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 rain forest has a population density half that of Mongolia’s, but the journey there invariably begins in (or passes through) this bustling city of two million souls. 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 is also where most Amazon tour operators are based; plenty are honest professionals, but the city is also full of scammers. And remember that Manaus is not the only place to book a jungle tour! There are numerous options in cities further up- and downstream that may give more options off-the-beaten path than possible in well-worn Manaus.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009