Welcome to the jungle — it’s enchanting, with visuals so stunning even a travel prude would fall hook, line and sinker. A relatively unexplored setting, the Brazilian Amazon is everything you imagine, and more, making it the perfect place to let go and breathe in the freshest air you’ve ever inhaled.
Tucked away in the middle of the dense rainforest is the Uakari Lodge, sitting pretty, with lush views awaiting your arrival. Uakari Lodge is set in the Mamirauá Reserve of the amazon, home to the endangered Uakari monkey, over 400 bird species, Caimans and Piranhas that casually swim past your lodge almost every minute. The Mamirauá is the biggest protected flooded forest in the world and the reserve plays an important role in protecting the ecosystem. Accessible only by navigating the Amazon river, the reserve goes through contrasting seasons of wet and dry periods annually, showcasing its varied fauna, flora, animals, birds and reptiles. I visited the reserve closer to the peak of the wet season, which meant that the water level was considerably high, and had nearly reached the watermark level. What do you do when it’s flooded? Well, you wake up, simply hop on to your boat and explore the jungle with a pair of binoculars and mosquito repellent (lots of it!).
Why you should go?
- The people are so damn hospitable:
The staff at Uakari Lodge has some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. Right from the organisation stage (they speak excellent English btw) to the man that captained our boat to the guides, cooks and housekeepers, each one of them made every moment wonderful. It’s not easy for a through-and-through city girl to live in the middle of creepy crawlies and armies of mosquitoes but they ensured I didn’t freak out or melt from the heat during the time I was their guest.
My guide (Jessica) was informative, skilled and passionate about her surroundings as was the staff and local guides. The employees come from riverine communities where each person works about 10 days a month and then returns to the community to contribute to the daily household chores. This keeps them grounded and involved in the preservation of the reserve whilst assimilating effectively with society.
- Float your troubles away:
Uakari is located deep within the jungle, so getting here isn’t a cakewalk— as a result, only true nature lovers and those looking to gain an immersive traveller experience make it there. The rainforest is rich, the scenery is stunning and creatures, intriguing. Every step has detail while every breath of air is exhilarating. Each floating bungalow is equipped with a bathroom and private terrace overlooking the rainforest. And for fancy folks, it also houses a bar, video room, kitchen and a library stocked with books for nature lovers. While facilities are sustainable, the energy is solar powered with the water being of the perfect temperature to soak in after a long weary day in the jungle.
Pro tip: Mid- afternoon Caiprinha/beer is da bomb!
- The food:
The cooks at the lodge dote on you—showering you with fresh produce, all grown locally. The food matches Brazilian and regional cuisine, so think fresh fruit and juices thrice a day, home made bread, Brazilian rice and beans, chicken and the catch of day! Dessert? Naturally! Usually in the form of fresh fruit and the infamous Amazonian fruit acai and cupuacu to sweeten that palate.
P.S – They bake a cake if it’s your birthday!
- The (sometimes predatory) animals:
Mamirauá is home to 400 species of birds and 45 species of mammals. It also houses the white Uakari monkey that hides in the forest along with the howler monkey, black squirrel monkey, sloths (my spirit animal) and the infamous jaguar that prowls through the jungles. Other cuties include caimens, pirarucu fish, piranhas, spiders and iguanas. While you rest in your log hut, catching up on some sleep, you might be rudely awakened by the sound of caimans playing (or so you think) under your cabin. To be fair, they’ve never attacked humans (unless provoked) and feed on fish and snails between leisurely naps while floating from one part of the river to the next. However the most unusual sighting is that of the pink dolphins or Botos and tucuxis that swim in the tranquil river waters. The Botos (pink dolphins) often show off their skills by putting up a little show for your viewing. Did I mention that all this could be viewed from your very own bungalow while you laze on a hammock possibly sipping on a Caiprinha?
- Activities for everyone:
You don’t just go to Uakari and expect to lounge there all day long. No sir! Your day is complete with excursions and activities depending on how many days you choose to stay with them. The 3-nighter included 3 bird and animal sighting boat trips, early morning fishing, a community visit, morning hike and a picnic on a boat overlooking a breathtaking sunset all while you watch the birds retreat for the night and howler monkeys bid goodnight to the day that was. Each activity is carefully handpicked so as to not disrupt the animals or the locals that go about their daily activities.
Tips – bugs, sweat and tears:
- Always carry sunscreen, insect repellent (jungle Juice is available on amazon.com with 99% deet), a cap, sunglasses and waterproof backpack.
- Sturdy shoes for hiking (water resistant) and flip flops for walking around the lodge and when on boat trips.
- Personal medications (don’t forget band aids)
- Camera with a zoom lens (DSLR), GoPro, cell phone and binoculars.
- Clothing should include loose T-shirts and full pants that dry easily in case of a downpour. Mosquitoes tend to bit through most clothing so it is recommended to spray repellant on clothes and every inch of your body. Long sleeve shirts help.
- Local currency for tips and gratuity
- Sachets of glucose and lots of water to stay hydrated
- Vaccinations – Take the necessary vaccines before entering the amazon. This usually includes malaria, yellow fever, dengue and meningitis.
- Always have a guide with you, as the amazon is vast and lonely. It’s easy to get lost, as all pathways look the same. Animal encounters are possible therefore it is important to stay alert and always at a safe distance.
- Do not feed the animals – Never ever!
- Never swim or dip your hands and feet in the river especially if you have an open wound as this immediately attracts the piranhas.
- Last but not the least, don’t piss the animals/reptiles off!
Location: Uakari Lodge, Mamirauá Reserve
How to reach: Fly to Manaus and then to Tefe. From Tefe it is an hour boat ride deep in to the jungle.
Website: www. www.uakarilodge.com.br/
P.S – This wasn’t a sponsored review, this place really is just that amazing!