What do you think about a city, that is built in the middle of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil? Heat, humidity, many mosquitos,… Maybe you are right, it´s all of this. But Manaus is actually a lot more.
I was really surprised, what a good time you can have in and around Manaus. I thought, it will be just a “must-go” place, in order to rapidly get to another place on my journey, and I wanted to stay not longer than 2 days. But in the end, I stayed one week, with Thiago an amazing couchsurfing-host and some other guests of him, and hence I met awesome people, with whom I spent an unforgettable time!
Let me give you a little glimpse into the things, that you can experience in and around Manaus, a big city that is built in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.
1. Explore magnificent beaches at Rio Negro
If you want to see beautiful white beaches in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, then you have to get to Rio Negro. Luckily, Thiago has a car, and hence we were able to explore hidden remote places. It was wonderful!
Don´t forget your hammock, and then just relax at this beautiful and calm place on earth.
The waters of Rio Negro which means Black River are similar in colour to strong tea, which is typical of blackwater rivers. This dark colour comes from humic acid due to an incomplete breakdown of phenol-containing vegetation from sandy clearings. The river was named like that, because it looks black from a certain distance. If you are in the river, it looks rather reddish. But it´s a very clear, clean water with the perfect temperature for swimming!
2. Make a trip to Presidente Figueiredo
Lush rainforests, beautiful nature, stunning waterfalls – that´s Presidente Figueiredo. You can get there by car, or just take a bus from Manaus. It takes around 2 hours to get there, but it´s absolutely worth it!
First, we went to a beautiful waterfall, then we just drove a bit around to remote areas, an abandoned airport, crossing bridges, going to a restaurant close to a water supply dam, where pink dolphins were swimming, and in the end to the “center” of Presidente Figuereido, where a big waterfall and some bars are located.
3. Chill at a floating bar
There are floating bars, in Portuguese “Bar flutuante” at Rio Negro. You can go there, relax, have some drinks, eat something, listen to music, talk, swim, and just enjoy your life
4. Visit the city center and the promenade/beach of Manaus
The city center itself is not really spectacular. There are some nice buildings from the colonial area, a beautiful theater building, churches, a market, some bars and restaurants, shopping malls, etc. We actually didn´t spend a lot of time in the city center. It´s actually where you take/get from a boat to/from Belém, Tabatinga, Porto Velho (Bolivia), Alter do Chao, or nearby places.
Anyways, it´s fun, to just grab a fresh coconut or an Açaí, that you can buy from street vendors, and walk along the streets of Manaus, exploring on your own. There are also free city tours. You can ask in every hostel and they´ll tell you the exact time and place, where it starts.
Especially the sunset is nice to watch from the promenade/beach of Manaus. Many people come here, to go for running, playing football or footvolley on the beach, or just for relaxing and enjoying the magnificent colour games and cloud formations by the river.
5. Visit the overgrown ruins of Paricatuba
It´s a place with a very special and mystical energy. Once you come here, you feel captured by the ruins, and want to explore more. As if they wanted to tell you a special story, you just have to be quiet and listen to it. It´s a really beautiful and peaceful place!
Built with materials from Europe, the facility had different funcions throughout the years: it was founded in 1898 as a place for Italian immigrants; in 1900, it served as a school of art; in 1916, it was a county jail; in 1930, it served as leper colony and in 1962, it was an elementary school. Then definitively abandoned in 1969. Today it is taken over by the large roots of Apuí trees (vegetable octopus). Only ruins remain from the once luxurious building.
6. Try Cachaça de Jambu
Cachaça is the national liquor of Brazil – no doubt. I guess you have already tried the delicious Caipirinha, a cocktail made of Cachaça, limes, sugar and ice cubes. But have you tried Cachaça de Jambu? You definitely have to, when you are in Amazonia. This special Cachaça is prepared with cooked Jambu leaves, and it gives you a very special feeling in your mouth Try it!
We had fun trying it
I hope I could give you some insights about my time and/or tips for an unforgettable stay in and around Manaus, in the middle of Amazonia!
Thanks for reading!
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