Brazil Amazon tours start and finish in Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, or the city of Santarem, located at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajos. The Amazon Rainforest is synonymous with Brazil, and not surprisingly, we have a fine selection of Amazon tours in Brazil that take you there aboard classically-designed riverboats. Brazil controls a staggering 60% of the Amazon Rainforest, making it an ideal destination for an Amazon River cruise. View our Amazon tour options below.
In light of recent events, we have addressed the Brazil Amazon fires. We respect the mission to support the Amazon rainforest, by means of action. We would like to kindly inform our Rainforest Cruises passengers, that despite the alarming news and speculative dangers, there is no current risk when traveling to the Amazon region where the ships we offer operate. The concern is understandable given the magnitude of the issues at hand, however, none of our travelers have been directly affected by the recent events.
Please see a more in-depth article on the 2019 Amazon wildfire crisis and our Amazon River cruises (including a map of our cruise destinations in proximity to the fires) here.
Add a Custom Land Tour to your Brazil Amazon Cruise
Why Take an Amazon Cruise in Brazil
An Amazon River cruise in Brazil is the best way to experience the mighty Amazon River and rainforest. Over 80,000 plant species and some 30 million animal species call the Amazon rainforest and its freshwater habitats and canopy tower home. In the forests, the trees are large and closely intertwined, which does not allow the infiltration of the sunlight, which makes the lands dark and humid.
The leaves that fall and decompose, the microorganisms, the rains, everything works together in a complex nutrient recycling process that ensure the continued integrity of the ecosystem. More than a third of all known species in the world, including microscopic creatures, astounding flora, and endemic wildlife reside within the borders of the Brazilian Amazon jungle.
River travel is the ideal method of transportation in the Amazonas. A Brazil Amazon tour allows its travelers to cruise through the backwaters, tributaries, and lakes, accessing remote areas with less human impact. Listen carefully, because, amidst the seduction of this exotic biosphere’s stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, you will hear Mother Nature’s greatest symphony. A concert performed by an orchestra of living, breathing instruments in the most spectacular concert hall of all - the tropical rainforest of Amazonia.
Getting to the Amazon Rainforest is an adventure in itself between the planes, automobiles and, finally your to your boat! How? It's an idyllic combination of tranquility and adrenaline with a great diversity of sights and excursions, the Amazon rainforest lodges are amazing and the jungle is great for all types of groups since South America is a comparatively affordable destination.
Pink and grey river dolphins, three-toed sloths, red-bellied piranha, caiman, manatees, among many other species, call the Amazon rainforest their home. Viewing wildlife typically happens during the excursions, many times aboard smaller skiffs. Often you will be at a distance, so bring your binoculars and camera on this trip. In doing so won’t miss colorful birds, such as Macaws flying home to roost in the evening, or capuchin monkeys jumping through the rainforest canopy. Being able to see Amazonian flora and fauna in their natural habitat is quite spectacular. Once you are there, just sit tight, be patient, and let the Amazon jungle come to you!
An unexpected highlight of a Brazil Amazon River tour is the food! Rainforest Cruises travelers will get a chance to sample the region’s popular dishes that are lovingly prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. You’ll taste plenty of freshly prepared juices, sample fish, meat and vegetable dishes, accompanied by a dessert made with exotic tropical fruits.
Specific dietary restrictions are no problem. We have catered to a variety of clients who have allergies, are vegan, or even Kosher. Don't forget to sample a caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. Sit back during meal times and enjoy the beautiful scenery passing-by on your jungle tour.
The Brazilian Amazon is home to a diverse population of Amazonian tribes and mestizo communities. While some remain truly un-contacted or firmly protect their autonomous territories, there are other Amazonian communities that have decided to share their culture with travelers to the Amazon. On a Brazil Amazon cruise, some communities may invite tour groups to learn about their lifestyle. We firmly believe that any interaction between travelers and local communities should be managed in an equitable and fair manner.
Adventure activities abound in the Brazilian Amazon. Touring family groups find that there are exciting elements for any age even just for a day trip eco tour. Explore the Amazon Eco-Corridor and the Anavilhanas Reserve where you will see 20 million hectares of protected habitat, bursting with wildlife and natural scenery.
See the Meeting of the Waters, a natural phenomenon where the black waters of the Rio Negro and the sandy-colored Amazon River meet. Between jungle treks, jungle lodges, piranha fishing, paddle boarding, birdwatching and more, there is an adventure for everyone exploring the amazon rainforest!
What Other Travelers are Saying
Visiting Brazil's Amazon
Protecting the Brazilian Amazon is crucial to preserving the ethnological and biological integrity of the entire Amazon region. Arguably, no other place is as critical for human survival as the Amazon Rainforest. Almost the size of the continental United States, the Amazon Basin harbors the largest intact tropical forest on our planet, and, within that nearly one-third of the planet's biodiversity.
The Amazon River discharges one-fourth of the planet's freshwater and plays a key role in global carbon cycles and climate. Moreover, there are numerous indigenous cultures and languages within the rainforest, some of which are still 'uncontacted', that hold centuries of medicinal and botanical wisdom.
Luckily, the best Amazon tours, allows you to explore this area by expedition riverboat. Manaus, Brazil is the starting point for most Amazon cruises. Itineraries range from 2 to 10 days in length, taking in such highlights as Lago Janauari Ecological Park, Anavilhanas Archipelago, Jaú National Park, and the famous Meeting of the Waters. Further downstream is the city of Santarem, which is another tourist hub on the Amazon River, with highlights such as Alter do Chão.
Manaus is the capital and largest city of the state of Amazonas, in Brazil, situated at the confluence of the rivers Negro and Solimões, 1,936 kilometers (1,203 miles) from the federal capital, Brasília, and serves as a major port for the entire region. It is the largest metropolitan area in Northern Brazil, being home to over two million inhabitants, and the eighth-largest city in Brazil.
Manaus has quite a history. It was a small river village during the 1600s, populated mainly by indigenous tribes. Around 1669, because of its strategic presence on two major rivers, Portugal established a small fort in the town. Manaus grew steadily, increasing in importance as a port and, in 1850, it was named the capital of the Amazonas state.
Toward the end of the 19th century, as with Iquitos in Peru, fortune smiled on Manaus. Rubber trees grow throughout the region and with the introduction of rubber vulcanization for use in the growing automobile industry, the city prospered with the Rubber Boom, along with the rubber barons who settled there.
Much of the significant infrastructure in the town was built by wealthy families who tried to convert the town into the Paris of the tropics. The most obvious vestige of this period is the Renaissance-style opera house in the center of the city.
Recently, Manaus has again emerged as an important commercial center. It continues to be the main port serving the Amazon region; it is also a duty-free zone and the center for travel, including Brazil Amazon cruises, into the Amazon. As such, the Porto Flutuante (floating docks), an ingenious structure that rises and falls with the greatly fluctuating river level, are a fantastic sight; riverboats of all colors, shapes, and sizes are a hive of activity, with some river dwellers traveling up to five days just to buy supplies there.
If you are heading to Manaus to board one of our Brazilian river tours, good news! Manaus is the most readily-accessible city in the Amazon. Most European travelers arrive in Manaus via connecting flights from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
These two cities are also worth a visit on their own. São Paulo is the financial center and most populous city in Brazil but a stroll down Paulista Avenue will still allow you to find the spirit of the country in their people dancing samba. Rio de Janeiro has some of the most famous beaches in the work with Copacabana and Ipanema. The Christ the Redeemer also presides over the city here as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.
There are also direct flights from Miami and Atlanta, ideal for North American visitors. For those already in Brazil, there are countless domestic flights arriving from most of the largest cities.
Founded in 2000, the core area of the Central Amazon Ecological Corridor is the World Heritage-listed Central Amazon Biosphere Reserve. The reserve was formed by joining several smaller protected areas together, including Jau National Park, Mamirauá Reserve, Amanã Reserve, and the Anavilhanas Reserve to protect 20,859,987 ha of highly diverse tropical habitat.
The Central Amazon Ecological Corridor covers the most pristine habitat in the Amazon Jungle, the watershed of the Rio Negro. The Brazilian Institute for the Environment (IBAMA) joined the smaller reserves together to offer more protection for the flora and fauna, but also for scientific research. The area is a constantly changing mosaic of habitats, and it enables researchers to study the large scale effects of habitat change on surrounding biodiversity.
Rainforest Cruises works hard to ensure our Amazon rainforest tours, Amazon jungle trips, Amazonas tours, and Amazon eco adventures are all respect the mission of the Eco-Corridor.
The area of the corridor towards the lower Rio Negro is called the Anavilhanas Ecological
Reserve. The reserve contains flooded forest, high forest, sandy soil shrubland, and also flooded shrubland. The Anavilhanas National Park is a Brazilian preservation unity located in the state of Amazonas and covering the territory of Iranduba, Manaus and Novo Airão.
Comprising about 400 islands, the park is situated in the Rio Negro, next to Parque Nacional do Jaú. With a 350 018ha preserved area, it was first created as an ecological station. From October 2008, Parque Nacional de Anavilhanas was recategorized as a National Park.
Here you can find a rich diversity of wildlife, including a high number of animals that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Many of our Amazon tours in Brazil visit this area as it is known for its raw, natural beauty. Today, the park is managed by Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio).
Animals of the Anavilhanas Reserve
The reserve protects the habitat of some of the most iconic species in all of Amazonia, including the threatened Amazon Manatee, jaguar; the world’s largest freshwater fish, the pirarucu; harpy eagles, giant river otters, caiman, black spider monkeys, and giant armadillos. The reserve also contains pink dolphins and gray river dolphins, river otters, macaw parrots, toucans, among many others.
For bird watchers, 60% of the birds observed in the Central Amazon have been seen in this section of the Reserve. Records indicate there are around 25 species of amphibians and 42 species of reptiles, which is a comparatively small number for the Amazon. This is thought to be due to the flooded habitat, but the black caiman and the South American river turtle are abundant.
There is a high diversity of wildlife found in the reserve and of the Amazon’s 53 scientific families, only 13 were not found in the Anavilhanas.
Santarém, known as the 'Pearl of the Tapajós', is a city in the state of Pará located at the confluence of the Tapajós and the Amazon River. It is named after the Portuguese city and was once home to the indigenous Tapajós - after which the river is named - who controlled a large, agricultural chiefdom that flourished before the arrival of Europeans.
The city has some 350,000 inhabitants and is an important regional market center in Lower Amazonia, located midway between the larger cities of Belém and Manaus, with an economy based on agriculture (especially soy), cattle-farming and mining. Tourism is another important activity in the region, with daily flights to Manaus and Belem; and the superior class cruise ship, the Amazon Dream, operates from this port.
Like Manaus, Santarem features a fascinating 'meeting of the waters' whereby the Amazon River's milky-colored water, carrying sediment from the Andes in the East, runs side by side with the water of the Tapajós River, which is warmer and deep-blue in color, without mixing.
Half an hour's drive away is the village of Alter do Chão, located on the Tapajós River. The town is located at the entrance to a huge lagoon, Lago Verde, home to a myriad of animals explorable by canoe or stand-up paddleboard. It is best known for its nearby picturesque white-sand island, known as Ilha do Amor (the Island of Love), which is especially striking in low water season from August to December.
Other eco-tourism highlights within striking distance of Santarem are the Maica Lake, a natural refuge connected to a host of other lakes and channels, rich in Amazonian flora and fauna and an important nursery for hundreds of species, as well as the Tapajoara Reserve and Tapajos National Park, home to a number of vibrant indigenous, riverside communities.
The Amazon Dream
The Amazon Dream is an exceptional, and yet traditional, Brazilian riverboat affording passengers the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the great Amazonian explorers while enjoying all the comfort and hospitality they could ask for.
The itineraries - of five, six or ten days (and special 7-day departures for New Year) - have been honed over the years to offer a great mix of natural history, local contact, and relaxation, in an area of the Brazilian jungle less often visited around Santarém. This is the only riverboat that departs from Santarem.
Top Tip: Please note that a pre-arranged visa is required by holders of US, Canadian and Australian passports, in order to enter Brazil. Contact us for more details. You may also view our Visa and Reciprocity Fee information post.
The Dry Season and Wet Season both have their advantages and disadvantages from the accessible and inaccessible places to what animals you can expect to see more of. Read all the differences that could influence your decision here.
Best Time to Go to the Brazilian Amazon
Which season should a traveler choose when planning a Brazilian River cruise? In the Amazon rainforest, rainfall is unavoidable, however the Brazilian Amazon is known for two seasons, the high-water season (March-August) and the low-water season (September-February). Both seasons offer amazing opportunities to see the best of the Amazon jungle, but there are a few key characteristics to keep in mind when booking your Amazon River cruise in Brazil.
High-Water Season: March-August
The high-water season in the Brazilian Amazon runs through March-August. The strongest rainfall is from February to April. Tropical rainforests have rainfall all year round, but during this season you can expect the rain to be more frequent and the water levels of the Amazon and its tributaries to be about 10 meters higher than in the low-water season. This means many areas of the vast rainforest are navigable by riverboats. Also, during high water season many trees produce edible fruits and flowers, which increases wildlife activity in the canopy.
Low-Water Season: September-February
The low-water season runs September-February, and despite its name, the low-water season still gets occasional rains, although the lowest of the year. The main difference is that water levels of the Amazon River and Rio Negro fall approximately 10 meters. The jungle trails that are flooded from March to August are now easily accessible, allowing groups to explore the Amazon jungle by foot. There are fewer mosquitos and it is much easier to spot snakes, lizards, and various fish.Carnivores take advantage of fish trapped in shallow pools, and Piranha fishing is a popular Amazon cruise excursion during this time.