Even though we have spent almost 2 weeks in and around Manaus, that was not enough from Amazon region. We wanted to see more. We heard that passenger boats are going up to the Colombian-Peruvian-Brazilian border every few days.
Which boat to take to Tabatinga?
The slow (and therefore cheap) boats cost from 350 Reals per person, all inclusive. Daily 3 warm meals and the stunning (but after a while boring) view of the river for 7 days sounds pretty interesting. If you pay more (700-1000 Reals), you can get a cabin for two. We decided on the cabins which had also a private bathroom.
Another option is to take a fast boat. As its name suggests, it is fast, even in less than 2 days, you can arrive at Tabatinga. Considering the price, it costs 500-600 Reals.
(Prices are from our visit in 2015)
The slow boat
The ship was smaller than we imagined, the hammocks were only on one deck, 80 of them a the top, and 10 cabins which were mostly occupied by the crew. On the back of the deck, there are the public toilets and showers, the kitchen and the canteen for crew and cabin guests. The lower deck was full of goods, and the hammock passengers got their food there.
After leaving Manaus, before exploring the boat, we could observe the meeting of the waters, this time, from close by. It looked much better from the plane. I took few pictures anyway, but I felt sorry for people who pay almost as much to see it as we paid for the whole week on the boat.
We still didn’t speak Portuguese (what a surprise!) but few people were very curious about us. Besides the usual questions of who we are, they were curious mostly why do we travel so far and why do you come to Brazil if you do not speak Portuguese? Not even Spanish? With a mixture of English and our dictionary, we could communicate a bit. And as we were the only foreigners on the boat, that made us unique and quite popular with its good and bad sides.
After Manaus, the boat was really packed, but later less and fewer people stayed, and only a few new passengers boarded, usually just until the next port. In the end, there were about 25 people aboard when we arrived at Tabatinga.
The meals were big and delicious, often some kind of fish which the crew just purchased in the ports where we stopped by. Our ship transported mostly cement, beer and diapers and toilet paper to the ports where the ordered amount was unpacked, and then we sailed further. One of our favorite activity was to observe unloading. Also, fresh fruits were sold in smaller amounts to anyone who wanted some oranges or apples. Our favorite guy was the one who packed about 40 crates of beer into his little boat. It took 30 minutes and we were observing curiously if the boat will sink or be unbalanced and lose all the valuable load.
Sometimes we were much before, other times much behind the timetable. We always stayed as long as unloading lasted. In Benjamin Constant, the Peruvian flags were already visible on the other bank. Finally, we arrived 4-5 hours earlier to Tabatinga than expected. Wow, we are just a few kilometers away from Colombia, and only the river separates us from Peru!
But something else also happened during our long boat ride. Check it out!