Alter do Chao and the new river journey to Manaus

Hello! I am in Manaus, where I arrived yesterday after another boat trip of two and a half days, from Santarem.

I was in Alter Do Chao for 5 days, and I was a little sad to move away from there. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, where the river looks like a lake since it is surrounded by a bay. There are beaches with white sand, especially the “Ilha do Amor”, approachable by taxi-boats.
It has nothing of the hostile environment one would expect in the middle of the Amazon. The only animals around are some curious ugly black vultures searching for waste on the streets and, by the shore of the river, iguanas that look like mini-dinosaurs escaped from a Japanese cartoon.

After, I took another cargo boat to get to Manaus from Santarem. This time the boat was worse, and the trip was a bit harder.
Also, last time I managed to place my hammock at the end of one side, so, at least on one side, I had no one near. This time instead, I was in the middle of the hammocks tangle, on the right, left, up, down, and only a great weariness made me fall asleep the first night.

The next day, after many people left the boat at a stopover, I hung the hammock in another place, relatively spacious. But I didn’t think about the engine, which was just down there. It made a continuous noise that prevented me from sleeping. I don’t understand how the others around me could. It was really impossible, so I left my hammock and I reached a silent place on the boat where I spent the night with my laptop, reading, playing chess, and watching a couple of movies. (Thanks to my friend Stefan for giving me some films to watch in these situations.)

In the three days on the boat, an almost persistent flat white sky washed the colors, making the scenarios less spectacular than the first trip. We crossed several areas violently and sadly deforested, turned into meadows where cattle, buffaloes, and horses graze. On other stretches, we skirted high cliffs, covered with an orgy of clinging trees of all kinds. The dolphins appeared more often, together with all sorts of birds, herons, hawks, etc… of various sizes and colors.

In the meantime, a powerful thought conquered me: if this crooked proceeding in a dark forest, to the West … The road to western lands … if it was just a symbol, a metaphor of existence? “Why do we fly precisely in this direction, where all the suns of humanity have hitherto set? Is it possible that people may one day say of us that we also steered westward, hoping to reach India — but that it was our fate to be wrecked on the infinite? Or, my brethren? Or?”


A beach of Alter Do Chao.


The boats that ferry to “Ilha do Amor” (Love island).


A small strip of sand connecting two shares dell’Ilha do Amor.


Giovanni De Caro, DekaroMe :-)






Carnival in Alter do Chao. On small chariots, people danced frenetically while other people threw each other flour and spray foam, impossible to avoid.


Gentleman asked me to take his picture.


Canoe at dusk.


Sunset at Alter do Chao.


Again on the boat, this time from Santarem to Manaus, again a tangle of hammocks.


My hammock’s neighbor. Well, in the end, a little promiscuity is not so dramatic ;-)


But sadly, it was forbidden to jump on the other net :-(


The same girl as before.




Mother and son.


Canoes on the river.


Boys on a canoe greet us.


Canoe and hut.


Another blue sunset.


Next time I will tell of Manaus. I was thinking of making a tour in the forest from here, but by all accounts, those in Ecuador are nicer and also cost less, so, since I will also go there, it’s better to wait.
Also, I’ll do a little “cheating” in the sense that I will take a plane to get to Colombia. The reason is that there are not freighters for passengers to Ecuador, the only one passes (maybe) once a month, and the travel conditions are terrible. An alternative to reach Ecuador from here is: Manaus-Tabatinga (a week by boat), Tabatinga-Iquitos, Peru (another week by boat) Iquitos-Yurimaguas (still another week by boat) where finally the road is reached, and from there to Ecuador it takes maybe a week, in short, more than a month of traveling!

So, because the flights to Ecuador are very expensive from here, I changed my original plan, and I booked one for tomorrow night to Bogotà… keep following me! :-)

The trip on the Amazon from Belem to Santarem

Hi mates! This time I speak of the journey by cargo boat from Belem to Santarem on the Amazon river.

Apart from a bit of inconvenience due to sleeping in the hammock together with hundreds of other people in the under-bridge, the trip was really amazing. When, after more than three days, I arrived at my destination in Santarem, I almost regretted having to leave that ship that was passing through such spectacular scenarios.

The first night the charm of the river captured me, with the dark forest all around, the lights of small coastal villages and houses on stilts, scattered here and there, mysterious, with little dim lights before the black wall of trees.
And during the days, I could not stop contemplating these scenarios made of thick vegetation that falls plunging into the brown water. As a barrier in front of a “Heart of Darkness”.

Sometimes becomes extraordinarily wide. In other points, there are archipelagos of islets, with long and narrow corridors of water between the forest. I also saw freshwater dolphins. I had never seen a river so big, and in fact, it is the largest river in the world.

Often, children came by canoe from their tiny huts to greet the boat. Some of them are were just six or seven years old, driving alone their canoe. For sure, in such places, it is essential to learn to drive one almost as walking. Sometimes were the mothers to bring their babies to see the boat.

In short, a fantastic experience, which, anyway, I will do again soon to go to Manaus. The Lonely Planet description of these trips is maybe harsher than they actually are. There wasn’t stuffiness, mosquitoes, bad smell. Apart from some discomfort of sleeping on the hammock, my only problem was the food because heavy rain in Belem had prevented me from buying it before boarding. Being vegetarian, the only choice was some cheese toasts that were pretty disgusting and expensive. Fortunately, the following day when we stopped at Breves, a kid from the port sold me on the fly two baguettes of bread that I have used for the rest of the trip.

Arrived at Santarem, I took a bus to Alter do Chao, where I am now. It’s a small village on the river where there is not much to do, so an excellent place to rest before leaving again.


Boats in Belem, the main port toward the Amazon.


The tangle of hammocks in the underbridge, where I slept three nights.


Amazon river.


A Canoe.




Another boat with hammocks.


Boys in canoe greet us.


During the trip, I met a German doctor, Eva. Here she taught the flute to some children.


A boat.






The river.


Giovanni De Caro, DekaroMe on my hammock.


Hut on the river.


Little house.


Kid on canoe.


Another house.




Amazing Amazon.






Big clouds.


Ah, from now on, you can call me Dekaro Geographic! :D