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  • Cruising on the Amazon: tips and tricks

    photo by lollyknit

    The Amazonian rainforest is the stuff of legends, there’s no question about it. From documentaries, photo albums, films and books, anthropological studies and travel stories, the might Amazon has acquired a fame like nothing else on the planet.

    The Amazon rainforest is the largest and richest tropical rainforest on the planet, while the Amazon river is the second longest in the world, and has the highest waterflow of all the rivers on Earth.

    I would take years if not more for a traveler to wade through the jungle, but there’s an easiest and fastest way to glimpse some of the wonders of the Amazon, without turning into Indiana Jones – taking a cruise on the river. Here are some things to know for a traveler planning on cruising on the Amazon: tips and tricks.

    Tickets

    photo by LollyKnit on Flickr

    Your journey on the Amazon will either start or end in Manaus, Brazil, a modern and sprawling city on the edge of the old rainforest. There are many boats and cruise ships that can take you through the murky waters of the Amazon, and you should set aside a few days in Manaus to consider your options.

    Walking around the port and asking around is a good way to inform yourself about prices, which can come up to as much as $200. However, it’s possible to get last-minute tickets for considerably lower prices, because captains will do whatever they can to fill up the places on their boats.

    Luxurious cruise ships can be found too, but the cargo boats that also transport passengers on the top decks manage to capture much better the atmosphere of the Amazon.

    Sleeping

    photo by Ollie Harridge

    Most boats and ships have modern, air-conditioned cabins, but if you are the camping/backpacking type you will be much happier buying a hammock and sleeping on one of the decks.

    Hammocks can be bought for less than $10, and they will serve you well for the duration of the trip, especially if you’d like to see what it’s like to be rocked to sleep by the Amazon’s waves. If you decide to sleep in a hammock, it’s a good idea to arrive early in order to find a good place for it. Avoid the rear of the ship where kitchens and toilets are often located.

    Food

    Most boats include three meals in the ticket price, but in most cases you shouldn’t expect to be fed gourmet cuisine. Beans, rice and pasta are often the staple meals you get on Amazon boats, so if you want something else, you had better visit a supermarket beforehand (and stock up on snacks too, while at it). Drinks are not allowed on board most of the time, but there will be a bar or two where you can get beer at least.

    Things to do

    photo by Nick Jewell

    Unless you are really unlucky, you will not be the only traveler or backpacker on the boat, and there will be plenty of locals too with whom you can chat if you know some Portuguese (if not, it’s your chance to learn from native speakers!).

    Play cards, read, exchange stories with others, and watch the stunning scenery in between. Cargo boats will stop at quite a few villages, and you can step on solid land for a couple of hours and pick up souvenirs, more snacks, etc.

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