Manaus is the Amazon’s largest city, an incongruous pocket of urbanity in the middle of the jungle, a major port for ocean vessels that’s 1500km from the ocean. The rainforest has a population density half that of Mongolia’s, but the journey there invariably begins in (or passes through) this bustling city. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little out of whack.
The city itself has some genuinely rewarding sights, including a leafy zoo with as many animals out of the cages as in them, and a beach-and-museum combo that gets you out of the city center. It’s a place to stock up on anything you forgot to pack, or to refill your tank with beer and internet after a week in the forest. Manaus will be a host city for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the city is bustling with construction and improvement projects..
Manaus is where most Amazon tour operators are based; plenty are honest professionals, ranging from budget to upscale, but the city is also full of scammers. Be smart and avoid touts like the plague: the tours they sell are miserable, occasionally dangerous, and cheaper only because they cut corners on basics like food and transport.
Best places to stay in Manaus
Meet the host cities of the 2014 World Cup: north Brazil and the interior
Get ready for global football fever. In June and July 2014, a dozen Brazilian cities will host the 20th FIFA World Cup. In this series of articles, we give you the lowdown on their don't-miss sights, the best places to eat, drink and sleep – and, of course, where to catch the matches...
Manaus destination guides
Rio Negro Cruise from Manaus to the Amazon River
On this exciting full-day tour from Manaus, cruise down the Rio Negro to the Meeting of the Waters, the location where the Negro meets the Amazon River. Be awed by this natural phenomenon, where the Negro’s black waters and the Amazon’s muddy waters flow separately for a few miles.
Presidente Figueiredo Waterfalls Day Trip from Manaus
See the Sanctuary and Iracema waterfalls on this day trip to the area surrounding Presidente Figueiredo, a small town north of Manaus. Enjoy the beauty of the Amazon Rainforest on the drive, and learn about the native wildlife and plants from your local guide as you admire the waterfalls and explore the area around the Urubui River.