Manaus is a metropolis of Brazilian with about 2.6 million inhabitants in the center of the Amazon rainforest. Its name means Mother of Gods in the indigenous language. The two rivers run side by side for many miles of different colors, running together: the "Meeting of Waters". Legend has it that they never mix.
The wealth of the primeval forest becomes visible first of all in the architecture of the city. The city enriched and the rubber barons afforded big European luxury such as the Amazonas Opera House. Other monuments from this epoch are the Mercado Municipal, and the arts center Palacio Rio Negro, located among fascinating Portuguese façades. Today Manaus is a foreign trade zone. Foreign enterprises pay no import duties here, guaranteeing a certain income for the city and the region. Electronics, wood industry and oil refineries have settled in the outskirts in industrial areas. The harbour is the most important trading center for the care of the city with regional, national and international products.
The city is pleasant and friendly, although quite hot, and is still a major port, and a good starting point for river tours.
The Rio Negro (northern) branch of the Amazon is the color of strong tea, peaty brown and its comparative acidity means few mosquitoes. At Manaus the Amazon rises and falls almost twenty meters between seasons. In May and June it's at its peak, full and very wide, spreading way out into the trees. In November and December it's low; still massive but with sandbars.
Of all cities one can reach when voyaging along the Amazon River, Manaus is by far the most expensive.
In the heart of one of the most humid tropical forests in the world, expect a lot of heat and humidity in Manaus. Average temperatures in Manaus tend to exceed 30º C (86º F), but with a greater thermal sensation, due to humidity. In September, temperatures often reach 40º C (104º F).
Manaus does not have winter, summer, spring or autumn; there are only two seasons in the city: a rainy season (from December to May), with long periods of continuous rain and frequent thunderstorms that fill the rivers, forming igapós (forests flooded by rivers, similar to swamps), and a season drought (from June to November), when it still rains, but to a lesser extent. At that time, the rivers lower the waters and begin to form beaches on the banks.
Regardless of the time you visit, it is recommended to wear light clothes and an umbrella to protect yourself from showers and high temperatures.
- 1 Manaus International Airport / Eduardo Gomes (MAO IATA) (The airport is some 15 km by road from the city centre). The airport is modern and clean, and the airside has many 24h shops. Flights on the wee hours are common at this airport, and some passengers overnight there.
Manaus is over 2.700 km from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro which takes about four hours by air. Coming from North America or Europe, if you can't get a direct flight, the best option price- and route-wise is probably to connect in Fortaleza FOR IATA, the international hub of Northern Brazil (and it might be considerably cheaper to buy an international ticket to Fortaleza and independent domestic one from Fortaleza to Manaus).
Direct international flights:
- Miami: daily with American Airlines and once a week with Latam
- Orlando: once a week with Gol Linhas Aéreas
- Panama City: 4 days a week with Copa Airlines
Brazil flagship airlines Latam, Gol and Azul have frequent direct flights to major Brazilian cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília, as well as regional capitals, and Azul also flies to the triple border town of Tabatinga. Regional airline Map operates a turboprop fleet to towns such as Tefé, Parintins, Altamira and Porto Trombetas.
From the airport to the region of the Amazonas Theater, city bus line 306 costs R$ 3,80 and line 813 with aircon costs R$ 4,20 (the latter are similar to minivans and you'll feel cramped if carrying big luggage). A similar ride costs around R$ 20 on mobile hailing car apps when no surge factor is in place, and R$ 52 by conventional taxis (as at April 2019).
Manaus is a major destination for boats on the Amazon River. From Belém on the Atlantic Coast, it takes about five days. Boats go to Porto Velho two-three times per week. Tabatinga on the border with Colombia can also be reached by boat from Manaus, with connections further on to Iquitos in Peru. To save a few hours on your way to Colombia or Peru, you can take a boat from Manacapuru instead.
Due to road conditions, there is very little (if any) long-distance bus service originating from major cities in Brazil. There are daily buses to Boa Vista in the north and to destinations in Venezuela. The bus from Caracas in Venezuela takes about 36 hours, but it is air-conditioned, has comfortable reclining seats and a toilet.
Manaus is very big in area, its urban part sprawling some 400 km2 (150 sq mi) (versus 100 km2 (39 sq mi) for Paris or 200 km2 (77 sq mi) for Buenos Aires). If you plan to move around the city independently, it's important to find accommodation either downtown or close to the main axis of Av. Constantino Neves and Av. Djalma Batista.
The main city transit option is buses, and the fare is R$ 3.80 (April/2019). One can change buses free of charge at the city terminals T1, T2, T3 and T4, or use a city bus card to board a second bus within 1.5 hr free of charge. To get a card, visit one of SINETRAM offices - the first card for each person is free, then R$ 15.
There is a system of city bikes called MANÔbike, but it's only available downtown where distances are walkable. Besides, Manaus is somewhat hilly and inconvenient for most uncommitted riders.
- 1 Teatro Amazonas (Amazonas Opera House), Praça São Sebastião, Center, ☏ . The Opera House was built during the heyday of rubber trade, using materials from all over the world, and was once visited by all the most famous opera divas and maestros. Regular guided tours in English, R$ 20. There are frequent free performances, often advertised on the SEC Facebook Channel; be sure to arrive at least an hour in advance to secure a seat.
- 2 Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa (City market), Rua dos Barés s/n. 8h-22h. After a renovation, most stalls were moved to the nearby Feira da Banana and Adolpho Lisboa became a clean and organized market, albeit lacking some soul. The main hall sells mostly souvenirs, the smaller ones to the left and right fish and meat. The restaurants inside it are affordable (mains for R$13-20) and a great option on Sundays and holidays when the majority of cheap eateries are closed.
- 3 Palácio Rio Negro (Rio Negro Palace), Av. 7 de Setembro, 1546, ☏ . 9h-17h. Built by a German rich-man in the "golden age", the palace eventually became property of the government, which transformed it in a cultural center. Visits are free, being escorted by a staff-member is compulsory.
- 4 Praia da Ponta Negra (Ponta Negra Beach) (catch buses 120 or 126 from downtown). Copacabana's river counterpart, this fine sand beach has a very nice urbanized area on its back, with a large walkaway, a skateboard park, some beach volleyball fields and many food stalls. On Wednesdays and Sundays the car traffic is interrupted and locals occupy the extra space jogging, roller-skating and skateboarding. It hosts free dancing and calisthenics classes organized by the city, and some independent groups also meet there for activities, such as the slackline Mexa-se group. The adjoining neighborhood has the most expensive sq-meter in Manaus, so your açaí will cost more at Ponta Negra (around R$ 11 for 300 ml).
- 5 Natural Science Museum (Museu de Ciencias Naturais da Amazônia), Estrada Belém, Colônia Cachoeira Grande. Few locals visit this museum, know about it, or would even want to, considering that it's basically critters they'd find (almost) in their backyard. For visitors, though, it's a chance to see a live pirarucu and other fauna (mostly preserved) of the region. The museum was constructed single-handedly by a Japanese entomologist (specializing in butterflies) with his own money and resources. It's out of the way and about half an hour by taxi. The nearby INPA is a preserve and research center with birds and other wildlife.
- Paricatuba Waterfall (On the right bank of the Negro River, along a small tributary). Formed by sedimentary rocks, surrounded by abundant vegetation. Access is by boat. The best time to visit is from August to February.
- Love Cascade. In the Guedes bayou, with cold and crystal clear water. Accessible only by boat then hiking through the forest.
- Meeting of the waters. The muddy Solimões and the dark-colored Negro rivers meet, and run together without mixing for a considerable length, about 4 km downstream of the city. You can book a dedicated tour for this, but when you enter/leave Manaus by boat towards Santarém/Belém, you will see it much better from the upper deck of that boat. It's about 30 to 60 minutes downstream from Manaus on a slow boat and you can easily spot it in advance due to the water being much brighter.
- 6 Bridge Phelippe Daou.
Adventure trips to the rainforest
There are a number of companies operating jungle adventure trips from Manaus, but only a few seem to be more established and reputable. First you need to check if the Tour Operator has a valid Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Board) registry. Then you make up your mind what you really want. You need to travel at least 100 km from Manaus to see virgin rain forest and the wild life you are looking for.
- Location of trip
There are basically two main areas which you can explore: the Rio Negro basin and the South of Rio Amazonas. Both of these regions are (sparsely) inhabited, so you will not be completely isolated from civilization. If you want to make a trip to a reserve or a remote area, ask for a special expedition package and plan to pay much more and spend a few days for the transfer to and from the reserve. Rio Negro is an area that is great for the jungle vegetation and for the lack of mosquitoes (due to the acidity of the river). Unfortunately, the lack of mosquitoes means there are a lot fewer animals that live there. The South of Rio Amazonas is a network of rivers, lakes and channels. There are mosquitoes and wildlife, however, there are quite a lot of houses and farms—and thus civilization is a lot more visible. Most tours go to or through lake Mamori. There are quite a lot of jungle things to see around the lake, but do not expect pristine nature due to all the farming going on around the lake. There is a reserve nearby called Jurara. It also seems to be inhabited and there is not much difference between the reserve and lake Mamori. A better option may be a trip to lake Juma which is a special protected area.
- Time of travel
There are two seasons in the Amazon basin: wet season and dry season. During the dry season it's very hot (that means 40 °C plus the humidity) and thus may be unbearable for some. As well, many channels and rivers dry out. On the other hand, fishing is much easier since all fish concentrates in the remaining water basins. During the wet season, it rains almost every day. When there is a storm, the amount of rain may be overwhelming. Thus, if traveling in wet season, be prepared to get wet and not dry out until the end of your trip. During the season the rivers and lakes rise several meters and many new channels are formed in the flooded jungle. Temperature-wise, the weather is more bearable and only the humidity will be a problem. The wet season lasts roughly January to July, with the best time to visit the jungle May to August.
If you travel during the wet season, keep your important things like documents in (tested) waterproof bags/containers. Cotton clothes let your skin breathe but there is no chance that they will ever get dry. Some people find nylon/synthetic clothes to work well. Long sleeves and long pants are not 100% necessary but you will not regret wearing them. A flashlight is necessary for the night, as the jungle is pitch-black. A machete most probably will not be required on short/casual trips but is essential for longer expeditions. A lighter and a pocket knife are a good idea. The pocket knife is especially important since it can provide the only defense against the boa and the anaconda (indeed, attacks do occur). A mosquito repellent is most probably a very smart idea. It keeps other bugs away too and it reduces the risk of being infected by a disease-carrying insect. However, the number of mosquitoes in the jungle is not completely overwhelming, so for longer expeditions you may consider getting used to them. Additionally, a good guide can show you some natural repellents available in the jungle. Sun block is needed especially during the dry season. Otherwise, keep your luggage to the minimum. Do not take things you do not really need.
- Dictionary of trip operators:
- native people - people who live in the region. Most of the time that means, with Portuguese descend. These are not aboriginal inhabitants.
- native guide - a guide who is a native (see native people). If at all, usually speaks only marginal English.
Do not buy tours from people at the airport or on the street in Manaus. The best guides are hired by the best companies; the best shysters don’t work for the best companies. If you don’t want to book a tour before arriving and want to book a tour in Manaus use a reputable published guidebook first or just look for the official tourist information center (CAT), they'll help you out and even make free calls if required. Tour companies are relatively easy to find in downtown Manaus and many will meet you at no charge.
The tour companies (even the ones in Lonely Planet) tend to trick the tourists sometimes, they ask you "may I do the reservation?" if you say yes and later cancel they will want to charge you 25%. It is not legal unless they let you know about it and make you sign something, so remain alert. Ask other tour operators to check prices.
If you take a river tour, go up the Rio Negro. From a three-night river boat trip from Manaus up the Rio Negro with a guide, you can expect to see some wildlife and visit some of the forest remnants, but two weeks or more are needed to reach untouched areas. Small two-story river boats carry five to ten people, sleeping in hammocks on the upper deck. Large boats carrying hundreds ply the river too, but the big boats don't stop between ports. The most popular place for jungle tours is Lake Mamori/Lake Juma about 100 km south of Manaus. Other recommended areas are Rio Urubu about 200 km east of and Novo Airão about 100 km northwest of Manaus. Make sure that your travel agency has a valid Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Board) registration.
- Amazon BackPackers Tour, ☏ . Rua Dez de Julho 679, (inside Hotel 10 de Julho). Amazon Backpackers has been in business for over 15 years. They offer jungle excursions, boat trips, river tours, fishing tours and survival trips. They operate on Lake Mamori, Lake Juma, Rio Tupana and Parque Jau. They offer hotel/hostel booking and airport transfer service.
- Amazon Brasil Tour, ☏ . Rua 10 de julho 708- Room- 02. They organize non conventional tours with experienced tour guides. They do jungle tours to different areas of the Amazon (Juma Lake area, Tracajá, Rio Negro river)and they are specialized in Boat tours (boat with hammocks and Boat with cabins and luxury boats) exploring rivers of the Amazon. Their main goal is to show the Amazon in its authentic way. All Their jungle tours are covereds by insurance.
- Amazon Tree Climbing, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Ecotourism, nature and adventure travel specializing in tree climbing and boat expeditions and working with small closed groups. Follows rigid safety protocols according to the Brazilian adventure tourism standards.The trees are previously inspected and the climb sites are carefully chosen – they opt for primary forest area, which gives a better chance of observing the wildlife in its natural habitat. Multilingual guides with solid cultural background, and top quality equipment. Trips vary from 1 day to longer customized boat expeditions at the Rio Negro basin.
- Amazing Tours Agency, ☏ , . Av.Getulio Vargas 694,centro.
Amazing Tours Agency organize Rio Negro tour, boat tours, boat tickets, amazon lodges, adventure trips, fishing trips.
- Manaus Booking, ☏ . Leovegildo Coelho, No.460. Amazon jungle tour R$75 per day, boat charter R$595 per day, day tours, city tour, airport transfer, boat and bus tickets
Local cuisine is rich and varied and can be found in many restaurants and stalls. You may try:
- tapioquinha, a glutinous pancake made from manioc starch, usually buttered and filled with tucumã palm fruit and farmer’s cheese.
- tacacá, an Amazon local soup.
- pamonha, made from green corn and coconut milk boiled in corn husks.
- bolo de macaxeira, a tasty glutinous translucent cake made from manioc.
- sugar cane juice, a favorite drink among locals.
The region is also known for its exotic fruits like:
- creamy white cupuaçú.
- iron-rich açaí.
- The area between Av. Floriano Peixoto and the port has many small restaurants that offer food for decent prices. Directly at the port at the big market (2 blocks downstream from Mercado Municipal) food stalls offer even cheaper alternatives.
- Restaurante da Charufe- Address: 26 Maceio Street - beside the Ministério da Agricultura (Rua Maceió, 26, ao lado do Ministério da Agricultura). Best Lebanese food in town, the famous paella and special local homely fish dishes. The famous chef opens her restaurant at home only for lunch from Mondays to Fridays. Feijoada (delicious black beens stew) on Saturdays at previous reservation. Phone nr. +55 92 9128-4628. E-mail: email@example.com. All credit cards accepted.
- Açaí e Companhia, ☏ . Address: Rua Acre, 98 - Vieiralves, phone number. Open 10AM to midnight. Nice atmosphere. Regional dishes. Good service. Sometimes live musi
- Canto da Peixada, ☏ . Address: Rua Emílio Moreira, 1677 - Praça 14. Great local fish selection.
- [dead link] Scarola Restaurant and Pizzaria. Traditional Restaurant near the Amazon Theater open for lunch with self service buffet and dinner à la carte. Famous for their Pizza and Barbecue Grill. Delivery service available. Rua 10 de Julho, No. 739 at the corner with Av. Getulio Vargas.
- Casa da Sopa, Soup buffet. Highly recommended.
- For international food in Manaus, the Miako and Suzuran offer Japanese food; there’s a Korean restaurant on the “Boulevard”, superb Italian food at Gianni's, and there is a home that serves delicious Peruvian dishes downtown near Cortez Casa de Câmbio.
- Peixaria Morongueta, Rua Jaith Chaves, 30 - Porto da Ceasa, ☏ . 11:00-23:00. Open-air seafood restaurant with a fantastic view of the Meeting of the Waters. Moderately priced, offering fresh local (i.e., Amazonian) fish and traditional Brazilian dishes. $$.
- Habibi (Right outside Hotel Brasil). Late afternoon and evening. Staple sandwiches in clean surroundings, with a small variety of arab dishes.
Downtown drinking near the Teatro Amazonas, lately spreading towards the refurbished Praca da Saudade. Others options in the Ponta Negra area, including the "Estrada do Turismo" -a string of nightlife spots along the road to the airport.
- Bar do Armando, Largo do São Sebastião (Across the square from the Theatro Amazonas). Every evening until midnight. Lively crowd, simple setting, excellent location. Prices are a bit stiff, and for snacks they are downright ridiculous. Large beer R$ 5, small sandwich R$ 9.
- Porao do Alemao, Estrada da Ponta Negra 1986, São Jorge (30-40 reais by taxi from the centre.). Mostly rock, excellent snacks. Entry fee.
- Tuesdays(!) and Fridays have hundreds and hundreds of people gather at a string of drinking shacks known as Calçadão da Suframa. Some have live music, often forró. One spot is Casa do Terror, a cobwebbed hole-in-the-wall where a shirtless Cearense in a cowboy hat spins old LPs of boleros and bregas. R$ 20-30 by cab from the centre.
- Crocodillo (Centro) is a dance club with decent music and reasonable drink prices.
- Festivals Festivals are usually held in the Sambódromo, a huge stadium on Rua Constantino Nery. Carnaval is held here as well as many other festivals, including Manaus’s popular Boi.
- Gay: The two main clubs are Humps and A2, both located in the city centre.
- Upscale dancingat the Tropical Hotel.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
Jungle Accommodation, hotels and other lodgings located outside the municipality of Manaus are not included in this list. Please see the Go next section below for links to the appropriate articles.
Lots of cheap hotels and pensões can be found around Av. Joaquim Nabuco. Many of these have hourly rates, and are not very pleasant, and often quite smelly. The area gets dodgy in the late evenings. Private rooms start at R$30.
- Estrela, Center, Rua Pedro Botelho, 162, ☏ . Clean and cheap. Good place to find amazon jungle tours and trips in and out of Manaus. US$15/single.
- [dead link] Pensão Sulista, Av. Joaquim Nabuco, No.347, Centró, ☏ . Traditional Hotel in historic building from 1904. Rooms with Fan and TV. Complementary breakfast, wireless Internet access and private parking. Rates start at R$30 for single room, Hostel option R$ 25/person.
- Jangada, Rua dos Andradas (opposite Rio Branco), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms with private bathroom, a/c and TV for R$35. Very clean.
- Rio Branco, Rua dos Andradas 484, 233-4019. A real backpacker dive. Rooms are tiny and in some cases without windows. Cheap clean rooms with Frigobar, Phone, Air condition, Safe service, breakfast and room service.
- [dead link] Hotel Colonial, Rua Quintino Bocaiuva, 462, Centró, ☏ . 12 rooms for up to 6 people in historic building. All rooms with private bathroom, frigobar and cable TV, wireless Internet and complementary breakfast. R$80 for single with breakfast.
- Continental, Rua Coronel Sergio Pessoa 189, ☏ . A few blocks removed from the main strip; pleasant and economical.
- [dead link] Hotel Veneza, Rua Leovegildo Coelho, 460, Centro, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Rooms and dormitorio for up to 8 people near the Praca da Policia. All rooms with private bathroom, air condition, fridge and cable TV. Breakfast buffet on veranda with view over downtown Manaus, Wireless Internet, 24 hour reception, airport transfer. Hostel option 25 Reais, Single room 60 Reais, Double room 80 Reais.
Pay 30-50 Reais more for a room in the much more pleasant area near the Teatro Amazonas:
- Hotel São Pedro, Rua Rui Barbosa 166, Centro (Two blocks south of the Teatro), ☏ . Partly refurbished, clean, bright and spacious. Arguably the best cost/benefit in the neighbourhood. Single 65, double 85, triple 105.
- [dead link] Hostel Amazonas, Rua Ramos Ferreira 922, centro (three blocks north of the square). Spacious public area, kitchen facilities, wi-fi. Single 70, double 100, dorm bed 25..
- Hotel Brasil, Av. Getúlio Vargas, 657, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Centro Manaus. Central location. Singles 60, doubles 95.
- Hotel Rei Artur, ✉ email@example.com. Located 5 minutes from the Amazon Theater. 20 Rooms with A/C and cable TV up to 4 people. Slow wireless internet. Single 60, double 90, triple 120, quad 140 reais. Rua Dez de Julho, 685, Centro.
- Continental Hotel, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Estrada dos Japoneses, n.238, Parque 10. Rooms have Minibar, cable TV and Broadband Wifi Internet Service, 24 hour Room service, Single with breakfast US$29.99.
- 1 Hotel Tropical (Tropical Manaus Eco Resort), Av Coronel Teixeira, 1320, ☏ . At the end of Ponta Negra beach, and in a fancy neighborhood, this hotel is a landmark known by all manauara people, and is part of the tourism history of the region. Rumor has it that it has seen better days, but its 588 apartments in top facilities are still a drawn if you're tired of the more down-to-earth jungle life.
The climate is very hot and humid. Packing thin, light-colored clothing will help you suffer the least during the day. Locals are often seen using umbrellas as sun-protection while walking the streets, and you should consider doing the same.
Do take yellow fever vaccination at least 10 days before landing in the Amazon region. One shot of this vaccine offers lifelong protection.
Manaus itself and the nearby jungle regions most tourists visit on 2-5-day tours are relatively malaria-free, so one should ponder carefully if the benefit of malaria drugs offset the many inconveniences. Malaria drugs are known to cause lack of energy and belly discomfort in a number of people, and the frequent need to visit the toilet might spoil boat rides and longer tours. Also, some doctors, following a more modern line, have been recommending tourists to carry the drugs but to only take them if symptoms arise, as this is efficient enough. Do your own research and decide on the best approach for yourself. Mosquitos that are malaria carriers are more active from dusk to dawn.
To avoid mosquito bites, apply insect repellent often, wear pants and long sleeves, and consider treating your clothes with permethrin.
Manaus is fairly safe for a Brazilian city of its size. As always, deserted streets are a bad idea after dark. Avoid the east zone, it has a really bad reputation.
- Presidente Figueiredo – 105 km from Manaus, offers archaeological grottoes and caves, waterfalls, and native scenery.
- São Gabriel da Cachoeira - Home of many Indian tribes and the Pico da Neblina, the highest mountain in Brazil.
- Barcelos - Small town up the Rio Negro famous for white beaches, sport fishing and the highest waterfall in Brazil.
- Boa Vista - By bus or with the national airlines, from Boa vista you can fly to Guyana and Suriname.
- Praia do Tupé – nearby white sand beach
- Manacapuru – Paraiso d’Angelo chalets on black water
- Parintins – boi festival in June
- Mauês – guaraná festival
- Jau National Park - Jungle expeditions leave Manaus for this huge park near Novo Airão. The Park is a World Heritage site and stands out in the state of Amazonas.
- Rainforest tours for Mamori River and Mamirauá south of the city near the Amazonas river reached by the Transamazônica road.
Areas near Manaus that offer lodging in the jungle (rather than in a town), include
- Iranduba, including the Ariau river, pioneering in jungle tourism. Ever more accessible by the new bridge from Manaus, although the jungle lodges are mostly reached by boat.
- The Mamori river, accessible by the BR 319 highway, across the river from Manaus
- The Juma river, somewhat off the BR 319
- The Tupana river, further south on the BR 319