There is nowhere in the world like the Amazon, when it comes to diversity of wildlife it holds and the rainforest that surrounds it.
A review at Tripadvisor stated, “If you really want to play Mowgli or Tarzan once in your lifetime, the Amazonian forest in Brazil is the right place.” No tropical rainforest in the world is bigger, no river in the world more impressive. The Amazon accounts for nearly half of Brazil’s total area, and covers nine countries and is roughly the size of Australia. At approximately 6,400 km, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world, just slightly shorter than the Nile. The Amazon has over 3,000 recognised species of fish and new species are still being discovered. The region is home to pink dolphins, giant air-breathing fish and endemic species such as uakaris, better known as ‘English monkeys’ for their shaggy white fur and beetrootred faces.
Experience the jungle by boat
The best way to experience the Amazonian jungle and its massive waterways – the Amazon and its numerous tributaries and distributaries – are by boat. Trained guides can be hired by individual travellers, as well as larger groups. They will allow you to cruise along the unknown, deep waters, and spy into the dense rainforest. Many native villages find themselves on the banks of the Amazon, giving travellers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of their lives and communities, while not infringing upon their privacy. These tours may last for a day, or can be packaged to encompass several days for a more detailed exploration of the area. Generally, a typical trip to the Amazon includes spending three to seven days at a lodge in the forest (or on a river boat) that serves as a base for daily hiking, canoeing and animal spotting. The newer activities include tree-climbing tours.
Besides the adventures of the forests, there are many other reasons to visit the Amazon. To dwell into some history and architecture, head to Teatro Amazonas or Amazon theatre, an opera house located in Manaus, in the midst of the Amazon rainforest. It was built during the heyday of rubber trade using materials from all over the world, with furniture from Paris, marble from Italy, and steel from England. On the outside of the building, the dome was covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colours of the Brazilian national flag. And it is interesting to know that the first performance was given on January 7, 1897, with the Italian opera La Gioconda. The opera house was closed down soon after, however, as the rubber trade declined and Manaus lost its main source of income. It remained closed for 90 years until 1990 when it reopened its doors.
In addition, Centro Cultural dos Povos da Amazonia is one of several worthwhile museums in Manaus, with a collection of indigenous artifacts. Estacao das Docas in Belem has restaurants, shops, an art-house theatre, a brewery and live music, all in the restored shipping docks. Also ‘rubber tours’ are organised here which provide a glimpse into the conditions of working Amazonian rubber-tappers.
Keeping realistic hopes
Despite the abundance of wildlife, animals can be hard to spot in the Amazon. You are sure to see myriad of birds, including parrots and toucans, as well as caimans, piranhas, and dolphins. Monkeys and sloths are common in protected areas, but the chances of spotting them elsewhere are hit-or-miss. It is unlikely that you will see animals such as jaguars or anaconda. The same goes for “untouched” indigenous tribes, who live in remote areas whose access is tightly controlled by Brazil’s government.
Getting to Manaus from India would involve a stopover either in Europe or the United States. It is a long haul, with shortest flights being 28-35 hours, with at least two stopovers. Manaus has, however, direct connections with Lisboa in Portugal, Miami in the United States and of course from Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. You can also get there by boat from anywhere on the Amazon, including Belém and Porto Velho, but be prepared for a long trip (two to five days).