Manaus, Brazil

One of the spectacular sights in Brazil is the meeting of black and yellow water from the Rio Negro (or “Black River”) and the Solimoes to form the Amazon (Rio Amazonas). This can be witnessed in Manaus, just 10 kilometers from the Solimoes. Rubber plants helped boost the economy of the place by trading latex but the gradual decline of the rubber business due to the sprouting of synthetic alternatives also led to the decline of the city.

One and a half million people are living in Manaus. Its strategic location in the middle of the Amazon rain forest made it ideal as a travel hub and a distribution center for the upper areas of the Amazon river. It has a thriving river harbor with river vessels that ply their way from here to every township along the great river. Besides being a major destination on the highway from the south, Manaus is also the furthest point along the Amazon’s deep-water channel. Huge ocean liners thus pass through the 2,000 km/1,250 miles upstream from the Atlantic.

A fortress where the city originated was built in 1669. But all is left is its ruins. But don’t despair as there’s the Jesuit church at the center of the city and harbor installations completed in 1902. The Mercado Adolfo Lisboa which is a miniature copy of the demolished Halles de Paris and built by Gustav Eiffel is an industrial sight to behold. Manaus can also be the starting point for programs to the Amazon in four directions. In the north is Presidente Figueiredo. In the south is Mamori, Juma e Janauacá. The national park Jaú and the Rio Negro in the east, and Rio Urubu in the west. Rio Urubu has rich vegetation and is composed of dense tropical forest or open forests.

There are wildlife and forest remnants to discover, and a lot more to see in untouched areas that usually take two or more weeks to reach. Five to ten locals get into small two-story riverboats with sleeping in hammocks on the lower deck. These boats are not recommended for tourists, instead, there are tour boats that carry 15 to 30 people which are more economical, accommodating, and comfortable. Larger boats that carry hundreds ply the river too but these don’t dock between ports.