There are many natural attractions in the area surrounding Manaus.
Boat tripsA boat trip is the best way of seeing three different areas which are traversed by a complicated network of rivers, igarapés and lakes: the Rio Negro area, the Solimões area and, beyond the "Encontro das Aguas", the Amazon area. The best time for such a trip is between September and November, when the rivers and lakes are low; and this is also the best season for fishing for pirarucu, tambaqui and other local species. The trips last between two days and a week. Information from local tourist offices.
In the primeval forestIn recent years there have been increasing numbers of camps in the primeval forest and on the banks of rivers, where visitors can spend a few daysand become better acquainted with the fauna and flora of Amazonia. The camps are mostly near major tourist attractions (igarapés, lakes, nature reserves).
Encontro das Aguas
Encontro das AguasOne sight which is a must for all visitors to Manaus is the very impressive Encontro das Aguas ("Meeting of the Waters"), some 20km/12.4mi south-east of the city. This is the spot where the dark-colored water of the Rio Negro joins the light brown muddy water of the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon.
Anavilhanas IslandsIn the Rio Negro, between Manaus and Novo Airão, are the Anavilhanas Islands, an archipelago of 400 islands and islets, with hundreds of lakes, watercourses, igapós and igarapés, extending for some 90km/55mi. The Anavilhanas Nature Reserve (area 350,000 hectares/875,000 acres) offers a complete cross-section of the Amazonian eco-system.When the river is high, between November and April, the islands are almost all flooded, with only around 180 of them emerging from the water. During this period they are populated by squirrel monkeys, night monkeys and sloths, by a variety of birds, including parrots, toucans, woodpeckers and herons, and by reptiles and amphibians (caimans, turtles, etc.).When the waters slowly recede the larger animals (jaguars, pumas, tapirs, deer) return. The islands re-emerge from the water, and with them thenumerous channels between them - a labyrinth of waterways by no means easy to navigate.
Cascatinha do Amor
Cascatinhado Amor1.5 hours from Manaus, on the Igarapé do Tarumã, is the Cascatinha do Amor, a waterfall whose water, deep gold in color, plunges down 6m/20ft on to white sand.
Parque Ecológico do Janauary
Parque Ecológico do JanauaryThe Janauary Ecological Park (area 688 hectares/1700 acres), 1.5 hours by boat from Manaus, contains within its area solid land, várzeas (alluvial plains) and igapós (swampy woodland). Motorboats take visitors through the park's intricate network of igarapés. The luxuriant vegetation ranges from grasses such as canarana to giant kapok trees.Victoria amazonicaOne of the principal sights in the park is a lake covered with Victoria amazonica. This large water-lily (formerly called Victoria regia), found only in the Amazon region, has floating leaves up to 2m/6.5ft in diameter. Its flowers have a very short life: originally white, they turn purple and then in three days, wither to a dark red color.
Solimões AreaThe main features of interest in the Solimões area are the beaches and igarapés on the Rio Manacapuru and Rio Mamori and Lake Janauacá, which can be reached from Manaus in 7 hours (120km/75mi).
Abufari Nature Reserve
Abufari Nature ReserveSouth-west of Manaus is the Abufari Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 288,000 hectares/720,000 acres in the communes of Tapauá and Manacapuru. It is best reached by boat, since the Rio Purus, a tributary of the Solimões, runs through the area and the Rio Coari skirts it. It is also accessible by road: BR 319 (Manaus-Porto Velho), which traverses the area between Rio Madeira and Rio Purus, runs fairly close to the reserve.
Parque Nacional do Jaú
Parque Nacional do JaúThe Jaú National Forest, the largest forest reserve in the whole of South America (2,272,000 hectares/5,680,000 acres), extends along the Rio Negro around Novo Airão, some 250km/155mi (12 hours by boat) north-west of Manaus. It has an extraordinarily rich fauna, including such rare and endangered species as the manatee and the Brazilian otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). The park must be explored on foot or by canoe in order to avoid disturbing the animals.
Parque Nacional do Pico da Neblina
Parque Nacional do Pico da NeblinaSome 500km/300mi farther upstream, on the north bank of the Rio Negro, is the Pico da Neblina National Park, established in 1979, occupying an area of 2,200,000 hectares/5,500,000 acres in the commune of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. Within the park, in the Serra do Imeri, which extends along the frontier between Brazil and Venezuela, are the two mightiest peaks in the country, the Pico 31 de Março (2992m/9817ft) and the Pico da Neblina (3014m/9889ft), Brazil's highest mountain.Indian villagesThe park marks the southern boundary of Yanomami territory, which extends to north-western Roraima, on the frontier with Venezuela. Among the native Indian tribes are the Tukano, whose villages are around São Gabriel da Cachoeira.Rock formationsIn the extreme south of the park, 1060km/660mi by river from Manaus, are the curious rock formations of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the most striking of which is the Bela Adormecida ("Sleeping Beauty"). The river beaches of São Gabriel are famed for their micaceous sand. In this area are the largest deposits of niobium in the world, the working of which will, sooner or later, lead to the extermination of the last surviving Indians.
Refúgio do Maruaga
Refúgio do MaruagaPresidente Figueiredo, north of Manaus, can be reached either by boat or on BR 174 (Manaus-Boa Vista), which runs through the territory of the Waimiri-Atroari Indians. In this area are a number of large caves with springs emerging at the entrance - a feature rare in Amazonia. The Refúgio do Maruaga, named after a warlike chief of the Waimiri-Atroari Indians, is reached by way of an unsurfaced road and a walk of 2km/1.3mi into the forest. The caves can be visited only with a local guide.
Parintins Boi bumbá420km/260mi east of Manaus, on the island of Tupinambarana, is Parintins (pop. 66,000). Here in June is held an important folk festival which culminates in the performance of two singing and dancing events, the Garantido and the Caprichoso, examples of the Boi bumbá. The Boi bumbá is the Amazonian variant of the Bumba meu Boi, in which figures from local folklore such as Curupira, Iara and Boto Tucuxi feature along with traditional characters dating from the time of the "cattle cycle".
Ilha dos Papagaios
Ilha dos PapagaiosWhen the waters of the Amazon recede there suddenly emerges near Parintins the Ilha dos Papagaios ("Parrot Island"). Every afternoon around 5 p.m. hundreds of parrots flutter down on the island; their numbers reach a peak in November.
Map of Manaus Attractions