Manaus – Tabatinga: 7 days by boat on the Amazon

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.

Bathroom on the boat. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

Our 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)

Hammocks on the boat. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

Hammocks on the boat

Drinking water on the boat. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

Filling in my water bottle – bathroom with view (just kidding, they had closed bathrooms as well)

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.

Food. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

On our last day, we also got our meals downstairs.

The way

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.

Meeting of waters. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

Meeting of waters. We didn’t have to pay hundreds to see it. We passed through the Rio Negro to start our way on the Amazon.

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.

Those fish will be our dinner! Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

The crew just purchased our next day food.

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.

How many crates of beer can you fit into your little boat? Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

The brave and thirsty man got over 60 packs of beer to his boat.

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!

At the border with Peru. Tabatinga - Manaus boat ride

View to Peru from the Brazilian harbor, Benjamin Constant



7 days on a slow boat from Manaus, Brazil to Tabatinga and Leticia (Colombia)

Still on the Rio Negro - the 7 days continues
Manaus - Tabatinga, our life on the boat - the best place to get engaged!
  • Zeljka Dekic

    What an adventure! Love the hammocks 🙂 Best regards!

  • Sounds like a relaxing way to see the Amazon. Must have been very interesting being the only foreigners and trying to communicate. Sometimes those are the best interactions.

    • Have you even been only foreigner? Usually for us it is not problem, but I really wish we could have communicated better than with dictionaries.

  • Patricia Steffy

    What an interesting way to see the Amazon! I loved the picture of the guy with all the beer — I can’t believe his little boat didn’t sink! And I think you made a great call about the cabin with the private bathroom — those hammocks look comfortable, but not for 7 day.

    • We like using hammock (even at home we have two!) but we didn’t regret the cabin, but next time we will be tough(er)!

  • 7 days on a boat? That must be quite an experience! I would definitely have watched that guy loading beer from beginneng to end too.

  • I love traveling to Brazil and I really want to want to take this kind of boat trip the next time I go. I actually learned some Portuguese which made it easier for me. I’m impressed that you can get around without it!

    • Ah, for you it will be easy then!
      Unfortunately we can’t learn all the languages of the world, but at least we are coping well on the Slavic/Russian speaking areas.

  • Brenda Gisselle Mejia

    Sounds like an amazing experience!
    I am definitely looking forward to go to Brazil!

  • Wow – this is such a great idea. When people think of Brazil, most of them think Rio but there are so many other things to do and see.

  • Wow, a week on a boat. Sounds cool. You gave me a good idea for my trip to Brazil next year.

    • There are other routes as well, basically between Belém and Tabatinga you can go from anywhere to anywhere!

  • Ivana Leturia

    Amazing! I love Brazil and I’ve been there many times with my family but never done this. Seems to be an incredible experience.

  • What a great journey! It looks like a very local experience and you could observe the daily life of the crew. It’s great that they take passengers while they go on with their daily transport activities. I would love to try this!

    • Indeed, it was very nice experience to see how life of locals look like. Definitely worth the time. And far better than flight on the same way.