April, 2016: While for many the Amazon conjures up images of an exotic wonderland teeming with wildlife, for me it’s more about spending time in an immense expanse of jungle bigger than most decent sized countries. After a fairly underwhelming stopover in the Amazonian capital of Manaus, we spent an awesome few days in the jungle first staying in a river lodge on one of the Amazon tributaries and then a night swinging in hammocks in the middle of the jungle. While it wasn’t the most intrepid jungle trip it was still a pretty sweet Amazonian adventure into the ‘lungs of the earth’.
Amazonian adventure: the meeting of rivers
Before getting into the jungle properly we first had to cross the mighty Amazon river, or more correctly the point at which the Rio Negro (the black Amazon) meets the Rio Solimoes (the white Amazon). Due to the difference in water density, pH, temperature and speed at which the two rivers meet, the darker water of the Rio Negro and the lighter water of the Rio Solimoes run side by side without mixing for around 6km. While bobbing around in a little river lancha it provided a moment to appreciate the grandeur of these epic rivers while also being quite visually stunning. It was a great start to our Amazonian adventure. Across the river and two hours drive further into the jungle we arrived at a tiny little river station from where we boarded another small speedboat and plunged deeper into the endless waterways until arriving at our river lodge.
Amazonian adventure: the depths of the Amazon
Over the next 48 hours a small group of us had the pleasure of experiencing both life on the river but also life in the depths of the jungle. We went piranha fishing at sunset, spotted sloths lazing in trees above the river and gaped in wonder as a pair of stunning red macaws flew overhead. We watched pink river dolphins cavorting in the evening twilight and had the pleasure of holding a cute little baby cayman. For our second day we were taken on a small hike through the jungle where we practiced our best ‘Tarzan’ swing from a vine (harder than it looks in the cartoon), ate grubs like jellied coconut and learnt how to make amazonian insect repellant by rubbing ourselves in crushed ants. Our hike ended at a little bush camp where we strung our hammocks and then watched while our guide cut down young sapling branches to thread chickens over an open wood fire rotisserie. That night after a few caipirinhas we piled into our dugout canoe and pushed out into the open water to watch the stars. For at least an hour we all lay back and took in the majesty of the jungle night sky while listening to the sounds of the Amazon around us. It was magic.
Another highlight of our Amazonian adventure was meeting one of the more courageous but super cool travellers of our trip in a deaf Aussie fella named Shane. Shane was in the middle of a similar south american adventure to ours but was doing it solo and without being able to a hear a single thing. Several times while walking through the jungle I tried to block my ears to imagine what it would be like for Shane and even for those few small steps I found the whole experience highly unnerving. I struggled to imagine what it would be like to be deaf for a few minutes and the idea of travelling for months like that was completely dumbfounding. Certainly one of the more impressive people we have met in a while!
With the end of Amazonian adventure came the end of our trip to Brazil. 51 days after entering the country with plans for a two to three week stay, we boarded a bus bound for Boa Vista and the northern frontier with Venezuela. Brazil had been absolutely bloody brilliant but it was time to move on. While slightly nervous about what the continent’s most unstable and seemingly dangerous country might bring, we were also pretty pumped for the adventure ahead.
Travel tips for an Amazonian adventure:
- We went with Iguana Tours (679 Rua 10 de Julho, Manaus) for our trip into the Amazon and would definitely recommend them. While it wasn’t the most intrepid trip, they picked us up from the airport when we arrived and our trilingual guide for the actual jungle adventure (Paulo) was amazing.