Trek across the Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

November 2015

Already venturing to Brazil for Ironman Fortaleza, it was always a dream of mine to trek into the Amazon. To experience the humidity, see the nature and challenge my boundaries. I contacted a company called Amazon Backpackers who offer tourists a glimpse into the wild of the rainforest but also offered a survival experience, which took my fancy.

Arriving in Manaus, I was excited and apprehensive to see how on earth you get to the Amazon rainforest from the industrial style city Manaus offered. My first taxi man explained that Manaus is a tax-free haven, so huge manufacturing companies like Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft and many cosmetic companies have their main factories out there! The streets were busy with cars and trucks, not what I expected for a little Brazilian town just outside a protected natural wonder of the world, I wondered how long and laborious my journey into the middle of the jungle would be?

One bus, one taxi, two boats and one ferry ride later and I was on my final small boat ride to my starting lodge. The lodge was situated inside the jungle, near enough by water taxi to find human life, fast enough if required, but far away enough to completely forget anything else existed but massive green trees with exposed roots, beautiful waters teeming with life and animals I’ve never seen or heard of before. Pink river dolphins are jumping and playing, Capybara’s drinking from the river bank, Sloths lay sleeping in the trees and Cayman always with one eye open looking for an opportunity for their next meal.

The lodge was a little like a base camp; mess tent for eating, games and meeting other adventurers, hammocks for lounging in the relentless heat and individual cottages for sleeping. The staff were all young boys, none older than 18 years old, born and raised in the jungle. These boys knew every inch of the forest like the back of their hand. My guide was ‘Kaka’, he knew all of the routes, tree types, calls, animal dens and rivers. He would take me to different kinds of tree, peel back some bark and ask me to smell it…. TCP, Chanel perfume, coffee, cinnamon, shampoo. Each day we would venture deeper into the jungle and Kaka would find something new to show me; Tarantula homes - we would wiggle a stick in front of the hole and the spider, thinking it was prey caught in its web, would sprint out with all fangs drawn. Tree houses and huts - where locals could wait out the storms. Empty hollow trees - which would be used as communication by beating the truck with a log, the noise would echo through the rainforest.

We would forage for food from bushes for berries and coconuts (eating the witchetty grubs inside!), fishing early morning using nets and eating fish for breakfast lunch and dinner. In fact, the only time we didn’t eat fish was for the luxury of Caiman (Alligator) and snake’s that would get caught in the fishing nets. By 2 pm the sun was at its hottest, and we would need to find shelter in the shade. We would start to make our camp for the night at about 4 pm. Cutting down large bamboo branches, which we would use their giant leaves as a roof to our beds in case it rained during the night, then fixing our hammocks and fly sheets between 2 trees. It sounds easy, but it was hard work each day for 2-3 hours.

The night was my favourite time of the day in the jungle. It became alive! The noise of each animal which slept during the day but came out at night to feed. Anteaters, Skunks, Capybaras, Armadillos, Monkeys and the Jaguar. If you were to look out of your bed in the middle of the night, you would see the remains of the campfire plus a hundred eyes lit up in the pitch black staring straight back at you.

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