A journey through the Amazon, where to sleep on the ships, why choose the hammocks, how to bargain and which ships to take to cross an incredibly beautiful part of the world.
That of crossing theAmazon, the green lung of the world, passing by boat to the river, well it's a brilliant idea! And this adventure is absolutely worth living! I must first say that it is not a journey into luxury, the boats are full of people, the bars don't offer much, the CD is repeated continuously and the bathrooms are horrible. But travel to the river, see the stars from the ship in total darkness, feeling excited to see the children on the boats that approach the boat to be thrown at them, as if it were normal, but on the other hand it is for them.
Brazil, Peru and Colombia form a triple border.
I came from Colombia. From here the only way to get to Leticia, the last town before the border, is by plane (or boat if you want to do the reverse). I took the plane from Bogota and in a couple of hours I reached the border. Once you get off you have to stamp the exit on your passport directly at the airport. You can also exchange money but for a better exchange it is much better to go to the center, in calle 7, where there are various exchange points, and ask everyone when to change the euro (or the dollar). They may ask you for your health card (almost certainly not, but they may). The only mandatory vaccine is the Yellow fever, but when you travel to South America it doesn't hurt to get Typhoid, Rabies and Hepatitis A (obviously also Anti-tetanus).
THEentry into Brazil it's very easy. Just go to Avenida da Amizade, in Tabatinga, the neighboring city and have your entry stamped. And the first step is done.
Tickets for the boat can be purchased in the harbor. For Manaos (capital of the Amazon) they leave 2 boats per week.
The possibilities for sleeping on this boat (where breakfast, lunch and dinner are included) are: hammock or cabin. The trip in the hammock costs 200 reais (70 euros) while the cabin with two seats 1300.
For those who travel in a hammock I can only say: you travel all stuck together but you will learn to love your new bed. The hammock lulls you. But then come on! You're sailing the Amazon sleeping in a hammock! It is a must to do it just to be able to tell it! You can always buy your new bed in Leticia and always in calle 7, it is a very small city and this street has everything you need.
The boats I found all (I took 3) fun! The Brazilians are a lot of fun, very animated, and I had made a group where two played the guitar, sang, I played the ukulele, of course in one afternoon we were already friends with everyone!
After 3 and a half days you get to Manaos. This is the capital of the Amazon state as well as the main financial and economic center of the northern region of the country. In short, not exactly a village.
From here the next stop is Santarem or directly Belem.
For Santarem the official price would be 170 reais for 2 and a half days of travel. You can also meet for 120. But we are travelers. After various negotiations we paid 100. This boat is smaller and they don't give you anything to eat. The solutions are: either the bar on board (offering toast and prepared soup), or get on board already with the shopping made to face these days, or buy along the way as the boat stops in many ports along the way and people will storm you, there are many vendors. From Santarem I highly recommend visiting the nearby one Alter do Chão, the Amazonian paradise. Its wonderful beaches disappear between the months of February and June and then reappear in July, when the tides drop.
The final journey, from Santarem to Belem, is similar to the previous one. 2 days long, with bar on board. On my boat there was a "restaurant" (ie you could pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which were the same for everyone). Otherwise, the options presented are the same as the previous ones: shopping, buying at the bar / restaurant, shopping in the ports. The official price would be 150 reais but I got to 120 very easily, in fact I regretted it because I could have lowered the price a lot more!
Another way is to go straight from Manaos to Belem. There are a couple of ships a week and the price is 200. My Argentine friends have lowered this to 140 reais. The trip consists of 4 days and 4 nights and the price does not include meals but (or at least in their boat) there was a kitchen available for guests.
I would like to point out that the prices always refer to sleeping in a hammock, I could not even imagine sleeping in the cabin, very expensive for a backpacker but easily accessible for those who travel little time and have more (not many eh) economic resources.