Our trip in the Amazonian jungle in Brazil (June 2012) started at Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas. Our hotel, Tropical Hotel was on the shores of Rio Negro.
Next stop was Ariau Towers on Rio Negro. The only way to reach Ariau Towers is by boat, they have two regular boat trips a day to Manaus (well, their stop in Manaus is Tropical Hotel).
We could enjoy walking into the forest on the 8 Km (5 miles) catwalk. The catwalk had railings and is above the water level all time; our trip was at the beginning of dry season when the water level is the highest; the water was two meters under the catwalk, and all around us was the flooded forest. Water level fluctuation around the year could be in the range of 4 to 15 meters.
There are two houses along the walk, pretty expensive to rent, Sylvester Stallone resided in it (as we were told) when he visited Ariau.
At the Ariau Towers restaurant the visitors had to be aware of those monkeys that are specialized thieves. I witnessed a day when 3 ladies enjoyed the lunch outside on the patio. The monkey jumped on the table and pushed down a plate full with food in less then one second; then with no shame started to eat the food spread all over the floor. In another instance a tourist had a piece of bread in his pants’ pocket, and the monkey jumped to a level where it could sneak a hand in the pocket and took the bread and run; it was so fast that the American tourist looked around and did not understand how his piece of bread disappeared.
Our local guide insisted we should wake-up one day before sunrise and with a powerboat we navigated into the forest to witness how nature starts the day. It was a morning to remember forever.
One night we wandered in the forest with a power boat and we had with us a 19 years old local guy. At a certain point he jumped into the water and after a 10-20 seconds fight under the water (seemed an eternity for me) he brought on the boat a baby caiman.
Then we had a four days cruise up on Rio Negro. There are no mosquitoes around, the natural acidity of the water prevents mosquito larvae from developing. We were told this is because the leaves and tree-branches that putrefy of high humidity and flooding of the forest.
On one of the stops we travelled inside the forest and a venous snake (fer-de-lance) passed by few centimeters away from my wife’s foot, luckily, she stepped in the right direction. The guide caught the snake, showed it to us, then released it into the forest.
On another occasion, cruising with a boat into the flooded forest the guide promised he will show us a big snake. Well, we saw something in the distance, but very unclear; not a problem for our guide. A local guy, having his house on the water, had as pets an anaconda and a python. Anaconda was out of reach since it was nervous, changing skin, so we had the python on the boat. My wife definitely enjoyed touching it.
Millions of years ago it was the ocean that ruled the place that is today the Amazon basin. But the tectonic activity formed the Andes and the two oceans split, trapping the water inside the new continent; in so many years the waters are salty no more, and the ocean animals had to adapt to the new reality; today we have freshwater dolphins in the Amazon, also known as the pink river dolphin or boto.
In our trip we saw snakes, monkeys (two different species), a slot and a big variety of birds, but I was more focused to watch them then catching them on camera. Besides, the animals were very active, they did not stay for long in our sight.