The Amazon River

Day 1: Nope, it’s the destination

Maurice described the hotel shower as being like a waterfall, so I had to make this last one count. He was not wrong. At 7am we were walking down the long halls of the Tropical Manaus Hotel, where Erikes +1 would collect us.

Exiting the hotel, we saw the river, the river, for the first time. It was a glorious view. But way bigger than the vision in my head. For some reason I imagine a relatively narrow river with the rainforest canopy covering it, and all the wildlife up in your face out of sheer space constraints. What was I thinking? It was a giant sun-drenched river with the wildlife density of an ocean! (I know my children will fact-check this later, so I’m just claiming whatever I want here.)

Benj and Moe at the Amazon
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

Much of the day was spent driving to the portion of the river where we’d begin. 330 km in about 5 hours. I don’t know what the mph equivalent is, so I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. But I’m pretty sure this will prove the most dangerous part of our Amazon Tour. Erikes drove like a bat out of hell, probably max speed around 80 mph, but this was on roads of mixed quality with giant pot holes, where the minefield slowed us down to 10 mph. We spent about 20% of the time in the left (oncoming traffic) lane. Speed bump slow downs are optional.

photo credit: Maurice Ribble

May include unpaved roads

Unpaved road
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

We did slow down for lunch. The national sport is having some sort of televised international tournament.

World Cup lunch

After arriving at The Boat, it was already time to eat lunch. Some amazing fish, beans and rice, and salad. After lunch, Erikes’ S.O. got back in the car for the long slog back to Manaus. The 4 of us +3 additional crew embarked on our journey.

The Boat
photo credit: Maurice Ribble
Lunch with Eric
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

The boat has 2 levels. Below is the engine room, kitchen, head, and open area we used for dining.

Engine room
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

Below deck

Upstairs is a sun deck, shaded area for our hammocks, and the “bridge” with a cute steering wheel.

Above deck
photo credit: Maurice Ribble


Our first 2 days involve chugging up the river to a place we can start the kayaking part of the adventure. Then each day will involve kayaking to where the boat parks each day. I’m guessing 4 hours of kayaking each day?

First wildlife photo!

Cue: Dr. Seuss inspired plants

I took a 1.5 hour nap to test out my hammock. It worked! And I needed it. 3+ nights in a row of less than my usual 8 hours was weighing on me. I’m hopeful for tonight, too.

Benj and Eric in hammocks

Today we parked in front of a termite-eaten tree. I don’t know how else to say where we are. There’s a few abandoned “houses” along the shores, but I’m sure they don’t have addresses, since there are no roads here. Maybe I’ll be able to pull up maps using photo GPS coords once I’m back in civilization and can post these blog entries? [Future Benj says, “Yes! I’ve sprinkled in maps!”]

Day 1 Boat Ride

Some context for our journey so far

We all went for a swim (warm water, but with refreshing streaks of cold) and then explored our “neighborhood” on kayak. The kayaks are the open top ocean variety, painted camo, and with comfy mesh seat backs.

Sunset on the Amazon

After dinner, we lay on blow up mattresses on the sun deck to watch the stars. They are overly bright here. Like, unnecessarily show-off bright. “There’s the rest of our galaxy right there. Yup.” I’m thinking this close to the equator we’ll get sunrise around 6am and sunset at 6pm. We went to bed and I started blogging at 7pm. It’s 8:30pm now and feels like midnight! It also sounds like the jungle. We have natural white noise, and it’s louder than my usual! Here’s hoping for 8+ hours…

Eric testing out the air mattresses
photo credit: Maurice Ribble
Candlelight dinner
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

4 thoughts on “Day 1: Nope, it’s the destination”

  1. OK … questions. Were there snakes in the water? Did you worry that the cooler parts might be swift moving water that would take you away forever? Why sleep on the blow up mattresses and not the hammocks? Was it buggy? Was the jungle noise of the large carnivorous animal type or more just a low hum of insects, etc?

    1. Great questions!

      1. Snakes in the water?
      There had to be, right? When we were swimming, nothing touched us. But toward the end of the trip we went piranha fishing, and they were biting like mad all over the place. So you know there’s things lurking in there, waiting for a worthwhile moment…

      2. Cool water = quick bye bye?
      No! Everyone knows that warm things have more kinetic energy. Duh.

      3. Why sleep on blow-up mattresses instead of hammocks?
      I’m sorry I left you with that impression! The mattresses were just for star gazing. Eric was doing it wrong in that picture. And when I said we “went to bed” I should have said “went to hammock.”

      4. Was it buggy?
      NO MOSQUITOES!! The pH of the river (at least the stretches we spent time on) was too low to support mosquito reproduction. I brought 4 bottles of repellent on the trip, and didn’t even open the first one. Hiking in the rainforest there were a few, but still not as bad as on the east coast of the US! Now, aside from skeeters, were there spiders? Yes. Were some as big as your hand and hairy? Okay, sure. Were there other nasty things? Read on…

      5. Jungle noise source?
      Yes, it was mostly the low hum on insects, etc., except I’d label it a high hum. Not in pitch, just in volume. It would be punctuated at intervals throughout the night by groups of howler monkeys (6 – 15) that whip up a crazy supernatural sound. I’m pretty sure I’ll mention this some more later in the trip.

    1. That is correct. 42 is a better answer. The honors algebra follow up question for the reader: if Erikes’ car had only two speeds, 80mph and 10mph (and 0mph, smart-asses), and it switched instantaneously between the two speeds, what percentage of the 5 hours was spent at each speed?

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