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Manaus to Tabatinga (Amazon River), Brazil - 6 Days/6 Nights On The Hammock Deck

Brazil travel blog by Mark Berman - February 2011   » View Photoset (58 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
I wanted to get back to Colombia from Manaus on the Amazon River, it is a long 6 night journey upriver but I was looking forward to having an
Brazil Photo - Passenger boats leave from Manaus to many destinations up and down the Amazon river.
Passenger boats leave from Manaus to many destinations up and down the Amazon river.
experience that I think many people wonder what it would be like to do. I bought a ticket from down at the port, the cost was $340 Reais which is just over $200USD. This included everything, 3 meals per day and a place on the crowded hammock deck. I had to buy my own hammock of course.

Boarding the Ferry

The boat is usually docked in the port the day before the journey begins loading up and I was told that if I wanted to I could set up my hammock in a good place the day before and stay the night, but I chose to stay just one last night in a comfortable bed in my hostel. The boat was due to leave at 1pm. I made my way there at around 11am. By this time the 2nd deck which is where all the hammocks are looked like a hammock city
Brazil Photo - It is a big event when the boats deliver goods and food to the people who live along the Amazon river.
It is a big event when the boats deliver goods and food to the people who live along the Amazon river.
or hammock hell but I wasn't sure which. Anyway, I made my way into the middle somewhere and strung my hammock up amongst a friendly looking bunch of folks. There were only 2 or 3 other backpackers like me aboard, it was mostly people from Brazil and some from Peru and Ecuador.

Hammock Deck Shock

At first I couldn't see how spending the next 6 days and 6 nights in this crowded jungle of hammocks would be fun, people on both sides of me, above and below and all around. After my initial shock and after resigning to the fact that this would be the way it would be - I started to see the funny side, more or less, a little bit. There are private cabins available that have a couple of bunks and a small bathroom in them, the
Brazil Photo - The black waters of the Amazon river before we meet the white waters, Manaus.
The black waters of the Amazon river before we meet the white waters, Manaus.
price is probably up there I'm sure.

Black and White Waters

The boat, the Voyager IV left Manaus on time. Very soon we would see the 'Black and White Waters', also known as the 'Meeting of the Waters' or 'Aquas Negras y Blancas'. There are tours from Manaus to see it but you don't need to do a tour if you are leaving Manaus on the river, you see it for free. This is where the Solimoes River (white) converges with the Rio Negro (black), they have
Brazil Photo - Pass the time onboard the boat up the Amazon river playing dominoes.
Pass the time onboard the boat up the Amazon river playing dominoes.
different densities and don't mix together for several kms. Around 45 minutes into the trip was where the clear line in the river between the black and white parts could be seen as we cruised steadily on the black water towards the white water that was fast approaching. And then the moment came when we crossed from the black to the white waters! A real wow experience, like standing on the equator or something, and then it was over.

Nature Unfolding

So it began, life onboard the Voyager IV, nothing too much to do but enjoy the scenery, take photos and talk with the other people on the boat. Traveling on the Amazon River is an experience that unfolds very gradually, each bend, corner and curve offers a glimpse into how
Brazil Photo - Lovely and peaceful sunset on the Amazon river, the trees slowly disappear into darkness.
Lovely and peaceful sunset on the Amazon river, the trees slowly disappear into darkness.
the local people go about there daily lives far away from civilization and how the river itself is affected by the constant flow of boats up and downstream. One thing that surprised me, although it is a natural occurence, was the amount of erosion on the banks of the river, like the forest is slowly being eaten by the rivers waters. Often big chunks of earth along with the trees standing on it get taken hostage by the river.

Food Onboard

What was the food like onboard? The food was actually very good. Catering for up to 283 passengers each day. Breakfast was between 6am and 7am and was very basic - coffee and bread with butter. Lunch between 11am and 12pm was a big hot meal, meat or chicken, rice or pasta, beans, potatoes
Brazil Photo - The black and white waters, also known as aguas negras y blancas, near Manaus.
The black and white waters, also known as aguas negras y blancas, near Manaus.
or potato salad. Dinner served between 5pm and 6pm was similar to the food served at lunchtime. The dining room can only seat around 25 people at a time so people ate in shifts during the hour. Basically there was a queue outside the dining room. When people finished, others were let in. It worked well and you could fill your plate up reasonably nicely without getting too many dirty looks from others.

Life Aboard Voyager IV

Life on the boat was pretty relaxed. People sat around and talked, chilled out in their hammocks, hung out on the top deck, played dominoes or watched tv. Children had the most fun running around playing games. There was a shop on the top deck where you could buy ice cream, chocolate, candy, drinks and hot
Brazil Photo - A meal on the Voyager IV boat, chicken, spaghetti, potatos, Amazon river Manaus to Tabatinga.
A meal on the Voyager IV boat, chicken, spaghetti, potatos, Amazon river Manaus to Tabatinga.
sandwiches. The few powerpoints around the boat were in high demand. The best way to ensure you can charge your phone, camera battery or computer is to buy a double plug before the journey, then you will always be able to charge up.

30hrs Stopped at Ports

While the boat is moving there is a good breeze blowing through the deck downstairs. But when the boat stopped which during the 2nd half of the journey it did a lot, it got very hot. The boat stopped at many ports along the way, for hours at a time. 6hrs at one place, 12hrs at another, in total around 30hrs was spent docked at one remote port or another delivering goods and products to the small communities along the river. The stocktaking and counting as the goods left the ship was
Brazil Photo - Small houses with cows and palm trees on the Amazon upriver from Manaus.
Small houses with cows and palm trees on the Amazon upriver from Manaus.
tedious and not great for the passengers, but it was part of the journey, however frustrating.

Amazon Communities

We passed many little communities on the banks of the river, several houses grouped together or sometimes just one or two. The larger ones would have a classroom and church too. The locals boats would be sitting in the water ready for fishing. The kids would often wave to the boats passing by and shout out. Each evening the forest around us became a silhouette and the sunset magical. Sometimes locals would come out to the boat in their small fishing boats and get a few goods or to bring a new passenger out. They often had some interesting looking fish in their boats, mudfish or in one case huge catfish. Some
Brazil Photo - Locals use long motor powered canoes for getting around the Amazon river.
Locals use long motor powered canoes for getting around the Amazon river.
of the places we stopped at to deliver goods were Fonte Boa, Tonantins, Sao Jose, Santo Antonio, Amatura and Sao Paulo de Olivenca. Like I said earlier around 30hrs in total sitting at one of these ports.

We Are Family

After a few days the people onboard kind of become a big family, thinking and feeling the same things. As we came closer to our destination, the river branches out and continues to Ecuador, there were boats docked that will take you there. By around day 4 I was starting to get cabin fever especially with all the stops we had, however I survived 2 more nights before the Voyager IV arrived in Tabatinga. I was looking forward to being able to go for a walk and sleep in a bed. The Amazon River experience for me was an amazing one and I cannot describe it exactly, it is another world. All I can say is that it is big, long and the rainforest is very green and there are a lot of trees. I didn't see any lions, tigers or elephants standing at the waters edge, just some birdlife really. My photos will help give you a picture. I have also done 3 other shorter Amazon River journeys - Santarem to Belem (43hrs) and Belem to Macapa (26hrs) in Brazil. And in the Peruvian Amazon - Yurimaguas to Iquitos, 3 days 2 nights.

     

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Distances & times (if available) from about halfway from Manaus to Tabatinga (Amazon River) (Brazil) to:


Map location: Manaus to Tabatinga (Amazon River), Brazil. 6 days and 6 nights on the hammock deck! This was my 1st Amazon River ferry journey and a long one too! An Amazon River journey is a great experience!
 A : Tabatinga to Leticia (Colombian Border) - Brazil 563 kms 563 kms straight distance
 B : Manaus - Brazil 514 kms 514 kms straight distance
 C : Leticia - Colombia 587 kms 587 kms straight distance
 D : Iquitos to Santa Rosa - Peru 712 kms 712 kms straight distance
 E : Pacaraima to Boa Vista - Brazil 815 kms 815 kms straight distance
 F : Iquitos - Peru 958 kms 958 kms straight distance
 G : Santa Elena / Brazil Border - Venezuela 971 kms 971 kms straight distance
 H : Canaima & Angel Falls - Venezuela 1087 kms 1087 kms straight distance
 I : Santarem - Brazil 1110 kms 1110 kms straight distance
 J : Pucallpa - Peru 1230 kms 1230 kms straight distance
 K : Rurrenabaque - Bolivia 1267 kms 1267 kms straight distance
 L : Tarapoto to Yurimaguas - Peru 1296 kms 1296 kms straight distance
 M : Yurimaguas to Iquitos - Peru 1129 kms 1129 kms straight distance
 N : Ciudad Bolivar - Venezuela 1278 kms 1278 kms straight distance
 O : Ciudad Guayana - Venezuela 1313 kms 1313 kms straight distance
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


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