For those expecting to see only a sea of green of the Amazon rainforest when they fly into Manaus, the sight of a modern city with high-rises and a busy port comes as a surprise. Located on the north bank of the Rio Negro, 11 miles (18 km) above the Meeting of the Rivers where the Negro merges with the Rio Solimões, photo, Manaus is 900 miles (1,450 km) inland from the Atlantic. It’s the heart of Amazonia and thus the hub of tourism for the rivers, the jungle lodges and the river cruises.
Manaus sprawls, but the center of town, the Centro where most of the hotels and attractions are located, rises above the river on a slight hill. As the largest city and a major port on the river, Manaus is commercial. Local industries include brewing, shipbuilding, soap manufacturing, the production of chemicals, the manufacture of electronics equipment, and petroleum refining of oil brought in by barge. And tourism, of course.
Getting There and Around:
By air to Eduardo Gomes International Airport. Check flights from your area.
By road, bus service is available from therodoviária, 6 km north of the Centro. Be sure to check on road conditions during the rainy season. Taxi service within town and to the airport.
By river boat from multiple ports on the Amazon, all the way from Iquitos, Peru or Belem.
Browse these hotel and resort listings for availability, rates, amenities, location, activities and other specific information.
. The capital of Brazil's largest state, Amazonas, covering 1.5 million sq mi., Manaus fluctuates with the Amazon river, for which there are three ports, the Bairro Educandos, the Ponte de São Raimunde and the Porto Flutante, the port used by ENASA, where at the Rodomar you can buy tickets for multiple destinations.
If you plan your trip for the end of June, you'll be in Manaus for the Processão de São Pedro, when hundreds of water craft parade on the river.
Climate and Weather:
Check today's weather and five day forecast. The Amazon receives the most rainfall in Brazil, and winter season is between June and August. Be prepared for humid conditions. If you are thinking of an Amazon adventure, take this quiz to see how well suited you are to Amazonian conditions.
Orient yourself with this interactive map from Expedia.
Things to Do and See:
Many of Manaus's most notable sights are clustered around the Centro and the river.
Alfândega de Belém – Customs House built with imported ship ballast by the British in 1902. Not usually open to the public, but you can ask. photo
Mercado Adolfo Lisboa – Wrought iron replica of the Les Halles market in Paris, built in 1882, with Amazon food products and handicrafts. Open at dawn and go as early as possible
Praça da Saudade – main plaza with an amphitheater, small amsuement park and food stalls serving local favorites.
Beaches at Praia de Ponte Negra, Praia da Lua and Praia de Tupe are accessible by boat from Porto Flutuante, the floating dock that rises and falls with the tides. photo. Check the schedule.
When the water is low, the sand at Ponta Negra, 13 km from the Centro, is uncovered to the river bed, a contrast to the dark water.
Museo do Homen do Norte - ethnology and anthropolpgy museum devoted to the caboclos, or river dwellers of mixed Indian and white descent
Museu do Indio – built and maintained by the Salesian order of nuns, the museum displays tribal handicrafts, weapons, masks and clothing
Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Conceição – Originally from 1695 and rebuilt in 1878 after an earlier fire. Also called the Igreja Matriz Igreja de São Sebastião – Dating from the late 1880’s this neoclassical church is lavish with white marble, stained glass windows and ceiling paintings. There are alternate explanations of why there is only one tower: lack of funds, a gesture to the poor, or the ship bringing construction materials sank
Palacio Rio Negro – extravagant home of a German rubber baron built at the end of the 19th century is now the governor’s official mansion and maintains a cultural center with regional art Teatro Amazonas – Italian Renaissance Opera House built in the 1890’s with marble and frescoes from Italy, wrought-iron bannisters from England, crystal chandeliers and tiles from France. Closed for many years, the theater reopened in 1997 and how hosts international entertainers. Enjoy this this photo of the wrought-iron balconies for a hint of the spectacular interior.
The rainforest and the wildlife of Amazonia are the prime attraction of this area. You can spend as little as a day or as much time as you like exploring the backwaters and less inhabited river areas and the igarapés, or tiny jungle streams.
Tour agency staff will meet you at the airport, the ports or the hotels to arrange a tour. You can take any kind of boat, from canoe to expensive power boat. Some sample tours are:
One day excursion to Encontro das Aguas, the meeting of the waters with a side trip to Lago Januário for a short guuded gungle walk, fishing for piranha and looking for jacaré or crocodile by torchlight.
A 3-6 day boat trip will take you up the rivers far enough to see abundant flora and wildlife, and caboclos, but you will not see or meet any remote Indian tribes. Even if they are in the area, they remain hidden. Amazon Clipper Cruise is a typical cruise.
Jungle Lodges - travel by boat to an ecological lodge for wildlife viewing, river trips, hiking and more activities. Some of these are listed on this selection of Amazon packages from Brol Tours.
Before you select and pay for a tour, make sure you know what your fee includes, meals, lodging, fuel, guides, etc., and make sure your guide speaks a language you understand. Try a short trip from Manaus before you go on a longer one.
If you've been to Manaus, please share your experience with a post on the South America for Visitors Forum. You'll have to register, but it's easy and free. If you haven't been to Manaus and Amazonia yet, post your questions.