Monday, December 20, 2010

Amazon Adventures

This blog has been a long time coming and I just wanted to start by apologising to those of you who have been waiting so patiently for it.

So, the Amazon. There are many different countries from which you can visit the Amazon and everyone chooses a different entry point – usually Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia or Brazil.

Jace and I decided very early on in our planning that we were going to visit the largest river in the world, by volume, and the jungle that surrounds it in Brazil. Our original plan included travelling down-river to the Atlantic on a boat for several days after our jungle adventure, but this was scrapped in favour of flying as our time in South America started running out. Brazil is just too darn big to go overland (and over-river, as the case maybe) without spending huge amounts of both time and money.

So, after leaving Venezuela with a huge sigh of relief, we found ourselves in Manaus. I had envisaged a small river-side town with not much else going on outside of tourism, but like Brazil itself, Manaus was huge.

We spent a couple of days enjoying fabulous fresh fruit juices in exotic flavours like açaí (healthy), acerola (tasty and Jace’s favourite), caju (strange), guanabana (like a custard apple) and maracuja (passionfruit but better), as well as sweet pineapple (abacaxi) and delicious banana. The general abundance of fresh food made us feel instantly happier and healthier.

After looking at a couple of tour companies, we decided to go with Amazon Antonio Jungle Tours. They were conveniently located in our hostel and we got to meet our guide, Francisco, before we left. They also tailored a tour to our needs and desires: we chose a 5 day/4 night trip where we would spend the first and last nights in lodge accommodation and 2 nights in the jungle, camping out under the stars.

The lodge was lovely – right on the water but in the jungle too. Francisco told us that he and Antonio used to work together at another company, but then Antonio bought some land and left to start his own company. The lodge’s buildings were all made using local materials; for example, the rooves are covered with leaves from the açaí plant.

River view from the lodge

Rooves of açaí leaves

It turns out açaí is wonderfully versatile and every part of the plant is used: you eat the berries and the heart (like palm heart), use the trunk to build your house and then roof it with the leaves. The leaves can also be used to make baskets, hats, mats and brooms.

On our trip in the jungle, we would learn that there was a plant for everything in the jungle.

Make your shelter (with a bit of tarp for rain protection)

Light this sap to make a cool torch when it’s dark

Drink from this plant when you’re thirsty

Insect repellent ants


Francisco and Alix make...

... a fan and a crown

This stuff tastes like ice cream

Caju – you eat it when it’s red

Cooking sticks

Bowls (made by Isabel and Alix) and spoons (made by Francisco)

Our table

As it was the dry season, we saw surprisingly few animals, but we did spot some monkeys

And some birds

A woodpecker

These little insect catchers were all around the river

We went fishing

Heiko caught this big river bass after about 2 minutes

Jace, the Piranha Master

And we got up close and personal with a caiman

And some bugs

An unusual Amazonian beetle

Yes, that’s a tarantula

We had a great time in the Amazon and will never forget it! Thanks and hi to Francisco

And our fellow adventurers, Isabelle and Heiko


  1. Alix and Jace, this is FANTASTIC... loved the photos, what an adventure! ... Rosanna xxx

  2. Came across your website as I consider going with this tour for my Amazon trip! Looks like a good one! Awesome pictures and experience! Just read your 'About' Section and i absolutely love how adventurous you guys are! Best of luck! Have tons of fun! Take care!