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JUNGLE LODGE AMAZON VACATION

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Amazon Village Jungle Lodge is located 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of Manaus, Brazil, on the west bank of the Puraquequara River. The ecolodge offers two- to four-day Amazon jungle tour packages, which include accommodations and delicious international, Brazilian and Amazonian meals.

Amazon Village, Manaus, Brazil sign.
Amazon Village, Manaus, Brazil sign.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

We arrived in March, when rainfall and melt-water from the Andes raise the Amazon 15 meters (50 feet) above its low-water mark. The Amazon River overflows its banks for up to 50 km (30 miles), flooding inland forests.

Rainforest expeditions

Within minutes of checking into Amazon Village, we were canoeing in the flooded rainforest. We didn't know that a giant anaconda was coiled somewhere below us, as we paddled through the placid water.

Three playful spider monkeys, swinging from branches, captured our attention. One greedily wolfed down a banana. Another scratched his belly with one hand, while using his other hand and tail to anchor himself to the tree. When the third monkey decided to venture aboard our canoe, we moved on.

Tourists paddle canoe through flooded forest.
Tourists paddle canoe through flooded forest.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Canoeing among the treetops, we enjoyed a canopy-level view of monkeys and birds. The submerged trees, below, made us feel like we were paddling in the sky.

The flooded Amazon rainforest was silent, except for our splashing paddles and the sounds of nature. Vultures whipped the air with their wings. A brown and yellow weaver bird squawked, then darted into a stocking-shaped nest to escape a predator.

A fruit fell into the dark water with a ker-plop. Tambaqui fish (Colossoma macropomum), also called giant pacu, have evolved large teeth and powerful jaws to crack seeds and these hard fruits.

The next morning, when we walked from Amazon Village to our canoe, we saw only two monkeys scampering on the partially immersed tree opposite the jungle lodge.

"An anaconda got one of them," said the night watchman. "It pulled him under the water and swallowed him whole." The snake, which can grow up to six meters long, was nowhere to be seen.

Amazon jungle tour

That evening, we boarded a large motorized canoe to search for caimans, South American relatives of alligators. When our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we saw trees silhouetted against the star-sprinkled equatorial sky.

Luis shows caiman captured at night to boat passengers.
Luis shows caiman captured at night to boat passengers.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Luis, our guide, scanned the edge of the Amazon jungle with a flashlight, as we glided through the tranquil flooded rainforest. Squeak! Squawk! Chirp! Buzz! Rattle! Hiss!

Our ears rang with a clatter resounding like hundreds of sticks banging together. Although the wildlife, which inhabits this vast jungle, is rarely visible, it certainly isn't silent.

Surprisingly, no insects appeared, despite our concerns about malarious mosquitoes. Because decaying vegetation makes the water dark and acidic, it does not support the reproduction of mosquitoes.

Our canoe squeezed through a narrow passageway. We ducked under branches and dodged leaves brushing the sides of our boat.

Luis spotted two ruby eyes frozen by the flashlight. He waded, barefoot, into the shallow water. (Shuddering, all we could think about was predatory anacondas.)

With lightning speed, he gripped the caiman behind the head with one hand, and with the other, grasped the tail to keep it from thrashing about.

Returning to the canoe, Luis reviewed Reptile Biology 101, showing us the caiman's 75 sharp teeth, its soft, supple underbelly, and the membranes that protect its eyes. He then gently released the alligator, unharmed, into the water. It vanished, with a swish of its tail.

Macaws eat from dish at Amazon Village.
Macaws eat from dish at Amazon Village.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Back at the 90-guest jungle lodge, we drifted asleep in our bungalow apartment, as wild creatures serenaded us through the screened window. A bell jolted us awake at 7 a.m., announcing breakfast.

Nearly everyone was up, including two brilliant macaws, pecking grain from a plate by the dining room entrance. We helped ourselves to fresh papaya, coconut yogurt, sliced ham, fried eggs, and warm croissants with guava jelly.

It was hard to believe that we were sitting near the middle of the 6,700-kilometer-long Amazon River, with nothing but jungle surrounding us. Hard to believe, until a green parrot swooped through the open-walled dining room and strutted across the floor, following a waiter carrying a coffeepot.

Laura, we soon learned, had a penchant for chewing shoelaces and colored necklace beads. We offered her a bit of orange, but she declined, and devoured a sweet roll instead.

She grabbed Ron's pant leg with her beak and, using her sharp claws, hoisted herself on his shoulder. Honey, we're not in Toronto anymore.

Laura the parrot sits on Ron's shoulder as he drinks coffee.
Laura the parrot sits on Ron's shoulder as he drinks coffee.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

After breakfast, Laura followed us upstairs to the open-sided lounge, where an enormous liana vine hung from the thatched roof. She perched on the back of one of our swinging wicker chairs.

We pulled a couple bananas from a stalk, hanging temptingly at arms-length. It was a quiet spot to contemplate our stay at Amazon Village Jungle Lodge, while we waited for the riverboat that would bring us back to Manaus.

Amazon river vacations

Besides alligator spotting tours, adventure vacation packages include jungle treks, boat trips to visit Amazon River inlets and fishing for Amazon fish, including tucunare (peacock bass), tambaqui and piranhas.

Besides accommodations in the Amazon rainforest lodge, vacation packages include river boat transportation to and from Manaus hotels and to and from Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes International Airport. Van transfer to Ceasa Port takes about 30 minutes. From there, Amazon river boat transfers to Amazon Village take 2.5 hours.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Amazon Village Jungle Lodge: www.amazon-village.com.br

More things to see & do in Brazil:

Amazon River Cruise

Ariau Rainforest Expeditions

Boi Bumba Festival

Amazon Piranha Fishing

Iguacu Falls Brazil