The hot and hectic river-port city of Manaus is the largest settlement in the entire Amazon Basin. Like Iquitos in Peru, Manaus experienced a surge in both size and sophistication during the rubber boom of the mid- to late-1800s. As wealthy European investors poured in, so too did elevated culture: art, architecture, even the opera, earning the city the label of “The Paris of the Tropics.”
Such an elegant title might seem slightly out of place today. But while Manaus has lost its sophisticated European glow, you can still see glimpses of its colonial past — and the Amazonas Opera House still stands.
If you do spend a few days in the city, you can easily escape the hustle and bustle by visiting Mindú Municipal Park or the Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA), both a short taxi ride from the city center. Slightly further afield but still in easy reach are the Ponta Negra Cultural Park and the Adolpho Ducke Forest Reserve.
For most people, however, Manaus itself is not the main draw. Rather, the city serves as a base for exploring the surrounding Amazon Rainforest. Jungle tours of two to seven days are hugely popular, with daily rates to suit most budgets. With a certified tour operator and a knowledgeable guide, you’ll be able to head into the jungle in search of parrots and macaws, squirrel monkeys and howler monkeys, alligators and pink river dolphins, and much, much more.
Setting off from Manaus and into the Brazilian Amazon, the opportunities for unforgettable adventures and stunning sights are almost endless. You can see the famous “Meeting of the Waters”, where the Rio Negro enters the Rio Solimões. You can explore the narrow waterways and flooded forests of the Manacapurú Region, or meet indigenous communities. Or you can simply relax on a luxury river cruise as you wind your way down the mighty Amazon River. Whatever you chose to do, you’re sure to come back both awed and inspired.
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