I arrived in Manaus after a long ride on the Nelio Correa, Manaus is an interesting city, an isolated metropolis in the middle of the rainforest, which boomed during the 19th century thanks to rubber trade, and later had to be granted status of Free Economic Zone to subsist. Before embarking in a boat tour (what everyone comes to Manaus for), it’s worth exploring the city by foot, checking out sites like the belle epoque opera house.
I met 3 Americans in my hostel and we decided to join forces to hire a guide to take us to the jungle for a few days. Our first stop was Encontro das Aguas, where the dark Negro River and the brown Solimes River converge, and flow together for miles before really mixing. An intriguing natural phenomenon with further significance, as it is from that point on that the river is called Amazon. We continued upstream in our small boat, taking a break here and there to check out interesting sights, like the giant water lilies. We arrived to the “house boat” where we would sleep the first night and dropped our stuff. In the afternoon we went to fish some piranhas; it was easy and fun, especially seeing how they’d bite anything you put in front of them. After dinner (yummy grilled piranhas!), our guide took us in the canoe though the flooded rainforest. It was extremely quiet and extremely dark. At some point he stopped, jumped out and quickly disappeared in the darkness. We nervously joked about him not coming back. But he did, and he brought a baby alligator for us. We challenged him to find a bigger one, but that would have to wait for the next day…
For the second day, we decided to go deeper into the jungle and camp there. Our guide was very knowledgeable and showed us numerous animals while paddling or hiking on the few grounds that weren’t flooded. He would grab a branch and poke on a whole to get a tarantula out, cut the bark of a tree to get caucho out, and quickly make a rope from some leafs to climb to a tree and bring down a sloth! He prepared our hammocks and mosquito nets (showed us how to sleep with our arms crossed to prevent waking up with an anaconda digesting our arm), and made a huge fire to cook some chicken. Once it was dark and we had drank enough caipirinha, we went alligator hunting again. This time with a flashlight, we could see the red eyes of the reptiles when pointing towards the water surface; they looked like cigarettes. Our guide jumped out of the canoe and grabbed a small alligator, probably 2 foot long. We kept pushing him to bring a real one, so we he left… and came back with a 6-7 foot long alligator. Ok, we were satisfied and a bit scared; when I held it, I felt like it could rip off my arm any minute.
The whole experience was great, especially because my American trip mates were legit and our guide was awesome, wish I had written down his contact info to recommend him here.