Travel Blog: Manaus, Amazon River and Jungle in Brazil

Exploring Brazil #4: Manaus, Amazon River and Jungle

Manaus city in Brazil

Wow, this is already the 4th travel guide article on my Brazil travel blog! In last ones, we've visited the city of Recife, awesome Rio de Janeiro and a huge Brazilian capital São Paulo. Today we will visit a gate to Amazon jungle: Manaus! Also, we will have a boat trip through Amazon River and we will have a 5 days walk in Amazon Jungle.

In this Brazil travel guide, we've got into the city of Manaus, which is located on the north bank of the Rio Negro, the largest left tributary of the Amazon River - "just" about 900 miles from the Atlantic. Manaus, with more than 2 millions of people, is the main city and a financial center of the whole upper Amazon region and the beating heart of the Amazonia.

The city was founded in the 17th century as a small Portuguese fort called Sao Jose da Barra, but grew considerably only in the 19th century. In 1832 the name was changed to the Manaus, which means "Mother of God".

Panorama of Manaus, Brazil. Source: Portal da Copa / Wikipedia.

So, enough of the Manaus history. You probably wonder what to see and do in the city and what are the best tourist attractions and interesting places here?

Teatro Amazonas Opera in Manaus

Teatro Amazonas

The Teatro Amazonas (or Amazon Theatre) is the most beautiful building in Manaus and a great opera house constructed in 1884 by wealthy Brazil barons under the supervisor of Italian architect named Celestial Sacardim with a lot of paintings by another Italian artist, Domenico de Angelis.

It's a real piece of art, as the steel came from the United Kingdom, marble from Italy and furniture from Paris. The great thing is that you can see here the decorated ceramic tiles that are painted like a Brazilian national flag.

Opera in Manaus, Brazil

When there was an invention of artificial rubber, the city lost its main source of income. The golden era of Manaus has ended and the Teatro Amazonas opera had to be closed. There wasn't a single performance here for about 90 years. It was opened again in 2001 by the new government after the splendor of the Teatro Amazonas was restored.

During the 90 years of stagnation, the Teatro Amazonas appeared in Werner Herzog’s movie called Fitzcarraldo.

Port in Manaus City

Manaus Port

I love water and ships. This is why I came into the Manaus Port to watch all those people and goods unloading. This is the place from where you can get a boat in the different directions to take a trip on the Amazon river. You will see it for sure, as there will be a lot of colorful tourist boats near the water bridges.

The Manaus Port is a great place to sit for a moment or two and get some fresh air or watch new people coming in and out from the Manaus city. Well, but if you have just a few hours in the city or you are in a hurry, it's not necessary to see it, as it's just another city port. I came here because I really like boats and water and the Amazon river was so awesome.

Mercado Adolpho Lisboa Market in Manaus. Source: Makoto Miyagawa / Wikipedia

Mercado Adolpho Lisboa Market

The Mercado Adolpho Lisboa called also Mercado Municipal is the biggest art-nouveau market in whole Manaus. It was based on the famous Les Halles market in Paris, but it still didn't lose its Amazonian style.

You can buy here almost everything you can imagine. There are a lot of fruits and vegetables. Fishes and meat. Exotic fruit-based drinks. I saw even some medical ingredients. The Mercado Adolpho Lisboa in Manaus is a great place to feel Brazilian laud and active atmosphere. This is also the place where you can buy some food when you are going on an Amazon boat trip or to the Amazon Jungle.

Amazonas Jazz Festival

If your a fan of music, especially jazz, you should definitely think about getting to Manaus during July, where there is the Amazonas Jazz Festival. This event takes its place in the Amazon Theatre (Teatro Amazonas) and its first edition was in 2006. During the festival, there are also different activities, workshops, and seminars.

The Amazonas Jazz Festival usually hosts the best jazz performers, as well as some local bands, so you will find here a variety of styles. The concerts are not only inside the Teatro Amazonas but also in other Manaus locations: in the Palace of Justice and Largo de São Sebastião.

Bosque da Ciencia in Manaus

Bosque da Ciência

Let's continue my Brazil travel blog. If you don't want to visit Amazon Jungle, the Bosque da Ciência might be the best place for you, as it's the place full of Amazonian wildlife and plants. It's located at the headquarters of the National Institute of Amazonian Research and it covers more than 13 hectares.

You will find here variety of things to see, like different animals such as giant otters. caimans or manatees. There are also a lot of turtles, monkeys, sloths and tropical birds like parrots, so you will be able to see some of the Amazon Jungle nature. So if the jungle is too much, make sure to write the Bosque da Ciência to your travel list.

Meeting of Waters (Enconto das Aguas) in Manaus

Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Águas)

Meeting of Waters called in Portuguese Encontro das Águas or Encuetro de los Aguas is the place where the milky Rio Solimoes and the Rio Negro meet to form the huge Amazon river. This is a great tourist attraction because of the different water temperatures that make them snake stubbornly alongside each other for nearly four miles. The Rio Solimões, mostly because of the sand and mud has a coffee color, and the Negro has a dark, tea color. Those colors make from the Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Águas) a natural phenomenon you won't see anywhere else in the world.

Well, I think that description of the geologist Robert Meade would be enough to see the huge scale of the Encontro das Águas: "Six Mississippis worth of café-au-lait colored water converging here with two Mississippis worth of black-tea-colored water".

The Meeting of Waters / Encontro das Águas is located about 10 kilometers outside Manaus and you can get to the river by buying an all-day trip or by bus/taxi, and then by a boat.

Notice: There is no need to take the whole-day tour to visit Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Águas), as it's (in my opinion) a waste of time and money. Just get a local bus to the ferry terminal in Ceasa and get a private boat for about 20 R$, which is much cheaper.

Ariau Amazon Towers

The Ariau Amazon Towers is an amazing hotel opened in 1985 and located in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil, near the city of Manaus. There are some awesome rooms, like the one placed 110 feet up on a tree. Other houses are build between amazing rainforest flora, all connected by wooden bridges. There are also some swimming pools and an observation tower that stretch up 130 feet above the trees.

Ariau Amazon Towers. Source: ariauamazontowers.com

2018 Update: Unfortunately the Ariau Amazon Towers hotel is currently closed and I have no idea if it's possible to get there, even for just walk around.

Amazon River Trip in Manaus

Amazon River by Boat

Manaus city has no road connections to any big city, so if you want to get from here to other cities, you will have to take an airplane or a boat. Swimming through the Amazon River by boat can be a great tourist attraction, but remember that those trips take usually 3-5 days and you will end in a different city. If this kind of journey is not ok for you, just take a boat to see the Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Águas), which I described above.

But if you will decide to swim hundreds of kilometers by boat, you must remember about a few things. Forst of all, the boat will swim in the middle of the Amazon River, so it's not the best idea if you want to see a jungle from close range. Usually, the food is provided, but it can be not enough (for example just a roll with some butter and a coffee for the breakfast). There will be no beds, so unless you want to sleep on the deck, buy yourself a hammock.

Amazon River Boat Trip

So here are some useful tips if you want to swim Amazon River by Boat:

  • You must buy a hammock to sleep on it. You will probably be able to do this in the departing town. Remember also to buy two pieces of rope (about 1,5 meters each) to tie your hammock. Buy a sleeping bag or blanket, as it can get cold during the night.
  • Get some books to read, as the five days on the water can get boring.
  • Buy locks for your bag, just to make sure that your belongings are safe.
  • Buy some snacks, as the provided food can be not enough. Also, buy a jam or peanut butter for the morning breakfast (to not eat just roll with a butter).
  • Get your own coffee if you drink it, otherwise, you will have to drink powder coffee with a lot of sugar.
  • Get a camera to make some photos and binoculars for a sun protection.
Amazon Jungle Tour in Brazil. Source: Eli Duke / Flickr.

Amazon Jungle Trip

Well, this adventure is not for everyone. But if you will decide to go for an Amazon Jungle tour, you will definitely learn about a mystery and lush nature of the Amazon Jungle. There are many different trips, but usually, it takes around 5 days to get inside and outside the jungle, so it's a long trip and not too easy. I've found a tour where we started by getting a speedboat to the Careiro Village through the Meeting of Waters, so I've got two attractions at once.

It's not easy to describe the whole Amazon Jungle trip. After speedboat, we run a small bus for about an hour, then took another speedboat to get to the jungle. From there we get to the canoe to see piranhas, pink river dolphins, and other amazing fishes like Caymans. Our guide even caught one fish for us to see it closely.

Next, we had a treck to the jungle, we were watching exotic birds and our guide was explaining us the use of certain plants. We saw monkeys and a lot of... spiders. After that we were sleeping inside the Amazon Jungle, hearing nocturnal animals and the whole jungle nightlife. Out tour learned us many useful survival techniques. In the end, we've visited a local family home in the village to see their way of life in the jungle.

Amazon Jungle Trip in Manaus. Source: David Evers / Wikipedia.

The whole Amazon Jungle trip was amazing and I really enjoyed it. There were some hard times because of the air humidity and mosquitos, but after all, it's a great memory and an awesome story to tell! So, I can fully recommend visiting Amazon Jungle!

How to get to Manaus

Since there are no roads leading to Manaus, the only ways to get here are by airplane or by boat. There is a Manaus international airport which receives regular flights from almost every big Brazilian city. To get from the airport to the city, take a bus or taxi.

If you don't want to use airplanes, you can always get here by boat. There are many connections through the Amazon River, so you must search for the best one for you. Just remember that this kind of boat trip will take probably several days.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this Brazil and Manaus travel guide and my whole travel blog. Manaus is a wonderful city with many tourist attractions and interesting places, but it gets more interesting once you will leave it to see adventures on the Amazon River and Amazon Jungle. If you have any questions about the Manaus or Amazon river and jungle, feel free to leave me a message in the comments section below.

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!


4.92 | 13 votes
Comments: 3
  •   17th May 2018, 13:07

    A job well done! This is a beautiful piece. Trust me, the sky is your limit Boom Lift Rental In Pune

  •   6th June 2018, 10:51

    I wish I could visit Manaus, Amazon River and Jungle in Brazil one day - looks like a really great adventure. Your travel blog is great, cant wait to read more about Brazil travel guide. Thanks!

  •   20th June 2018, 16:50

    Wow, Ive always wanted to go to see Amazon River and Manaus. Great photos and very nice job writing this travel blog.

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