A Guide to Exploring the Amazon in Brazil
Verdant rainforest, isolated tribes and abundant wildlife - the Amazon conjures up incredible images for even the most seasoned of travellers.
The Brazilian Amazon is a magical place, filled with pristine rainforest and eclectic wildlife a delight to explore.
If you’re thinking of heading to the Amazon on your next trip to Brazil, we’ve put together this guide to exploring the Amazon in Brazil to help you make the most of your journey.
Brazil’s gateway to the Amazon
In northern Brazil, Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon – it’s the capital of the vast Amazonas region, so journeying through the Amazon from here is relatively hassle free. A major port for seafaring vessels, Manaus is the starting point for anyone travelling the Amazon by boat. While the city itself is somewhat unremarkable, it’s a good place to get things in order before you set off on your epic adventure. The Amazonian rainforest has a population density that is smaller than that of even Mongolia, so Manaus is the last contact with the modern world you’ll have on your journey.
With one fifth of the world’s fresh water, the Amazon is one of the last remaining natural spectacles on the planet. The sheer scale of this part of the world is outstanding, with new fish, bird and animal species constantly being discovered in the vast river. The dense vegetation here means it’s important you have a great guide, and staying in lodges that aren’t affected by development or deforestation is the key to making the most of your Amazonian adventure. The lodges we work with are some of the best in the region, ensuring you’ll have an experience filled with pristine natural wilderness. It’s possible to visit the Amazon year round, but the best and driest months are July to October.
Where to stay in the Amazon
In Brazil, the Amazon River is wilder than it is in Peru or Ecuador – at one shore, you can be kilometres away from the other, and sunset over the river is an unforgettable sight. The forest’s trees are older and taller in Brazil than they are in the flooded forest in other parts of the Amazon, so in the Brazilian Amazon, it really does feel as though you’re in the heart of the jungle. The lodges we work with are all based on eco-tourism models, so you can enjoy the rainforest while also helping to preserve it.
In the Anavilhanas archipelago, which houses a staggering 400 river islands, the charming Anavilhanas Lodge takes centre stage. Set on the banks of the Rio Negro next to the Anavilhanas National Park, this lodge is a great place for nature lovers. The lodge is made up of sixteen tastefully decorated wood-paneled rooms, which all come complete with air conditioning and a private veranda. A well-stocked reading room, a pool and a deck all add luxurious touches to this lovely lodge. There’s plenty on offer here, with travellers able to spend time doing everything from dolphin spotting to piranha fishing.
For an even more remote experience, head to Cristalino Lodge. Set in its own 28,176 hectare reserve, this incredible lodge was named one of the best hotels in the entire country by National Geographic Traveller. Cristalino is a wonderful, expertly designed lodge that expertly marries comfort with conscience. Only reachable by boat, Cristalino manages to combine several different accommodation options, so there’s something to suit every type of traveller.
The property’s efforts to be sustainable are commendable, with solar-powered hot water and biological waste treatment keeping the property up and running. Upper-tier room options offer private gardens, so you’re never far away from a great view over the Amazon. As well as a relaxing environment, Cristalino offers opportunities to go canoeing, wander through canopy tours or delight in a spot of birdwatching. This lodge is one of our firm favourites.
If you’re a true wildlife enthusiast, few places compare to Uacari Lodge. Its remote location in the Mamiraua wildlife preserve means that it’s far away from any human influence, so the surrounding wildlife thrives. The surroundings are so pristine that even scientists exploring and researching the Amazon habitat have previously used the lodge as their base. A floating lodge that is relatively rustic, Uacari is best suited to intrepid explorers. All tours from the lodge are accompanied by a local guide and trained naturalist, so staying here is also an educational experience. At some times of the year, it may even be possible to accompany the naturalists on their research trips, so Uacari is the place to stay for any nature enthusiast.
Amazon cruise ships
As the Brazilian Amazon is so wild and expansive, there are few better ways of exploring the area than aboard a luxury cruise ship. If you’re looking for the most luxurious and exclusive Amazon experience possible, then a private trip aboard the Zenith can’t be beaten. This 120-foot mega yacht is able to navigate the further reaches of the Amazon and its tributaries, so you can get closer to nature than you ever have before. On this private cruise, you’ll be able to tailor your tour especially to you, so you can get whatever it is you want out of your Amazonian experience. With a home theatre saloon, two Yamaha jet skis, a sauna, jacuzzi and a river boat, the Zenith has everything you could possibly need for a luxury adventure.
If you’d rather explore the Amazon alongside other travellers, the M/V Tucano is a great option. One of the most complete Amazon Boat experiences available, this ship is a true expedition cruise experience. The cruise lasts seven nights in total, allowing you to explore further into the Amazon than you would with other boats. With a maximum of eighteen guests across nine comfortable cabins, this classic riverboat has the perfect blend of privacy and opportunities to swap stories with fellow travellers.
The M/V Tucano cruises down the Rio Negro and, at its furthermost point, explores the beautiful Amazon tributary of the Rio Jauaperi. Some of the highlights of this cruise include night safaris through the rainforest to spot nocturnal wildlife, wandering through flooded forest and exploring the astonishing Lago Janauari Ecological Park.
Things to do in the Amazon
The Amazon has the biggest diversity of bird species in the world, with over 2,000 different species calling the rainforest home. In Brazil, Cristalino Reserve is the Amazon’s premier bird spotting territory, with over 586 reported bird species found here. With several different accommodation options available at Cristalino Lodge, this birdwatching haven is suitable for all types of traveller. Explorers can wander through Cristalino on foot or sail down the Amazon in a motorised canoe but for some of the best bird spotting, the lodge’s in-house observation towers shouldn’t be overlooked.
Visit indigenous communities
Brazil’s Amazon is thought to be home to around at least a hundred different tribal groups. It’s one of the most diverse parts of the Amazon across the whole of Latin America. Some estimates place the first human settlement in the Amazon at around 32,000 to 39,000 years ago, so these indigenous groups have spent centuries adapting their way of life to the harsh rainforest environment. Today, most Amazonian tribes live in indigenous reserves called resguardos, where they live a lifestyle that blends both traditional and modern elements. Some of these communities make a living from tourism and guiding, so visiting them in a responsible manner while you’re out there is a great way to support the locals.
The abundance of wildlife is one of the main draws for many travellers journeying through the Amazon, and it’s easy to see why. In the skies above, travellers can spot parrots, macaws and aquatic birds amongst others. Monkeys also call the Amazonian treetops home, with tamarins, squirrel monkeys and howler monkeys all present amongst the branches. Adventurers can head on a night safari to seek out nocturnal creatures – you might be rewarded with the sight of tree frogs, giant crickets or potoo birds. With so much to see, the Amazon is sure to please even the most discerning wildlife enthusiast.