The mighty Amazon River is a legendary destination known to most people around the world. I traveled here in 2005, an experience which lived up to the mystery and expectations associated with the name. The Amazon River is the world’s largest river by water flow, and second to the Nile in length, although this fact is sometimes disputed. Any way that you measure it, the Amazon is BIG. We visited during the rainy season, so the river was swollen, filled with extra water. It took us several days to travel towards the coast and when we arrived it was with many stories to tell.
This trip in 2005 was when I was young and full of ridiculous ideas. We arrived in the Amazon basin from the highlands of Bolivia, and followed one of the tributaries from Rurrenabaque. This is the part of the trip I wouldn’t recommend, as this turned into an eventful l24+ hour long bus trip along dirt roads in the rainy season. This is a story best saved for another day. We had finally arrived at one of the tributaries of the Amazon. In Porto Velho we found a boat to take us along the Madiera River towards Manaus, where we would meet the Amazon River for the first time.
During these trips, we slept in hammocks in a big open room which didn’t leave much space for privacy. It helped us to get to know the locals. This journey would inlcude two 5 day trips on the river, from Porto Velho to Manaus and Manaus to Belem. We spent a few days exploring Manaus – a surprisingly big city surrounded by jungle for hundreds of kilometers – which is home beautiful architecture and a massive Opera Hall, worthy of being in Paris or Rome.
What makes the Amazon River so incredible?
The Amazon River doesn’t need much of an introduction, but it is certainly worthy of one. It’s the biggest river in the world, accounting for one fifth of the worlds total river flow. It’s basin is also the largest in the world, and the river touches seven different countries. The basin includes he Amazon Rainforest, which draws its life from the great river, and covers 7 million square kilometers. It is one of the truly amazing landmarks of not only South America, but the entire world.
The Amazon Basin touches Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, all three Guyanas, Peru, Bolivia and of course, Brazil. These countries and the surrounding ecosystems of the Amazon are home to a variety of wildlife and unique fauna. There are many jungle trips along the way to experience some of this incredible nature. This trip down the Amazon was truly unforgettable. We met so many people along the way, as we traveled the slowly with the flow of the river alongside the locals.
The Amazonas Theatre & Opera House in Manaus
Before traveling to Manaus, I had no idea what a rubber baron was. We soon discovered what the wealth of the rubber barons could afford when it came to luxury, especially once we set eyes on the opera house in the middle of the Amazon. Manaus is the only Major city in the Amazon, home to over 1.5 million people. It gained importance during the Rubber boom, which took place at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the buildings were built at this time, including the premier structure in the city, the Amazonas Theatre.
The city sprouted at the point where the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes converge, officially forming the Amazon River. We spent a few days recharging here before returning to the docks and spending another five days on the river. From Manaus we traveled East towards our the Atlantic and our final destination, Belem.
How do you visit the Amazon River?
There are many ways to visit the Amazon Rainforest and the general basin. From Bolivia, Peru or Ecuador you can find many of the sources of the Amazon River, and jungle tours can be arranged from these far out places. The River itsef is quite remote. Many tributaries join the “Amazon River” at different points, so the way that we visited was the long way.
We entered the Basin from the North of Bolivia, traveling from high in the Andes mountains down to sea level. We crossed the border into Brazil, and soon after arrived in Porto Vehlo, the capital of Rondônia state. This is where our Amazon adventure began with our first trip along one of the tributaries. We purchased our tickets and hammocks and within a few days we we’re on our way along the Madeira River.
The first leg of our journey to Manaus would take 5 days, and in that time we made friends with a few of our travel companions without the help of a common language. Being as we we’re traveling well off the beaten track, we had not seen a foreigner in nearly 4 days and our trip along the river would be no different.We we’re totally emerged in the life of the ship. We spent a few days in Manaus before taking our final 5 days trip which would take us to the Atlantic Ocean and onwards to the rest of Brazil.