6 Reasons to Cruise the Rio Negro in Brazil
The Rio Negro has developed into a popular Amazon River cruise destination in recent years. Located in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon, the Rio Negro meets what the Brazilians would call, the Solimoes River to form the Amazon. This is disputed by countries such as Peru, who claim the Amazon begins in their respective territory. Nonetheless, the Rio Negro is a major river system and largest left-tributary to the mighty Amazon River, and an ideal river for cruising. The Rio Negro is navigable for more than 430 miles to its source high in the watershed of the Orinoco and Amazon Basins.
Despite its name translating to ‘black river,’ its water color is more like that of a dark tea. The color comes from humid acid, a result of the incomplete breakdown of phenol-containing vegetation. Black river systems are generally not as nutrient rich as white (or muddy-colored) systems, but despite this fact the Rio Negro is thought to support more than 700 species of fish. Intrepid travelers from around the world are visiting the Rio Negro, for some very good reasons.
6 Reasons to Cruise the Rio Negro:
1. Very Few Bugs
Not only is the Rio Negro (and the Amazon jungle surrounding it) amazingly beautiful and ecologically-rich, but the natural acidity, with ph ranging 2.4 - 4.9, prevents mosquito larvae from developing. This does not mean you should leave the repellant at home, as there are still places for pesky mosquitos to reproduce in the forests, but in general it is shockingly low in biting insects. Cruisers can sit out on the decks in the evening, enjoying a sunset with a cool cocktail in hand without having to apply heavy doses of Deet beforehand.
2. Excellent Swimming Opportunities
The Rio Negro is relatively calm despite its size and volume. It slower flow rate of around 1.24 miles per hour, and refreshing temperatures, averaging 82 degrees fahrenheit, are incredibly inviting during the heat of the Amazonian afternoon. Plus, there is far less sediment and debris compared to a white water system. So, pack your swim noodles and jump in!
3. Natural Beaches
During the low water season, roughly July - February, Rio Negro's water levels can drop as much as 65 feet from their high water marks. This exposes vast, white-sand beaches and rock formations that make ideal pools for swimming.
4. Protected Areas
Encompassing the a large part of the Rio Negro, the Central Amazon Conservation Complex makes up the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin (over 6 million hectares) and is one of the planet’s richest regions in terms of biodiversity. It also includes an important sample of varzea ecosystems, igapó forests, lakes and channels which take the form of a constantly evolving aquatic mosaic that is home to the largest array of electric fish in the world. The site protects key threatened species, including giant arapaima fish, the Amazonian manatee, the black caiman and two species of river dolphins. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means future generations will be able to enjoy a Brazil Amazon cruise in an ecosystem that should be largely unchanged!
5. River Dolphins
The Amazon is home to two species of fresh water dolphin, the Pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), and the Gray river dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis). Each species is quite common to see during an Amazon Cruise. There are even locations where wild dolphins interact with swimmers (these are regulated by Brazilian Authorities). These highly adapted unique creatures are found only in the Amazon and are a highlight to any trip.
6. Piranha Fishing
After all, we are in the Amazon. Fishing on the Rio Negro is extremely popular, especially for the discerning angler out to bag a trophy peacock bass. But, for the amateur a simple cane, line and hook does the trick. Simply bait your hook with a bit of meat, drop in the water, and lift when you feel the bite. This activity is fun for all ages, but children in particular enjoy discovering some of the hundreds of fish species with a bit of catch-and-release.