Being a subject of so many books and movies, Amazon River is a many people’s childhood dream. To see it from the source to the mouth one should travel from Iquitos in Peru to Belem in Brazil. It can be done in three stages as there is no boat going straight from Iquitos to Belem.
Stage #1: Iquitos
I heard rather negative then positive about traveling by boat to Iquitos, so the best and the only way is to fly. A lot of people come for Ayahuasca – both mental and physical healing from local shamans. I spoke with few guys, went through the process of “mental cleaning”, they were glad they did it. Shamans are recommended from mouth to mouth, you should make an appointment to join the group of others were healing non stop for a few days, depending of their pocket. I didn’t try, I didn’t feel like any healing.
In early 1900s there was a rubber bum in this area, which left many cultural and historical landmarks, including cinematography.
Here you buy the first ticket towards Brazil, and the furthest is to Santa Rosa on the Peruvian border. It was the only part where you can take a speed boat so I did.
Stage #2: Iquitos – Santa Rosa – 7 hours
It took seven hours to get to Santa Rosa. Then the most important is to figure out where to stamp your passport, because here you leave Peru and enter either Colombia or Brazil. First put stamp in Santa Rosa. The next boat you are taking is to Manaus from Tabatinga, which is Brazil. Tabatinga is ten minutes from Santa Rosa by a water taxi, but just for fun you can stay overnight in Leticia, which is also ten minutes by boat and which is Colombia. Next day you stamp your passport in Tabatinga police station. A good idea is to take a local taxi, which is a motorbike. You will straggle to find it, but no rush – the boat departing twice a week. Tabatinga is the best place to buy a hammock. You need it for the Amazonian boat trip as all sleep on the deck. Don’t worry, you will get a company of a few backpackers from England or Germany. Or France. The rest of people are locals. Where they are going in a quantity of a few hundreds, I have no idea. I always had a great companies.
Stage #3: Tabatinga – Manaus – 5 days
No, it was not boring. Food? Forget it. They have a three-times a day meal, but… Buy tapioca wherever the boat stops. It is very secure as police are checking hard everybody and everybody’s luggage, in every port. Yes, it takes time.
Stage #4: Manaus and jungle – 6 days
Here I went to the jungle. The name of the tour company was Amazon Gero Tours and I was happy with it. Five days in jungle with different type of activities. A couple of girls got so emotional with locals so stayed extra day. The only trouble for me was one man, whistling all the time, so I should constantly shut him up to be able to listen to real birds and other jungle sounds. And it was drought (?!) instead of being wet.
Stage #5: Manaus – Belem – 5 days
Yes, it was so dry, that one boat even could not go further and passengers from it came to our boat.