The easiest way to get a quick and satisfactory experience of the Amazon begins with a flight to Manaus.
Manaus itself is an oddity, born from unreasonable dreams of industrialization (the city has initially developed as a Free Trade Zone and as an electronic industry centre). But modern Manaus has become a major travel destination; Manaus is the bigest gateway to visit the Amazon river and the rainforest, largely because of its location in the Amazon basin.
Local Amazon-Manaus tours
You don't have to worry about the organization of local Amazon tours.
Once in Manaus, you can easily arrange plenty of trips through your hotel and local agencies: visits to rainforest trecks, to caboclo settlements, to water lilies, or the meeting of the waters (a huge natural phenomenon, just a few miles outside Manaus: the birth of the Amazon river through the confluence of the waters of the Negro river - with its darker and much heavier waters with silverish waters of Solimoes river)...
Amazon Jungle Tours and the Weather Issue
Though humid and wet, the Amazon - as much of Brazil - is not as hot as often imagined, though there are very hot days in the drier season that can turn your Amazon tours less agreeable. Even so, average temperatures range from 23-33 C (73-92 F) and, near the river and other wet places, the temperatures can even drop significantly at night.
The average daytime temperature in the rainy season is in the mid-80 F (30 C), with a fall of 10 to 20 F (7 to 12 C) at night. In the dry season the average temperatures are 5 F (2-3 C) higher. Those are, of course, only references for central regions like Manaus.
Though precipitation varies significantly within the Amazon (near the Andean region, in the eastern zones of Amazon, precipitation is the double of Manaus region) it is usual to consider two distinct periods: the rainy season and the dry season.
In the central zone of the Amazon (Manaus) the rainy season begins in December and lasts till mid-May. The dry season involves the other months: June-November.
For other non-central regions the calendar should be anticipated (southern regions) or postponed (northern regions) one to two months.
See for more details: Best time to visit the Amazon/Manaus.
When to go: the best time to go to the amazon
July-September and December-January are the most popular periods, but only the first one is a good time, with significant advantages: less rain, less mosquitoes, easier observation of aquatic life in lakes and an excellent time for fishing or swimming.
The period December-January isn't such a good option, from a weather perspective: waterways are more clogged with vegetation (limiting access to wildlife zones), the forest life is less visible except for aquatic life in isolated lakes, and it's the rain season, with all its disadvantages: local heavy rains can greatly affect your tours to the forest and river.
See for more details: Best time to visit the Amazon/Manaus.
Do You need a guide? What are the risks?
How risky is travelling in the Amazon?
The answer is easy: as risky as you wish. Be tactful and reasonable, and your Amazon tours will not involve any special risk. You must follow some basic rules and respect your guide's tips and advices (you do need a guide for local tours in the forest).
Most popular Tours
- The meeting of the waters: Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes encounter, 5 miles/8 Km upstream of Manaus; the warmer and clearer water of the Negro river runs side by side with the silty waters of Solimoes, without mixing for miles, creating a spectacular scene.
- The beautiful river beach of Praia da Ponta Negra, near the Manaus downtown.
- The Salvador Lake and the Guedes Iguarape backwater forest; these are great places for fishing, swiming, walking in the forest paths, canoeing, looking for caimans at night, etc.
Other alternative jungle and river tours:
- visits to the Amazon/Negro river affluents.
- seeing the giant water lilies
- dolphin watching
- visits to native settlements (caboclos).
- jungle survival courses: orientation tips, how to build a camp, how to find food and water, make traps, make fire, cook the meals, put the hammocks
- jungle flora and fauna observation
- nocturnal observation of the alligators
Highlights in Manaus
Teatro Amazonas (or Amazon Opera House)
Custom's House: Square Adalberto do Valley
Palacio Rio Negro: Avenue 7 de Setembro
Museu do Indio (Indian Museam): Avenue 7 de Setembro
Salesian Indian Museam: Street Duque de Caxias
The port (or the Adolfo Lisboa Market, downtown), the docksides markets, bazaars and stores.
What do you need for your travel tours in the Amazon Personal and daily gear
If you are planning active Amazonian cruises or trips near Manaus (or elsewhere in the river and the rainforest), consider to carry the following gear:
- Rain gear, sun protector, insect repellent for jungle walks (the more the DEET the better), a flashlight, a camera and lens, plenty of film and extra batteries for your camera, binoculars, zip-lock bags, a hat with a wide brim or bill or large bandana
- extra pairs of shoes, extra pair of socks (two per day), lightweight cotton clothing (including long sleeve shirts and long pants), rubber thongs or similar, swim suits.
International amazon river tours
The Amazon river can be navigated by transatlantic cruisers from Belem (at the Amazon entrance) to Iquitos, a Peruvian frontier city 2200 miles/3700 Kms away from Belem and very far of Manaus.
Obviously, these big cruisers and liners are just one possibility among others.
4-6 days riverboat Tours
You can easily arrange long riverboat travels in Manaus (or Belem), namely the Manaus-Belem trip. This long riverboat trip offers moments of exceptional beauty and is a great way to experience the immensity of the forest.
Just take into account possible disadvantages:
- these tours last four to six days. Factors like the weather and local factors may extend its duration.
- take into account the type of boat; traditional small Amazon boats do not offer toilet facilities (they are improvised) and passengers have to sleep in hammocks.
- the voyage, though cheap in itself, may collide with international round-trip flights and the savings that those flights would afford.