The Amazon awaits!
Belem Travel Blog› entry 100 of 107 › view all entries
KERRY - We flew to Belem from Sao Luis and managed to meet our friends Esme and Conor who we had met in Natal, on the flight to Belem. They were not entirely sure what to saw to me when they saw my black eyes! The views of the amazon from the air were amazing, it really is vast!
We decided to head for the HI hostel in Belem which turned out to be a good option, it was a large place and had internet access as well as washing at a decent rate. It was also near to a supermarket (which we visited frequently) and had a small kitchen area that we could use and CABLE TV which was great so we could digest some english speaking entertainment!
Belem itself is not that nice, there is also not a lot to do there. It is also VERY hot and prone to rainstorms. We visited the zoo on the Sunday which was the best attraction that we found. It was very cheap to get in - 3 reals each i think, and the zoo is nice. We saw sloths roaming freely among the trees above us as well as lots if birds, terrapins and a manatee as well. The jaguars were the only sad sight to see as their cages were really small and they wandered back and forth all day. Otherwise we would highly recommend a trip to the zoo, especially as you get to see all the animals that the amazon has to offer, and it is not so likely that you will see them in the jungle
We also visited the portside area of the city as well as the market, but did not spend too long in this area. The port side has been redeveloped and they have made a great job of it, it is really nice. The market looked interesting, but we did feel slightly vulnerable there and as we were visiting the area near the time that it was getting dark, we decided we should probably head back to the hostel.
The majority of our time was spent trying to book ourselves onto the baot to ride up the Amazon river to Manaus. This proved to be a real chore! The hostel has information on boats , but no pictures and we had been advised to go and see the boat. Also we were determined to try and find a boat that left town on the Monday evening as we wanted to get going as soon as possible to make the most of time in the amazon jungle. So after several failed attempts to find offices that were open on Saturday, we headed down to the offices on Monday where the boat tickets were sold. We were taken to the boat by a little boy working for the agency. The ride on the bus to the boat drove through some very dodgy neighbourhoods and to say we were nervous was an understatement! I think this was the worst poverty I had seen in South America. When we got to the dock, we were luckily met by a boat, and not a gang of locals to rob us of all our posessions as we feared! The boat the MS Santerem seemed like a pretty decent vessel. We all decided to opt for a cabin in the end, even though we had bought our hammocks, as the thought of sharing a room with 150 other people as well as the toilets and showers seemed too much for 5 days! After much debating with the crew on the boat , as to whether or not there was a boat leaving on Monday or Tuesday and when the boat would arrive in Manus, we managed to get our tickets. It was not an easy process and my limited portuguese was tested to the max! we got there in the end and felt exhausted at the end of it!
After buying our supplies of fruit and goodies on Tuesday we headed down to the docks to meet our lovely home for the next 5 days and our fellow passengers! We met 2 guys from South Africa - Graham and Guy and a chap from Hong Kong called Vivien as well as an Irish couple called Doreen and Richie. They all seemed really nice and we formed a gringo clan. So now all we had to do was sit back relax and enjoy the views of the Amazon river for 5 whole days .......and they ended up being 5 very long days!