Our 2 1/2 hour flight from Fortaleza to Manaus was at 10 pm and we landed and were finally at the hotel at 1 am.
The hotel has an amazing view of the Rio Negro, which is the largest left tributary of the Amazon, is the largest blackwater river in the world, and one of the world’s ten largest rivers by outflow. A blackwater river is deep and slow moving thru forests with swamps or wetlands. The water is transparent, acidic pH, and darkly colored and looks like tea because of the tannins in it from the rotting vegetation. But this also means NO BUGS!!
We were picked up from the dock by motorized canoe and delivered to the Clipper ship “Premium”. We had our welcome talk and a tour of the ship.
Heading up the Rio Nego we were followed by a storm that luckily never caught up to us, but it gave us some amazing rainbows. The sunset over the river was very colorful.
The first night we set out in the canoes with high-powered spotlights. The guides used these to scan the jungle for the “red reflex” of eyes. Doing this we found all kinds of things including huge poisonous frogs, caimans, snakes, and birds. The sounds of the night jungle are incredibly loud and we were happy to be safe in our boat.
This morning were woken up at 530 to see the sun rise and get out to see who else was up. The reflections of the jungle on the black water are incredible.
We saw lots of birds including toucans, macaws, ibis, hawks, parrots, and parakeets. These crazy birds build their nests in trees with wasp’s nests for added protection from predators.
After breakfast we did a 2.5-hour hike thru the jungle. Here we saw all kinds of medicinal trees and plants. There were these crazy foam beetles and a small bird spider (a big one is 50 cm). Then it was time for some swimming from the boat. This was very good exercise, because you really had to give it just to stay where you were in the very strong current.
This after noon we explored the Anavilhanas Archipelago, which is the world’s largest fresh water archipelago of river islands. It is about 100 km up stream from Manaus and where the river becomes 27 km wider. The preserve has over 400 islands and extends over 90 km of native forest. Here we again saw the incredible reflections in the black water and tons of birds.
We also found an egg-eating snake because we saw a large bird trying to pluck it from a tree for a meal. Sara spotted a wild Passionflower hanging over the riverside. There are also a huge number of orchids and bromeliads covering the trees.
On our second morning we were again up at 530 in order to go Piranha fishing. They live at the rivers edge in the flooded areas and we used chunks of steak for bait. We tried several locations without much success, and then actually bush wacked to get into a new spot. Our boat driver Roberto is a local and not only did he catch all but 3 of our 15 fish, but his were also 4 times the size of ours. Sara did catch one too! You can see why these guys can do some damage.