The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Bananas For Sale On The Docks Of Manaus

Moving Cargo From Boats

Manaus' Fish Market

Boats On The Rio Negro--Manaus Is 10 Kilometers Upriver From Where It...

Colorful Stern Of A Boat

Teatro Amazonas, A Beautiful Theatre Built During Brazil's Rubber Boom In 1896

Inside the Teatro Amazonas

THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2007. BELEM TO MANAUS, BRAZIL. This morning, Jeff and I awoke early to walk around the nearby fish market. Fishermen were unloading their catch and making sales along the pier. Wholesalers were cleaning and displaying fish and other seafood for sale to restauranteurs in the market adjacent to the pier. As far as I could tell, Jeff and I were the only tourists walking around the wharf and market, the heart and soul of Belem.

We checked out of our hotel and walked a couple of blocks to catch a bus to the airport (R$1.35; $0.65) for our flight to Manaus (GOL Air; R$218). Unless there is a good reason (e.g., late at night, lack of time, etc.), I generally try to catch a bus to and from airports (A taxi fare to the airport in Belem would have cost about R$30 or $15). It's a good, economical way to travel and usually just as fast as catching a taxi. Another money saving tip is to catch a bus into the center of town and then a taxi to your accommodation.

We arrived this afternoon in Manaus and caught a bus into the city center (R$2.50), where we walked to our selected accommodation (Hotel Ideal R$38/twin w/AC). We've learned to ask for a discount at every new accommodation. Almost every time we have asked for a discount, one has been given, usually about 10% off (In the case of Ideal, the initial quoted rate was R$41). This works particularly well now that it is the low tourist season in Brazil. Still, I would recommend asking for a discount every time, regardless of the season.

We have tomorrow to tour the city or perhaps do a day trip. On Saturday, we catch a fast boat (12 hours) to Tefe, where we have booked a four day-four night package at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve [], the largest protected area of flooded forest (called 'várzea') in the Amazon. It is Brazil's first sustainable development reserve where the local communities actively participate in its management. Income generated from tourism goes to the protection of the area, environmental education and local community projects. The wildlife viewing is supposed to be some of the best in the Amazon. We will stay at the Uakari Floating Lodge, named the best ecotourism destination by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine in 2003. In the same year, the Mamirauá Reserve won the prize of Sustainable Tourism category Conservation by Smithsonian Magazine. It looks to be a good trip into the heart of the Amazon.

After visiting the Mamiraua Reserve, Jeff and I plan to leave Brazil and head into Colombia (Ideally, we would prefer to fly to Quito, Ecuador, but there are no flights from this part of Brazil). At the moment, we have not figured out an efficient and economical routing. We will either have to return to Manaus and fly to Bogota, or continue up the Amazon by boat from Tefe and try to find transportation upon arrival at the Colombian border. We should have a better idea tomorrow after we do some further research and speak with some travel agents.

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007. MANAUS, BRAZIL. Our Mamiraua Reserve trip is confirmed. We catch a boat at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning for a 12-hour journey up the Amazon river to Tefe. We will return to Manaus on Thursday night, March 29, and then fly to Cartagena, Colombia, on Saturday, March 31. Due to the remoteness of the Mamiraua Reserve (it's halfway between Brazil's border with Peru/Colombia and Manaus), I will probably not have an opportunity to update my journal until after we return to Manaus.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues!

(A special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my older brother, Warren, who turned 41 today--All da bes bro!)

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