It’s hard to imagine a city of such size placed in the middle of the world’s greatest jungle. However, Manaus, a city of two million people, manages to not only survive, but strive in its setting. Decades ago this was one of the wealthiest cities in all of the Americas as it drew rubber from the jungle in return for sports cars and mansions. To this day the jungle is still providing for the Manaus, but this time in the form of mining, in particular gold. The jungle also provides visitors one of the great experiences in the world, excursions into the heart of the great Amazon Basin. This is one of the best places in the world to spot rain forest wildlife, experience indigenous cultures, and feel like Indiana Jones as you press through the jungle.
Things to do in Manaus
- Bosque da Ciencia: If you don’t have enough time for a proper wildlife excurision, or you just want a closer look at the native wildlife this park meets zoo is a great place to see the wildlife. The highlights are giant river otters and manatees, but there is so much more.
- Teatro Amazonas: The theater in town is almost a relic of its glorious past. It is impressive and definitely worth a visit. Guided tours are available.
- The Meeting of the Waters: This is where the Rio Negro and the Rio Salimoes meet to finally form the great Amazon river. Beyond the significance, the sight of seeing two great rivers slowly overtake one another is quite amazing in itself. There are a number of agents in town offering trips to the meeting of the waters.
- Jungle Trips: It would be impossible to name all the different jungle excursions, or all the tour companies proving them, around Manaus. The most common excursion is about 3 days round trip into the jungle and include things like piranha fishing, bird watching, wildlife spotting, and a number of canoe trips. Be careful in Manaus as there are lots of people selling tours that quite simply don’t exist. Be sure you book with a reputable company. For a good company check out Amazon Gero Tours.
Where to Eat in Manaus
One of the favourite foods of locals is a soup called tacaca. It is a shrimp soup with some sort of jelly substance that makes your tongue go numb. Personally, I don’t like the texture, but I think everyone should give it a shot once (you can find it sold at a number of street stalls). If you’re looking for a huge fill try a place called Churrascaria Bufalo which has an all you can eat dinner for about 20US$. If you’re looking for fish, try a place called Casa da Pahomha. There are also a number of Sucas (juice shops) that sell cheap burgers and sandwiches.
Where to Stay in Manaus
There is no shortage of new hostels in Manaus. When I went I stay at the local Hosteling International branch called HI Mauaus, but I would be lying if I said it was anything more than normal (cost 14US$ for a dorm). It seems as though the place to stay in town is actually the Manaus Jungle Lodge, which has been given great reviews (13US$ for a dorm).
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