Manaos, Capital de Amazonas
Manaus, is a Brazilian city of about 2.5 million, located on the Rio Negro a few miles before it meets the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River properly. The two rivers flow side by side for many miles, different in color, mixing in eddies: the “Meeting of the Waters.” Legend has it that they never mix.
The wealth of the primeval forest becomes visible first of all in the architecture of the city. The city was rich and the rubber barons afforded the biggest luxury from Europe, a copy of the Grand Opera de Paris – the Teatro Amazonas. Other monuments from this epoch are the Mercado Municipal, a copy of the famous market halls Les Halles in Paris, and the arts center Palacio Rio Negro, located among fascinating Portuguese facades. Today Manaus is a foreign trade zone. Foreign enterprises don’t pay import duties, what guarantees a certain income for the city and the region. Electronics, wood industry and oil refineries have settled in the outskirts in industrial areas. The harbour is the most important trading center in the city with regional, national and international products.
The city is pleasant and friendly, although quite hot, and is still a major port, and a good starting point for river tours.
The Rio Negro (northern) branch of the Amazon is the color of strong tea, peaty brown and its comparative acidity means few mosquitoes. At Manaus the Amazon rises and falls almost twenty meters between seasons. In May and June it’s at its peak, full and very wide, spreading way out into the trees. In November and December it’s low; still massive but with sandbars.
- Opera House (Teatro Amazonas). n/n Praça São Sebastião, Center, +55 92 3622-1880. Everyday, starting time of shows may vary. The Opera House was built during the heyday of rubber trade, using materials from all over the world, and was once visited by all the most famous opera divas and maestros. Regular guided tours in English. There are frequent free performances; be sure to arrive at least an hour in advance to secure a seat. Prices vary.
- The Meeting of Waters (Encontro das aguas), the mysterious place where the waters of two different-colored rivers meet to form the great Amazon. Served by many tour operators, but also entirely reachable independently by public transportation. One can take a public bus to Ceasa port, located outside Manaus (for example, there are buses departing from the giant station near Mercado Municipal), then a public ferry Ceasa-Careiro, which will slowly pass over the meeting of waters. (It is also possible to take an express boat, but it doesn’t provide a good view.)
- Mercado Municipal. n/n Rua dos Barés, +55 92 3234-8441. Every day, 8AM-10PM. The city’s main market is modeled after the Les Halles market in Paris.
- Natural Science Museum (Museu de Ciencias Naturais da Amazônia). n/n Estrada Belem , Colonia Cachoeira Grande. Few locals visit this museum, know about it, or would even want to, considering that it’s basically critters they’d find (almost) in their backyard. For visitors, though, it’s a chance to see a live pirarucu and other fauna (mostly preserved) of the region. The museum was constructed single-handedly by a Japanese entomologist (specializing in butterflies) with his own money and resources. It’s out of the way and about half an hour by taxi. The nearby INPA is a preserve and research center with birds and other wildlife.
- Rio Negro Palace. 1546 Av. 7 de Setembro , +55 92 3232-4450. Call for information on attractions. The Rio Negro Palace was built by German farmers in the “golden age”. Nowadays it’s a cultural center and theater. It’s one of the city’s postcards. Prices vary.
- Ponta Negra Beach it’s a nice spot,and popular river beach. It has several bars and restaurants and is some distance west of the city.
- Praia da Lua Beach very clean and nice river beach a few kilometers from Ponta Negra upstream the Rio Negro. Access by shared motorized canoe from Estalagem de David.
- Paricatuba Waterfall is on the right bank of the Negro River, along a small tributary, is formed by sedimentary rocks, surrounded by abundant vegetation. Access is by boat. The best time to visit is from August to February.
- Love Cascade is in the Guedes bayou, with cold and crystal clear water, is accessible only by boat and, then, hiking through the Forest.
If you want to hire Lodging for your stay in Manaus, or walks / Excursions in this fantastic city, to make tours in the jungle,