While researching amazon jungle treks, we knew we wanted to get remote, we wanted the experience to be authentic, and as always–off the normal tourist beaten path. Then we heard about this group Amazonas Indian Tourismo, so we checked them on Google…no site. So we decide to call them….dead number. We had pretty much written them off but then randomly on a tamale run for lunch, we saw their sign up a stairwell! We went inside, sat down and heard some amazing stories…..and then decided to create some of our own.
Considering their MIA track record, we were a little wary paying Amazonas Indian Tourismo a visit, but when we walked into the founder’s office, this adorable Native Brazilian man didn’t need to say a word. We knew we wanted to go into the jungle with his family.
Day 1: Amazon Jungle Trek
Admittedly the tour started out with a few bumps in the road. This is Anne and myself guarding our food for the jungle from about eight stray dogs on the side of the road, about 150 kilometers from Manaus. Meanwhile, the founder’s wife who had chaperoned us this far went to track down a new guide for us, as our guide had “gone up river the day before without telling anyone.” Great start!
After our bus ride, we took a one-hour small boat further up river, and watched the density of houses dwindle from one every 10 minutes at the start, down to one every half hour by the time we arrived. When we pulled into this place, we knew the trip was going to be amazing. The hut on the left was our house (the one wall you see was the only wall, the other 3 were wide open). The middle structure (also one wall) was the dinning room, and the hut on the right was the open-air kitchen. The native family that we stayed with lived directly behind our hut with no running water or electricity.
The day we arrived we set up our hammocks, had an amazing meal, checked out the surrounding forests, took a siesta, then headed our for our first adventure: Piranha Fishing. We heard a lot about piranhas (as anyone who grew up watching horror movies surely knows, they eat you the moment you put your finger in the water, right?…Did I mention our handmade wooden canoe had a serious leak). Horrifyingly enough, there are an insane amount of them in the river and they hang out in shallow water but they aren’t that scary close up and most importantly, they taste delicious over an open fire.
The water in this part of the Amazon was so beautiful and calm this time of year, it made for some solid photographs. I give mother nature 90% of the credit for this one! You can see our dinner in the base of the boat, and if I had a wide angle lens you would see Anne’s feet way up in the air.
Day 2 – Full day hike into jungle, camp with “los animales”
If you look real hard you can see our mini-fridge (a wicker basket), our kitchen sink (the green tub of amazon water on the right), our air conditioner (3.5 missing walls), our super comfy beds (mine in blue, Anne’s in red, our guide’s in white), and our dresser (a table made of trees. And one thing we learned on this trip, you really don’t need much more than that.
This came straight off a rubber tree, which are so prolific throughout the Amazon it was the main catalyst for growth in the region starting with the Industrial Revolution, then again during WWII. Our guide was amazingly knowledgeable with various plants and their uses, we tasted leaves that Indians used to stave off malaria, drank sweet liquid from the “milk-tree,” we used hardened tree-sap to make a torch for night hikes, and countless other ways to live off the land.
This was a common site, our guide patiently waiting for us to catch up. This was also one of many logs we crossed, and Anne made it across all but one (see the slide show for her shoe full of mud photo, made for a great trek back to base camp).
This was a fairly large Tarantula that our guide found about 12 inches from our hiking path. After the spider was out of its hole and we took a few photos, he finally told us this spider had a very deadly bite (I just did some digging on Wikipedia and found out the Brazilian Wandering Spider is more deadly than a Black Widow….eeeek….guess I shouldn’t have been using the Macro camera setting!)
As we hiked through this sandy part of the jungle, we spotted (and by we, obviously, I mean our ninja of a guide) Jaguar tracks. We followed them as long as we could (much to Anne’s chagrin), but never saw anything more than the paw prints, but they were huge, and you could feel his presence around you all the time (especially when the lights were out and you are sitting in your hammock like a piece of chicken on a rotisserie.) If you want to learn more about the elusive Jaguar, and where to see one in the wild, check out our friend Margarita’s post on the Top 10 Brazilian Animals.
One of my favorite shots from the trip. This mushroom was so small and hidden as we hiked down a fairly steep trail but it caught my eye and I had to capture it.
We arrived at our camp site, basically some cleared area with three wood logs staked in the ground for a DIY shelter. After a few tips from our guide Anne and I were off with our machete to bring home a palm leaf roof. What do you think of our construction job? Kept us dry all night even through a decent bit of rain!
After a long hike, with a few fruits and some tree milk as our sustenance, this meal tasted amazing. Grilled chicken, some rice with onions, and a salad with fresh papayas. Cristovo carved us spoons from a tree near-bye, and our plates were created by Anne out of palm leaves.
To be continued…
So that is the first few days of the trip, three more days to come in post #2 of 2, read about us swimming with piranhas, making blow dart guns (and using them), building our second shelter in a major rain storm, drinking water from the Amazon, and good-bye meal with our host family. Click here to read post 2 of 2 of our Amazon adventure.
Hope you had fun reading. If you have any thoughts/questions at all about our Amazon jungle trek, please post them in the comment section below.