An early start for an Amazon experience and although the weather forecast is for thunderstorms, the sky is clear, it is hot and over 90% humidity with a lovely view of the city hall in reflection on a modern building.
Just a small boat for 60 people to start with as we head out to the Negros river turning briefly north towards THE bridge that takes a road another 100 or so miles, to Novo Airao, that is considered by the locals to be a bit of a white elephant – not many people use it.
We turn and progress downstream to the water’s meet passing a few more docking areas, the fish market, a few favelas, a few floating petrol stations, a sailing boat under motor and even a local ferry that has an ATM on board!
We did pass a small pod of pink dolphins but they were too quick to be photographed.
We get a good 10 minute delay whilst the vessel gets stopped by the river police who are there to check the ship’s papers, a regular occurrence we are told.
Even the tour guide could be asked to show his authority to be a tour guide.
A couple of other tourist boats overtake us whilst we are stopped but when we get going again, at least one of them gets stopped itself so we manage to get in front of them.
At the meeting of the waters, we and a couple of other boats swirl about in the brown water from the Amazon and the black water from the River Negros on which Santarem is situated.
The waters don’t mix due to the mismatch of the acidic content of each river until about 70km downstream when the brown water presides.
This is something that can be seen from space – a truly wonder of the world.
Off down the Solimoes river past a house recently built on stilts that our guide says is in danger of being flooded when the river gets to its peak.
On to a floating village that looks far better than those we saw in SE Asia a few years ago – it comes with a floating school, a church, a shop with a vending machine – what more could you want?
Back out onto the main river and on to a small restaurant and walkway where we disembark, climb onto the raised walkway for a view of the giant lily pads and howler monkeys.
The squirrel monkeys were friendly to the extent of trying to get into rucksacks and bags, just like the Gibraltar ones.
Lunch was provided, a fantastic buffet spread including battered Piranha – glad it was not alive.
The water melon and bananas were plentiful and we then had a short while to view the shop before we got into motorised canoes that held 10 people – we managed a front seat which was a great advantage.
We are taken into a nearby lake we were able to see a few birds, Hawks, McCaws, Vultures and Osprey to name a few but no Caiman or pink dolphin.
By now the storm clouds had gathered over us and the rains arrived, the wind increased as we made our way back to the restaurant area to return to our boat that was to take us back to the Oriana in Manaus.
Short delay as the wind and rough water prevented our boat from mooring to the restaurant’s quayside and a bit of a choppy crossing back to Manaus.
Even the tour guide thought the weather unusual, the effect of El Niño, as a rainbow started downstream, getting bigger and bolder by the minute; quite strange.
Back to Manaus harbour past a house with three Brazil Nut trees in the garden.
Brazil Nut trees are protected by law from being cut down so in the areas where deforestation has taken place, the odd tree still stands and that is a Brazil Nut tree.
Sadly, these will in due course die as a result of the land around it being eroded as a result of the deforestation.
At the dockside when we disembark our small boat and board Oriana, we are met by about 5 police with motorbikes, all with their engines running and one videoing us returning to the ship. Not sure what all that was about as he was not videoing faces, just our rear profiles! What were they looking for?
Entertainment tonight by the Headliners with their Motown tribute – again another one we had seen before.
Sorry to say goodbye to Manaus but as the Montenegrin hairdresser on board had his wallet stolen whilst he was in the city, not a happy place for all on board.
Back downstream to Pantarins tomorrow but a few pictures of a wonderful city to end this post.