Manaus


 
Most anglers planning to fish for peacock bass in Brazil will find themselves traveling to the city of Manaus.  It is the capital of the state of Amazonas, in the heart of the Amazon jungle, situated at the confluence of the Negro and Amazon rivers.  Manaus is the most populated city of Amazonas with a current population of approximately 2,000,000 residents.

Founded in 1669 as The Fort of Sao Jose do Rio Negro, it was legally transformed into a city on October 24, 1848. The name Manaus, which means “Mother of God”, comes from an indigenous tribe (the Manaos) who once inhabited the same region.  View Larger Map                                          

The most storied part of the history of Manaus took place from 1890 to 1920.  During that time, Manaus was the center of the Brazilian rubber trade.  The worldwide demand for rubber led to prosperity throughout Manaus and much of northern Brazil.  For rubber plantation owners it was a time of triumph and celebration, as wealth from the rubber trade led to prosperity for the entire region.  During this period, Manaus developed the reputation as “one of the gaudiest cities of the world”.  One historian wrote, “No extravagance, however absurd, deterred the rubber barons”.  Unfortunately, this prosperity and wealth was short lived.  Manaus fell into poverty when the seeds of the rubber tree were smuggled out of the Amazon region to cheaper plantations in Asia.  Electricity, which was brought to Manaus before it arrived in many cities in Europe, had to be turned off because it was now to expensive to run the generators.

Despite its ups and downs, Manaus is on the road to recovery.   In the 1950’s the Brazilian government implemented a duty-free policy in Manaus.   Billions of dollars’ worth of products entering Manaus each year are distributed elsewhere in Brazil.  Today, it is the epicenter of financial activity in northern Brazil.  Where rubber once failed, industrial manufacturing and oil refineries have taken its place.  Manaus is once again poised to regain the prosperity that it once knew.

If you have the time, it is well worth spending a day or two exploring the city of Manaus.  Be sure to stay at the five star Park Suites Hotel (see link on Home Page) located in a jungle clearing on the banks of the Rio Negro.  It is an eco-resort hotel only 10 km from the airport and 16 km from downtown. Its sister hotel, the Tropical Hotel, is also a "must see", and is within a short walking distance from the Park Suites Hotel. It has its own zoo with 22 species of jungle animals, and the hotel bar is a great place to relax, have a drink and meet other fishermen, both Americans and Brazilians, and hear stories about their fishing experiences.  Things to see in Manaus are the Opera House, the Customs House, the Rio Negro Palace and the residences built by the “rubber barons” in the latter part of the 19th century.  No trip to Manaus would be complete without visiting the Floating Docks, the Municipal Market and the Fish Market (get there before noon).  Souvenirs are less expensive in the market than they are in the airport. There are many fine restaurants in Manaus.  One that tops the list is the Buffalo Restaurant located in the downtown area.  It is an “all you can eat” restaurant with a great salad bar and a great meat selection (note that it closes at 3 pm and opens back up at 7 pm).  The Avenue Ponta Negra, located within walking distance of the Tropical Hotel, is one of the upscale parts of town.  It is the best place to sit with a beer in hand in the evenings, enjoy the native dancers in the many street-side cafes while watching the Rio Negro flow idly by.  There is always a large military and police presence in the area and I have always felt safe, however, it is still a good idea to travel with a group.