I had dreamed of this moment for over seven years. Since I first read Isabel Allende´s City of the Beasts I
was incredibly fascinated with the untouched nature of Amazonia. Other
books (I have always been one to travel by page) only reinforced this
dream and when I graduated from highschool, I was sure no matter what
would happen, I would set foot into Amazonia before a year would pass.
It took six months of hard work, over 40 hours of travel, a two month stay in Chile and a trip to Rio, before it actually happened, but in march 2013 I got picked up by a slick black car from my hostel in Manaus and I was on my way to fulfill my biggest dream.
Obviously I was sure I was not going to explore the rainforest and the Amazon by myself. Without GPS I am lost within second in every town (even in the square by square structured Santiago de Chile), I hate walking and while I do not need daily luxury I am pretty bummed out without an internet access. Luckily if Manaus has enough of one thing it´s agencies offering tours of the Amazon. Sadly there are a lot of bad apples and you should choose carefully, but I can wholeheartedly recommend Gero Tours, an agency with a gorgeous lodge up the Rio Negro, offering tours for up to six days (which I obviously chose, I was not going to do a short trip, I was in it for the long run). What I especially like about this agency is that they train local amazonians to be tour guides so these people are not treated like animals in a zoo, but can tell their own story and talk about their own experiences. You can book different packages and sleep in a hammock or a private bungalow. Before deciding let me tell you that my back has never felt better than after five nights in a hammock. They also offer one free tour from or to the airport and I personally loved being able to just hop in a car on my trip back and get driven to Manaus airport instead of figuring out the bus schedule, before my 18 hour flight home.
The trip to the lodge itself is quite impressive. We were picked up at our hotels and then drove to the harbour of Manaus. The tour already started here, with our guide explaining us which kinds of fish were sold and telling us about the way trading works in Manaus after the caoutchouc boom is over. From the harbour we took a little speed boat to cross the Amazon and had a little stop at the Encontro dos aguas, an impressive natural spectacle, where the dark rivers of the Rio Negro and the latte coloured Amazon meet and due to differences in denseness and temperature flow along side without mixing for 11 kilometers.
After crossing the river we changed into other cars and took on another 3 hour drive over bright red coloured streets through impressive forests and pampa. We also stopped to looked at huge waterlillies and were fed with information the entire way. I really loved how much our guides had to tell and how informed they were about the nature.
One more boat ride and we finally arrived at the lodge. I really felt so comfortable here, even though the only space I had was a little hammock and a mosquito net.
I am not even sure I can describe this. It was honestly so mindblowing to be sorrounded by this masses of water all day, to dive into a part of the world were humans are beyond irrelevant, a nature so vivid and wild that it will exist for hundred of years after we will die out, unless we ruin it before. It was so incredibly important for me to experience this after I have been so passionate about this region for so long. Seeing this dream coming true is till this day something I have not really processed fully.
In our six days in Amazonia, I did two jungle walks, numerous boats drive up the rivers, I canoed in a flooded forest, visited a local family, went Piranha fishing and searched for caimans at night. I was so incredibly free in these days, I learned so much and I saw even more. I held a boa constrictor and a tiny crocodile in my hands, I ate Piranha I had fished myself and I saw a sloth, which almost made me cry.
I also saw a pink river dolphin and five (!) different kinds of monkeys. Every night I went to bed thinking I was in a dream and every morning I woke up to new great adventures.
Our tour guides were so amazing, they showed us so many little things we would have easily overlooked and offered so many personal stories and informations, which I absolutely loved.
This trip has taught me so much about nature, our planet and how much we need to protect it. But I think the most important lesson I have taken from this trip is that if you really, really want something and you work really hard you can make any dream come true.
I have dreamed about the Amazon for six years before I first set foot there. I really worked my ass off to make this trip possible and I have missed out on a lot of things for it. And I would do it all again any day.
What is your absolute dream destination and have you already been there?