Author: Jose Claudio B R Cardoso
Date of Trip: September 2010
One reason to not going to the amazon jungle before was the fear of the insects, mosquitos and its friends. This time I tried one of the fashionable jungle hotels, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. I choose one that ranked best in the category “immersion in the jungle”: Pousada Uacari. It lies in the Mamiraua reserve, one and half hour by plane from Manaus, capital of Amazonas state. After arriving in Tefe airport, the hotel staff took us to a motor boat through the Amazon river. Besides me and my wife, two other couples, one from Spain and other from the Philippines. Also a man from Amapa, a woman from Bahia and other from Finland. After 2 1/2 hours, and some boat changes because of too shallow waters close to the hotel, we arrived.
The reserve is in a region flooded every year, so all the hotel buildings are over wood platforms on the water. The rooms are separated wood houses, linked by bridges to the reception and restaurant. All the houses windows have screens, and we were warned to close the rooms before going to dinner. When going back to the room, after dinner, flying insects welcomed us, until we could enter and close the door. Besides the screens protecting the room, the beds have good nets and the mosquitoes did not bother us. Anyway it was difficult for me to sleep in the first night, due to the water sounds of caimans and big fishes.
Next day, after breakfast, we went by boat to know a local community at the river bank. September is in the dry season, and we had to climb some meter in the mud from the river to the village. All of that people live in stilt houses and the marks of the high waters were visible in them and on the trees. It is remarkable the difference of the water level, that marks were about 10m above the river. During the flooded season, only the top of the trees are above the waters and boats are essential.
On Sunday, my wife, me and a local guide walked through the forest, protected from the sun by the trees. The animals are hardly to see, and much easier to hear, mainly birds like woodpecker. There are many lianas, and even some empty trees are lianas, that killed a former tree and replaced them. Fresh colors of the butterflies, mushrooms and birds contrasts to the greenish background. It is interesting to know that fishes, dolphins and caimans will swim through this landscape in some months. The marks of the high waters in the trees are well visible 2 to 5 meters above the jungle soil.
My wife’s eyes appeared to be more jungle’s adapted than mine and she could catch a curious event: While resting on the net in the house porch, after the lunch, she saw a snake moving by the roof wood structure. We stared it from a safe distance and after some time it started to open the mouth more and more. But it was too far from us to jump, so it was not clear what was the reason for the opened mouth. A guy from the hotel came also too see the show and realized that the snake had eaten a bat! The opened mouth was hanged downwards and the throat became larger and larger. A dark liquid started to leak from its mouth and after some time she released the bat corpse. I don’t know for sure if it was the byproduct of a good meal or the mess of a bad one. The snake rested for a while and went away, letting my stomach in a bad condition for some time.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, on a boat trip, my wife saw some sloths at one tree over the river bank. We had seen one of them in the first day, but this time there were really not sloths but uacary monkeys! This beautiful animals are the symbols of the region and not easy to be seen, we were lucky. The jungle animals and the muddy waters fishes are most of the time an audible reality. Suddenly they are visible as one aruana fish that jumped into our boat and was (not easily) put back to the water. Or the big pirarucu that, even being a fish, come to the surface to breathe, showing itself in a eye blink.
We went back on Monday morning, managing the boat through the swallow channel waters to the Amazon. If the dry season last for some more weeks, part of the trip must be made walking on the mud! Out of the channel, the pink river dolphins were jumping close to the boat. They are smart enough to avoid being trapped in the lake during the dry season. In some months they will swim through lianas and trees in the flooded jungle. I hope that, due to the difficulty to handle such environment, the agribusiness can be kept away. It is now an restricted area, where only ancient residents can live and controlled tourism are allowed.