Where would you begin a trip to the Amazon jungle? "Every trip to the Amazonas starts in Manaus" said Mario, our guide. "More specifically at the meeting of the two rivers, the Amazon and the Rio Negro, at the Encontro das Aguas".
Well, the junction of the two rivers makes indeed for quite a sensational phenomenon. The warmer, slower Rio Negro carries black waters while the colder, faster Amazon has light brown, milky waters. And, because of the difference in temperature and speed the waters don't mix. That's right, over a stretch of six kilometres the two streams flow parallel to each other, side by side. Satellite imagery shows this effect very clearly, but ... nothing is like being there.
There is another difference between the the two streams which we, in fact, used to our advantage. The waters up the Rio Negro are more acidic and therefore not of liking to mosquitoes. Good. We went up north along black waters.
We took base at the Eco Park Lodge, a short boat trip from Manaus, and explored from there the area.
"Open up your senses" says Mario. "You don't get to know the jungle until you sense the small things". And, looking for the small things became the focus of the next days. In fact, the first impression we got was not what we had expected. Leaving Manaus by boat, we were greeted by a remarkable silence —perhaps, better described as the lack of loud sounds. A sensation that would accompany us for the whole stay. We visited the Amazonas in January, the wet season with constantly overcast skies and damped light, what multiplies the effect.
Vegetation in the jungle is in a constant balance between bursting with life and rotting away, a phenomenon that accelerates during the wet season, when the water levels of the rivers are at their highest. This is also when animal life is most active.
The caboclo, the modern times inhabitant people of the area, maintain a tourist meeting place where they perform some of the tribe's original ritual dances and have a chance to sell their handcraft. This is supported by the government in order to avoid tourist invasion of the indian settlements —probably a good arrangement for both sides.
BTW, did I mention that the photographer faces quite a tough task? First, the light conditions are challenging, and then, having a wall of green in front of you makes you wonder where to focus. Knowing that you basically get only one shot, doesn't make things easier.