We checked out of the hotel at 11am and took a van like taxi to the harbor. The next five days we will spend travelling on an Amazon River boat from Manaus to Belém. When speaking about a river boat I don’t mean a five star cruise ship but a ferry boat which the local people use to travel along the Amazon River. They use the boat to visit relatives, travel to see a doctor or transport all sorts of goods on the boat. Therefore, this boat trip will be more a cultural experience than a natural one.
We boarded the river boat around 12pm. Our leader Ross had reserved a cabin for us which was so tiny that at a time not more than two people could stand in it. Actually the cabin was not supposed to be a spot to hang out or to sleep in but to store the luggage of the nine of us. Having a cabin is especially important since we don’t just carry our clothes but also camping equipment and valuables such as passports, credit cards, money, laptops and cameras with us which we don’t want to get stolen. Therefore, it is better to lock everything up in a cabin instead of closely watching our stuff for five days.
One of us was also asking for the price of an additional cabin to sleep in but the price was very much expensive (approx. 400 USD) so that it wasn’t an option for any of us. If you read 100 USD per night for a twin-shared cabin you might think that this is something you can afford. Actually it is but when you are not just travelling for 2-3 weeks but more than a year you try to spend your travel money wisely. This is also the reason why we camp a lot. It’s not just because it’s nice to sleep outside in the nature but also to save significant amounts of money.
After we have stored our entire luggage in the cabin, we were hanging out on the upper deck waiting for the boat to depart. The boat has three decks and we have chosen the upper one to sleep on. As the majority of the people on the boat, we have no cabin to spend the night in but a hammock on the open deck. When the boat is moving there is a monotonous sound of the engine and a fresh breeze which helps you to fall asleep right in the middle of the local people and their luggage.
The boat departed in time which was 3pm. After a short while we arrived at the so called “Meeting of the Waters” where the muddy brown Solimões River meets the black Rio Negro River to form the Amazon River. It’s very interesting to see that the waters don’t mix straight right away but for many miles run side by side. The river has an incredible width of five miles at this point and it is simply amazing and breathtaking.
After spending some time walking around on the boat and laying in my hammock I decided that the hammock will not be the space where I will actually sleep during nighttime. Due to the movement of the boat and the wind the hammock was swinging quite a lot and it was also impossible to lay somewhat straight in it. Therefore, I got my camping mattress out and slept on the ground underneath my mattress. This was much better and I had a good sleep. I only was very much exposed to the public, closer to the dirt and from time to time people were stumbling over me so that I woke up from it.