We finally arrived in Manaus at around midnight and caught a very fancy taxi (probably the nicest car weÂ´ve been in in the last six months!) and arrived at our hotel about half an hour later. We picked the hotel, Hotel Continental, from the Lonely Planet as per usual, based on itÂ´s description as Â´a good value for Manaus, with amiable staff, big air-con apartamentos, hot showers and a fine breakfastÂ´. Well, the LP let us down this time. The room was skanky, the a/c barely worked, there was definitely no hot water and the mozzies were plentiful. We didnÂ´t hang around to see what the breakfast was like! We headed out early that morning to try and book a tour to the Amazon for the following day and find somewhere else to stay and were greeted with a number of tour agents who had been waiting for us to get up! The first tour we were offered was a little expensive and consisted of little that we actually wanted to do (like go to an “Eco” park, which is their word for a petting zoo) but the second tour agency that approached us was recommended in the LP (Iguana
Tours) so we headed over to his office and were sold a tour. He also pointed us in the right direction of a good hotel, Hotel Rio Branco, right next door where we got a nice mozzie free room with a/c, a good breaky, friendly staff and was cheaper than the previous place! That afternoon we took a stroll around Manaus and werenÂ´t really too impressed with the place. The main square with the Opera house was nice and clean and quite European with a number of little restaurants around it where you could eat outside. However, the rest of Manaus that we saw seemed to be dirty and crowded with markets and people. We headed down to one market again recommended in the LP, the Mercado Municipal - Â´a cast-iron, Art-Nouveau wonderÂ´, but it seemed that the building which housed the market was closed for refurbishment or something so the market was out on the street and nothing special unless youÂ´re after some every-day products. It was set on the waterfront so we wandered around there for a while watching people fish for piranhas in the Rio Negro (which is as itÂ´s names suggests, black) but soon headed back
to the hotel walking through some areas and other markets that werenÂ´t the nicest. That evening we headed to an Italian suggested in the LP which wasnÂ´t bad compared to the other restaurants weÂ´d seen around .
The following day we headed out on our Amazon trip. We were picked up from the hotel just before 8 that morning and were driven to the ferry. Here we met our guide and caught the ferry which took us past the meeting of the two rivers that joined to make the Amazon, though our guide was sitting at the other end of the boat (not that he could speak English anyway) so this wasnÂ´t actually pointed out to us. About 20mins later we arrived the other side of the river and caught a local bus which we sat on for about 45mins before we got off at a tiny little village where we then got on a small boat after another 20min wait. By this point we were pretty sure that weÂ´d been taken for a ride (literally!) and that it was a bit of a bodge job. We motored down this river for about 45mins-1 hour stopping three times so
our guide could run errands (once at his home where he sat down and peeled some vegetables, looked at some photos of half naked girls from some party and then we left!). We finally arrived at the Â´lodgeÂ´ at about 10.30am where we met a very cheeky little monkey who had a liking for Dani, had a bite to eat and then headed off in an ever smaller boat with a guy who spoke even less English to go piranha fishing. Dan enjoyed the fishing, though once heÂ´d caught his first fish we were rushed back to the Â´lodgeÂ´ stopping on the way to see both the grey and pink dolphins and to drown a sloth (the poor little guy was shaken out of his tree, which the guide climbed up like a monkey, so that he fell in the water with a splash that soaked us two and just lay there looking helpless until the guide rescued him, tried to put him back in his tree, which he fell out of again and in the end the little guy just swam away! Dan and I werenÂ´t too impressed!). Back at the lodge we met up with another group whoÂ´d
been on a tour and staying there for the last five nights. We had lunch with them before starting the journey back. On the return journey we did get to see the meeting of the waters and the start of the Amazon as weÂ´d at last been joined by an English speaking guide! That evening we went to the main square for dinner and enjoyed a couple of massive pizzas sitting outside listening to the most awful musician.
The following day we left for the Cuiaba on an afternoon flight. That flight was delayed by a couple of hours as was our next one at Brasillia. This was beginning to get a little tedious but Dan didnÂ´t seem to mind too much as Phil Scolari happened to be waiting for the same plane as us so Dan got his autograph, asked him if heÂ´d be England manager (which he said Â´maybeÂ´ to) and then spent the rest of the evening going on about him!
We arrived in Cuiaba about midnight and caught a taxi to our hotel.
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