From green jungle to urban jungle: the city of Manaus

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May 22nd 2015
Published: May 22nd 2015
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We are now back in Manaus, having left the lodge on the Rio Takuma Acu this morning. Our last full day there yesterday was excellent. We actually started the day by saying that we hadn’t seen as much wild life as hoped for. The jungle is teeming with life, but most of it is heard and not seen. Then, as soon as we had spoken, we saw four long multi-coloured lizards, several large black and brown split-wing butterflies and several vultures circling over the lodge. Sunshine after an early morning shower, brought thousands of insects, frogs, rodents and lizards out of hiding, so the vultures were looking for breakfast. We saw a really tiny black squirrel eating fruit on a tree outside our lodge and several squirrel monkeys playing about high up in the canopy. After lunch, we went for a walk and came across a whole troupe of Para cu Monkeys, but unfortunately we didn´t get any good shots of them. These monkeys are quite large and very woolly, with thick coats and long very thick bushy tails. The males are black and the females, who had several babies with them, were dark brown. We felt really privileged to find
"Why are you leaving?""Why are you leaving?""Why are you leaving?"

Wistful monkey!
them and because we were alone, just the two of us, they stayed around for quite a while for us to enjoy watching them. We got neck ache, as they were so high up in the trees! Para cu monkeys can cover over twenty kilometres each day, moving in large troupes high up in the canopy. We were really lucky to see them, but even with the camera lens on full zoom, our photos show them just as furry silhouettes! Some came down quite low and close to us, but they moved too quickly to capture. Just enjoying watching them, however, was a delight.

Later on, just before the light started to fade at about 5.30 p.m. we saw an enormous Toucan in one of the highest trees, from our veranda. He was magnificent, too far away for a good photo, but he looked awesome through binoculars. We discovered at the end of the day that there was a sloth living very near to our lodge, but it was dark so we couldn’t go hunting for him. Apparently, people often mistake him for a big termite nest, of which there are several, so maybe we have
Para cu monkeys, high up in the canopyPara cu monkeys, high up in the canopyPara cu monkeys, high up in the canopy

Rather fuzzy and furry silhouettes!
seen him but didn’t know it! Hopefully we shall see one next week. However, all in all, a most successful last day at the eco lodge.

We left the lodge at 11.30 a.m. this morning, by boat, chugging down the Takuma Acu, then into the Rio Negro to the city of Manaus. It seems quite incongruous, a city in the middle of the jungle and it really is quite distinct from its surroundings. The monkeys do not roam the streets, the vultures do not circle overhead and the noises are urban. In some parts of the world, jungle and urbanisation seem to melt into each other, for example, we saw several Macaque monkeys living on the streets of Kuala Lumpur amidst elegant modern buildings. This is because the Malaysian rainforest no longer exists, having been cleared for plantations of palm, for palm oil. We do not knowingly buy anything that contains palm oil. In Manaus, however, it is hard to remember that the jungle is right on the doorstep, but it is.

We have checked in for three nights at a central hotel, so we are getting a “fix” of civilisation before heading back to the jungle next week. The hotel is just around the corner from the Manaus Opera House, built in 1896 thanks to the wealth from the rubber trade. It is a magnificent building in a lovely square. All of the surrounding streets, however, including the one we are staying in, are not quite so salubrious. The pavements are lethal, with giant holes in them, lots of litter and greasy dirt, prostitutes selling their wares, manic drivers everywhere, noise and congestion. Just like many third world city streets then! One feels a bit vulnerable after dark, in fact, the green jungle out there is a lot safer than the urban jungle here. Incredible to think that England played here in the World Cup last year. Maybe other parts of the city are more “up market” than this downtown area. On the plus side, we are in walking distance of most of the city sights, so tomorrow we shall venture forth to “do” Manaus!

Additional photos below
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Opera House, ManausOpera House, Manaus
Opera House, Manaus

Built in 1896

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