World's Largest Biodiversity Region
In 1540 Francisco de Orellana a Spanish adventurer left Quito heading East in search of The Eldorado (Golden City). After crossing The Andes with great dificulty he reached the River Coca, where a brigantine was constructed. Then in December 1541, with 60 men, the journey started downstream over the rivers Napo, Jurua and Negro (named by Orellana). Frequent long periods of hunger on board where common mostly due to lack of knowledge about rain forest resources as well as massive hostile attacks by indians on canoes. Short after sailing over the Meeting of the Waters, they entered the territory of the Amazons. A skirmish with these warrior women allegedly occurred on June 1542. Although missing many men wounded deadly by poisoned arrows, Orellana’s expedition finally reached the open sea on 26 August 1542. Although Orellana never found The Eldorado he became the first white man who accomplished the first descent of the Amazon River, a truly ecological paradise.
Manaus, The Amazon main gateway
In the early years of the twentieth century the city of Manaus, capital of Amazonas, became very wealthy and the most important cultural centre in the Northern Region of Brazil. The old rubber barons dreamed of transforming it into a European style city and called it "the Paris of the Tropics". The architecture of the great mansions was a testimony to the luxury and ostentation in which their inhabitants lived.
A reflection of this period of opulence is to be found in the monuments of Manaus, such as the Amazonas Theatre, opened in 1896. Built with the aid of materials and artists brought from Europe, its central area, in the shape of a harp, can seat 640 people in the stalls. In 1965 it was declared part of the Brazilian national heritage and was reopened in 1996 after complete restoration.
The city also retains replicas of various English constructions, such as the floating dock for the port and the surrounding buildings. The Palace of Justice has traces of the French architectural style, and many buildings, such as the Municipal Market, were influenced by the art nouveau style.
Your scenic drive takes you through interesting buildings including the yellow colored Alfandega, the Customs House, built by the British in 1902. The city's finest residential district is lined with turn of the century mansions, which represent the great wealth of the people during the rubber boom. The finest example of architecture from the "Golden Era" of Manaus is the Teatro Amazonas. Newly renovated the theater is the city's opera house in all its belle époque splendor. Next visit The "Indian Museum" which houses an exhibit of artifacts, costumes, and weapons of the region's principal Indian tribes. Just out side the city is the "Military Zoo", where Amazonian wildlife can be seen. There will be many shopping opportunities for the local art and craft, during your visits to the Opera House, Indian Museum and Military Zoo. Please Note: The ambient temperature is always high, please dress accordingly and carry water with you.
Amazon River Cruise (Meeting of the Waters)
Take a one-hour riverboat ride up the dark waters of the mysterious Rio Negro. Here you'll see the huts of the ribeirinhos or river people, clustered on the riverbanks. For your comfort, your riverboat is fully equipped with restroom facilities and complimentary mineral water. You can also enjoy refreshments or domestic beer from a fully stocked cash bar; U$ dollars are accepted. Here the mighty Solimões and the Rio Negro meet and continue to flow together without intermingling, forming the Amazon River. Transfer from the river boat to motorized canoes as your Amazon adventure takes you deep into the wild through narrow, overgrown tributaries known as Igarapes. With interesting commentary from your guide, you will float through the Igapós, under the dense umbrella of towering trees and vines that add to the quiet mystery of this region. Please Note: Negotiating the Igarapes, Victoria Regia and Igapós are subjected to the river's water level.
Alligator spotting (evening tour)
Take a moonlight riverboat cruise into the dense jungle backwaters, where you'll cross a short ladder to a small, dugout motorized local canoe. Under the expert direction of your native guide, you'll glide silently into the flooded forest and its countless overgrown tributaries. Armed only with a flashlight, your guide will begin flashing a strong light on the river surface, until it catches the shining red eyes that look like rubies in the night!
Here your guide's dexterity really comes into play, as he attempts to catch the alligator with his bare hands and actually lift it out of the water for all to see. Unharmed, the young gator will be returned to the water. After the thrill of this incredible hunt, you will transfer back to the riverboat for your return to Manaus floating pier. For your convenience, your riverboat has restroom facilities, complimentary mineral water and
caipirinha drink. Also cash bar offering soft drinks and beer; U$ dollars are accepted.
A Day at Ariau Jungle Lodge
"Imagine a hotel built among Amazon treetops: catwalks 70 feet up leading from a great circular dining room of polished tropical woods, a bar like an eagle's nest, a honeymoon suite built 110 feet up a mahogany tree, and friendly monkeys, macaws, sloths, and parrots scampering, fluttering, and dangling all over the place."
Conde Nast Traveler, March 1996
"25 Extraordinary Places Worth That Extra mile"
Located up the Rio Negro, the Amazon's largest tributary, to the 370 islands and igarapes, pools formed by the ever-changing waters here. This archipelago is a naturalist's paradise that fascinated Jacques Cousteau. Slots, monkeys, exotic birds and wild orchids may be discovered here. Debark ship aboard a regional speedboat for a two-hour cruise on the Rio Negro to the Ariau Jungle Lodge. Upon arrival at the lodge a welcome drink will be served. After a guided visit of lodge, a lunch buffet will be served followed by time at leisure. The Ariau Jungle Lodge is a network of towers and wooden catwalks built 60 feet above the ground on huge stilts that allows you to appreciate the intense greenery and sounds of the jungle tree tops. You will see playful monkeys roaming freely about the lodge. Traveling by motorized canoes, venture through numerous Igarapes (small creeks) for a close-up look at the magnificent jungle scenery. During the tour, you will stop for walks and to visits to local native homes along the riverside. Re-board the speedboat for your return to the Manaus floating port. Notes: This is a strenuous tour and participating passengers should be in good health. Please note there could be a substantial amount of walking involved to the various levels of the lodge.
Jungle Nature Trek
Board a regional boat at the pier for a 45-minute journey along to the Rio Negro and the Guedes Lake. Upon leaving the boat at the wooden pier, you will be met by your experienced local guide. He has vast experience in jungle survival and will give you a 15-minute introduction to the rainforest and what you will walk through along the trail with luck you may see many exotic birds and even monkeys. Your guide will lead you through the trails for a close-up look at the jungle surroundings. During the walk, there will be several stops where your guide will show you how the natives construct animal traps, a shelter and how they find vines which contain drinkable water and much more. You will be on foot for about 2 hours. Re-board the boat for the return ride to the Manaus floating port and to the ship. Please Note: There is a substantial amount of walking on uneven jungle trails.
Being in the middle of the Amazon basin, the diversity of your surroundings is unforgettable - 200 foot hard wood trees wrapped by native vines, white sand beaches and over 1.500 species of flowering plant life. This is the best opportunities for world record peacock bass and more. You can see more than 1000 species of birds, butterflies, mammals and amphibians. Such as monkeys, sloths, anteaters, manatees, alligators, porpoises and even jaguars. An experienced Brazilian Fishing Guide who excels in taking you to the area where there are many large fish and the greatest top water fishing available in the world today.
Heat and skin protection
In the Amazon, the average temperature is around 28º C, with a maximum of 32ºC. A good sun block cream and a hat or a cap will provide enough protection. Besides, there is a high degree of humidity – remember you are almost at the Equatiorian line. Almost daily, around 16:00 a sudden 30-60 minutes rain – sometimes little storm - will refresh you. (mainly from November to April). On the other hand there is no pollution. If you are in the jungle lodge all you hear is the sound of nature ! ! ! Enjoy! At night it can be cold and sometimes you really do not need the air conditioning.
On Rio Negro River area, there are no mosquitoes. Because of the high degree of acidity in the water, the mosquito larvae can not develop, making this region ideal for tourism. On the boats mosquitoes are not really a nuisance during navigation, because of the air speed and also because they do not like to stay on top of water.
Nowadays they are difficult to be spotted. The experience guide will not let you stay very far behind the group. Snakes only attack if they feel threatened. So, if you spott one, keep calm and and make no move towards it. Also remember that most of the Amazonian snakes are not poisoned.
Terror movies used firstly sharks, then anacondas and piranhas...poor animals! Most of piranhas are just fruit eaters - catching those on the flooded forest. This tasty fish, you should try, can get mean only on the dry season when they get trapped on enclosed lakes where there is not enough food for them. Always check from locals about good places to swim before jumping into the water. Anyway you should always use bathing suits because of a small fish named
candiru that has the bat habit of trying to introduce itself on any small orifice.
Amazon Indian Nations represent around 200.000 individuals – there was probably 6 million, when the first white man arrived the Amazon basin in 1522. Those left were able to survive by keeping the farthest possible away from civilization. There is very little possibility that you meet them. Specially do not try to enter a Indian reservation without a permit because this is strictly against Brazilian law.
What guests should bring
We advise you not to bring too much. Recommended are T-Shirts (both long and
short sleeves), bermuda shorts, head cover, sunglasses, binoculars, flashlight, a camera with plenty of film in a waterproof container, batteries, sun protection products and waterproof insect repellent. We also advise a light sweater or pullover for cooler nights and a weatherproof windbreaker. We recommend walking or light shoes for the stay on board and for canoe trips. Don't forget your bathing suit, because swimming in the Rio Negro is a special pleasure after our morning and afternoon activities.