In the jungle proper
29/01/10 - The Amazon Rainforest, Amazonas State, Brazil
After taking a short boat ride we came to the point where the darkly coloured waters of the Rio Negro meet the sandy colored Rio Solimões to form the Rio Amazon the grandaddy of all rivers, and for over 6 km these waters run side by side without mixing. 'White' rivers such as the Solimoes come from the Andes, and get their colour from sediment eroded from those 'young' mountains. Black rivers like the Negro originate in northern Amazonia and flow over much older land, long swept clean of sediment. The thrid type of rivers in the Amazon clear rivers have neither the sediment nor the organic acids that make them white or black. Educational.
The boat ride ends at a port where we catch a combi to another port along the Transamazonica. The story behind this highway is very interesting. The Trans-Amazon Highway was born in 1970 when a 5600km highway was proposed during a military dictatorship. Only about 2600km was actually constructed and most of the Amazonian portion is unpared and badly maintained. But even this poorly maintained road had been devastating for the forest. It provides access to the forest for illegal logging, ranching and mining. If you peruse Google Earth whenever a road weaves through the forest, the deforestation extends in malignant tendrils on either side.
After another boat ride on a speed boat we finally reach the jungle lodge which will be our home for two nights. The third night will be spent camping in the jungle providing dinner opportunites for jaguars, pumas, caimans and possibly giant man-eating ants if they exist I don't know. There's a surpise in store for one of the tour party when she decides to have a shower upon arriving at the lodge: a snake. Makes everyone laugh.
In the afternoon, after lunch, we go piranha fishing. Our guide Elso keeps scores. He catches 10 so it's 10 to Brazil, I get 5 for the English, a Polish couple catch 1 between them, two New Zealanders catch 2 and a German guy catches 1. So I come second, not bad for my first time.
In the evening we go looking for caimans, a close cousin of the alligator. Elso catches a couple of baby caimans and lets us hold them. It's cruel but fun.
The meeting of Negro and Solimoes rivers to form the Amazon
Queues for the shower were surprisingly short
Like Indiana Jones...
Looking for caimans
Food shortages in the amazon mean people resort to eating anything...