Down the Amazon River

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Brazil  , Pará,
Friday, March 10, 2006

Well one thing is for certain... I cannot speak Portuguese. I speak more like Span-guese or a Portug-ish combination of Spanish and Portuguese. The languages are similar but different enough that I can´t use it... yet. So for now, my travel buddy Boris does all the speaking and information seeking as it´s his first language. This sucks though, going back to square one with a new language and communicating like a 2 year old.

My next move was to make the 4 day, 800 some mile journey down the Amazon river to Belem, a large port city near the Atlantic coast. Boris and I bought our boat tickets in ´hammock class` but when we arrived, there was absolutely no space... people were hanging next to each other nuts to butts!!!!! They were on top of one another, across each other, in the walkways...everywhere; some 2 to a hammock. So we decided that sleeping in the shape of a banana and smelling a possible non-showering neighbor for 3 nights was not gonna cut it and we upgraded to a cabin with refrigeration like air conditioning. The trip down river was actually fun... the boat is big enough to move around and the top deck was outfitted with 2 huge speakers and a well stocked bar... Samba dancing and drunken Brazilians were the norm for the evening. It was also fun to watch the people that live along the river board the boat... they would hook one of the tires used as fender and get towed along in their canoe until they could tie off. Then they would get on the boat for a free lift and to sell food items and stuff. It was quite entertaining... especially when all there is to do is watch the shore go by, which in some cases was a couple miles away in both directions... the Amazon River is HUGE !!!!

While in Belem I did the usual city exploration and checked out a couple museums and the fish market. From here, I am well positioned to start making my way south... slowly of course but eventually to Argentina.
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jeffsadventures on

Amazon River Trip Info by Jeff
Hey Brian....the 4 day trip down the amazon was only the Manaus to Belem leg. I think there's only one place to stop off called Santarem on that section, but otherwise it's a 4 day journey on the boat. To go the entire Amazon river starting in Iquitos Peru, however, will be over 2 weeks for sure with stops in Leticia Colombia and Manaus. The trip from Leticia/Tabitinga/Santa Rosa ((the tri-border cities) to Manaus is another 4 days. I had to fly that leg to catch up with my friends and not miss Carnaval. So there's 8 days of boating right there before you've even stopped off anywhere. The trip from Iquitos to the tri-border is another 12 hours so that's a 9th day used up...all on boating down the river. From Belem, going south down the coast will take about a week solid on buses to get to Argentina. That's 4 to 7 days just sitting on a bus without stopping anywhere. I'm sure you will want to stop and see things. I don;t have any tips except to check the flight prices on GOL airlines when in Brazil...sometimes the plane was cheaper than the bus. I remember saving myself a 27 hour bus journey by taking a 2 hour flight...Salvador to Rio. I wrote this next section a while ago for someone else about traveling down the river. Pick out the info you need. Hope it helps.......have any more questions just ask. Happy to help. Ok, here's the river info...............
From Iquitos to Santa Rosa, Peru (the tri-border) there is a speedboat that takes 12 hours and costs $60 or $70. You will arrive in Santa Rosa Peru and go to the Police first, where they will make sure you aren´t wanted for anything, then you will get your exit stamp as normal at the immigration office. The offices are about 100 meters apart in different buidlings.

From here, return to where you got off the speedboat and take a little boat across the river to either Tabatinga Brazil or Leticia Colombia... they are practically one in the same but go to Leticia first and get yourself a place to stay. As long as you stay in the towns and don´t wander off for the interior, you do not need to get an entry stamp from any country yet and you can cross freely between all 3 borders. Leticia has the best restaurants, hostels and services and is a really pleasant and safe place. Tabatinga is Ok but has fewer services for toursists. Once you know where you are going for sure, you can get your entry stamp for Brazil at the Federal Police (on Avenida Internacional I think it was called ... the main street that connects Leticia and Tabatinga) or for Colombia at the airport. You will need a Colombia entrance stamp only if you plan to do a tour back up river in Colombia. Don´t worry about it if you know you are going to Manuas for sure. You can go several days without 'entering officially' either country.

Now, all you need to do is find a passenger boat to Manuas and this is very easy... just go to the port in Tabatinga and ask around for which boats are leaving for Manuas and when.... I can´t tell you the exact schedule other than they leave all the time and when they are full. You will be welcome to have a look on each boat as well if you want. Usually there are 2 hammock classes and cabins. Not sure what comfort level you want but that will determine the price. Avoid the lower class hammock space as it's really close to the engine and all the noise. 3 meals a day are included (the food was surprisingly good) plus unlimited drinking water. Booze, soda and snacks are extra and usually sold on the top deck. The top deck in the evening will be a fun party each night with drunken brazilians and Samba dancing (at least my boat did) as it had 2 huge speakers and a bar. Expect to socialize with the locals especially the friendly Brazilian girls. The trip will be 4 days and 3 nights.... 130 to 200 reais ($60 to $95 USD). This same info applies to the Manaus to Belem trip.

If you are in a hammock, guard your stuff carefully while the boat is docked anywhere along the trip. Anyone can walk on and just start taking things. Once the boat is moving, your stuff is safer but don´t trust your most important stuff to anyone. Cabins can be locked and only you and your bunk-mate will have the key. Oh one more thing, I think I failed to mention that you will need a Yellow Fever vaccination to enter Brazil officially. If you don't have it, just go to this little white shack on the Brazil side of the Leticia-Tabitinga border that says ... I forget exactly .. Ministerio do Saude or something like that in Portuguese ... the jab is FREE !!!!!!! It's easy to find, just ask. If you already have the shot, you will need to prove it to the Police when getting your Brazil entry stamp so take your vaccination card with you.

Have fun....Jeff

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