By Alison McGowan, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Amazon is one of the most extraordinary regions of Brazil. It covers over seven million sq kms of land, an area almost the size of Europe, and is home to over 60,000 species of plants and trees, 324 mammals, 300 reptiles and 950 birds. An inspiring destination for nature lovers, and many trips are geared towards outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the wild.
Whether starting a trip in Belem (at the mouth of the Amazon), Santarém (midway between Belem and Manaus), Manaus itself or Cuiabá in Mato Grosso, traveling to the Amazon is not inexpensive, so trip planning has to start with the sort of accommodation that best fits your needs.
There are three general types of accommodation in the Amazon – city pousadas, small town pousadas along the riverbanks, and jungle lodges. All offer different experiences and are accessible year round, but if you don’t like heavy rain – avoid the summer months of December to May when the water levels can rise dramatically.
Sampling the local nightlife and restaurants can be done if staying in the city of Manaus, before or after a planned jungle trip and Pousada Chez les Rois is without a doubt one of the best places to stay.
The pousada itself is comfortable without being chic, located in an area full of bars and restaurants while still being less than an hour away from Manaus airport. Where it really comes into its own, however, is in combining this location with a beautiful pool, tropical gardens, great service and the best of all local knowledge to plan your jungle experience.
Small town pousadas
In the smaller towns of the Amazon region travelers can find a range of low budget and basic pousadas, or up-market places that offer the desired comfort. Opting for a pousada in a small town, like Alter do Chão provides the freedom to select your own trips based on your interest and do some exploring independently on dry land.
Hotel BeloAlter in Alter do Chão near Santarém is only a five minute cab ride or a twenty minute walk along the beach from Alter do Chao, and it has most of the attributes of a jungle lodge, whilst costing less than half the price.
Alternatively Novo Airão and Pousada Bela Vista offers a similar feel but a more basic experience, in a place where you will definitely get to see the famous pink dolphins.
For travelers wanting to be right in the heart of the jungle and looking for an all-inclusive, group-activity experience, it requires a relatively large outlay upfront. But once there, everything (except drinks) is included and all excursions are pre-organized on your behalf.
At the Pousada Uacari, the floating lodge in Mamirauá reserve near Tefé, visitors cannot explore unaccompanied without a guide. As part of the pousadas ecotourism project, it runs a program of daily activities in the early morning after breakfast (7AM) and in the afternoon (3:30PM). These include boat trips to local communities and the Mamiraua lake plus canoe trips into the flooded forests during wet season and treks in dry season.
Cristalino Jungle Lodge near Alta Floresta offers a more luxurious jungle experience. Every detail has been thought through by the owners, and the pousada is designed for minimal environmental impact while offering spacious suites, solar-heated showers, excellent ventilation and a private veranda with hammocks.
One thing is for sure, whichever accommodation option you choose, the Amazon is sure to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience and plenty of awe-inspiring moments. Just don’t forget the insect repellent!