Eight hundred and eighty miles up the river Amazon is the bustling port of Manaus – the ‘Paris of the Jungle’ and the capital of Brazil’s state of Amazonas.
Our berth is a mighty pontoon, similar to Liverpool’s Pier Head landing stage, only difference being the temperature and the colour of the river!
At the top of the walkway against the reinforced side walls is a large green board, on which is recorded annually the highest water level reached. To date, 2009 is the highest recorded level which by all accounts from the positioning of the mark, the river flooding over into the roadway. A rise of almost 40 metres, I’m reliably informed.
Today it’s well down, in fact so much so that it’s quite a steep incline up the ramp from the pontoon to the road and nearby shopping centre.
When I say bustling port, I really mean just that. On the inside of our berth are local ferries squeezed alongside each our all toting for business, not from us but from local traders, all needing their stores shipped to the various villages and settlements dotted around the river.
It’s fascinating to watch the assortment of goods being unloaded from trucks and private vans and manually loaded onto the ferries, plus foot passengers loaded down with their local purchases. And the music - the Brazilians love their music!
Our arrival at 10.00am was celebrated in typical Brazilian style with a troop of flamboyantly dressed dancer performing with such energy, bringing much pleasure and joy to the watching observers from the decks above.
After the official formalities were completed, many took the opportunity to head down the gangway to explore the near surroundings as our tours were off in the afternoon.
The first excursion, Best of Manaus, departed at around 2:15pm. This excursion took our passengers to first visit the Teatro Amazonas, The Opera House. With visits and stops to the National Institute of Amazonian Research, and the Science Museum, this 4 ½ hour tour really gave our passengers a great insight into what Manaus really has to offer. Our other shore excursion is an evening tour - Caiman Spotting.
This magnificent tour takes our passengers out into the Amazon by motorised canoes. Before boarding the canoes, the tour starts with a moonlit riverboat cruise into the dense jungle backwaters. Passengers then transfer into local dug-out canoes. Under expert direction from the guides, the passengers glide silently into the flooded forest in search of the caimans.
After numerous catches and the chance to hold and have a photograph taken with a ‘caiman’ our passengers re-board the riverboat and head back to the Saga Pearl II.
For those remaining on the ship, Cruise Director, Tanya Whitehurst arranged for “Grupo Regional Andira” to perform a local folkloric show in the Discovery lounge. By all accounts it was a spectacular show and a wonderful way to finish this leg of the Grand Voyage.
For me it was time to recharge my batteries in preparation for the next adventure down the Amazon River which starts tomorrow!
The below entry is written by Cadet Heidi Clevett, Parintins:
As a member of the 4-8 watch, I missed the later arrival and anchorage off Parintins but, appearing from my rest, it was quite obvious that the ship was exposed to strong current and wind.
Anchor ports are always busy days as there has to be someone to man, not only the gangway but also shore side (a lot of these shift slots filled by Cadets) There also has to be someone to drive the small tender-boats. So, with that in mind, my first job was to go shore side and aid people on and off the small tender-boats as they ferried passengers ashore.
Unfortunately, because of the adverse weather conditions, the tenders were finding it very difficult to get alongside the ship and it was even harder for the passengers to climb aboard! Although, true to its turbulent form, the Brazilian weather eased off and together with the Captain thrusting the ship round to a better position, myself; along with 50 patient passengers made the rocky journey ashore.
On arrival, it was established that another boat was to act as our mooring ‘platform’ and we were to make our way across this one using a red piece of carpet that had been laid across the beam of the ship as our gangway. It was a simple yet interesting manoeuvre for most of the passengers as a small Chihuahua and a local family had taken up temporary residence at the back of the boat, all extremely friendly and keen to smile and great the newcomers ashore.
This ‘platform’ or rather boat, was actually one of the hundreds of travelling hotels for the locals that motor up and down the river from Belem to Manaus. Apparently, this journey can take up to 5 days and during this time the travellers attach a wide array of colourful hammocks to the deck head to sleep and live on for the 5 days!
On returning to the ship, the other Cadets and I were to attend the evenings cocktail party, chatting and mingling with all the exhausted but happy passengers after their afternoon ashore watching the ‘Boi Bumba show’ (a major festival in the Amazon).
Cadet Heidi Clevett,