Think of Brazil and you think of the Amazon, the vast river which dissects the north of the country. The Amazon though is far more than just a river.
It is a huge area of rainforest and waterways covering six of Brazil’s states stretching from its mouth at the Atlantic at Belem all the way to the Peruvian, Colombian and Bolivian borders. A journey along the length of the Amazon is the stuff of adventurers, boat-hopping and spending a couple of weeks in a hammock. If this appeals then it is something we can arrange, however there are many other ways to explore the Amazon and get up close to nature in differing levels of comfort.
Contrary to common belief, the Amazon is not the best place to see wildlife in Brazil. Although the rainforests teem with wildlife it tends to stay out of sight yet nevertheless the area is one of the world’s most iconic destinations. We can arrange jungle lodge stays, journeys by river boat and indigenous visits as ways to explore the area giving you the chance to get under the skin of this immense area and the chance to see local communities, pink river dolphins, piranhas and much much more.
Manaus is a natural starting point for tours into the jungle. The Amazon rainforest is largely low-lying, much of it being periodically flooded and the main transport is by boat. Tourists also use this means to get to know the exuberant vegetation and diverse wildlife of the region, home to a tenth of the world’s 10 million recorded species of living things. Among them are 2000 species of fish, 8600 species of bird, 1800 species of butterfly, 50,000 higher plant species and countless species of insects.
If you think you will only visit the country once, then make the Amazon an essential part of your holiday to Brazil.
A number of jungle lodges are specially designed to offer the opportunity to encounter nature close at hand. The best lodges are Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, Mirante da Gaviao and Juma Lodge, all of which are roughly three hours from Manaus whilst other lodges, such as Amazon Eco-Park, can be reached within an hour. The lodges generally offer greater comfort, many with swimming pools, but also enable you to stay overnight in the jungle if you are on a longer stay and looking for more excitement.
For the more adventurous, boats can take visitors further upstream: The upper Rio Negro leads to the spectacular Anavilhanas Archipelago and the Jaú National Park, whilst the Rio Solimões is the route to the Mamiraua Jungle Reserve near Tefé and Peru. Most cruises tend to range between 3 to 7 nights in length and focus largely on the tributaries of the Rio Negro. The best boats tend to be the Iberostar Grand Amazon, the Tucano and the Premium Clipper while if you are looking for something more exclusive then we can also provide private yacht charters with a full crew, guide and chef.
Lodges and boats both offer a similar experience in that you will visit local communities, search for wildlife, fish for piranhas and explore the forest.
The main difference is that the lodges arguably offer greater comfort and also more flexibility as you can check in any day of the week and stay for as long as you would. Contrast this to the boats which have fixed check in dates but enable you to see much more of the rainforest and truly appreciate the river too.
There are essentially two seasons in the Amazon, the rainy season and the dry season.
The rainy season runs from mid-December to mid-May
In the rainy season the temperature is a bit cooler than the June-December dry season, though overall there is only a five-degree average temperature difference between months. The average daytime temperature in the rainy season is usually in the mid-80’s [F] with night time lows in the mid 70’s to high 60’s. In the dry season the daytime temperature can go up to the mid-90’s though there is much variability and cool days are common. Night time temperatures during the dry season are usually in the mid-70’s, though there are also some very cool nights.
Advantages of the rainy season
Even though it does rain more this time of year, it is also true that many plants have evolved to fruit and flower during the rainy season, which attracts birds and primates to the water’s edge for us to observe.
Advantages of dry season
The dry season has some advantages too. The weather is dryer but more importantly, the lower water attracts some kinds of creatures that are not as commonly observed in the rainy season. The dry season is a time when the levels of most of the rivers in central Amazonia begin to drop, showing sanding beaches. This is a time of beach nesting birds like Black Skimmers and various Terns, and the time when turtles nest. When the waters are at their most shallow, in November through January, it is sometimes possible to see millions upon millions of migratory fish in the shallows laying eggs. These fish attract every type of tropical fishing bird including large storks and spoonbills. The Amazon’s crocadillians, Caiman are also much in evidence as they nest in the dry season to take advantage of the abundance of fish.
Are there lots of mosquitoes?
No, not really. Only a few mosquitoes can be found in the regions close to Manaus, due to the acidity of the Negro River water, which makes reproduction difficult. On the boats and in the jungle lodges, rooms and open areas are screened. Even so, repellents are recommended as Yellow Fever and malaria are present in the Amazon.