The gateway to the world’s most famous rainforest, Manaus sits at the conflagration of the Negro and Solimões rivers which merge to create South America’s most famous vein of water: The Amazon River. Though people chiefly visit this city to delve into the wonders of the Amazon, Manaus has its own special kind of charm, and travellers to this part of the world will find there’s more to see, and stay for, than the lure of the wild.
Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes - Manaus Airport (MAO)
Though the airport in Manaus has been serving the region since the 1970s, the Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes – Manaus Airport (MAO) is rather small, with only one terminal for passengers. However despite this, the facilities are decent; MAO offers duty free shops, ATMs, a handy information desk (open from 7:00-23:00), a pharmacy and a few food outlets. You won’t find free WiFi here, but there is an internet café if you need to connect before leaving the airport or boarding your plane. The airport is not far from the city, situated approximately 14km north of downtown Manaus.
Airlines that fly to Manaus
There are very few international flights into this city, the only operators being American Airlines from Miami, and TAP Portugal from Lisbon.
Most passengers flying to Manaus will have to do so via domestic airlines. These are operated by: Azul Brazilian Airlines, Copa Airlines, GOL Transportes Aereos, MAP Linhas Aereas, TAM Linhas Aereas, and Total Linhas Aereas from a number of cities including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife.
Getting into Manaus
A taxi from the airport into the centre of town will cost between 45-60BRL ($15-20) and take around 20 minutes. Alternatively, if you are travelling with a larger party, it might make more sense to hire a shared-ride van or shuttle, which offer one-way and round trips for around 80BRL ($28) and 140BRL ($50) respectively.
By public transport
Public bus services run 23 hours a day, and come about every half hour, though services are less frequent during the night. These are cheap and cheerful, costing about 2BRL (less than 10 cents). Line 306 will take to the centre of town in about 30 minutes. There is another bus, Line 813, that you can also take but this is more expensive due to the fact that it is air-conditioned.
You can also hire a car at Manaus International Airport. Rental car companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz, all of which you can book either at the airport or in advance of your trip.
What can you do in Manaus?
Manaus is one of the most isolated cities in the world, only reachable by boat or plane, but the Portuguese settlers who founded the city left lots of colourful colonial architecture that you can explore, such as the Alfândega, a turn of the century Customs House of Manaus, the Carmelite Cathedral, or the opulent Rio Negro Palace. You can also learn about the indigenous tribes and cultures of the upper Amazon by making a point to visit the Indian Museum, which displays not only the handicrafts of the region’s communities, but also weapons, musical instruments, ceremonial clothing, tools and ritual masks.
Discover the Amazon
The biggest attraction in Manaus is undoubtedly the natural one on its doorstep: the Amazon. Sail down the almighty river to visit the villages that are clustered along its banks, such as Anamá or Alenquer, quintessential looks at life in this harsh environment. Stay in a jungle lodge, where you can spy the river dolphins of the Amazon, trek through the dense rainforest for a chance at seeing its elusive wildlife on land, or take in the atmosphere of this unique landscape by fishing, though keep your eyes peeled for piranhas!
When should you go?
The temperature in Manaus stays relatively steady throughout the year, generally sticking between the mid 20s and the low 30s, which means the region is limited to two main seasons; the hot season (June-November) and the wet season (December-May). If you’re wanting to explore the Amazon, then it is generally recommended to aim for June, when the rains have slowed, and the heat isn’t yet at its zenith.
What do you need to know?
Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL)
Visa: Most foreigners travelling to Brazil will need to apply for a visa before entering the country. You must apply to your nearest consulate to obtain a visa. More information can be found on the government website which outlines which foreign nationals are exempt from having to apply in advance of travel.
Please note all information is current as of September 2015.
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