Have you ever considered cruising to South America?
The history, the culture, the warm weather!! And yet, it still seems new and not the first place you might think of for a luxury getaway…that’s about to change.
Just outside the cruise port of Manaus, Brazil, is the Meeting of the Waters. It’s a natural phenomenon created when the slow-flowing, tannin-stained, nearly black water of the Rio Negro meets the faster, sandier, brown-colored water of the Rio Solimoes. The black and brown waters flow side-by-side, without mixing, for several miles. Eventually, they mix to form the historic Amazon River.You might say that the Meeting of the Waters reflects the character of Manaus, which seems to have two identities: it’s both a busy center of business and culture and a remote regional capital surrounded by all the beauty and danger of the Amazon rainforest. It’s an altogether fascinating cruise port, no less so because it lies 900 miles up the Amazon River from the Atlantic Ocean.
If you choose a South American or world cruise itinerary that includes Manaus, it’s likely that your ship will stay overnight, giving you more time to explore. Manaus at night offers some exciting and memorable onshore experiences.
Performance at the Teatro Amazonas
One of the last things you might expect to see in the middle of the Amazon rainforest is an ornate, pink and white opera house with perfect acoustics – but, it’s right there in Manaus! When you stay overnight, you can have the opportunity to attend a performance in the dazzling auditorium.The Amazonas Opera House, first opened in 1896, was built when Manaus was the rubber capital of the world, and wealthy Europeans who settled there had a vision of building the “Paris of the Tropics.” Even the ceiling of the theater is painted to look like you’re standing at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
The opera house has lots of lovely European materials, including Portuguese stone, Murano chandeliers and Italian marble. But it’s a product of its environment, too, with seats made from local jacaranda wood and a ballroom floor made of 12,000 pieces of rainforest woods, laid without glue or nails. Look up to see the dome, decorated with 36,000 European ceramic tiles set in a mosaic of the colors of the Brazilian flag.
The opera house is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs along with visiting opera companies, choirs, jazz bands, dance troupes and more.
The Jungle at Night
You could also take a break from your ship for an overnight stay in a rustic, but comfortable, jungle lodge. A riverboat will be the best way to reach your temporary jungle home.
From your lodge, you’ll be able to follow jungle trails where you can see beautiful flowers, giant trees, and probably some Amazonian wildlife, too. You may also have the chance to visit a native community and learn how people live in harmony with the rainforest.At night, you’ll hear the movements and calls of jungle creatures, and perhaps catch glimpses of them, too. Board a canoe and glide over the water while your guide watches for the red flash of alligator eyes in the dark water: if he spots a small gator, he’ll catch it with his bare hands. You’ll get an up-close look before the gator is released back into the river.
After dinner, it will be time to sleep well under the rainforest canopy: a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For your daylight hours in Manaus, it’s fun to visit the Mercado Adolfo Lisboa, the main market and a replica of the original Les Halles market in Paris. You can sample Amazonian treats and see the unusual meats, fish, fruit and spices for sale, along with baskets and other handicrafts that make nice souvenirs. You can also take a guided tour of the Opera House, visit the Museu do Indio to learn about the life of native tribes, or visit the beach in Ponte Negra Park.Manaus is reliably hot and humid: daytime temperatures average in the upper 80’s and often rise in to nearly 100, with not much cooling at night. The average relative humidity is always 75 percent or more. So, pack your lightweight, breathable clothing, and always carry water with you to help avoid dehydration.
But, before you start packing, talk with your cruise travel expert for more advice on cruising to Manaus.
Feeling like South America is now on your must do list??
It’s a must not miss, but you already know that now!