Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest, where to begin. Well first of all, this is Jessica writing! Luiz was not able to go on this trip with me due to work so I flew solo (aka just with a few friends from my school here in Brazil) so this trip will be just about my experience!

My trip started after a decently long flight to Manaus, AM which is about 4.5 hours away. Manaus is the capitol of the state of Amazonas and its name means the "mother of the gods". Manaus is a large industrial center and port that was once the center of the world's rubber industry. Now more known for its title as the Gateway to the Amazon or City of the Forest, Manaus serves as the passageway for many tourists and adventurers looking to start their journey into the biggest rainforest on Earth.

Flying into Manaus all you see is the rainforest, no lights (since I flew in at night), no cities, nothing but trees and winding rivers as far as the eye can see. When three of us (the others took an earlier flight) arrived at the airport we found our bags and waited outside for our tour provider to pick us up and take us to our hostel for the night.

  • We used the Amazon Backpackers Tour and they went above and beyond all expectations.
    • Our guide, Conrado Farias, is an extremely experienced and knowledgeable guide having led many survival-training expeditions all around South America. He made this trip really fun, interesting, and academic with all of the knowledge and experience that he shared with us. We could not have been happier having him as a guide as he quickly become one of our friends on the trip.
    • My recommendation: I HIGHLY recommend this tour company! The tour we took was 6 days long and although I missed technology, plumbing, etc. I still am dreaming of the day when I get to go back. The price is very reasonable considering that it includes everything that you might possibly need (food, lodging, water, experienced multilingual guide, transportation, etc.) except for your hostel stays before and after your tours start and your airfare to and from Manaus. I would also recommend requesting Conrado if he is available. I am not sure how the other guides were (I am sure they were knowledgeable and experienced too) but I know the Conrado was fantastic and definitely who I will request should I get the chance to go back.
    • Their promotional video on youtube. The first guy in the video is the owner, he is the one that picks you up from the airport and is so friendly! The second one (the one pointing at the map) is Conrado, the tour guide that we had.
Our first day in Manaus we woke up early (7am), had a great breakfast at the hostel, packed up what was necessary for our time in the rainforest, and we headed out. To get to their lodge in the rainforest, you have to take a boat across the meeting of the two rivers. From there you get a jeep ride for about one hour to their canoe launch point. And then from there you have yet another hour or two by motorized canoe. The whole ride there is absolutely spectacular and your first glimpse of the beautiful, vast Amazon Rainforest.
When we arrived at our lodge, we spent some time getting situated before lunch was ready. Their lunches are all very good and have many options. Usually there is at least one plate of freshly caught fish, a plate of chicken or beef, salad, freshly picked exotic fruits (and not exotic like pineapple and mango), and rice. After lunch, we sat around and hung out some more, some people took naps on their hammocks while others checked out the area around the lodge. In the mid-afternoon, we went for our first hike inside the Amazon Rainforest. It was a little over an hour long hike which may not seem like a lot but since we were still getting used to the ridiculous amount of humidity and heat it was plenty for a first day.
The lodge
 Our beds for the remainder of the trip
 Canoeing to our first hiking spot

Although it is hard to say what we did on which day, after two nights in the lodge we packed up our things and headed about 3 hours deeper into the Rainforest to camp out under the stars. We spent our time fishing, caiman spotting at night, hiking, learning about survival, learning about the traditions of the native people who call the Amazon their home, and canoeing around to see as much as we could possibly see. 
Our longest hike of the trip, an entire afternoon spent looking for the flora and fauna of the Rainforest, learning about the different plants, and my personal favorite, following closely behind a group of Howler monkeys.
 Trying the sap of this tree that tastes like Spearmint gum! 
 Climbing up the vines of this tree was fun but also really hard work.
 I don't know how Conrado spotted this little frog but it came as no surprise since he was continuously finding new things to show us the entire time we were there.
 The flora in the Amazon Rainforest is both beautiful and dangerous. We learned about the medicinal purposes of many plants but we also learned how to spot some of the more deadly ones. 
 These little maggot type things are found in a large nut. If you can crack it open they are supposedly a very good source of nutrients and will help with your survival should you find yourself stranded.
*Yes, we did all try one*
 Here, we found the remains of a Jaguar's meal. He must have been really hungry to go hunting this large of a Caiman.
 Arts and craft time in the middle of the rainforest.
 We learned how to make crowns, grasshoppers, backpacks, anything you can think of.
 Late one night we went Caiman spotting. It was somewhat frightening to sweep the light from your flashlight out over the river and just see dozens of eyes reflecting the lights. Although we were all a little on edge being separated from the Caiman only by our wooden canoe, Conrado jumped right in and grabbed a Caiman with his bare hands right out of the river. The one pictured above is the smaller of the two that he plucked out of the water. This one managed to escape and run wild around the canoe during his photoshoot causing panic meaning, everyone was shrieking like little girls while standing on top of the canoe bench until the caiman was safely back in the water.
 How all of our meals were cooked while sleeping in the rainforest.
It was hard to tell if this little guy was a poison dart frog or not, even with the zoom on the camera but just to be safe we didn't get too close. 
 Our backpack made out of leaves.
 Me attempting to climb an açaí tree. I have no shame in saying that I was not very good at it because no one really was.
  A tarantula. Did you know that in order to get them to come out of hiding you can take a leaf and wipe it in your armpits and they will follow the leaf out because of the smell? Weird, right?
 A monkey ladder plant
 My bowl to hold my rice lunch and later my watermelon. 
Our campsite within the rainforest. I will not lie to you all; I was terrified the first night. It is so dark that it was impossible to see anything and I was awake all night just listening to all of the noises around me trying to imagine what animal could have been so nearby.

No comments:

Post a Comment