At the heart of the forest, where the Rio Negro and the Solimões rivers merge, the heartbeat of the forest imposes the rhythm of life. Wild scents, vibrant colors and native flavors. Manaus, a gateway to a world of adventure, which runs like streams towards magical forms and sensations. Opulent Manaus, where the luxury of Teatro Amazonas, the sophistication of Alfândega (Customs House) and the exotic Mercado Municipal (City Market) bow to the pomposity of nature.
After the Rubber Cycle, which made Manaus an opulent city in the early Republic years, what drives the capital of Amazonas nowadays is its place in the Free Zone, decisive for the implementation of the Industrial Pole of Manaus and the heating of the economy. In the twenty-first century, however, values are different. Investments are no longer made in architectural works as signs of greatness and power. Thus, Manaus preserves its historic buildings, true works of art, with great affection.
Side by side with its architectural heritage, Manaus holds remarkable natural beauty. Imbedded within the Amazon, it is a paradise for nature lovers and scholars. Absolutely fantastic flora and fauna, ways of living very different from what is usually found, creative solutions in a difficult, though extremely abundant environment. Giant trees, rare woods, precious orchids, medicinal herbs coveted worldwide. And stilts. Humble stilts house a gentle people.
The Anavilhanas Archipelago, one of the largest river archipelagos in the world, is located in the Rio Negro, among the cities of Iranduba, Manaus and Novo Airão. The wonderful set of 400 islands covered with virgin forest is home to the National Park Anavilhanas, the Brazilian unit of conservation and protection of nature under the administration of Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade – ICMBio.( Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation – ICMBio).
Exuberant vegetation and diverse fauna, typical of equatorial river and lake ecosystems, live in harmony with riverbank communities, who receive from the forest everything they need to live perfectly well. A boat ride in these surroundings gives a new dimension to the idea of happiness and well-being. Sustainable tourism agencies, as AOKA (www.aoka.com.br), put together special tours for smaller groups and let the visitor know the Amazon as it really is. Crocodiles, with little red eyes, that, at night, patrol the river banks; the Amazon river dolphin swimming along the boats, stingrays and coral snakes dancing their most beautiful choreography in the waters. Why not a fresh tambaqui served in a banana leaf? And, with luck, the sweetness of the smile of an Indian boy?