Manaus and the Amazon Jungle

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Nov 02, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , Estado do Amazonas,
Monday, May 25, 2009

Alriiiiiiighty then.... Venezuela = tick.

After 2 consecutive night buses, an interesting border crossing (involving a Britney Spears fan diva Taxi driver trying to break the land speed record with music blaring at 7am and an impromptu game of charades with immigration officials to descibe what we do for a living...apparently I am a manager, also being told that Angela is a "common" name in Brazil...of course she meant POPULAR though :-)), you pretty much get dumped at the border area by a Venezualan and then walk about 100m and then youre in Brazil! Then a random taxi journey with a friendly Brazilian and a 2 hour English lesson in Boa Vista, we arrived in Manaus and instantly love the place!

There is a cool vibe in the city (which is roughly the size of Joburg by the way), as we arrived on a Monday morning, close to rush hour and it felt so calm and quiet, nothing like the chaos in most Venezuelan cities. We found our hostel quite easily and it was really great, packed with other backpackers and felt like a big house share.

We took ourselves on a city tour seeing the Opera House which was built during the rubber boom which saw Manaus become what it is today. The street outside is rubber so that the horse carriages wouldn't make a noice late at night...pretty cool building.

Luckily there was an in house agency and we booked our jungle trip for the next morning. 3 days of hacking, sweating and trekking through unexplored Amazon jungle. Awesome! Along for the ride were 2 others, Carl from Sweden and Tomo from Japan.

We headed off after breakfast and got a 2 hour bus into the middle of nowhere, jammed onto a little boat and putted down the Rio Urubu, north east of Manaus. An hour or so later we arrived at our lodge, strung up our hammocks and then got into a smaller canoe for the rest of the afternoon. This was fantastic as the Amazon basin has been suffering from sever flooding (worst in 40-odd years) so the water level is much higher than it would usually be. We paddled into the 'swamps', which are flooded sections of rain forest. Effectively we were paddling through the canopy of the rain forest, about 10 meters above the ground. It was just like a nature documentary, pushing the branches aside to move deeper into the forest, ducking under low branches, watching for toucans and hummingbirds... All we needed was a good David Attenborough voice and the picture would have been complete!

We were treated to what would be the first of many epic Amazonian sunsets. Being in a completely remote location with only trees, river, clouds and sky gives the most incredible views of cloud formations and combined with the setting sun is truly breathtaking.

After supper, it was canoe time again - this time to try catch baby caiman (crocodiles). Again we paddled into the swamps and tried to spot the little guys by shining torches into the bushes and looking for their little red eyes in the water. We spotted a few and almost caught them but they were a bit quick for us unfortunately.

At sunrise we were shaken awake to go look for fresh water dolphins. We saw several, all hunting for fish in the cooler part of the day. Upon returning our want for a quick lie down in the hammocks was quickly unwanted when our guide pointed out a MASSIVE Bird Spider (called so because it eats birds) RIGHT next to our hammocks. Nice.

After a heavy downpour we saddled up and hiked into the jungle carrying only hammocks, food, water and clothes (and bog paper) and led by our guide and his machete. Every now and then he would stop and cut a piece of bark or pull some leaves off a bush and explain how they are used for jungle medicine. It is incredible that they have remedies for malaria, mosquito repellent, rheumatism, asthma, colic, liver and stomach problems etc.

We camped and cooked lunch (chicken and wild pig) on an open fire and made our own spoons and plates with wood from the jungle. Then went looking for wood to make blowpipes, and then the obligatory target practice, first at leaves, then each other :)

The last day (after another cooked feast for breakfast... the trend clearly doesnt end in the jungle) was spent hiking (or rather, hacking) through the jungle, literally chopping trees, ferns and bushes to make a path as we ventured into parts of the jungle no-one has ever been. Animal sightings are really rare here but we did see a group of macaws flying past as well as a very rare Harpy Eagle. The heat and mud were incredible, and we came out looking like you should after being dragged through the bush backwards, stinking, sweating, smelling, muddy and completely satisfied. 5 hours or so later we got back to the camp and made some crafts with the beads we picked up along the way. A further 2 hours back to the lodge for a shower, the most perfectly cold and glorious Coke known to man or beast, and then the boat/bus/taxi back to our hostel in Manaus.

At this point it is worth pointing out that Brazil is famous for its buffet restaurants where you pay per kilo. Yep. So getting back to the hostel (+- 9:30pm) entailed finding somewhere to eat. Thursdays are not good in our area, except for one such restaurant. However, this was not your average per kilo restaurant. It was a per kilo ICE CREAM PARLOUR! Yes moms, you can be horrified. Ang and I ploughed our way through half a kilo of ice cream, caramel sauce, cherries, sprinkles, smarties, merangue and just about anything else you can think of! (Yes moms, we did brush our teeth once the sugar rush had subsided.)

The next day we had booked our boat trip to Belem so spent the morning at a local animal sanctuary, which was rather disappointing as it was more like a zoo and not all that great. We did see manatees, electric eels and giant otters, but its not that nice peering at them in a cage, especially after we had just had a great jungle trip.

So, 4 and a half days of vegging out on a boat ahead...

Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
Amazon jungle
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stephancy on

Jungle Adventure
What an adventure -- When we meet up in December, you will have to relive it for me!! I jokingly wrote to your Mom about the takkie bags & said I pictured you wading through croc and/or paranha infested waters holding these aloft to protect the contents!!Take care. Love xx

sslement on

Tarzan and Jane!!
Your'e both very brave! I'm so happy to know there were no close encounters with pan-sized, hairy-monster spiders! Haha!
Lots and lots of love, Mom S XXX

theblakes on

Report from Jane
Tarzan and I had an AWESOME time in the jungle...the clothes we wore should be framed as exhibits! they were FERRIL when we arrived back!

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