Visiting the Amazon was a trip I planned in my head for years on a row. I was mostly fascinated with visiting the Brazilian rainforest. For those of you who don’t know it, the South American rainforest is the largest in the world and it stretches on 8 South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname. Just to imagine how immense the space it occupies is, the rainforest covers approximately 40% of South America. Unfortunately, the extreme deforestation put this miracle of nature in danger. Brazil, to give you the most extreme example, has one of the largest rates of deforestation in the world. Hopefully, solutions will be found to slow down this dreadful destruction and, finally, eliminate this problem altogether.
Right now, it is (still) one of the most amazing places you can visit. I won’t give you details on what you can see there, as it is something you can truly understand only when you witness it, but I can tell you a couple of things you can do and how you get there. There are a few companies that provide lodging and organized tours both on land and water. If you go there for hiking, climbing or fishing, you can easily find professionals that offer trip packages at affordable prices (if you save money for a while). I wanted a simple, sightseeing trip, with some taste of how life on the Amazon feels, so I reached out to a company offering tourist tours on boats with mini-trips in key points of the Brazilian rainforest. You can opt for a 5 or 10 day trip. I would strongly advise you to choose the latter, as 5 days will seem like nothing for the things you should visit. For those who have in mind going on their own, you either plan your trip several months, maybe even a year before the departure or better stay at home and wait, until you gather the necessary amount of money so that you can pay a professional to take you where you want.
You may believe that a guided tour will only show you the tourist intended destinations, but, the Brazilian rainforest isn’t your typical journey, you can’t go exploring through the jungle on your own. In addition, it is more likely that you miss beautiful landscapes and exquisite species of animals because you don’t know how to find them, even if you have documented the trip and the area thoroughly.
For example, you won’t recognize the various species of fish living in the waters of the immense river, or take trips to see the giant water lilies. Even more, if you are lucky enough, you can take a night trip through the forest and observe nocturnal species with a good guide. By yourself: not much of a chance.
Let’s not forget the little joys in life, like traditional dishes you would never have the courage to try on your own if you didn’t have an expert sitting beside you and advising on the most exquisite culinary surprises you must taste. One of the dishes you should try while in Manaus are traditional soups, I was quite impressed with the Tacacá, a dish made with a regional plant called jambú, shrimps and a couple of other local ingredients. Another dish that I was absolutely amazed by was something that people in this region call the Caldeirada de Tambaqui, in which the main ingredient is the fish with the same name, accompanied by boiled eggs and spices.
Don’t grow over enthusiastic yet, it will not always be nice, the mosquitos will make you want to never have been born and the heat will be excruciating (especially if you go in September), but it will be the experience of a lifetime and you won’t regret it.