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Published: June 19th 2011
We arrived at the Manaus airport at 3.00am after a bit of a milk-run, stopping at Belem which is at the mouth of the Amazon and Santarem which is due west of Belem.
We were to be picked up by someone from the Hotel but this was not to be! It was obviously too late for them. We caught a ‘taxi’ which did 100kms per hour down a main street. The hotel was not my best choice but the bed was clean and the room had air-conditioning and it was only going to be for ½ a night. The next morning after a cold shower (which was very refreshing in 32 degree heat and 90% humidity) we found a place for breakfast and practiced our Portuguese and hand language (!) which all worked well.
We then decided we needed another bag as we were only taking a light bad with us on our 4-day Amazon adventure. So we started walking and on the advice of a young girl in the tourist office which we visited, we started walking. We soon found her sense of timing was not accurate as
we walked for 45 minutes. We stopped at a McDonalds we came across and had a grande Coke zero each and then decided to catch a bus. Within 5 minutes we were there but found it was not the correct shopping centre so walked for another 10 minutes. Hot work!! All was well and we found a suitcase and then had a light fruit lunch.
We were then pros at catching buses in Manaus so we returned to Centro where a bags were waiting for us. We were picked up by the travel company at Brazilian time (3.30pm instead of 2.30) and we were then off to an Amazon village. Alexander (Alex) was our guide. He was originally from English Guyana but has been working as a guide in the Amazon for the past 24 years. We dropped our bags we weren’t taking to the Village, at the tour company’s office and they dropped them off at our new hotel when we returned to Manaus.
We drove to a food port and jumped on a speedboat. Another couple from Germany were with us also. They spoke pretty good English
but we found that at the village, they went with a German-speaking guide rather than with our English speaking guide.
Off we sped and we said to each other “we are on the mighty Amazon River”. After about 30 minutes we stopped and we finally saw where the 2 rivers meet – the River Negro and the Amazon River. How we could tell was that the River Negro was black and the Amazon was a light brown. 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.
The Amazon was bringing silt down from the Andes in Ecuador and Peru. The Negro River was the color of strong tea, peaty brown because it had all the forest nutrients in it with a pH of 4.3, temperature of about 28 degrees and was flowing at a slow rate of 4-6 kms per hour. This is unlike the Amazon which is cold and flows at about 8 or more kms per hour. Because of these differences, this meeting of the
rivers is unique and one could see the line of black and ‘white’ water, which goes for several kilometres. Quite amazing.
After about 1 ½ hours we arrived at the Village. We were welcomed with a fruit juice and taken to our rooms. There is no electricity out in the Amazon villages (which also meant no internet or mobile phone). All power was battery and candles. Our room was lovely, the restaurant, bar and recreation areas were fantastic. The food during the 4 days was scrumptious with plenty of fruit, fresh fish, beef, vegetables and constant tea and coffee supply. Eggs were standard for breakfast. We had a good supply of drinks but this was certainly icy-cold beer territory.
This authentic jungle lodge located in the heart of the tropical rain forest of Brazil offered us guided tours and excursions. The Amazon Village Jungle Lodge is a remote and exclusive lodge classified as "Special Ecological Lodging" by Embratur - The Brazilian Tourism Bureau. The Village consists of a central "open air" lodge surrounded by 21 bungalows, all the bungalows are attractively designed with local wood in the native
maloca style and discretely integrated into the surrounding of the local Jungle.
We met some wonderful and interesting people from England and Canada while we were there. We ended up sharing the meal tables with them and the 6 Germans shares a table as 4 of them couldn’t speak English. There were only about a dozen people at the Village. In many ways it was similar to the Amazon Village we stayed at on the east side of Ecuador.
After a shower we had the best beer!!!! This was when we met 2 English blokes. Soon the others joined us. The evening was balmy – beautiful. We decided this was going to be our R&R as we could see it was going to be very relaxing.
In the Amazon Region, 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. 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, so we only saw birds, a large spider, a monkey and 1 inch ants. 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.
Our trip was focusing on the northern region.
After a wonderful sleep on the 1st night, after the 4 hours sleep we got the previous night, we went in a long-prop boat and went piranha fishing. It was beautiful pottering down the very wide Negro-Amazon tributary with a gentle breeze blowing. One the way, we stopped at a little village to drop someone’s camera batteries off to be charged. The villagers charge $R10 for this service.
The water was still high from the wet season. All the trees’ trunks were at least 1m submerged. The boat turned into the thick vegetation and in a small clearing, we stopped and our guide gave us
a rod which was made from a branch, with fishing line and a hook, loaded with red meat. We dropped the line over the side and soon we got nibbles. Then 2 of us (me being one) pulled in 15 cm piranha fish. So they were quite small, but those teeth were razor sharp. We moved our fishing spot twice when we all stopped getting nibbles. All in all, we caught 6 piranha fish and 1 cat fish between the 7 of us. Tom was disappointed he didn’t catch any but had many nibbles.
We then travelled by boat to a family’s home on the banks of the river and they cooked the fish for us to eat. The flesh was white and quite tasty. We washed that down with juice from a whole coconut.
Later in the afternoon Alex our guide took us on a jungle survival walk for 2 hours.
The next day we said goodbye to 12 people who had arrived at the Lodge before us and we then went jungle trekking with a young Japanese man and another German couple, all of whom arrived
at the Lodge the day before.
On the morning of the third day, we hopped into a locally made wooden boat, which became our standard mode of transport. It was so beautiful, putting down all the tributaries, mostly in the shade of the trees. We were always on the lookout for birds, interesting plants and special features of the jungle. During our time in and around the village, we saw orchids, many tree species, flowering trees, large spiders, a pair of big vultures, a big green iguana and a variety of other birds, and a sloth high up in one of the trees (along with the caiman on the 1st night). Fantastic! The only animal we didn’t see was the pink dolphin.
We saw the sloth on the last afternoon of our Amazon adventure. This was when we went for another boat trip to look for more of the local fauna and learn more about the jungle. The idea was also to visit some local villages which we did. We learned the great advantages of President Lulu’s policy initiatives, one of which was every household will have electricity. The
village we visited had a big celebration the previous weekend to celebrate 12 months of having electricity.
This was the village I was also bitten by fire ants. Wow, I know now why they want to eradicate them on Brisbane. That village also had a good supply of fruit trees, ducks, chickens etc. They were also making a new boat.
Each afternoon we were at the Lodge, it rained – and reminded us of Darwin in the 70s.
We also had a swim in the Amazon (Negro which was quite warm.) The Lodge only had cold showers but with 34 degree heat and high humidity, it was very refreshing once you got under the shower.
We returned to Manaus, on a slower boat than what we were taken out on. We launched at a small village and we met by a van which dropped off at the Manaus Hostel. This hotel is owned by an Australian and with deservedly good reviews in the Trip Advisor.
The whole 4 days experience was really interesting, restful (Tom had a
sleep each afternoon and I even had a nap one afternoon!!!) and we saw all the things we wanted to see.
So when we said goodbye to the staff of the Village, we certainly had a lot to thank them for.
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