If you are planning to go to Brazil for an Amazon trip, chances are you will be traveling to Manaus, a large city located right in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. Formerly known as Lugar de Barra do Rio Negro, Manaus is the capital city of Amazonas, Brazil and the most populous city in the state. Being at the center of the city, Manaus is the main hub for tourists who have set out on various day trips of the surrounding jungle. Besides soccer on the city streets, Manaus also offers plenty of other activities such as a jungle tour exploring Amazon’s wildlife, enjoying the beaches or cruising along the river tributaries. Here is a list of top ten things to do in Manaus:
Mercado Adolpho Lisboa (Market)
Located on the shore of the Rio Negro, The Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, also known as Mercado Municipal, is a marketplace located in Manaus, Brazil. Modeled on the Les Halles marketplace of Paris, France, the iron framework and stained glass windows were built in Paris and shipped to Manaus. Apart from its beautiful architecture, the market is a location bustling with activities. This is also a great shopping site, as the place is packed with stalls selling everything under the Sun.
Parque Ecológico Janauari
Located in Rio Negro, about an hour boat trip away from Manaus, the 688-hectare Janauari Ecological Park extends through a variety of ecosystems such as alluvial plains, dryland woods, and flooded forests. You can explore the park’s complex network of narrow waterways (igarapés) encompassed by lush vegetation ranging from grasses to giant kapok trees. One of the most stunning things you will see here is a lake covered with giant water lilies with floating leaves up to two meters in diameter and flowers that start off as white, then turning to purple, and at last into a dark red color. You can also find a wide variety of birds in the park.
Palácio Rio Negro
Built in the early 1900s, Palácio Rio Negro once served as the state capital and governor’s residence for several years. It was transformed into a cultural center in the year 1997, and it now hosts temporary art displays and occasional concerts in the eclectic main house. The main house in itself is a great structure made with marble and native woods. The grounds are beautifully adorned with shrubs, trees, and flowers that are native to the Amazon rainforest.
Encontro das Aguas
It would be a great loss if you didn’t visit the Encontro das Aguas (Meeting of waters), while traveling in Manaus. One of the magical natural wonders of the world, here you can witness the dark-colored water of the Rio Negro joining the light brown muddy water of the Rio Solimões, forming the Amazon. What’s most intriguing about this point is that these two rivers flow side-by-side for about six kilometers without mingling. You can experience this spectacular sight from the air or by taking boat trips into the mingling waters. Differences in temperature, speed and water density of the two rivers is considered to be the reason behind this amazing phenomenon.
Located between Manaus and Novo Airão, in the Rio Negro is an archipelago of more than 400 islands extending for about 90 kilometers, with hundreds of lakes, channels, watercourses, and flooded forests (igapós) The Anavilhanas Nature Reserve is an area encompassing 350,000 hectares, and exhibiting great biodiversity and distinct ecosystems Between the months of November and April, the level of water in the river is high, as a result of which almost all the islands are flooded. At this time, the islands that remain above water are populated by night monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, caimans, turtles, reptiles, amphibians and a variety of birds, including parrots, herons, toucans, and woodpeckers. When the islands re-emerge after the waters recede, the larger animals return along with the group of channels between the islands.
Teatro Amazonas: An Italian Renaissance-style Opera House
The last thing you would expect to see in the middle of the thickest rainforest in the world is an Italian opera house. The Italian Renaissance-style opera house, which was opened in 1896 is the most famous building in Manaus. Now protected as a national monument, most of the materials used to construct the monument were imported from Europe. Located in the midst of the Amazon Rainforest, this truly enchanting building is a functional historical landmark of Manaus.
Museu do Homem do Norte (Museum of Northern Man)
If you wish to know more about the culture and heritage of the region, then head to the Museu do Homem do Norte, an ethnographic museum of northern Brazil that holds a large collection of materials that depict the folk traditions and regional culture. Native art, archaeological discoveries, and daily use items can be found here which gives you an idea about the ancient and contemporary culture. Some of the items displayed here include flour milling, fishing, mining, folklore, festivals, religion, art, and handicrafts. You can also find regional products such as cashew, rubber, jute, and wood.
Museu do Indio (Museum of the Indian)
The Museu do Indio unveils the social, religious and economic life of the indigenous people of Brazil. It has a huge collection of over 3,000 objects that describes the lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people that once lived or now live along the upper Rio Negro. It has an indigenous ethnography library that contains about 16,000 volumes by local and foreign authors. The library is open to the public during the week. The museum is also a great place to buy crafts.
Parque Nacional do Jaú
The Jaú National Forest is the largest forest reserve in South America and also the largest protected tropical rainforest area in the world. Part of a World Heritage Site, the park extends to a whopping 2,272,000 hectares along the Rio Negro around Novo Airão. Surrounded by plains, hills, land forests, flooded forests and channels, it is home to an stunningly rich fauna that includes some of the endangered and rarest species, such as the manatee, the Brazilian otter, jaguars and Amazon River dolphins. Canoeing through the waterways is the ideal way to enjoy the beauty of the park and explore its wildlife.
Alfândega (Customs House) and Floating Dock
Located on the banks of the Rio Negro, near the floating dock, the Customs House and lighthouse are two other protected national monuments well worth seeing in Manaus, although they are not open to the public. The beautifully adorned building was erected in Manaus in the year 1902, after being imported from Britain in prefabricated form. The floating dock has become one of the busiest places in the city these days.