Visiting Amazon – Some tips … [Brazil]

Some suggestions, based on my Amazon experiences …

Boat ride (Speed/Fast Boat or Slow Boat) is a must-try …

Rather than taking the flight option between towns, for example, Tefe-Manaus, I would highly recommend a boat ride. The Speed Boat, which chugs along at 50-60Km/Hr speed takes around 12-14hr for the journey from Manaus to Tefe (and slightly faster downstream, from Tefe to Manaus). During the ride, the chance to observe and interact with locals (Share a beer, share stories Etc.) is priceless. I had a blast taking photographs, mingling with the locals (who invariably enjoy getting photographed) and enjoying the scenery. The food, which is included in the ticket price, is quite passable, IMHO. My original plan was to take the Speed Boat from Manaus to Tefe and on the return, take the Slow Boat (which takes 2 days for the same distance). But on the way back, I lost my will for more “hardships” (Keep in mind that the boat, on its return, stays almost in the center of the hugely wide Amazon and there is nothing much to sight-see. I just felt it would have been a tad boring and also a tad tiring. Keep in mind that I had been travelling through Sought America for the past several weeks and was quite busted by then).

Bugs & Mosquitoes 

I live in the Tropics. But what I experienced in the Amazon was something … Mosquitoes as big as birds (!) and highly aggressive will swarm you. Though I carried 2 different brands of pest repellent sprays, it was not enough. Actually, it barely made a difference. As you can expect in the Tropics, it rains a lot and I noticed that the mosquitoes were biting me through my plastic rain ponchos! Unbelievable … My advice, along with pest repellents, be prepared to use mosquito nets (which cover the bed) and also insect-repellent outdoor wear.

Cash is king …

Most establishments prefer cash, though in bigger towns like Manaus, you can make do with Credit/Debit Cards. It is best to carry some local cash with you.

Being nifty with your DSLR lens …

Though I am reasonably fast with changing the lens on my DSLR camera body, I struggled many a times when I had to shift between a scenic shot to an animal/bird shot. By the time I had the telephoto lens in place (for example), the moment had passed. I would advise you to practice some fast lens changes and also to have a DSLR bag which can hold all your lens in an easily accessible form.

Support the local tribes and communities …

Life in the Amazon is not easy. For those of us coming from cities, it is amazing to see how hard the life is in the Amazon. It would be great if tourists like us could support the local communities by making whatever purchases we can afford.

Litter/Trash …

Considering the vastness of the river and the rain-forests, I was very impressed with the lack of open trash lying around. Yes, the ports of Tefe and Manaus could do a bit better in Trash Management, but by and large, the locals and tourists are being quite responsible.

Google Translate

I found it handy, especially the offline downloads. I am very poor with languages and have been leading my life primarily with English. For a person like me, translations are very handy.

Canoe Trips or Hikes

If you get to see wild life, that is a bonus. But I would recommend taking Canoe trips or going on hikes … How cool is it to have canoed and trekked in the Amazon? 🙂 I also tried my hand at paddling. It is very good exercise.

Local Fish & Fruits

Be adventurous … Amazon has some great freshwater fish … Please refer my other blogs on the topic for details on some of the local cuisine I got to try.

Rain Poncho

A must … We cannot predict when the rain will come. Keep in mind that Amazon Basin is a Rain-Forest

Flashlight

I managed without a flashlight. But if I were to do it again, I would carry a flashlight. There were many times where I wished I had one. E.g. Walking from my cabin to the main building for dinner …

Rain-proof Camera Cover

Rains are pretty regular. If you are caught outside with your camera kit and it suddenly pours (Keep in mind that the rains are very strong here!), you do not want your camera and SD cards damaged. It has happened to me once, on the Great Wall of China, when the worst rainstorm of the past 10 years caught me and I lost all the data on my SD cards!

 

Adios!

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