Sleeping in a hammock in the jungle

posted in: Brazil | 50

One of the most amazing experiences we had during our travels around the world was spending a night in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Amazonia, the largest jungle in the world is probably the richest and still in many parts unknown ecosystem of our planet. It is a place full of mystery, habitat of all sorts of animals and tribes living far-away from our civilization. Like many people, before our RTW trip we had always dreamt about experiencing its special atmosphere from inside.

Our adventures started in a morning when we got off from our boat in Santarém after a three and a half day (seemingly everlasting) boat trip on the Amazon. A guy was waiting for us in the port who was Gil Serique’s brother-in-law; Gil was our guide we contacted by mail in the previous weeks. We were a bit worried, as the boat trip took a day more than expected, and we didn’t have any chance to communicate with Gil from the boat, but fortunately he was prepared for our late arrival.

We had just time for a quick breakfast and for saying goodbye to our new mates (from the boat) and two amazing days started immediately. We still had sleepy eyes, but we woke up quite quickly when Gil took us to the local market, where a guy every morning feeds the pink dolphins and some really huge birds. We had lots of fun watching these beautiful creatures from so close, as during our boat trip on the Amazon we just saw these dolphins from far away.

Big white bird in Santarém Pink dolphin in Santarém

Next, Gil took us around by car to show us the surroundings of Santarém. We visited some soybean plantations, which are sadly expanding in the area due to the destructive deforestation carried out by farmers and the Brazilian government’s negligence of protecting the rainforest. Gil as someone having been born in the jungle tries to wake people’s consciousness about this tragic process. We visited a village called Belterra, which is an interesting mixture of an American-style settlement and the surrounding rainforest. We listened to Gil’s stories about the economic failure of the rubber plantations of Fordlandia, created by the multimillionaire car magnate Henry Ford.

After having an abundant lunch, the really awesome part of the day just started. We parked our car in a dirt road, and we entered the jungle of the Tapajós National Park. Our guide was Aparecida, a woman who was brought up in the middle of the dense rainforest, and she knows all the little secrets of this incredibly rich natural environment. Since there are no trails, we had to cut our way through the jungle searching for a good place to spend the night. Following her, as she was cutting the branches and other obstacles, it was like being in a Tarzan movie. We were really enthusiastic even though the heat and the humidity were unbearable in the middle of the dense vegetation, and every now and then a small leaf or an insect fell on our heads.

Adventure in the Amazon

After a couple of hours, we found a big tree which seemed ideal to attach the hammocks to. We cleared the ground around and hanged up our hammocks.

In a hammock in the jungle

In the raining season you can expect a shower every day, so we had to be prepared for that, too. We wanted to sleep under the sky, but we built a small shelter for our bags and for having a refuge in case it had rained. Although we looked for a while for the appropriate palm leaves for the shelter, we did not find that kind of palm tree, so we used a plastic cover for it.

Buliding a jungle shelter

It was already dark when we made fire and started preparing dinner. It was really authentic, Aparecida simply stick some branches of a tree to pieces of chicken, and we cooked them in the fire. It was delicious with the spice (called “colorado”) we used for cooking. We lied down in our hammocks, slurping our Gil’s bloody strong caipirinhas, and we listened to Gil’s interesting stories about remote tribes and other stuff.

Chicken dinner in the Jungle

The most memorable part of these 2 days was spending the night in the jungle, sleeping in our unsheltered hammocks. When our fire was out, complete darkness came upon us, and this was the moment when the jungle around woke up. We started to hear louder and louder the noise of crickets, scorpions, small birds and monkeys which were jumping from tree to tree just above our heads. Many times we woke up during the night, when small branches or leaves fell into our hammocks. Sometimes the noise was really strong, especially when the howler monkeys were roaring in the distance. For a moment we thought some wild animals were coming at us shouting so fiercely. We could not sleep deeply, but we enjoyed listening to the music of the rainforest, it was an unbelievable experience.

We got up at 4 AM to see the sunrise from a very special place. We listened again to the sound of the roaring monkeys, and we were left breathless seeing the sunrise over the jungle. Gil then took us to the place where he grew up, a beautiful green meadow with some huge trees around. Gil showed us some rubber trees and took us to a small trail that was made by his ancestors, where we could get familiar with different herbs and exotic jungle fruits. On the way out of the jungle, we saw a deer crossing the road.

Big tree in the Amazon

For lunch we went back to Santarém and then walked around in town. Sometimes we strolled on top of sandbags, as many streets were flooded in the rainy season. Later Gil and a local boatman took us to the place where two rivers the Amazon and Tapajós join each other. It was interesting to see as the different colors mix together slowly after a few kilometers. In the rainy season, a part of the rainforest is flooded, which creates a unique environment. You can go around the forest by boat and as there is more than 6 meters of water on the ground, you have much better chance of seeing animals from close range.

In a short two hour boat trip, we saw loads of animals: sloths, different parrots, colorful birds and iguanas. We enjoyed especially our encounter with the sloths, these peculiar animals which move about so slowly on top of the trees, and when they see you they try to hide, but they do it so slowly that makes you smile.

Birds in the Amazon

In some places we entered the very dense forest and the boatman had to cut the branches to make way. This dense part of the flooded forest had a really special, mystic atmosphere, we loved it.

Entering the flooded jungle

We tried again some new exotic fruits, jungle candies were our favorite, and we also saw some really huge water lilies.

Water Lilies in the Amazon

After these amazing 2 days, we spent one more night with Gil and his family in his house in Alter-do-Chao. This village is famous for its beach in the dry season, but in the rainy season one can just see the top of the beach bars, the rest is under water. We celebrated the wonderful experience of the last days with a fish barbecue, for which the fish was caught from the Amazon by a local fisherman. This was a perfect ending for our days in Santarém before leaving to Manaus, where more jungle experience was waiting for us.

50 Responses

  1. Wow, you had better luck taking photos of the pink dolphins than I had in Bolivia :) Looks awesome!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Alex! You are the first to comment in the English version:) We took this photo, when we were at the market on the riverside, where a guy attracted the dolphins with some fish to come closer. We had easier task than you had in Bolivia:)

  2. I encountered pink dolphins in Cambodia except they were more grey than actual pink :) I’m heading this way this year and can’t wait to explore the Amazon and see some proper pink dolphins. Sounds like a fab trip!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Hi Lisa! Yeah, the Cambodian dolphins (probably the same as the ones you can see in the 4000 Islands in Southern Laos) are much less pink then those in the Amazon! You will definitely enjoy the atmosphere of the Amazon, we’ve been to other jungles too, but that’s unique!!!

  3. Hey, y’all, those pics look awesome and make me feel as if I’m there! LUVS IT! Nagyon jó!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks for the comment Timbo! Especially for the Hungarian part!

  4. As someone who is very keen to visit Brazil, this is a fascinating read about an experience which most tourists probably don’t get to do! Looks fabulous!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Yeah, the wildlife in the Amazon, sleeping in the jungle was one of the best experiences we had in our round the world trip. I would totally recommend it!

  5. What a great experience. We just moved to Costa Rica 6 months ago and we get to experience some of the same animals but we have not yet ventured into remoteness nor have we slept under the stars in a hammock. Sounds like you guys are having an incredible trip. Keep up the good work posting.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Greg! Going deep into jungle, sleeping there in a hammock was a really unforgettable experience. Of course, you always need a good, responsible guide, we were really lucky in that sense.

  6. Looks like a wonderful experience!! Great pictures also.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Tine! You are right, it was an unforgettable experience in a really unique place!

  7. Sleeping outside sounds like a cool experience. I recently spent a week on the Amazon in Peru and it was amazing. I never could get a good picture of those pink dolphins.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Yeah, it was really cool, although sleeping was what we did the least:) during the night, it was mostly listening to the amazing sounds of the jungle. The pink dolphins are really hard to photograph as they don’t jump out of the water.

  8. Wow, what an amazing experience! I’ve never seen pink dolphins before.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Jennifer! It was really an unforgettable experience!

  9. I have read your report with pleasure.

    Best wishes.

    Cornell

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Cornell, it is really kind of you! Hope to have you among our new readers.

  10. Great pictures!

  11. What an awesome experience you had! Great photos! I have never seen a Pink Dolphin b4

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Karen! The pink dolphins are really awesome, and we were lucky to see them from that close!

  12. Wow what an adventure! I love this part of the world – it’s where I feel most at home actually. Looking forward to following the rest of your travels!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Eva, I am really glad that you enjoyed this post. The Amazon is really a unique place in the world, the wildlife, the sounds during the night. Simply unforgettable!

  13. Wow, what an amazing experience being outdoors like that, must have been fun to enjoy the outdoors both during the day time and night..although i would have been scared of strange sounds in the night :)

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Yeah Noel, the sounds during the night scared us too sometimes, but above all you enjoy the unique experience!:)

  14. Wow, it looks all so surreal (the giant water lily, the denseness of the vegetation over the water, etc.). I don’t think I would have slept a wink that night!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Raul for your comment! We also had difficulties with sleeping as you might guess:) But in the meantime, we enjoyed a lot listening to the sounds of the jungle.

  15. This sounds awesome! I spent a couple nights in the rainforest in a hammock, but it was outside a small cabin so not quite the same as you. It’s amazing how loud it can get at night…especially the howler monkeys! Safe travels.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Hi Travis! Yeah, we still remember the howler monkeys hurling there during the night! It was amazing and a little bit scary at the same time. Safe travels to you, too!

  16. Wow, an amazing picture of pink dolphin, you are so lucky guys!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Marysia! You are right, we were really lucky! We saw them several times while traveling on the Amazon river, but here in Santarém we could see them from really close!

  17. I saw this title and my immediate thought was no way would I ever do that! But your photos are beyond gorgeous. Are hammocks actually comfortable? I am like the princess and a pea and need opitimal conditions for a good night’s sleep!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Kristin, in the North of Brasil, we got used to sleeping in hammocks! As the humidity is so high, most people actually don’t use mattress that would absorb all the humidity. We found hammocks actually really comfortable, you just have to fine the correct position for your body!

  18. It’s so sad what’s happening to the rain forest due to the deforestation. Love that photo of Rachele eating the chicken. You guys are really travelling off the beaten path and have so many unique experiences to share. I truly enjoy reading about your adventures.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      I agree with what you say about deforestation! and yes, fortunately we had some really unique experiences, especially in South America where we didn’t have to face any language barrier and could safely leave the beaten path behind!

  19. This looks like an amazing experience! I really want to do this and I know Yeison would love it too. That lily is HUGE it’s like a trampoline! Thanks for sharing!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      I am sure guys that you will love the experience in the Amazon, and spending some time in the jungle! Thanks for your comment!

  20. What an amazing experience…visiting the Amazon is one of those things I just can’t wait to do. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Thanks Ashley for the comment! Yes, the Amazon is one of these unique places on the planet! We have been to other tropical rainforests, but the Amazon is just simply the Amazon!

  21. Wow, that sounds like one incredible experience after another. All my attempts to photograph wild dolphins haven’t turned out, so I especially liked seeing your pictures of them.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Michele, taking pictures of the pink dolphins is not easy, since they don’t jump out of the water. We were also unlucky with that in several other occasions. Thanks for your comment!

  22. I’m used to camping in the woods – somehow a jungle sounds much more exciting! I’d love to sleep in a hammock. And that huge white bird is really cool.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Camping in the jungle is really fascinating, you don’t get much of a sleep, I can assure you that:) Hammocks actually are comfy, you just have to find the ideal position. Thanks for your comment Jess!

  23. What an amazing adventure. I’m not sure I would of been up for sleeping in the jungle in a hammocks. We were suppose to go to the Amazon in Peru in Dec. but unfortunately our trip got cancelled. Brazil is on my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures with us.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Actually you don’t get too much sleep in the hammock when you are in the jungle. The sounds of the night keep you entertained! However, it is an awesome experience, I am glad that we did that!

  24. Its a shame there is so much destruction of rainforests – no doubt the damage will be done and it will be gone all in no time and it will be too late !
    You are game for sleeping in the amazon – i can imagine it would be an interesting experience however I would be worried about a spider climbing into my ears or mouth!

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Yes Samantha, destruction of rainforests should be stopped till we can do it. The experience of sleeping in the jungle was amazing, although we didn’t sleep too much:)

  25. You know the Amazon was the thing that first inspired me to travel and see the world, yet I’ve still never been. It’s almost like I want to visit so much that I’m afraid if I do it might not live up to my HUGE expectations. Yet by the sounds of your trip it probably would. You have some great photos too, and thanks for the tips of who you went with, it’s always great to have recommendations for something like going off into the jungle.

    • Rachele & Gábor

      Many people who visit the Amazon want to see monkeys in every corner, hiding jaguars and I don’t know what else. Many people get dissapointed because of this expectation of seeing this kind of wildlife during all the trip. However, the joy of being in the Amazon is not about that, it’s probably the most “living” natural environment in the world, and its atmosphere is simply can’t be compared to any other place on our planet! I am sure you, as a person who has sensitivity for these things, won’t be dissapointed at all!

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