Viking Ocean Cruises - From the Caribbean to the Amazon
December 28 - 29 - Manaus, Brazil
Temperature high 87, low 77 with some showers. Map of Manaus.
December 28 - It was a long sail from Parintins to Manaus. We arrived at the port at noon. Having no excursions planned, we decided to disembark and explore part of the city near the port. Roaming farther would have been foolish in this city of over 2 million inhabitants. The city is fairly isolated. To reach it from any distance, you have sail or fly. We were docked in a working port which means that commercial shipping activity was active. We had to take a bus from our ship to the terminal building. This would have been very nice if the air conditioning on the bus was not blasting extremely cold air on us. We persevered, though, and were soon on the city streets.
It was overcast with some occasional light drizzle. We could tell that a storm had moved through by wet streets, puddles on the sidewalk and pool of water at some curb sides. Lots of people were walking around shopping, commuting, socializing and going about their business. The main streets, heavy with traffic, were paved with cobblestones. Other streets had paving stones and worn asphalt. The side streets were lined with colorful open-air shops. Many had vendor carts in the middle of the streets selling food, clothing, hardware and a myriad of other goods. We wandered around for an hour or two absorbing the busy life in a big unfamiliar culture. There were friendly people. An older man stopped to talk to us as we started our walk. He had lived in the US. He wanted to make sure that we knew that this area was safe.
December 29 - We had a very busy day planned. Getting up early was not a problem because we were anxious to learn special skills on the Jungle Survival Trek. Meeting in the Star Theater at 8:15, we filed out to the pier and boarded a river boat which motored up the Rio Negro under a beautiful cable-stayed bridge to our destination beach near Guedes Lake. The stark blue waters of the Rio Negro were a sharp contrast to the muddy brown Amazon. We disembarked via a rickety portable ladder and walked to a hut next to the small lake. After a quick break, we climbed a long staircase and were in the tropical forest.
From the link above, you can read more of the objective of the excursion. We found that the explanations, demonstrations and sample tastings were fascinating. It was much more educational than our previous walk near Santarem.
After the trek, we had refreshments in the hut and returned to our ship.
After a quick lunch, we met our afternoon included Scenic Manaus Tour. We met our tour bus near the gangway. This time we didn't have to ride in an overly air conditioned vehicle. The tour started by taking us to the better part of the city with a nice beach, high-rise condos and parks. Then we drove into the gritty part of town with its public housing, bus stops and shops. We went by historic buildings in the city and walked around the Manaus Opera House and its surrounding park. We ended up driving past the Mercado Municipal, a bustling marketplace that sells fish, tropical produce and medicinal herbs. We escaped danger there when we heard gunshots inside the market and saw people scrambling.
I took a lot of photos through the window of the bus, so the quality of the video on the right is not very good.