Manaus

Manaus is a Brazilian city of about 2.5 million, located on the Rio Negro a few miles before it meets the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River proper. The two rivers flow side by side for many miles, different in color, mixing in eddies: the "Meeting of the Waters." Legend has it that they never mix.

Understand

The wealth of the primeval forest becomes visible first of all in the architecture of the city. The city enriched and the rubber barons afforded the biggest luxury from Europe, a copy the Grand Opera de Paris - the Teatro Amazonas. Other monuments from this epoch are the Mercado Municipal, a copy of the famous market halls Les Halles in Paris, and the arts center Palacio Rio Negro, located among fascinating Portuguese façades. Today Manaus is a foreign trade zone. Foreign enterprises pay no import duties here, guaranteeing a certain income for the city and the region. Electronics, wood industry and oil refineries have settled in the outskirts in industrial areas. The harbour is the most important trading center for the care of the city with regional, national and international products.

The city is pleasant and friendly, although quite hot, and is still a major port, and a good starting point for river tours.

The Rio Negro (northern) branch of the Amazon is the color of strong tea, peaty brown and its comparative acidity means few mosquitoes. At Manaus the Amazon rises and falls almost twenty meters between seasons. In May and June it's at its peak, full and very wide, spreading way out into the trees. In November and December it's low; still massive but with sandbars.

Get in

By plane

The airport is some 15 km by road from the city centre. A taxi will set you back 65 reais (fixed price).

Manaus is about 2200 km from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro which takes about four hours by air. From North America, it's much faster if you go direct without backtracking via SP or Rio. If it is European departure you can either fly from Lisbon, or go to North/Central America (which is too far west) or SP/Rio (too far south), so both ways are about the same distance.

By boat

Manaus is a major destination for boats on the Amazon River. From Belém on the Atlantic Coast, it takes about five days. Boats go to Porto Velho two-three times per week. Tabatinga on the border with Colombia can also be reached by boat from Manaus, with connections further on to Iquitos in Peru. To save a few hours on your way to Colombia or Peru, you can take a boat from Manacapuru instead.

By bus

Due to road conditions, there is very little (if any) long-distance bus service originating from major cities in Brazil. There are daily buses to Boa Vista in the north and to destinations in Venezuela. The bus from Caracas in Venezuela takes about 36 hours, but it is air-conditioned, has comfortable reclining seats and a toilet.

See

Teatro Amazonas

For details on the Jaú National Park and other nearby attractions, see the Go next section below.

Do

Adventure trips to the rainforest

There are a number of companies operating jungle adventure trips from Manaus, but only a few seem to be more established and reputable. First you need to check if the Tour Operator has a valid Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Board) registry. Then you make up your mind what you really want. You need to travel at least 100 km from Manaus to see virgin rain forest and the wild life you are looking for.

There are basically two main areas which you can explore: the Rio Negro basin and the South of Rio Amazonas. Both of these regions are (sparsely) inhabited, so you will not be completely isolated from civilization. If you want to make a trip to a reserve or a remote area, ask for a special expedition package and plan to pay much more and spend a few days for the transfer to and from the reserve. Rio Negro is an area that is great for the jungle vegetation and for the lack of mosquitoes (due to the acidity of the river). Unfortunately, the lack of mosquitoes means there are a lot fewer animals that live there. The South of Rio Amazonas is a network of rivers, lakes and channels. There are mosquitoes and wildlife, however, there are quite a lot of houses and farms—and thus civilization is a lot more visible. Most tours go to or through lake Mamori. There are quite a lot of jungle things to see around the lake, but do not expect pristine nature due to all the farming going on around the lake. There is a reserve nearby called Jurara. It also seems to be inhabited and there is not much difference between the reserve and lake Mamori. A better option may be a trip to lake Juma which is a special protected area.

There are two seasons in the Amazon basin: wet season and dry season. During the dry season it's very hot (that means 40 C plus the humidity) and thus may be unbearable for some. As well, many channels and rivers dry out. On the other hand, fishing is much easier since all fish concentrates in the remaining water basins. During the wet season, it rains almost every day. When there is a storm, the amount of rain may be overwhelming. Thus, if traveling in wet season, be prepared to get wet and not dry out until the end of your trip. During the season the rivers and lakes rise several meters and many new channels are formed in the flooded jungle. Temperature-wise, the weather is more bearable and only the humidity will be a problem. The wet season lasts roughly January to July, with the best time to visit the jungle May to August.

If you travel during the wet season, keep your important things like documents in (tested) waterproof bags/containers. Cotton clothes let your skin breathe but there is no chance that they will ever get dry. Some people find nylon/synthetic clothes to work well. Long sleeves and long pants are not 100% necessary but you will not regret wearing them. A flashlight is necessary for the night, as the jungle is pitch-black. A machete most probably will not be required on short/casual trips but is essential for longer expeditions. A lighter and a pocket knife are a good idea. The pocket knife is especially important since it can provide the only defense against the boa and the anaconda (indeed, attacks do occur). A mosquito repellent is most probably a very smart idea. It keeps other bugs away too and it reduces the risk of being infected by a disease-carrying insect. However, the number of mosquitoes in the jungle is not completely overwhelming, so for longer expeditions you may consider getting used to them. Additionally, a good guide can show you some natural repellents available in the jungle. Sun block is needed especially during the dry season. Otherwise, keep your luggage to the minimum. Do not take things you do not really need.

Tour operators

Do not buy tours from people at the airport or on the street in Manaus. The best guides are hired by the best companies; the best shysters don’t work for the best companies. If you don’t want to book a tour before arriving and want to book a tour in Manaus use a reputable published guidebook first or just look for the official tourist information center (CAT), they'll help you out and even make free calls if required. Tour companies are relatively easy to find in downtown Manaus and many will meet you at no charge.

The tour companies (even the ones in Lonely Planet) tend to trick the tourists sometimes, they ask you "may I do the reservation?" if you say yes and later cancel they will want to charge you 25%. It is not legal unless they let you know about it and make you sign something, so remain alert. Ask other tour operators to check prices.

If you take a river tour, go up the Rio Negro. From a three-night river boat trip from Manaus up the Rio Negro with a guide, you can expect to see some wildlife and visit some of the forest remnants, but two weeks or more are needed to reach untouched areas. Small two-story river boats carry five to ten people, sleeping in hammocks on the upper deck. Large boats carrying hundreds ply the river too, but the big boats don't stop between ports. The most popular place for jungle tours is Lake Mamori/Lake Juma about 100 km south of Manaus. Other recommended areas are Rio Urubu about 200 km east of and Novo Airão about 100 km northwest of Manaus. Make sure that your travel agency has a valid Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Board) registration.

Amazing Tours Agency - has been in the business for about 7 years,They organize Rio Negro tour,Boat tours,boat tickets,amazon Lodges,Adventure trips,fishing trips.

Eat

Local cuisine is rich and varied and can be found in many restaurants and stalls. You may try:

The region is also known for its exotic fruits like:

Restaurants:

Drink

Downtown drinking near the Teatro Amazonas, lately spreading towards the refurbished Praca da Saudade. Others options in the Ponta Negra area, including the "Estrada do Turismo" -a string of nightlife spots along the road to the airport.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R$70
Mid-range R$ 70-150
Splurge Over R$150

Jungle Accommodation

Hotels and other lodgings located outside the municipality of Manaus are not included in this list. Please see the Go next-section below for links to the appropriate articles.

Budget

Lots of cheap hotels and pensões can be found around Av. Joaquim Nabuco. Many of these have hourly rates, and are not very pleasant, and often quite smelly. The area gets dodgy in the late evenings. Private rooms start at 30 reais.

Pay 30-50 Reais more for a room in the much more pleasant area near the Teatro Amazonas:

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay healthy

The climate is very hot and humid. Packing thin, light-colored clothing will help you suffer the least during the day. There are also many mosquitoes known to carry malaria, so wear long sleeve shirts and pants and insect repellent. There is little cotton or natural fiber clothing available in Manaus, so don’t count on being able to pick up something on short notice. People seem to prefer synthetic materials, which have the advantage of drying easily without molding.

Stay safe

Manaus is fairly safe for a Brazilian city of its size. As always, deserted streets are a bad idea after dark. Avoid the east zone, it has a really bad reputation.

Go next

Jungle Accommodation

Areas near Manaus that offer lodging in the jungle (rather than in a town), include

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, May 29, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.