Brazil’s Piece of the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest stretches across nine South American countries, but Brazil keeps the lion’s share and has good opportunities for spotting wildlife. Amazonas is Brazil’s largest state and is mostly covered by jungle, however, its capital Manaus is a forward-thinking and modern City, in stark contrast to its wild surroundings.
The best way to experience the Amazon rainforest is to either visit a lodge and take day trips to explore, or to splash out on a cruise to cover a few locations over a short time. Whichever way you choose to experience it, you can be guaranteed it will be an unforgettable and truly eye-opening holiday unlike any other.
Manaus is situated in the centre of the Amazon Rainforest and is the capital of the Amazonas territory. Whilst the city itself is hot and humid, and fairly busy too, with a population of over 1.6 million, it’s not a bad place to spend a day en route to your lodge or cruise.
One big attraction here is the ‘Meeting of the Waters’ where two different coloured rivers meet and make the Amazon of what we know it today. There are many other ‘city’ things to explore in Manaus such as Mercado Municipal, a market based on Paris’s Les Halles. Don’t miss the National Science Museum, which has an intriguing display of local plant, bird and animal life. You probably wouldn’t expect to see an Opera in the middle of the jungle, but Manaus delivers a great little opera house with shows and tours of the building.
You’ll find a variety of waterfalls only a 3-hour ride from Manaus, Land of Waterfalls or ‘Terra de Cachoeiras’ is perfect for a relaxing day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Two of the falls stand out to travellers; Sanctuary and Iracema. Sanctuary is something out of a movie with its green scenic surroundings whilst Iracema offers a little bit more adventure, with decent sized swimming holes peppered throughout.
Wildlife, Wildlife and More Wildlife!
If you love wildlife, the Amazon is definitely the right place to be. It’s teeming with exotic and strange creatures and it has been estimated that only 30% of the animals living there have been identified, meaning the possibility of other species being discovered is very high.
Spot (or swim with) pink river dolphins, gaze at tree-hanging three-toe sloths and marvel at brightly coloured tree frogs. Take a jungle trek with an experienced local guide and find out how they spot these elusive creatures, while they teach you more about the delicate natural balance which exists here.
Fancy an early wakeup call? You can count on the howler monkeys to be your alarm clock, and if you head out at night, look closely and there may be one or two shining eyes looking at you. Caimans are known for keeping one or two eyes open whilst they ‘sleep’.
Incredible plant life
Take a cruise down the Amazon River and witness not just amazing wildlife to your side and above, but some intriguing plant life too. The giant kapok tree, creeping aroids, Brazil nut tree and around 80,000 other plant species vie for your attention in the Brazilian Amazon. So much so, that it’s difficult to find two plants of the same species within a few minutes’ cruise.
On dry land, you can feel like Indiana Jones on a jungle walk, become Alice in Wonderland sitting on giant water lilies and relive that scene from Alien as you spot epiphytes – an indigenous parasite species which has evolved to live solely off other plants.
Bird Watching In the Anavilhanas Archipalego
Made up of 400 islands and surrounded by dark waters, the Anavilhanas archipelago is a sight to behold. It’s a wonderful location for bird watching with Parrots and Hummingbirds and numerous Antbirds on show too. A great way to explore is by boat as you drift through the lines of each stripe of land, spotting otters playing in the waters and pumas and other predators lurking by the water’s edge.
Tips for travelling in the Brazilian Amazon
- You are of course in the rainforest, which means that most of the year it is hot and damp. Downpours are frequent and heavy so it’s a good idea to carry a change of clothes for those unexpected showers!
- Biting insects can be common in some areas so wear long sleeves and a good quality insect repellent containing DEET.
- Drink plenty of water as it's hot and humid most of the time.
- Follow the advice of your guide at all times, especially concerning wildlife. Never tempt animals with food.