We arrived in Manaus smelling like frot wine looking for a hostel at midnight. We booked ourselves in and decided to wash bags, clothes, ourselves before climbing into bed finally... The city of Manaus was like the back of PmB, industrial looking and run down, the main reason for getting ourselves to Manaus is to book a JUNGLE tour - which we did, 3 days and 2 nights.
We drove 200km east of Manaus then climbed on a river boat which took us upstream 30min to a little 'lodge'...now don't be thinking 5star South African safari lodge! We had hammocks slung up under a covering and river water showers which had only 1 temperature...cold.
As expected in the amazon it started pouring with rain on our trip upstream, so we whipped out our disposable ponchos of which we had bought 10 from Game for in case it rained. We unfolded these huge big garbage bags and pulled them over our heads and backpacks and sat crouched like hunch backs of notredamn on the narrow boat with a plastic flapping noise in my ear while staring straight onto the back of some Dutch girl all snug in her comfortable north face water proof, designer style jacket...hmphf! Nothing like fantastic plastic!!
We had a guide who took us out for mini excursions each morning and afternoon either by boat or trekking through the jungle. This included all sorts of tricks such as river dolphins spotting, Caiman hunting at night, tarantula teasing and Piranha fishing - We ate our catch, tastes meaty not fishy! Unfortunately I don't have a fantastic pic of the pink river dolphins but I suggest you google a pic online to see the ugliest mammal alive! It looks like an evil retard! Seriously google a pic of the amazon pink river dolphin and you will see what I'm on about!
We spent one night in the Amazon jungle, we trekked inland for about 1 hour from the river banks, set up camp by slinging our hammocks around some trees, making a fire with collected firewood and then carving out a spoon from chopped chucks of wood and folding plates/bowls from huge banana leaves.
The jungle is not really as scary as you think. In fact the vegetation is more like an unkempt garden with soft flowie fern type plants along the ground and 15m high trees creating a canopy of shade to hide under. I had expected we would need to slash our way through like wild maniacs trying to fight thick bristly bush so dense you couldn't fit another leaf in between the gaps. What was as expected was the mosquitoes. No matter how often and how much repellent we put on, we got bitten...through long pants, jackets, socks. They seemed to like Tim better :)
Even though the vegetation wasn't as thick as I had expected it was much more difficult than expected to spot animals. While jungle trekking everything just looked like black shadows up in the trees as the sun gleamed through the tree tops, we were more bug life spotting than wildlife spotting! When we did see animals, thanks to our tour guide, they were so skittish you only saw the tail end with a whole lot of tree shaking going on.
We also went to a part of the amazon where they have 'black water'. Basically the river looks black because as the river floods during wet season it covers the trees along the river banks and the underwater forest starts to rot. This makes the water more acidic which supposedly results in considerably less mosquitos in comparison to the 'white water' amazon according to our tour guide. The black water makes spotting fish, caimen and river dolphins pretty difficult too as you can't see shadowy movement, in fact I couldn't see my feet when 'standing' straight up in the water neck deep but it made for some fun swims.
(oh! from Manaus you can take a short boat ride to see the meeting of the black and white water - apparently creates a visible line as the waters don't mix immediately where the two rivers meet. It was raining heavily on the day we were there so we didn't see it :( )
On our last day we convinced our tour guide to take Tim and I to visit some local people who live along the river banks. It wasn't part of our tour but he was happy to do something different and we were happy to give the family a little money to help them along. Their shanty house definitely was not waterproof against the amazon downpours but it didn't seem like they had very much which could get ruined! They probably had more pets than possessions - parrots, dog, cat, chickens, ducks - it was like a visit to the zoo! But their main source of income and food is growing a plant which they make into a grain made from the root. The process was completely manual and I can't imagine they manage to make a substantial amount to sell over and above their daily needs. They were simple and friendly folk who invited us up into their 'treehouse' and put on the kettle for coffee when we arrived...that means making a fire, it was a long visit but worth it!