Mamirauá – Uacari Lodge & Manaus
My husband and I visited Uacari Lodge in the company of two of our friends for a week in June, 2017. My husband and I had been in Uacari five years ago and enjoyed our time there so much that we decided to return. We found the canoe trips through the flooded forest and on the open water a wonderful opportunity to see a large variety of birds (one of our friends, who is a dedicated birder, succeeded in checking off 80 species, including the somewhat bizarre-looking hoatzin and the potoo, which camouflages itself as a dead tree), monkeys and some endearing sloths.
The guides, who are members of the neighbouring communities, were excellent in spotting birds and being patient as we searched for them.
We appreciated the fact that the Mamirauá Reserve has developed the policy of working with the indigenous communities that are close to Uacari Lodge. We visited two villages and learned about their subsistence economy. As it was high water we saw the children swimming, diving, and paddling canoes with a carefree confidence that would be astonishing to cautious Westerners. We had an opportunity to go swimming at both villages, once under a tree with dozens of yellow-rumped caciques flying in and out of their hanging nests.
One evening we were privileged to hear a presentation on the Mamirauá Jaguar Research Project by a researcher who came to Uacari for the sole purpose of giving the presentation. This presentation was a very high quality and explained in detail the efforts that are being made to understand and preserve the elusive jaguar.
The staff of Uacari Lodge (i.e., the cooks and maintenance staff) live in the nearby communities and work at Uacari on a rotating basis. The researchers who are in charge of scheduling and looking after the visitors were young, well-educated (with university degrees in tourism and biology), enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
The accommodation at Uacari Lodge is basic as is the food. Being seated for meals at one large table meant that we easily exchanged stories and information with the other Uacari guests, who came from many different backgrounds. We have been to more luxurious eco-lodges, but the price is considerably higher.
The opinion of many of our fellow visitors to Uacari was that our experience would be improved if the local guides were able to speak enough English to communicate some of their considerable knowledge about the wildlife and the communities in which they live. Some English would have helped us locate some of the birds that were far easier for them than for us to spot. We were told that an unsuccessful attempt had been made to give the guides English lessons. Speaking a foreign language can be intimidating and embarrassing, particularly for adult men, but I believe that if the right approach could be found, this would be extremely beneficial to both guides and the visitors.
In 2012 we had more time in Manaus and particularly enjoyed a day trip to the “Meeting of the Waters.” We learned a lot on this trip and had a lot of fun! The Teatro Amazonas is an astounding building and the tour we took improved our knowledge.
This time, we went back to the Teatro Amazonas and even attended a ballet performance there. We also visited the excellent coffee shop for a café latte and a piece of cake.
We went back and forth to the tourist information office located near the Teatro an embarrassing number of times in our attempt to find reading glasses (which we finally concluded were available nowhere until we spotted a sidewalk vendor who had a great selection at a very low price), electronic accessories and a book entitled “Mamirauá.” We had left our copy of this excellent and informative book at Uacari Lodge but had no success in finding one in Manaus. We believe that if the tourist information office had some copies this would create more interest in the reserve, and promote its philosophy and accomplishments. The two staff members of the tourist office always gave us a friendly welcome, and enthusiastically went at great lengths to help us. As we had discovered in 2012 English is a rarity in Manaus and we were very appreciative of their assistance.
In Manaus we stayed at the Seringal Hotel, one block from the plaza in front of the Teatro. We were pleased with the hotel’s cleanliness and quiet, and with the very friendly and helpful staff. Of course, the location was excellent. We highly recommend this hotel. We ate several times at Casa do Pensador which is on the plaza. The vegetarian food was excellent.
Luciana Kalvon of Amazonas by Viverde was extremely helpful in assisting us with planning our trip. She did the booking at Uacari and emailed us back and forth to make sure that we had included all the relevant information. She also arranged the flight from Tefé to Manaus and when, to my horror and disbelief, the airline changed their schedule, she assured us that everything would work out. By this time, I was confident that she could find a way to solve the problem, and to my great relief, she did.
Luciana always responded very promptly to my emails and was efficient at every stage of the process. I highly recommend her anyone who is travelling in the Amazon region of Brazil.