The Amazon is one of the most iconic and best-known areas of Brazil. It’s the river and the rainforest and the state of Amazonas covers a huge proportion of the country. Much of the Amazon is unchartered territory and unpopulated however the areas which can be visited are truly memorable.
The river stretches from Tabatinga, on the border with Colombia and Peru, and runs through to Belem and the mouth of the river at the Atlantic Ocean. Boats can transfer people and produce the entire length of the river, passing through Manaus, the main city of the Amazon, where most tourists will begin their journey to the area. Manaus is also where the Rio Solimões and the Rio Negro meet. These are the two main tributaries of the Amazon and they join just outside Manaus at a phenomenon known as the Meeting of the Waters. For 6 km the two rivers’ waters run side by side without mixing. The Rio Solimões is a brown colour while the Rio Negro is black. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Manaus and the same also happens near Santarém, with the Amazon and Tapajós rivers. Manaus is close to where most of the Amazon lodges are located and where most of the touristic boats depart for expedition cruises along the river. There are a variety of boats which venture, primarily up the Rio Negro, for cruises of between 3 and 7 nights in length, while for a more exclusive experience there are also some excellent private yachts for charter with full crew to enable you to path your own course. A trip on a boat enables you to see more of the river however usually the lodges offer more comfortable accommodation and there are a variety of excellent lodges to stay in. Whether you stay aboard a boat or in a lodge you will enjoy a similar experience whereby you will be taken into the forest, looking for wildlife and learn about medicinal plants, head out in small boats to explore the smaller tributaries of the river, search for birds, go piranha fishing, spot caiman at night, see pink dolphins and visit local communities.
If you are looking for more adventurous activities in the Amazon then there are exciting options such as kayaking trips, overnight trips into the forest, opportunities for tree-climbing for spectacular vistas over the canopy or even sport fishing for those river monsters. As you venture east from Manaus along the river there are major settlements at Santarém and Belem from where boat cruises also depart although the infrastructure isn’t quite so good. Close to Santarém is Alter do Chão which is best known for its Ilha do Amor (the island of love), a picturesque island ringed by a white sand beach directly in front of the town. With direct connections from Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo, make the Amazon an essential part of your trip to Brazil and explore this vast area of wilderness.