Manaus rests in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest and is the capital city of the state of Amazonas. The city is situated at the confluence of the Solimões and Negro rivers, and is the most populated hub in the region, presenting visitors with a wealth of excellent activities and excursions. The city began its history as a military facility known as the Fort of São José da Barra do Rio Negroa, which was constructed by Portuguese colonists hoping to ward off Dutch explorers. The town's population grew rapidly since that time, and in later centuries it became an economic powerhouse due to the large concentration of rubber trees in the surrounding rainforest.
This vast metropolis will be
one of the host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup
, which is set to kick off in June and run until the middle of July.
The Arena Amazonia, formerly the Estadio Vivaldao
, will house the international soccer contests, and has recently undergone a recent refurbishment that includes in-house restaurants and an underground parking facility. The reconstruction efforts also focused on making the stadium more eco-friendly by installing systems to collect the abundant rainwater for use in plumbing fixtures and to water the pitch. Solar panels and plant screens are also in place to harvest the plentiful sunlight and control temperatures inside the stadium.
The city is home to a number of museums that focus on a variety of subject matter. Discover the rich cultural heritage of the area or get a closer look at some of the production methods that drive the local economy. A myriad of cultural and educational excursions await all who venture to this expansive Amazonian city.
Museu do Seringal Vila Paraíso
The Museu do Seringal Vila Paraíso, or Rubber Museum, invites visitors to learn about the development of the 19th-century rubber boom that took place in Manaus during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This open-air facility includes a recreation of an Amazonian rubber estate, where guests are encouraged to discover the intricacies of harvesting and manufacturing rubber. Knowledgeable guides will help paint a vivid mental picture of Manaus' wealthiest era, which began during the late 1800s, and allow guests to traverse the mighty Amazon jungles to find the native rubber trees.
Museu do Índio
Situated between two churches in the heart of the city, the Museu do Índio features a vast collection of artwork, tools, musical instruments and other artifacts that were once used by the Indigenous people of the region. This is the largest and most comprehensive museum in the country dedicated to Amazon natives, and houses more than 3,000 different culturally significant relics crafted by members of ancient Amazonian tribes. The museum is maintained by a group of nuns from the neighboring churches who will be more than happy to help you understand in great detail the significance of this extensive collection (depending on how well you speak Portuguese).
If you're looking for a little adventure during your trip to Brazil, enlist the help of a local tour guide who can navigate you on a journey into the wilderness of the Amazon jungle. In the heavily wooded groves, guests will find excellent sandy beaches, exotic plants and wild animals, as well as a number of breathtaking vistas and natural sanctuaries untouched by modern man.
Rio Negro River Cruise
Take a leisurely cruise down the Rio Negro and discover the estuary where its black currents meet the rushing waters of the Amazon River. A natural phenomenon occurs at this junction, when the black waters of the Rio Negro do not mix with the lighter Amazon waters, and the two actually flow side by side for a few miles before tumultuous rapids finally bring them together. This is the only place in the world where you can see a "black and tan" occur naturally. Later in the tour, enjoy a meal on a floating restaurant and take a short kayak ride into some of the smaller tributaries that delve into the lush jungle foliage.
Praia da Lua
This riverside beach is located just a few miles north of the city and is accessible by boat. Praia da Lua translates to "moon beach," a name it received due to its resemblance to a waxing or waning crescent moon. This is the best beach you'll find around Manaus, complete with large expanses of white sands and colorful personalities. It is a haven for sunbathers and other beach-goers, both local and foreign. A variety of different huts have been erected along the shoreline, which provide an assortment of snacks and beverages to those who require some sustenance. The best time to make your way to this beach is during the dry season when waters are low, between the months of September and December. You can charter a boat at the Manaus Marina for a reasonable fare, usually about 10 dollars or less, which can transport you upriver to this secluded sandy refuge.