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Manaus might seem strange at first glance. Buried deep in the Amazon on the banks of the Rio Negro, near its merging with the Amazon River, is a city of over a million and half people! Not only is this a large city, it is also a major production centre for DVD players, mobile phones and computer monitors.
The city had a humble beginning as a small Indian village built around a Portuguese fort. The fort was built to stop the expansion of the Dutch from Suriname. The city slowly grew over the next two hundred years and the name was officially changed to Manaus in 1856 to honor a local Indian god. In the late 19th to the early 20th century there was a major economic boom because of the world wide demands for natural rubber. This made Manaus a very wealthy and powerful city. Examples of this wealth and power is that Manaus was the first city in Brazil to have electricity, a pluvial drainage system, water treatment, sewer systems, electric streetcar service and the first university in Brazil. Another great example of the wealth of Manaus is the stunning Teatro Amazonas that amazed the world at the time.
When rubber plants where smuggled out of Brazil it caused a major economic downturn in the Manaus area. In 1967 Manaus was designated an economic free zone, which allowed the economy to grow again. Today Manaus is slowly growing and is also a major starting point for tourism into the heart of the Amazon. This city is difficult to get to and is well worth it for its amazing sights in and around the Manaus area.
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Teatro Amazonas, in English Amazon Theatre, is an amazing opera house built in the city centre. Built in a Renaissance style this opera house took seventeen years to build, with construction being completed in 1895. The money for the theatre was funded by the massive rubber boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. The decadence in this building is outrageous with roofing tiles, furniture and murals of the meeting of the waters from Alsace and Paris. From Italy came Carrarra Marble for the stairs, statues and columns, also 198 chandeliers, including 32 made from Murano glass in Venice. The dome on the outside is covered with over 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the Brazilian flag. Pretty much everything was imported from Europe, including the bricks, except the wood. After the rubber market collapsed the theatre suffered greatly.
There were no opera performances in the theatre for almost 90 years but when a populist governor got elected into office he pledged to save the theatre. The theatre is now fully restored and has many opera and classical symphony performances every year. Since 2004 the Amazones Film Festival is held in the theatre now. This sight is a must see when visiting Manaus.
If looking for a short trip to a week stay in a lodge in the heart of the Amazon this city is a great lunching point. It is very easy to jump on a boat to see the Amazon, waterfalls and beaches for a day trip. It is also possible to arrange trips to jungle lodges from Manaus for adventures to more remote areas in the rain forest.
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This is where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet with the muddy brown water of the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River. Because the rivers are different temperatures and run at different speeds it makes them run side by side for almost 6 kilometres. The two rivers then slowly mix together to make the mother of all rivers. The Rio Negro flows at around 2 kilometres and hour at 28 °C while the Rio Solimões flows at 4 to 6 kilometres and hour at 22 °C.
Manaus can be a very unpleasant place to stay if you don't like an urban jungle combined with high temperatures and humidity of almost 90%. Temperatures hoover around 30 °C to 32 °C on most days and don't drop below 22 °C at night, most times it is even over 25 °C though. From August to November temperatures can reach an unbearable 38 °C, certainly not the best time for a visit to Manaus and surroundings. Rainy season starts after this hot and relatively dry period with most rain falling from January to May. After this time, it becomes drier and temperatures are still fine. June is not a bad months to visit, especially if you like the highwater season near Manaus where you can enjoy floating through the forest by canoe.
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Eduardo Gomes International Airport (MAO) is the major airport in the area. The airport has 2 terminals where Terminal 1 receives domestic and international flights while Terminal 2 receives regional flights and some private jets. Be aware that the terminals are about 700 metres apart from eachother and when you have a taxi waiting for you, be sure to name the airport or give flight details. The airport handled 2 million passengers in 2007. The easiest way to reach Manaus is by air. There are flights from cities such as Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo (City), Quito and several other international and domestic cities.
You can reach Manaus by car from neighbouring cities and towns, but there is only one main road and that's to the north. All other roads (going west, east and south) are in terrible condition or even non-existent anymore. You need to arrange a 4wd and preferably travel with two cars to try and cross the Amazonian highway. Going north towards Venezuela is quite easy though and a 2wd will be sufficient.
There are not many options to travel by bus to places further away. Most bustravel is within the region to towns and cities a few hours away. It is convenient though if you want to travel north towards Venezuela and Guyana. Buses travel between Manaus and Boa Vista daily and take about 12 hours. From here it's a few hours to the borders of the countries mentioned above. There are direct services all the way to Caracas if you want but this is a long trip and if you don't want to visit places in between, take a plane.
Manaus is the gateway of the Amazon regarding boat travel. You have a choice of taking slowboats to most places and several fast boats to a few places as well. These fast boats are really only an alternative if you don't want to take a slow boat and you are not able to take a plane. They might be a bit cheaper than planes, but take much longer still and seating is plane like with a few good meals. AJATO is the main operator and travels to Tefé in about 12 hours and all the way to Tabatinga in 31 hours once or twice a weak. Other services used to include Santarém to the east as well, but check with them if these are still running. Slow boats travel across the Amazon River east to Santarem and Belem, taking 1 to 2 days to Santarem and around 3 or 4 days to Belem. To the west along the Solimoes River, travel is much slower because you go upstream. It takes around 2 days to reach Tefé and another 3 or so to reach Tabatinga on the border with Colombia and Peru. From here you can travel even further into Peru to the city of Iquitos. Food is included, but you're best advised to bring snacks and bottled water. Traveling upstream from Manaus to Tabatinga, the trip costs about US$110 in your hammock or US$330 for a double cabin. From Tabatinga, the trip to Manaus takes three days and four nights and costs around US$65 if you bring your own hammock, or around US$240 for two people in a double cabin.
Other trips less popular with travellers are routes to Porto Velho in the south along the Rio Madeira and north to São Gabriel da Cachoeira travelling along the Rio Negro. The first takes about 4 days, the second almost a week!
On all these boats you have a choice to spend the nights in a hammock or for a little bit more you can get a cabin, sometimes with airconditioning, usually only with a fan. In the latter case, it can become very hot in the cabins, so travel like the locals do and learn to sleep in a hammock, enjoying the fresh nightly air.
Manaus has food for every budget but unfortunately many of the restaurants don't offer the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the warm evenings.
One of the exceptions is the area on the southwestern corner of the square around the Amazon Theater in the historical part of Manaus. The African House is good for lunch while its neighbour offers good food during the evening.
|HI Manaus||Rua Lauro Cavalcante 231 - Centro||Hostel||76|
|Manaus Hostel Trip Tour||Rua Costa Azevedo,63- Centro||Hostel||76|
|Hotel Palace Manaus||Av. 7 de Setembro, 593, Centro||Hotel||-|
|Mango Guesthouse||Rua F. Espirito Santo 1 Kissia II Manaus||Guesthouse||-|
|Amazon Geo Lodge||Hotel: Sustainable development Reserve of Tupé in Rio Negro Office: Rua 24 de Maio, 220||Guesthouse||-|
|Manaus Jungle Hostel||Rua Lauro Cavalcante, 70 Amazing Tours Agency||Hostel||-|
|Hostel Natureba||Av.Getulio Vargas Centro 694||Hostel||67|
|Hotel Colonial||Rua Quintino Bocauvia, 462 Centro||Hotel||88|
|Sergio Torres||Rua Dez de Julho, 679 Centro||Hostel||-|
|Hostel 10 de Julho||Rua Dez de Julho, 679 Centro||Hostel||-|
|HI Amazonas||Av. Ramos Ferreira, 922 Centro||Hostel||-|
|Pousada Mamori||Amazon Forest (Mamori)||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Ideal Manaus||Rua dos Andradas, 491 Centro||Hotel||63|
|Taj Mahal Continental Hotel||Av.Getulio Vargas 741 Centro||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Fortal||Rua da Instalacao, 212 Centro||Hotel||-|
|Hotel do Largo Manaus||Rua Monsenhor Coutinho, 790 Centro||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Internacional||Rua Dr Moreira, 168 Centro||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Brasil Manaus||Av Getulio Vargas, 657 Centro||Hotel||-|
|Gol Backpackers Manaus||Rua Barroso, 365, Centro - Manaus||HOSTEL||78|
|Big Hostel Brasil||Av. Sete de Setembro, No. 1653 Centro||HOSTEL||81|
|Hotel Veneza Manaus||Rua Leovegildo Coelho, 480||HOTEL||-|
|Amazon Hostel & Hotel||Av Floriano Peixoto, 287 Centro||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Ocara Hostel||Travessa Rotary, 72 Centro||HOSTEL||-|
See also International Telephone Calls
Correios is the national postal service of Brazil. It is a government run postal service and overseen by the Brazilian Ministry of Communications. Post offices are generally open from Monday to Friday from 09:00am to 5:00pm, although post offices located in shopping malls have their own opening hours, usually from 10:00am to 10:00pm. There are no set opening hours at weekends and as post office owners can choose when to open and close. More and more post offices are open until 1:00pm on Saturdays though. You can check things at the nearest post office. Sending postcards, letters and parcels is a rather straightforward process and services are reliable, though not overly fast when sending post internationally, mostly taking about a week to the USA and Europe, and there is a track-and-trace service for this as well. Domestically, there are both next day as well as more expensive same day delivery options. Stamps are available at post offices, as well as some kiosks or other places where they sell postcards.
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