Statue in front of the Amazonas Theatre
Manaus is a city of over a million people located right in the center of the Amazon. Although this would seem to conjure up images of a city nestled within the jungle, Manaus
is in fact a hot, sprawling, urban center devoid of any semblance to the surroundings that have been cleared for its existance. Within the city there is little of touristic merit and the city seems to serve mainly as a springboard for trips to visit other parts of the Amazon. The centerpiece in the city is the Teatro Amazonas, an opulent opera house that has been restored several times and features various rainforest woods and local materials in its construction. The main hall of the opera house is rather small but there are four or five levels of seating in a U shape around the stage.
The Amazonas Theatre
There are some nice paintings on the walls and ceilings and some of the intricate wood floors that have been assembled from different types of wood are very impressive. Around the city there are various old buildings, some in much better shape than others that give a good impression of what the city may have been like in past times. The main market is an old marketplace modeled after Parisian markets but has since fallen into disrepair and is currently being renovated. Outside of the city there is the meeting of the waters, the beginning of the Rio Amazonas that starts with the confluence of the dark colored waters of the Rio Negro and the muddy brown waters of the Rio Solimoes, where the two rivers flow side by side without mingling for a kilometer or so. In the dry season there are also some beachs on the river that can be visited but now in the wet season, these are mostly underwater as the level of the river has risen by 12 meters, submerging most of the riverbanks and much of the jungle habitats.
Old abandoned buildings near the port
It is so miserably hot and humid during the day in the sun that I don´t know how you could sit on the beach anyways. The heat and humidity probably wouldn´t be so bad if it ever cooled off, but it never does. Even in the middle of the night it feels just as hot as it does during the day in the shade, and without air conditioning there is no break from the oppressive heat. The tours that are offered from Manaus are rather expensive, costing about 150 reals a day, and as they all seemed to offer similar itineraries to what I did in Bolivia and the high water levels reducing the amount of wildlife, I decided to pass and visit the tropical forest in Guyana on my way to Venezuela. The one trip that is really more like an expedition which sounded really great is the trip to Pico de Neblina, the highest mountain in Brazil that is located in a remote section of the Venezuela border.
Small waterway near the central market
The trip takes about fifteen days and costs a few thousand dollars, consisting of several days of river travel and hiking, passing through a few uncivilized native villages before arriving at the top of the mountain. With little to do in Manaus but sweat in the heat I couldn´t get out of the city soon enough on my way north to Guyana.