The Amazon Feature


River-Village Excursions

Small Amazonian villages are wonderful places to visit. The docks and open markets are lively early in the day, and the community usually appreciates your interest. Many of these places rarely see foreigners.

Anamá, one such village, is upstream from Manaus on the Río Solimões (Rio Amazonas), about 14 hours from the city by regional boat. It has a lively, largely floating waterfront and good wildlife-watching nearby. Alenquer, across the Río Amazonas from Santarém, is a quintessential river town with lovely streams and waterfalls and ancient pictographs in its hinterlands. Óbidos is upstream from Santarém about 10 hours by regional boat in the "narrows" section of the river with a fort, complete with cannons, perching on a cliff overlooking the river. On an island, sleepy river town Parintins wakes up once a year for boi bumbá festivities.

Few tourists venture this deep into the culture and landscape. Only one tour company, Amazon Adventures, arranges these trips currently. But you can also just take a local boat. Someone at the boat docks can always tell you where your boat will be departing. All villages have food vendors. Your safest bet is a plate of rice and beans with beef, chicken, or fish. Smaller villages don't even have mineral water, and transportation is unreliable. Go well prepared and open-minded. In very small communities you may even be presented to the mayor or other town officials. Any attempt you make to communicate will be appreciated.

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