After 4 days in Manaus it was time for a change of scenery. One of the reasons we really wanted to visit the Amazon, was to go in to the jungle! Of course, not by ourselves, that would be the start to a very bad movie… SO, we booked a 4-day Amazon jungle tour with Amazon Antonio Jungle Tours.
Day 1: getting to the jungle lodge and fishing
Departure to the lodge was on Friday morning at 7 o’clock, so the alarm was set for 6:30. Our bags were already packed, so we just needed to eat some breakfast.
Speaking about our bags, for this tour we were told not to bring too much: a small backpack of max. 8 kilos. They supply a list with the things you need to bring, like a long sleeve shirt, long pants, insect repellent, etcetera. We left our big backpacks at the hostel, we would be returning there anyway, so this was pretty convenient.
It was a 3 hour drive, after which we’d change to a boat that would bring us to our final destination in just under an hour. The boat ride gave us our first glimpse of the region we’d be staying for the coming 4 days. And I have to say, it was looking promising!
Fishing for piranha
Now, the fishing was the only activity I wasn’t particularly excited about, since I don’t eat fish (or, meat in general). But, it turned out to be our first activity after we arrived at the lodge. So, out we went on the boat, with another couple that was staying at the lodge. And… we caught absolutely nothing! Which, apparently, doesn’t happen often, so I guess we were really unlucky. Although, I didn’t mind too much, haha.
Day 2: overnight stay in the jungle
An Amazon jungle tour is not complete without an overnight stay in the forest! In the morning of our second day we had breakfast, and at 9:00 we left with our guide to the jungle camp. Initially we were on a path, but before we knew it he took out his machete and ‘made’ a path for ourselves through the trees.
Not long after we went off the trail we must have disturbed a nest or something, and I was attacked by an angry wasp. I got stung 6 times. By the same wasp! Through my long pants! After the initial shock I was quite annoyed because the places where I got stung hurt pretty bad right after, and they started to feel like painful bruises as we continued our walk. Thankfully nothing else happened, and we arrived at the camp after about 2 hours.
First thing I did after we arrived was take off my long pants to check out the stings, which were still hurting pretty bad. They were big (like, small apple size) red, warm spots, but other than that they looked okay. Cristóvão gave me some oil to put on them, and that was that. The next morning they were looking a lot better already, and the soreness was almost gone.
Then, it was time to prepare some lunch. We brought a pan and some eggs, rice, potatoes, tomatoes and an onion. And, some fruits and coffee for breakfast, but that was for tomorrow only. We cut the veggies while Cristóvão started working on a fire. You can only make so many things when you’re cooking in the jungle, so everything was simply added to the pot. Simple, but nutritious :P.
Searching for wildlife
That afternoon we went in to the jungle to see if we could spot some wildlife! From the camp we had already seen and heard a bunch of parrots and araras, plus an urubu (type of vulture) that wandered in. But there are many more animals around, like several kinds of monkeys, so off we went.
We just walked out of the camp, following a narrow path. We (ahum, our guide) heard monkeys a couple of times, among other animals, but unfortunately we never spotted them. It’s the dry season, so the chances of seeing animals are lower, so it was unfortunate but not unexpected. However, as we were on our way back to camp, our guide spotted a tarantula. Have to say I didn’t necessarily wanted to see one of those, but you get what you get, haha. Thank god I have a zoom lens!
A night in the jungle
Now, with the knowledge of tarantulas in the jungle, and seeing the outline of a gigantic spider on the blue tarp that is covering our sleeping area, I was a bit… nervous about sleeping there. No way back now though, so just tried not thinking about it.
After we returned from our walk we had dinner, the same thing we had for lunch. It got dark pretty soon after, and that’s when the stars came out. It was so beautiful! And, for whatever irrational reasoning, this made me feel better about the sleeping situation.
We hit the hammocks pretty early, not like we had a lot of things we could do in the pitch black of the jungle. Luis read a bit, I watched an episode of something on my phone, before getting ready to sleep.
Let me tell you, the jungle is not silent! Branches and fruits fall out of the trees, there are loud bugs, you hear animals in the distance, all throughout the night. Cristóvão had told us stories of waking up to animals walking around the camp, which didn’t happen to us (unfortunately), but he did wake us up when he heard howler monkeys!
Day 3: return to the lodge & more fishing
The next morning we woke up with the sun, which was around 5:30. A simple breakfast of fruit, bread, eggs and coffee, we packed up our stuff and headed back to the lodge. Our next activity wouldn’t be until after lunch, so when we arrived, we went for a swim in the river to cool off and just relax. Before we knew it, it was already time to go fishing again, and this time we were a bit more successful. We still didn’t catch a lot, but we had a few piranhas to bring to the lodge kitchen.
The highlight of this afternoon, however, was the sunset. I mean, look at that…
Afterwards it was time for dinner, our last one at the lodge as our departure would be the next day. But before going to bed, we had a little nocturnal adventure on the water planned. We took a boat and went up the stream, to try and spot some wildlife. For some reason, many fish jumped in to our boat, but we also got to see some small alligators!
Day 4: a visit with the locals and back to Manaus
The day we knew was coming… we would be going back to Manaus after lunch. But until then, a visit to a local family was on the planning for us.
Cristóvão took us by boat, and showed us around the property. The head of the family explained how they make their own farinha de mandioca (cassave flour), which turns out is very long process with many different steps. Besides making farinha, they also have a lot of different types of fruit trees and plants.
After seeing the land, we went to one of the houses. We were being shown around, when all of a sudden our guide started calling o ut for ‘Laura’. We had no idea what was going on, until this blue and yellow arara came flying in!
When you’re in the Amazon (Manaus), a jungle tour is a must and we can highly recommend Amazon Antonio Jungle tours. All the guides speak English (and Portuguese), the food is great, also for vegetarians, and they are so knowledgable about everything. And, the accommodation itself is also very nice.
Something to keep in mind is the difference in seasons; we were there in the dry season, meaning there is less rain and the river is lower, but you probably won’t see as many animals. The wet season obviously has more rain, but also more wildlife. We might have to go back sometime in the wet season to see the difference… One day ;).