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Friday, 31 January 2014

Day 20 - Friday 24th January - Manaus - The Amazonian Experience

The Amazonian equivalent of a bust stop - river boats at Manaus
Today Peter and I are acting as escorts on "The Amazonian Experience" excursion. This is one of our favourite tours and we are really pleased to be escorting it - although being an escort means you have to count people and keep track of them and fill in forms and chase around with hand sanitizer. But we are still dead chuffed to be on this tour. Because of numbers, we are both on the same boat, and funny enough, our tour guide, Ali, is the same tour guide that we had on both previous occasions that we've done this tour. He waved at us from the boat when he saw us on the quay.

So passengers aboard and off we went - first to the meeting of the waters. At Manaus it is the meeting of the Rio Negro and the Solimoes (Amazon). Always good stuff, and Ali always gets a cup of water from each river to show the difference between the two. The reason the rivers don't mix and run side by side for several miles is because of temperature, speed and acidity.
The Meeting of the Waters at Manaus - Rio Solimoes and Rio Negro
From there we went to Lake January, taking loads of pictures as we went.
Floating village in Amazonia, on the way to Lake January
Proud Amazonian fisherman and his catch.  He got a round of applause from the boat when we saw this. 
Houses on stilts in Amazonia
We reached the floating restaurant at Lake January where we dismounted from our river boat and climbed into small, 10 man canoes to be taken around Lake January and into the inlets leading off. Our little canoe went the opposite direction to the other 8, so we were on our own. It was like being in the rain forest proper. We looked out for the birds, listened to the noises of the insects, and watched the jungle trees go by.
We all sat quietly, absorbing our surroundings and feeling the wonder of the place.

I even saw a monkey. I use the words amazing, wonderful, fantastic and brilliant a lot, but that is because they all apply, and they especially applied to this little canoe ride.

Back at the floating restaurant, we then enjoyed a locally prepared meal including two of the favourite fish of the region (sorry, I can't remember the names), before taking a walk over a rickety wooden bridge to the lily pad lake. The bridge lifts you 15ft or so off the ground (to cope with flooding I suppose), but it also means you are amongst the trees and any monkeys that might be about. And guess what? There were monkeys about.

White fronted capuchin
There was a caiman basking at the lake, but I didn't manage to get a decent photograph. It didn't matter because the lily pads on the lake are quite spectacular all by themselves. It's a shame that the flowers only come out at night.
Lily Pads at Lake Janauary, Amazonia
White fronted capuchin

The few of us that were last walking back across the bridge were granted an absolutely wonderful experience. A troop of monkeys decided make their way towards the lily pad lake as we were coming back. Not only did they make their way along the ground below us, but a fair number decided that the bridge was the appropriate route, and followed each other, one by one, up the sides to dash past the spectators stood on the bridge. We stood in awe and delight. What an amazing experience.

Sadly though it was more or less time to get back to the riverboat and make the hour long trip back to the ship. I say more or less, because there was confusion over what time we had to be back, and then, when we were all on board, we seemed to have lost two passengers? But we hadn't really - a certain tour rep can't count!

Everyone agreed it was a wonderful, wonderful day out, and we all wished we could stay longer. But tomorrow we are at Parintins which we know will be very different. Class.

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