A quick adventure tour light through the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest
A first taste of the Amazon: Dip your toes into the Amazon
This trip takes us overland into the rainforest hill country north of the City of Manaus, Brazil. In our air-conditioned field vehicles we venture into the hills and valleys near the headwaters of the Urubú River. The terrain is strikingly beautiful with lush tropical forest, rivers of cool water rushing through the wilderness, limestone caves, and thundering waterfalls surrounded by extravagant vegetation.
We spend our nights in a simple but clean hotel and by day our small group and naturalist guide search for the bizarre flora and fauna that inhabits this wild and beautiful area. The three days and two nights of this excursion are varied and full. We walk into the towering wild forest, raft down a smooth river in the morning twilight, search for bizarre birds that nest in the giant mouths of caves, and take a dip in the pools of primordial rainforest waterfalls. On the last day we journey to the gargantuan reservoir of the famous and infamous hydroelectric project, the Balbina Dam, to marvel at the scale of the construction and to visit small wildlife research projects and museums dedicated to cultural and natural preservation of the region.Day 1 Early this first morning, our group will embark in field 4x4 vehicles and drive out of the city of Manaus on the single road that goes north in the Brazilian Amazon, the Boa-Vista Road. We soon leave the city behind and on both sides of the road stretches the vast high forest known as "terra firme". The towering trunks support a canopy of leaves that hosts a tremendous diversity of wildlife. About an hour and a half out of Manaus we will stop and walk into the forest on a good trail that threads its way through dense foliage. We will be exploring in the early morning which is a time of peak feeding activity for forest creatures. With luck we may see monkeys and the unique collection of birds that inhabit this remote upland forest. We will walk at a deliberate pace searching for wildlife. After about two hours we will arrive at a waterfall with a broad cascade of tumbling water. Amid the cool mist and in a dining room of luxuriant plant life, we will have a picnic lunch. Those who brought bathing suits will enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystal clear pool at the base of the waterfall.
In the early afternoon we will return to our vehicles and drive north to the town of Presidente Figueiredo. This small settlement serves as the administrative center of a vast area of mostly uninhabited rainforest. Within this area are several important reserves including the Urubú Environmental Protection Area, the Caverna do Maroaga Environmental Protection Area, the Uatumã Biological Reserve, and the Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous Reserve. Arriving in the mid-afternoon, we will check into our hotel which is built near a series of cascades along the Urubú River. Some members of our group will take a siesta and some will choose to explore the nearby forest with our naturalist guide. Tonight we will get together for an early dinner and early to bed because the next morning we will rise early for another day of exploration.
Day 2 After a very early breakfast we will board our vehicles and travel to a nearby river where our boatmen and rafts are waiting. In the stillness of the Amazon morning we will glide down the glassy waters of a thickly forested river. As we drift quietly downstream we have a good chance of observing a great variety of wildlife including one of the most spectacular creatures native to this area, an orange flame of a bird, the Guianan Cock of the Rock. We soon come to a trail head where we disembark and walk through the forest to the base of an escarpment. Along the wall is the two story mouth of a shallow cave where we may see the adobe nests of Oil Birds stuck to the wall high off the ground. There are other waterfalls and rapids in this area and we will explore until the late morning when we will pause for our picnic lunch and take a swim in this remote paradise.
In the mid-afternoon we will return to our rafts and then to the hotel in Presidente Figueiredo. The afternoon will be free for a siesta. Rest will be a good idea, because in the early evening, after dinner, our group will drive to a trail head where we will go for a night walk in the rainforest. Because much of the wildlife of the rainforest is nocturnal, we should see creatures that make themselves invisible during the daytime. After about an hour and a half of exploration we will return to the hotel.
Day 3 This morning after breakfast
we will pick up the only road going east and drive for about an hour
past small farms and settlements to the very end of the road. It terminates
at one of the world’s largest and most controversial rainforest
hydroelectric projects, the Balbina Dam. The reservoir of this huge
project covers an area of over 2,750 square kilometers (965 square
miles). We will visit the Balbina Village which has several small museums
devoted to the natural and cultural life of the region. Among these
are the Aquatic Life Research Center the home of projects to preserve
aquatic mammals such as the Giant River Otter and the Amazon Manatee.
Another research center is intended to preserve and increase the populations
of threatened Amazon turtles. The third site is the Museum of the Waimiri-Atroari
Indigenous Tribe. Here there are exhibits of archaeological remains
found in the area as well as displays of current life among the nearby
tribe the Waimiri-Atroari. Late morning we will once again head west.
We will stop for lunch and visit one last waterfall in the Valley of
the Urubú. We should arrive in Manaus in the mid to late afternoon.
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