As the starting point for any jungle river tour, Manaus often takes people by surprise because of its size and location. 900 miles inland from the Atlantic Coast, and smack dab in the middle of Brazil, lies this city of 1.7 million people. Yup! You read correctly. Manaus is Brazil’s 7th largest urban city, and historically the world’s leader in rubber exports (as in latex from the tree!). Now its popularity comes from ecotourism generated by Amazon tours and from being a free-trade zone.
Places to Visit in Manaus
- Manaus Opera House
- Palacio Rio Negro
- Arena Amazonia Jau national Park
- Praia da Lua
Unique Things to See and Do in Manaus
- Take a boat trip up the Amazon
- Witness the Meeting of the Waters
- Sleep in a jungle hut in the middle of the rainforest
- Take an aerial photo of the Anavilhanas Archipelago
- Eat at least 4 different kinds of fish (2000 species here!)
- See the giant lily pads at the Parque Ecologico Januari
Exploring Manaus is like touring any other busy modern city in Brazil, but with a few unique exceptions.
One is the Meeting of the Waters. How many cities in the world have something as astonishing as this? The city is situated along the Rio Negro, a river with dark waters, and the Rio Solimoes, a river with sandy coloured water. Where the two rivers meet to converge into one, the waters don’t mix. For 6km you can see both coloured waters running side by side. One dark and one light. This is one of those times when taking a helicopter tour and boat tour are both well worth it. Seeing this sight from each perspective is fascinating.
The second unique feature is the history of European influence. The legacy left behind from the days of the rubber trade barons are some beautiful monuments of European culture that were built during the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the Teatro Amazonas – a replica of the Grand Opera de Paris. Another popular sight is the Mercado Municipal, a market that mimics Les Halles in Paris. What makes this unique (since Europeans have left their mark in most countries around the world) is that the materials needed to build these structures were often brought in. They even hauled iron works in from Europe. That’s no small venture!
Getting around Manaus
As most people are surprised by the size and urban sprawl of the city, you’ll be happy to hear the public transit is extensive too. Public buses are cheap and travel to most places. For those with a limited amount of time the taxis here are also inexpensive and accessible from most streets. There are meters with set rates which is your best option, but many drivers will “decide” on a flat rate for tourist – often inflated. Confirm your price before you get in. Renting a car is another option, but NOT advised. If you must rent a car get the highest amount of coverage on your insurance and double check that the seatbelts work. Some highways are not fully paved which will make access next to impossible during the rainy season.
Did you know…?
The lily pads in the Amazon can grow to 2.5 meters across! (8 feet!)
Did you ALSO know…?
Banana exports from Brazil account for 10% of the world’s total banana production.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Manaus
Manaus is located in the Amazon River basin, which means it’s hot and humid with only two seasons, dry and wet. For most travellers, the best time to visit is between June and September during the dry season. June is an excellent option as the water levels are quite high. The worst time to go is during the wet months of March, April, and May. June can receive 115mm of rain whereas March sees an average of 335mm.
Ready to plan your visit to Manaus? Check out these popular guides and trips.