Information & Facts
The climate in the Amazon is fairly stable, with average temperatures of around 80°F (26°C) all year long. The year is divided into the rainy season, which lasts from December to June, and the dry season from July to November. Being close to the equator, the sun is strong and sunscreen is essential.
The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however Spanish and English are also used in the cities.
The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (BRL), plural reais. There are 100 centavos to the real. The US dollar is also welcome in most tourist establishments. In the main cities foreign currencies and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks or cambios. There is an extensive network of ATMs in the country and most major international credit cards are accepted.
The Amazon's attractions are few, if you're looking for bustling nightlife, luxury shopping trips, and fancy restaurants. If you're looking for natural wonders though, there are more things to see and do in the Amazon than one person could do in a lifetime.
The Amazon is one of the world's greatest natural wonders, home to 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 different kinds of birds and mammals. Scarlet macaws, jaguars, giant anacondas, poison dart frogs, piranhas, electric eels... the list is endless.
As a reaction to deforestation and climate change, the Amazon's tourist industry has started moving toward ecotourism, which benefits the local people while providing an unforgettable experience for visitors. The impact on the environment is always important to consider when travelling to undeveloped areas, and asking for sustainable options like non-motorised boats and trained nature guides can make a big difference.
Because the Amazon is so large, there are many different areas that are each fascinating and worthwhile in their own way. Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon, with around two million inhabitants. It is a great place to start in the Amazon, as you can find plenty of boat and land trips into the jungle from there. It has a variety of parks, beaches, a zoo, and the Amazonas Opera House. It will be a host city for the 2014 World Cup. There are a number of lodges within range of Manaus that cater for tourists, varying in quality.
Belem is much smaller, with beautiful colonial architecture dominating the sights. Belem has a number of interesting natural indentations and islands on its coast, and several bustling markets, including the Ver-o-Peso, and the Iron Market, both near the waterfront.
There are many protected area and national parks within the Amazon that provide great opportunities to interact with nature. Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve near Tefe is a protected area covered in swamp and flooded forest accessible by canoe. Its infrastructure is set up for ecotourism, including a unique floating lodge. Cabo Orange National Park is the only protected area of the Amazon on the coastline, so the flora and fauna there is slightly different. Infrastructure is lacking, but you can visit it from the nearby Oiapoque City. Cantão State Park has better facilities for tourists and an interesting ecosystem that transitions from plains to rainforest.
The sun is strong close to the equator, especially in the summer, so make sure to bring protection. Be careful not to take any plants, animals, or seeds out of the rainforest, as smuggling is a big problem in the region and the authorities won't hesitate to prosecute. The Amazon is rural and a very poor place, so don't expect to use credit cards out of the cities. Tourists are overcharged as a rule, but you are free to haggle most places.
Brazil spans four time zones: Rio and Sao Paulo: GMT -2 (GMT -3 April to October); Brasilia and Belm: GMT -3 (GMT -2 October to March); GMT -4 in the West.