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Getting There

By Plane -- Azul (tel. 092/3003-2985; www.voeazul.com.br), Gol (tel. 0300/115-2121; www.voegol.com.br), TAM (tel. 0800/570-5700; www.tam.com.br), and TRIP (tel. 092/3003-8747; www.voetrip.com.br) have flights from major cities in Brazil. Flights from Rio or São Paulo take about 5 hours. TAM also has regular direct flights to Manaus from Miami.

Manaus's international airport, Eduardo Gomes, Avenida Santos Dumont (tel. 092/3652-1212), is 17km (10 miles) from downtown. There's a Tourist Information desk in the arrivals hall (tel. 092/3652-1120; daily 7am-11pm) with free maps of the city and some information on hotels and tours. A taxi to Manaus Centro will cost about R$45. You also have the option of taking a regular city bus, no. 306 to Centro, for R$1.80. Guests of the Tropical can take the Fontur shuttle, for R$24 per person. There is a small currency exchange at the airport as well as Banco do Brasil and HSBC ATMs connected to the Visa/PLUS systems.

Warning! Steer Clear of Aggressive Airport Touts -- The airport touts have (finally!) been banished from the baggage claim area of the Manaus airport, so now they accost newcomers in the arrivals hall, offering every type of city and jungle tour. Do not book with these people! Their standard MO is to ask what you're interested in doing. Surprise, surprise, whatever you want to do, they have that tour. Once you pay, they resell you to another operator doing the standard 50-people-on-the-boat Meeting of the Waters day tour. Complain all you like -- you'll never get your money back.

By Boat -- Boats dock at the new Hidroviaria do Amazonas (Riverboat Terminal) (tel. 092/3621-4310) in the middle of downtown at Rua Marquês de Santa Cruz 25. There is an information desk inside the front door where you can find out about arrival and departure times, and a ticket kiosk where you buy tickets. Boats for Belém normally depart Wednesday and Friday at noon. The trip downstream takes 4 days, upstream travel takes 5 days. Delays are not uncommon. Cost of a first-class hammock spot (on the upper deck) is R$245. Hammocks are not supplied. Buy one in Manaus. Cabins cost R$750 to R$900. Good, simple meals and filtered water are supplied on the boat at no extra cost. From the terminal it's a short walk or taxi ride, R$10 to R$15, to the downtown hotels. To the Tropical Manaus it's a 20-minute taxi ride R$50 or a 40-minute bus ride, no. 120 from Centro.

Tip: If you have some competence in Portuguese, you can negotiate a 10% to 20% cheaper fare by going directly to a riverboat, most of which dock downstream by the quay opposite the Mercado Municipal.

There is now also a new fast catamaran to Santarem, which takes approximately 12 hours to make the journey downstream. The catamaran departs from the quay opposite the Mercado Municipal.

City Layout

The city is the river. Downtown, all activity gravitates toward the waterfront on the Rio Negro, and it's there that you really feel the heart of the city. The entire city is plotted in an easy-to-follow grid pattern; in the oldest part of town -- which occupies a peninsula at the river's edge -- the grid runs at a slight angle to that of the rest of the city. The port and the municipal market (mercado municipal) both face the river. The main attractions for visitors concentrate in a 20-block radius around the port and are easily accessible on foot. The downtown bus terminal is directly in front of the port; on the other side there's the busy and newly renovated Praça da Matriz. To the east of the square are a number of narrow parallel streets, centered on Rua Guilherme Moreira, that form Manaus's main downtown shopping district. The busy east-west Avenida Sete de Setembro marks the end of the oldest section of downtown. From here north, the grid angles slightly, and things get less interesting. The only real sight of interest is the Teatro Amazonas, 4 blocks farther north on Rua Barroso. The entire downtown area is safe during the day; just watch your purse and wallet in the crowds. In the evening stay on the main squares and avenues. Avoid the port area and the side streets along the iguarapés (river channels) at night; small slums have settled along the riverbed, particularly to the east and northeast of downtown. From the downtown core the city sprawls inland and along the river. Ponta Negra Beach, about 18km (11 miles) from downtown, is one of the more upscale neighborhoods where the beachfront has become a popular nightlife-and-entertainment area. This is also where you'll find the Tropical Manaus. A good part of the beach disappears in the wet season (Jan-Apr), but the food stands and entertainment stay. In the dry season the beach is a great place to swim and suntan on the shores of the Rio Negro.

Getting Around

By Bus -- From the Tropical Manaus to downtown, take bus no. 120 (R$2); the trip takes 35 to 40 minutes. The bus stops at the Praça da Matriz, which is within easy walking distance of all downtown attractions. To get to the Ceasa Port from downtown, take the CEASA bus from Praça da Matriz.

By Taxi -- Taxis can be hailed on the street or reserved for a specific time by phoning ahead. For the airport, contact Coopertaxi (tel. 092/3652-1544 or 3652-1568). In town, phone Tele-Rádio Táxi at tel. 092/3633-3211. You're most likely to use taxis if you are staying at the Tropical and going back and forth to downtown. For this trip taxis all quote the same price -- currently R$52 -- and don't run the meter. You can knock R$10 off the price if you bargain before you get in the cab.

By Car -- Renting a car in Manaus makes little sense. In the city all the sights are within walking distance. Outside of the city it's, you know, a jungle.

Visitor information

The Manaustur tourism information desk at the airport is open daily from 7am to 11pm and located in the arrivals hall (tel. 092/3652-1120). They can provide city maps, brochures, hotel information, and telephone numbers of tour operators. The State of Amazonas tourism agency, AmazonasTur (www.visitamazonas.am.gov.br), has an info center at the airport (tel. 092/3182-9850), open 24 hours. There is also a downtown location close to the opera house, at Av. Eduardo Ribeiro 666 (tel. 092/3182-6250), open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm and Saturday till noon.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.