The Amazon basin is 6 million sq km of river and jungle of which 3.6 million sq km are in Brazil. The state ďAmazonasĒ is an area of 1.58 million sq km its Brazilís largest state with the main city Manaus.
The Amazon basin is so big and overwhelming that every traveler coming from here has respect for the nature. Over half of the living creatures until now discovered, are living in the tropical rainforest of the Amazon. There are 50.000 different flowering plants. On every hectare of rainforest grows 600 different species of trees. There are two seasons; the dry and the wet. From December until May/June we have the rain season and from July until November there is the dry season. Because of these two seasons there is low water from August until February and high water from March until July.
The Amazon is world's biggest rainforest. This rainforest covers over 40% of Brazil's landmass and is the home of more than 1.800 species of birds and 250 kinds of mammals. The Amazon rainforest is responsible for 50% of the total oxygen production of the world. Both the Amazon river and its 1100 branches are responsible for more than 20% of the total freshwater supplies of the world. 10 of the 20 world's biggest rivers run in the Amazon basin. The Amazon river itself is more than 6.500 km long and of this, 3.600 km through Brazil. It is not a surprise that most supply routes running via the river and boats are the most important way of transport.
The tours are going to Urubu River (Rio Urubu) about 200 km north east of Manaus. This river has dark water like the Rio Negro. Urubu River starts close by Presidente Figueiredo, a city about 110 km north of Manaus. The river runs for many km-s before reaching the Amazon River.
There is a big difference between the north part and the south part of the river. The further you go down stream the eco system will change. Reason for this is the pH of the water, which is high in the north. The advantage is that there are far less mosquitoes, higher land and more dense forest in the north. Compared to the north, the pH in the south is lower. So there will be more mosquitoes. On the other hand in the South there are the wetlands (like the Pantanal) in combination with the jungle which makes it easier to see the wildlife than in the highland jungle of the north (up stream). The different seasons cause a change of the water level. When the rain starts, parts of the forest will change into Igapo (flooded forest). Only by a small canoe itís possible to go through the Igarapes (channels cutting through the jungle). These channels are sometimes so narrow that the forest may brush your face.
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Manaus is a city with 1.8 million inhabitants, on the north bank of the Rio Negro. It is located 1,450 km inland from the Atlantic coast in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, which makes it hot and humid. As a major inland port (reached by ocean going vessels from the Atlantic) it is a collecting and distribution centre for the river areas of the upper Amazon. Main export products include rubber, Brazil nuts, rosewood oil, jute and lots of minor forest products, cordage and coffee sacks are made from jute. Manaus industries include brewing, shipbuilding, manufacturing of soap and electrical equipment, the production of chemicals and petroleum refining. In the end of the 19th century, Manaus grew out to one of the most important cities of the world, because it was the only place where rubber could be found. In this period the Theatre Amazonas, a beautiful building in Renaissance style, was built. Here you can still see opera performances done by many famous actors from Europe and other continents.
Places to see in Manaus
- Teatro Amazonas (Amazon Opera House)
- Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market)
- Palacio do Rio Negro (Rio Negro Palace)
- Museu do indio (Indian Museum)
- Cais do porto (floating harbour) here leave the gaiolas (boats)
Just out of city centre:
- Encontra das aquas: Meeting of the waters, this is 10 Km upstream from Manaus. Here, the Rio Negro confluences with the Rio Solimoes. From this point on, this mighty combined river is called the Amazon river.
- Zoologic: Military zoo located about 9 km away from down town. Place where are found typical species like Capivara, Jaquar, Tapir and other.
- Bosque da Ciencia: The scenic forest, itís known as INPA (institute of research in the Amazon) Surrounded by secondary forest it is the only place where there are rare species of flora and fauna from the Amazon like, Manitee (the biggest aquatic mammal), Ariranha (Giant Otter), Poraque (electriceel), Cutia (agouti), with a river turtle lake. Itís located 10 km away from down town.
- Museu de Ciencias Naturais: The Natural Science Museum, itís located about 12 km away from down town. In this museum there is a big aquarium where is found the biggest fresh water scale fish of the world ďPirarucuĒ (Arapaima Giga) Also there are many species of insects and fresh water fish.
- Ponta Negra: A strip of river beach on the edge of Manaus 13 km northwest of the centre, is a popular weekend hangout. It has many restaurants and bars and a riverbank amphitheatre, many festivals are here. In de dry season there is a beach September-December after march the high water flood the sand and cleanse the beach for the following season.
Local Festivals in Manaus and other parts of the Amazon
- Carnaboi: It is a kind of local carnaval that happens 2 days after the main carnaval in Manaus. It happens in the month of February or March it could last 2 days in the Sambodramo
- Festival de Opera: An opera festival that happens in the months April and May it could last 1 month.
- Ensaio do boi-bumba: Itís a kind of premiere of the biggest Amazon Folkloric Festival it could last 1 month in the Sambodramo from the month of May until June.
- Festival Foclorico do ďBoi-BumbaĒ: The biggest Folkloric festival in the North of Brazil and it is the 2nd largest festival in Brazil. There are many performance of Allegory representing the Indians culture and Amazonian Legend mixed up with North Eastern Culture. It happens in the city of Parintins 400km from Manaus. This festival could last 3 days in the end of month of June. The only way to get at this city is by boat or airplane.
Other interesting places around Manaus
- Presidente Figueiredo: The land of waterfalls, a small town located 107km away from Manaus. Surrounded by more than 400 waterfalls and some small caves. The way to get there is by bus from Manaus.
- Novo Airao: It is a small town located 180km away from Manaus. From here you can do boat trips to the Anavilhanas islands and itís also possible to swim with fresh water pink and grey dolphins.