Manaus is also called the Jungle City and so I greenly thought that I can use my free day in Manaus to go on a day trip to the jungle. Actually, I was wrong and told that it’s half a day drive to the jungle so that you need to have at least two to three days’ time to see it. On one side I wish I had known this before and flown in 1-2 days earlier and on the other side I have already seen plenty of rainforest in other parts of the world. I had a look at the pictures my roommate Molly had taken during her jungle trip in the last days and I think that I didn’t miss too much.
Instead there were two other options offered for a day trip which was either to go and swim with dolphins or to climb some trees. Both were with around 300 Real (176 USD) quite pricy and so I decided to spend the day in Manaus. So far I wasn’t even aware of dolphins living in rivers. I always thought that they live in oceans only. While diving in Egypt a few years ago I was lucky and ended up in the middle of a school of dolphins which was a wonderful experience. It simply happened in nature and these are the kind of experiences I seek for and not for dolphins which get attracted for the reason to show them to tourists as it is the case here. However, the Amazon River dolphins are somewhat special since they are smaller and said to be pink. Now, a few days later when I write this blog entry, I regret that I didn’t go to see them but probably I will have the opportunity at a later point in time.
In my hotel in Manaus I also met two guys. One was from Iran but now living in Cologne (Germany) who has quit his job to spend several months travelling around South America. Funnily he ended up helping hostel owners to improve their business and got free accommodation for his efforts. The other one was Sam, a guy working for Dragoman. Sam has just finished leading a trip in South America and will return home for a couple of months. Interestingly it turned out that he will be a crew member on my trip from Istanbul to Beijing departing in April this year. Sam told me that the guys in the Dragoman office are currently having a look into the political situation in Iran and that the trip might get re-routed through Georgia and Azerbaijan.
I spent the day with some travel organizational work such as re-planning parts of my journey as you can see it on the page My Itinerary. I decided to squeeze two additional trips into my schedule, one going to Tibet (Xi’an to Kathmandu) and one to Central America (Mexico City to Panama City). In order to be able to fit these trips in I shortened my second stay in Africa to three weeks and will travel from Nairobi to Victoria Falls without making a loop to Uganda and Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. Actually, I was in Rwanda on my very first overland trip from Nairobi to Accra and have seen the mountain gorillas already. My plan was to return to Rwanda and spend some more time with these faszinating animals but time wise it simply doesn’t work out without delaying my overall trip into 2013, so I will spent some time in Central America instead.
In the afternoon I was wandering around in Manaus and also went to the supermarket to shop for our five days trip on the Amazon River boat. Our leader Ross has given us a list of things to buy such as cutlery, plastic containers out of which you can eat and some food. The river boat we are travelling with is no luxury cruise ship but a local ferry boat and therefore we need to prepare for the journey accordingly. Shopping was kind of expensive since the Real is currently quite strong. Most items I bought were much more expensive than home, e.g. I paid 2.50 Real (1.50 USD) for one liter of milk or 8 Real (4.70 USD) for some fluffy bread. The local prices were also reflected in the payment which we had to make to our travel kitty which is 970 USD for the three weeks between Manaus and Salvador da Bahia. The high kitty payment is also due to the fact that there will only be three camping nights on this trip so that we have to spent quite some money on accommodation.