best for the Brazilian Amazon?
In Manaus, you will find a plethora of local agencies offering tours up rive. All of which follow a similar itinerary and do not actually take you far into the Amazon Jungle. It can be a daunting experience finding the right tour agency.
When I went searching, I looked for two things, I wanted an old traditional boat, the ones explorers used to take upriver in search of adventure and a company that promised to truly take you into the jungles to experience them how it was meant to be!
In the heart of town, I found Amazon Eco Adventure!
Exploring Brazils Amazon with Amazon Eco Adventures
Amazon Eco Adventures was an ideal company as their boat was indeed a classic old wooden explorer boat, but still extremely comfortable. The guides that showed us into the far reaches of the jungle all grew up in the Amazon and had a vast knowledge of wildlife, survival and indigenous communities upriver from Manaus. This was the only company I found in Manaus that suited all my needs and to top it off they are an Eco based company that promotes “Green” tourism and low impact on the fragile jungles found in Brazil’s Amazonia region.
You can see more of Amazon Eco Adventures Tours HERE
Brazilian Amazon Jungle Video
Amazon Jungle Sights Outside Manaus
Our first days in the Amazon we explored the sites that can be found just 50km surrounding Manaus. Here there are many communities, farms, natural phenomena’s and historic sights. Here is a list of some of my favourite sights just outside of Manaus!
Port of Manaus
This is where our boat firstly departed, the bustling port of Manaus where all the passenger ferries, cargo boats and hundreds of wooden fishing canoes all arrive to. It’s a chaotic but wonderful place and oozes a feeling of the start of an adventure!
Meeting of the Waters
When the fresh waters of the Rio Negro meet the muddy waters of the Amazon River one of nature’s greatest wonders are created, the meeting of the waters. This phenomenon is due to the differences in temperature, speed and water density of the two rivers spanning a grand 6km! You can see it right from the boat, but from the air is best! Bring a drone.
An unusual sight but incredibly thrilling is the Arapaima farm found at the floating villages near Manaus. Here the caretakes of these massive Amazon River fish will let you attach bait to a string and feed the Arapaima. Some measure up to fifteen feet and can weigh over a whopping 500 pounds!
Manaus Seringal Rubber Museum
Manaus exists because of the rubber boom that happened between 1879 – 1945. Most of the Rubber farms have been swallowed up by nature or torn apart from looters, but the Seringal Rubber farm some 50km upriver from Manaus has been kept intact so you can see how Rubber was created and processed.
Cruising the Brazilian Amazon River
Finally, the adventure begins, living aboard an old wooden explorer ship heading upriver into the remote reaches of the Amazon Jungle. After the first days seeing the sights around Manaus, we continued the river west. Ever so often we would veer off into the other rivers that branch from the Rio Negro allowing us to pierce deeper into the jungle! Here is a list of some of the amazing things we did from Amazon Eco Adventures boat!
Speed Boat Trips into the Amazon Jungle
Although being aboard our sweet antique boat is cool, we brought along a small metal speed boat so we could truly explore some of the jungle’s remote river channels. The small boat lets us get very close to wildlife and into areas that rarely see people, of at all!
We were able to spot Sloths, Toucans, Caiman, Anaconda’s and found lakes filled with giant lily pads! Each day on our Amazon trip we ventured out for three-hour-long excursions into the jungle giving us plenty of time to experience the jungle at its most untouched feel!
Visiting Remote Indigenous Communities
I am fascinated by so many aspects of the Amazon, its abundance of wildlife, uncharted regions and most of all its indigenous tribal communities. Finding cultures so untouched by the modern world is hard to come by these days, but in the jungles of Brazil’s Amazon tribes strive to preserve their culture and way of life. Often living far from the cities virtually uncontacted to remain who they are. Many tribes are still completely uncontacted, but visiting them is impossible.
The tribes that do accept visitors are more than welcoming when it comes to showing off their ways of life. We visited a tribe that was traditionally from the border with Columbia but relocated upriver here as their lands became hostile due to drug trafficking.
Not much has changed in their village, many still adorn traditional outfits and they refuse electricity. Their houses are made of wood, palm, and grass. They even have a local shaman who welcomes visitors to see him.
Fishing for Piranha in Brazil’s Amazon
This is something I have done in many parts of the Amazon, but nowhere have I caught such enormous Piranha before! Using the traditional way of fishing with a bamboo stick I was able to catch upwards of eight giant piranhas per day. There is something truly exhilarating about it and I seriously cannot get enough of it!
Yes, I know what your wondering, did you eat the Piranha? The answer to this can be found with the picture of my dinner plate below.
Swimming with Amazon River Dolphins
One of the strangest experiences in the Amazon is swimming with the odd pink river dolphins. They are completely wild and not guaranteed to see, but if you do get the pleasure of swimming with them its something you are unlikely to ever forget.
Whilst swimming in the black waters of the river every now and then a large pink dolphin emerges from the murky depths. Often, they bump into you causing quite some panic!
BBQ On the Antique Ship!
Returning to our boat after a day of jungle exploration and swimming with river dolphins we found a very different scene. Our boat crew covered the top deck in palm leaves and lit the top deck BBQ for a smorgasbord of Brazilian meats to eat! This BBQ is one of my fondest memories of our trip into the Amazon.
Hiking into the Amazon Jungle
When we reached our furthest destination into the Amazon, we landed our boats and hiked deep into the jungle to immerse ourselves into this pristine nature. On our hike, we found multiple kinds of monkeys, toucans, macaws, and giant tarantulas! Some of the Amazon trees were so large that we could swing on its vines that hung below.
Although the boat was amazing, hiking into the jungle was an experience on its own. At one point we just sat in silence and listened to all the noises of the jungle!