Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Welcome To The Jungle: Amazon Rainforest Adventure

An adventure of a lifetime in the Amazon Rainforest...
It can't just be me who thinks this: the Amazon Rainforest is about an unlikely a place to find a Scotsman as you could possibly conceive. Intrepid explorers we may be, jungle has never been our forte, as evidenced by the doomed attempt to start a colony in Central America in the 1690s. But I couldn't allow that to stop me. It was a lifelong ambition to travel into the Amazon and grabbed my chance with both arms.

If anything was to make the trip a living hell it was mosquitos. I have an awful allergy to them and, despite staying a long time in tropical climates, haven't built up any kind of immunity. In fact, the little buggers love me, and will swerve past Brazilians to get to me.  

As a nature lover and keen follower of people like David Attenborough since I could walk (friends at school used to call me ‘Nature Boy’), the Amazon had always been pretty high on the list of places to go. But it’s a difficult place to get to, no matter where in the world you are, even when you live in Brazil. This trip would always just be a taster of what is an enormous region, so it was decided we’d head right for the centre: Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas.

We stayed about 20 minutes drive outside the city in an enormous, colonial hotel on the banks of the Rio Negro called Tropical Hotel. I'm going to do a series of posts about the trip in video and in this blog. 

Day 1 was a boat trip up the Rio Negro, where we visited an Indian village some 30 kilometres from Manaus. This was an incredible experience on many fronts, not least riding long the river in the super fast boat. Fortunato, our guide, could speak the local languages and acted as a translator, although it wasn't totally necessary as many in the tribe spoke Portuguese.

The tribe gathered in their main hut and showed our audience their dances, invited us to dance and did a photoshoot. It was at this point we went outside, my dad whipped his drone out and flew around the village, much to the amusement of the tribe kids, who gathered around him with his control.

In actual fact, the village homes families from several tribes who live in a world between their original culture and that of modern day Brazil. They are used to visitors and perform dances for every boatload that comes by. The tribe is real but their way of life isn’t as presented. They are modern, all the kids take boats to school where they learn Portuguese, and much of their original way of life is lost. Being located so close to a sprawling city like Manaus means it was inevitable, but it’s great they can keep some of their traditions alive and can display this to visitors. The people were extremely welcoming and friendly and I loved meeting them in their village. 

They showed us how to open raw Brazil nuts and the shaman even did a ritual on my mother and I. All-in-all, a tremendous experience. The tribe has clearly been taken in by modern city life many years ago, but it's good that they hold on to their traditions. My first day in the jungle was amazing and I couldn't wait to explore more.


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