Manaus is the main gateway to the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. This is also a port city of the Amazon River itself and the largest city in Amazonia.
The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s largest tropical forest and covers around 40% of South America. Crossing nine nations, the majority of Amazonia is housed within Brazil and Peru.
Brazil contains 60% of this incredible forest. As the Amazon is the world’s largest container of wildlife, this is a significant reason why Brazil is regarded as the world’s most biodiverse country.
You can enjoy some fantastic Amazon River Tours from Manaus. An especially excellent area of Amazon to visit is the rainforest along the edges of the Rio Negro, the Amazon’s largest tributary.
Traveling up the Rio Negro, enjoy expertly guided tours into Amazonia to find an abundance of birds, monkeys, colorful butterflies, mysterious reptiles, tall emergent trees and delicate orchids.
In this region of rainforest, you can find the giant protected area of the Central Amazon Conservation Complex.
Within this vast region are several connected national parks and reserves, which are best explored on a rainforest cruise. These are the protected areas that form the Central Amazon Conservation Complex and protect record breaking levels of diversity.
This protected area mosaic covers over 6 million hectares of tropical forest. A fantastic area to explore, the wildlife protected in this enormous area is nothing short of incredible. The rainforest hides many interesting things, which you can discover on deep rainforest tours.
This is a great place to see giant trees with orchids and bromeliads clinging to the branches. You can also often see different monkeys moving through the trees, which will often watch as you navigate their jungle home.
On tours through this incredible area of rainforest, you will also spot hundreds of different birds, including iconic species like toucans and macaw parrots.
You will no doubt spot these colorful birds flying over the rainforest as you cruise the different waterways. Your guide will also be on the lookout for when the birds rest in different trees.
A fantastic area of the UNESCO listed Central Amazon Ecological Corridor is called the Anavilhanas National Park. This is one of the most accessible areas of the Central Amazon to reach from Manaus.
The region contains a large amount of very scenic flooded rainforest. Because of its flooded nature, there are a large number of aquatic and semi-aquatic animals and plants. These include manatees, caiman crocodilians, electric fish and the giant Arapaima fish. The higher ground and areas only experiencing periodic flooding are then home to many different monkeys, jaguar, giant otters and more.
This is also an area of the Rio Negro where you can find one of the largest river archipelagos worldwide. In total, there are over 400 different islands in this section of Amazonia. Swimming in the waters are also over 1,000 different fish with 10% found nowhere else on Earth. The islands themselves are home to different endemic plants due to the white-sand soils.
The Best Time to Visit the Amazon from Manaus
As Manaus is located in the world’s tropics, the climate is very similar from month to month. However, there are some differences to note.
Manaus experiences a high water and a wet and dry season. Temperature stays between 86 – 91°F (30 – 33°C) during the day. Although, August to November have been recorded with hot days approaching 99°F (37°C).
If you’re considering an Amazon River cruise from Manaus, it may be useful to note that the high water season is from February / March until July / August. This is when it’s easier to navigate the waterways and you can get farther into the rainforest aboard guided motorized skiffs.
The high and low water months also determine which animals are easier and harder to find. The semi-aquatic animals are often easier to see over the dry season. Another important factor is that over the wet weather months, the forest fruits and flowers. This is when it can be easier to see different monkeys as they feed from the fruiting trees. Note that the most important consideration is your tour and the knowledge and experience of your guides.
Manaus itself is the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest. As well as a major tourist gateway to the Amazon, Manaus is also a major industrial hub for Brazil. With over 2 million people, Manaus feels like any other large city. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of the rainforest. However, from Manaus you can enjoy fantastic rainforest tours to explore areas far from civilization.
Although one of the best suggestions for things to do from Manaus is to venture into Amazonia, there are some fantastic attractions in the city itself. One of the most popular city sights is the incredible Amazon Theatre. This is a monument to the city’s prosperity during the rubber boom when the world’s finest materials were shipped to the Amazon for the theatre’s construction. Made with French glass, Italian marble and Scottish steel, the theatre is ornately decorated throughout and provides a glimpse of a bygone time.
The Rio Negro
The Rio Negro is the Amazon River’s largest tributary. Starting in the Colombian Andes, the Rio Negro flows southeast for over 1,020 miles. A giant river in its own right, the Rio Negro is one of the world’s largest rivers and at its confluence with the Amazon contains three times the volume of the mighty Mississippi in the USA.
At the confluence with the Amazon River, the two giant rivers run side by side for 4 miles (6 kilometers) forming what is known as the Meeting of Waters.
The Meeting of Waters is an attraction in its own right from the city of Manaus. This is where the dark, nutrient-rich water of the Rio Negro run beside the lighter and sediment filled water of the Amazon River. Because of differences with speed and temperature, the rivers don’t mix and the color differences creates a visual spectacle. This is often enjoyed on day trips from Manaus.
The Tucano Expedition Cruise
A recommend experience from Manaus to explore the Amazon Rainforest is the Tucano Expedition Cruise. Travel up the Rio Negro into areas of the Amazon unreachable for most other tours.
Styled as a 19th Century steamship, the Tucano offers elegant wood paneling throughout and comfortable accommodation.
The Tucano is an expedition cruise, which means you won’t be confined to the vessel but will instead enjoy guided tours into Amazonia. At various points in the rainforest, board motorized skiffs for naturalist-led wildlife watching experiences. Enjoy finding a diversity of birds, several different monkeys, reptiles, tall emergent trees, delicate orchids, and even enjoy night spotting tours for caiman crocodilians.
Due to the Tucano’s design, the vessel can access different waterways out of reach by many other vessels. This means you can get deeper into the forest for some better chances to see fascinating animals and plants. You will also visit a few different rainforest settlements and villages to see how people live in the rainforest. This provides an excellent opportunity for a cultural exchange.
Aboard the Tucano, you will visit different rainforest types, including flooded, semi-flooded and high ground areas. This allows you to have a representative look at Amazonia and see the different plants and animals that inhabit each habitat.
In the terra firma, or high ground forest, you can see the magnificent buttress roots of the giant trees. The sight provides the iconic image of a tropical rainforest. In the shade of these giant trees, you can see all the other different plants that provide habitat for a host of different animals. Your guide is sure to point out the tell tale signs of pigs, agoutis, paca, jaguar, armadillo, and other large animals of the rainforest floor.
Aside from the beautiful scenery and wildlife, another favorite attraction of deep Amazonia is viewing the stars at night. Free from any light pollution, this is an incredible area to view the Milky Way in stunning detail.
On some nights, you will explore the waterways on guided skiff expeditions to spotlight for different nocturnal animals. Enjoy spotting different owls, night monkeys and caiman crocodilians.
To add to the experience aboard the Tucano, you can enjoy guided kayaking through the rainforest. Not only adding to the adventure, with the quieter kayaks you can often see birds and other wildlife harder to see on the motorized skiff excursions.