Manaus Travel Blog› entry 30 of 34 › view all entries
Upon arrival in Manaus I was unvulantairily greeted by a Swiss guy turned Brazilian due to a unplanned baby 20 years earlier. He tried to sell me a jungle tour with his worn pictures the entire bus ride into town. I did go with him to the agency that he was recommending (iguana) and had a long chat with the guys there. The tour sounded good but I was not prepared to commit to anything after only visiting one shop. After checking into the recommended Aussie run Hostel Manaus I went around to several agencies and finally decided to go with the family run Indian Tourismo on the black river. I chose this one because I bargained down to the same price I was quoted by others but on this one I was offered a private tour just me and my guide.
The 5 am pick up came early the next morning. I slept through the three hour bus ride and woke up to poring rain where we had to get a a old wooden boat for another hour or so. The "lodge" was a disgrace but I knew that going in and this did not concern me because I was planning on spending almost all of my time in the jungle anyway.
My guide was the 22 year old son of the company owner from whom I bought the tour. I spent the first day piranha fishing during the day and spear fishing and cayman catching at night. The fishing was not very good here. There are big ones but not very many. The pantanal was much better. The spear fishing was a surprisingly successful experience. We used the very heavy and bulky paddles to maneuver our leaky boat along the moonlit shore, shinning flashlights to look for lazy fish.
I am sure that all of the jungle guides have many stories to tell but his first was rather alarming. Just before entering the jungle for the first time he informed me an hours worth of details how the last Canadian that he brought into the jungle did not come out alive. The 30 year old man had a heart attack on their way out on their second day and with no medical personal within reasonable distance he did not last long. The most shocking part of the story was the part where the body got to heavy for them to carry on their way out the next day so they decided to float it down a small canal to the main river.
The jungle treks were very adventurous. My guide liked to go off the paths and machete his way through virgin forest. On our fist day we got a little lost. When we arrived at an overgrown abandoned road my guide got his bearings but informed me that he had not been to those parts in over a year. Then rain pored hard as we zig zagged our way back to known territory and eventually our camp. We had supplies for two nights in the jungle but some critical bits were taken in the shadows of the night. We wake from our hammocks under or fern covered shelter to find that our chicken that had been tied up in a tree was gone and the culprit left nothing but large scars on the tree as evidence.
The loss of our nights meal meant that we had to head back to the camp where rustic was an understatement. The next day we paddled upstream on the main river to go to a different jungle area. This was where Jungle Experience used to have their lodges. It was a nice day hike and we saw a very large tarantula along the way.
The last day in the jungle back near the main camp was more of the same except that we spotted a few small monkeys and the ass end of a fleeing wild boar. Also we built our own shelter which was both time consuming and satisfying.
Back in the hostel in Manaus I met up with some fun people and hung around the city for a few days. We had a birthday party for one of the south african girls which was a particularily entertaining evening.
A little advice for jungle tours: if you are travelling south america you will likely want to do a jungle tour. You may want to consider doing it in any country other than Brazil because the prices are much more reasonable and the jungle is very similar from the stories I heard. If you do decide to get a tour from Manaus then the main decision you have is whether to go to the white or black rivers. The black river is suposed to have higher and more dense forrests. Also the acidity of the water means that there are almost no mosquitos. The white river on the other hand has much more wildlife and you will see a lot more caimans, catch more piranahs, and have a better chance to spot monkeys and sloths. I chose the black river because I already saw a lot of the anials in the very densely animal populated pantanal so I was more interestd in seeing te really dense forest. From the stories I heard from poeple in the hostel I think it is fair to say that the White river got the best reviews.