Amazon River Cruising — Father And Son In Brazil Part 2

After a few beautiful and busy days with my dad in Rio de Janeiro, we were ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime (his lifetime, specifically 😅). While I’ve already traveled all around the world, my father had barely stepped foot outside of Europe before I lured him out to visit Latin America with me. His health isn’t fantastic, and I wanted to take him on a wild international escapade before it declines any further or he gets too old to travel comfortably. We had to make some accommodations to our travel plans for his condition, but we still accomplished everything I wanted to do together during our three weeks in South America.

Now, after four days of exploring Rio, the real adventure would begin as we traveled to the Amazon River. We planned to fly from Rio to Manaus, but does it even qualify as an adventure if you don’t miss a flight? 😂

The Amazon River awaited our arrival.

The Airport Adventure

To make a long story short, we missed our flight because my dad lost his passport at the airport, but it turned out that he wasn’t the man to blame. My dad had given his passport to the security controller, and someone else had accidentally taken his passport from there. When the person figured out that they had taken the wrong passport, they left it at the gate where we would check in for our flight, but no one was notified that it was there. 🤦‍♂️

We finally arrived at the gate and found my dad’s passport, but by then, we were already too late. The flight had taken off without us. Luckily, I was able to book another flight for the following morning so that we wouldn’t be late for our cruise on the Amazon River. We ended up missing the hotel reservation I’d made for that night in Manaus too. When we finally arrived in Manaus from Rio the next morning, we were glad that our room was ready anyway so that we could store our luggage there and relax for a bit in preparation for the big day ahead. 

Anchors Away

After a brief respite at the hotel, we headed to the riverfront, and we were transferred onto a nice boat from there. The boat was a fairly large Motor Yacht Tucano, and there were about 20 guests aboard that would be sailing from Manaus to the Rio Negro with us. Along the way, we would visit some remote parts of the Amazon River and its surrounding villages.

Ready to rumble!

We had our own little cabin on the boat, and my father spent many nights sitting outside, taking in the sights and sounds of the river and the lush jungle around us. By day, we went on many excursions by boat or canoe, like fishing for piranhas or taking walks deep in the jungle.

The sunset over the river in the evenings was spectacular.

My father went on one of those walks and then avoided most of the others, probably because it isn’t comfortable for him to walk long distances in his condition. However, he still joined us for most of the excursions that we were offered, and I was glad to have his company on these outings.

Enjoying a wild trek through the rainforest

My dad and I got to visit some indigenous villages along the way, and we even bathed together in the Rio Negro. He had a lot of fun getting into the water and swimming around a bit in the Amazon.

Luckily the piranhas and penis fish left us alone while we bathed in the river. 😰

We also got to see lots of little beaches along the sides of the river as our boat passed by. It was interesting to see the contrast between these Amazonian river beaches and the big beautiful beaches that you see in the cities on the coast of Brazil. While the coastal beaches are certainly busier and more luxurious, these little river beaches had their own quiet kind of charm.

One of the many beaches that we passed by

Amazonian Animal Encounters

We saw so many animals during our time in the Amazon. It felt like the opposite of the trip that I had just taken to the South Pole, in terms of both the climate and the wildlife. In Antarctica, it was too cold for anything to live, but here in the Amazon, the plants, animals, and insects were incredibly abundant.

A sloth just hanging out 🦥

We were impressed by the Amazon pink river dolphins, which live only in the freshwater rivers of South America and are on the endangered species list. We saw lots of reptiles, including caiman alligators, tree frogs, anacondas, and lots of other types of snakes.

We saw plenty of snakes during the day, but they were more active at night.

We saw some giant river otters too, which were pretty cute, but we found out that they are actually fierce apex predators who regularly fight off the caimans and anacondas who would like to eat them. These giant otters can reach up to six feet in length, and surprisingly enough, they are the largest member of the weasel family! Even with all this information at hand, though, they still looked cute to me.

“Little” buddy enjoying a bath in the river 🥹

We also went all the way out to where the Amazon River and the Rio Negro meet. The water of Rio Negro, as the name implies, is very dark, and the Amazon river is a murky brown, so it was interesting to see these two differently colored rivers come together.

The color contrast between the Amazon River and the Rio Negro was amazing.

Fun and Games

It was great to spend a lot of time with my dad, and the other people on our cruise were fun to hang out with too. The atmosphere was generally pretty nice on the boat. The food was great, especially the picanha, which is a tasty cut of beef that was first made popular in Brazil.

Maybe we should have enjoyed eating some nice alligator fillets while we were there too. The gators were plentiful!

You might remember that this was my first trip directly following my visit to Antarctica, where I had no internet for a week, and now I was out of range again for another six days. I had started reading a lot in Antarctica because there was no internet, and I continued my reading streak on our Amazon cruise.

I also had fun playing chess with my father, who has been an avid chess player for 42 years. He’s the president of his local chess club back home and he used to be better at it than me, but on our trip to Brazil, I won most of the games against him. By the end of our three-week trip, I think our score was something like 25 to eight, so somehow my game improved even though I hadn’t played chess in years.

The student becomes the master. 🤓

That was the majority of what we did on our Amazon cruise. We enjoyed all of the activities, from canoeing to piranha fishing to walking through the jungle and visiting indigenous villages. My dad and I had fun with each other and the rest of the people on board, we bathed in the river, and we ate some great food too. We also had a wonderful time just watching the landscape pass by and listening to the sounds of the river and the rainforest.

We caught some tasty piranhas on the river 😋

Back on Land

After six days on the Amazon River, we returned to Manaus. We watched the city go by as we went out to see where the Amazon River meets the Rio Negro, and we saw the bridge that crosses over where the rivers converge. The Ponte Rio Negro (or in English, the Journalist Phelippe Dahsou Bridge) is the fourth longest bridge in Brazil, and it links Manaus with the neighboring city of Iranduba. It’s the only major bridge that crosses over the Amazon River or any of its tributaries. There was a big controversy around its construction because it caused some amount of deforestation, but I think that’s an issue with building just about anything in the state of Amazonas. Regardless of any controversy, it was cool to see this big bridge crossing over the massive river.

The impressive Ponte Rio Negro

Finally, the cruise was finished and we were ready to return to the city of Manaus. We stayed in town for another night after disembarking the cruise, and the next morning, we went out to explore the city.

Much of Manaus was not too scenic. Luckily, we were able to see some nicer parts of the city as well.

Exploring Manaus

Back in Manaus, we learned that this humble city used to be one of the richest places in the world due to its tremendous production of rubber during the Amazon rubber boom. During that period in the 1800s, it was an extremely popular place for opera performances. While we were there, we went to see the Amazon Theatre, or Teatro Amazonas, which is more than 126 years old. While it is no longer in its heyday, it still holds an annual opera festival, and the local philharmonic still regularly performs there.

The beautiful old opera house

Even though we couldn’t catch a show with our limited time in town, we took a tour of the big old opera house and had a great time exploring it. It was nice to see this beautiful building from the inside and out.

This is probably not what most people would expect to see in the Amazon.

We saw some old palaces around town and spent a little more time walking around the city center of Manaus before catching a taxi to take us back to the airport. We were ready to fly out to our next destination for a six-day road trip along the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

A nicer area in the city center of Manaus

We flew into the Sao Paolo airport and took a taxi to meet some friends at a nice steak restaurant when we arrived there. We didn’t have much to do or see in Sao Paolo, but I took the time to show my father around a bit that evening because the next day, our road trip would begin.

Join us next time to join in on our father-son road trip as we explore more of South America together!