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Welcome to The Amazon

The Amazon

The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rain forest. It is drained by the huge Amazon River and more than 200 of its tributaries. There are many Amazon tours and cruises you can experience. Get away from civilization and enter this vast jungle with many ecosystems, wildlife, plants and tropical rainforests. Most tours start from Manaus, at the very heart of the Amazon wilderness at the confluence of the rivers Negro and Amazon.

The city’s enormous wealth came from the exportation of rubber in the late 1800s. Booming again as the centre of a rapidly developing region, the city still boasts its old-world mansions and monuments – now set among skyscrapers. The most fantastic of all the relics is the opera house that cost US$10 million to build - its Italian marble, English porcelains and French furniture were transported on returning rubber ships. The seasons in the Amazon follow a distinct pattern. Instead of winter and summer it is the high waters and low waters that dictate activities. The water begins to rise in November and December, reaching its highest levels from March to June. From July to September the waters begin to ebb, reaching their lowest level in October and November.

The Rio Solimoes is a powerful navigable stretch of river that enters Brazil from Peru, just above the city of Manaus. Close to the city, the light brown muddy river meets the Rio Negro with its darker waters and the two converge to form the mighty Rio Amazonas, which flows through Brazil to the city of Belem.

Manaus is the gateway for excursions into the jungle and river system, situated as it is in the middle of the forest. From the city, scores of operators run day trips and longer boat tours for visitors wishing to experience Amazonian flora and fauna and meet the 'caboclos' (residents of the river towns). The city itself does not have many attractions, apart from some interesting buildings like its opulent and famous opera house, which dates from the height of the rubber boom in 1896. As the commercial hub of the state of Amazonas, it is very busy, with a noisy and crowded port and several bustling markets.

Belem is the other major starting point for Amazon exploration with its busy port, small airport, and bus station. Located on the coast, it has a large number of indentations, estuaries, and islands that can be worthwhile to explore. It has a few scenic buildings as well, but more interesting are the markets near the quay.

The Amazon lacks a good tourism infrastructure in the form of good hotels and reliable transportation, but ecotourism is gaining in popularity there, and contributing to the enrichment of the local peoples.

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.

This vast forest reserve, covering more than 39 square miles (100 sq km) to the east of Manaus, provides tourists with the opportunity to discover what lies beneath the dense Amazon rainforest canopy. The park building complex hosts plant nurseries and an exhibition of the woods of Amazonas, as well as a library and restaurant. A network of trails has been created in the forest, and local youths are trained and employed as guides to direct visitors along the paths.

This park, an hour by boat from Manaus on the Rio Negro, provides a taste of the Amazon experience with its 9,000 acres of dry land forests, lowlands and flooded forest (known as igapos). Day package trips are available from Manaus including lunch in a typical regional restaurant and a visit to the area's other main attraction, The Meeting of the Waters. Daytrippers are also taken on a canoe trip on the lakes and streams. Lake Janauari Park has abundant examples of the famous Amazon Victoria-Nympheaceae water lily that spreads its round leaves, measuring up to seven feet (two metres) in diameter, on still shallow waters. The flowers, which start out white and turn mauve then dark red, only last three days.

Where the dark waters of the Rio Negro join the lighter muddy waters of the Rio Solimoes a natural phenomenon is caused: the separate shades of water run side by side for a length of more than four miles (6km) without mixing. The separation is apparently caused by the difference in temperature, density and flow rate of the waters from each river: Rio Negro travels at about a mile (2km) per hour with a temperature of 72ºF (22ºC) while Rio Solimoes flows at between two and four miles (4-6km) per hour with a temperature of 82ºF (28ºC). This phenomenon has become a major tourist attraction in Brazil, best accessed by taking an hour's journey by boat from the floating docks in Manaus.

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