Our expedition departed Hostel Manaus at 6 am for a jungle lodge in a tributary of the Amazon River: a couple from Hong Kong, 2 Germans, a Chinese and a Brazilian who lives in China, an Austrian guy, a Brazilian from the South, another from the Southwest and me.
I don’t usually engage in organised tours, but to get into the jungle this is a must. So I signed up with Amazon Antonio, a company that has an office inside Hostel Manaus. For you to get an idea if you’re planning a trip there, the cost is 160 R$/day, 3 days minimum. Not cheap but without a doubt, it’s worth it.
From the observation tower in the lodge, you can see a beautiful landscape. Since this was the rainy season, some areas were flooded, with the trees partially under water. This is good for exploring the area in canoe, which was our first activity.
Going slowly in the canoe, one could hear animal’s sounds and the water flowing slowly. Every once in a while we saw a bird on the branch of a tree. We could spot the two most popular species: the toucan and the parrot.
We stopped our canoe trip for some minutes to fish for piranha. You should know that I’m hopeless, useless for piranha fishing :-(. Not only did I not catch anyone, but they didn’t even bite my hook, XD. As for the guide, on the contrary, it was just throwing the bait and catching a piranha. (not fair! :-)). Soooo, despite my ineptitude, we had enough piranha for dinner 🙂
After dinner, we went out on the conoes again. The jungle and the river feel different at night-time. More animals go out at night, and the fact of not seeing much makes the experience more misterious. From the distance, the guide could distinguish two small bright lights, unnoticeable to anybody else. They were the eyes of a baby cayman, we could later spot several in the flooded area. They were so small and soooo cute!! If you massage their belly, they fall asleep, and deeply! After that, we returned to the lodge and spent the night there.
On the second day, we woke up early and went into the jungle before sunrise. It was very interesting to learn from the guide’s explanations. He was born in a village in the jungle, and knows really well the fauna and flora, as well as the tricks of the jungle. Of course, we tried them all! For instance, putting your arm in an ant’s nest and rubbing your arm with ants exudes an odour that is a natural insect repellent. Another tip: if you’re thirsty, you just have to cut a vine and pour the water from inside. He also cut a branch with his machete and made a wicker basket in no more than 5 minutes. Well, Amazonian natives don’t need much to survive in the jungle! That night, we sprung up our hammocks between two trees and lit a fire to cook some chicken.
The next day, we trekked deeper into the jungle at sunrise. As we got farther from the river, the rainforest got thicker. It takes at least 7 days to reach the thickest Amazonian ecosystem. Of course we didn’t get that far, but we got an idea. We continued to spot different animals: birds, insects like this spider (nice but I’d better not come across her again!).
The third day, the group split up. Some stayed for a forth day with some other activities, and the rest of us left for Manaus.
To conclude, I really enjoyed those days. In the middle of the jungle, there are no distractions and you can enjoy nature to the fullest: amazing landscapes, animals, the sound of the jungle, etc. It is certainly touristy, but this time I think you have to go for it. Exploring the jungle is a must, if you ever happen to be in the Amazon Rainforest.