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  The Rio Negro is the largest northern tributary of the Amazon River and the largest blackwater river in the world. Its source is in Colombia and it flows mostly southeast until it empties into the Rio Solimoes at Manaus, Brazil, where the combined rivers become the Amazon River. Although the name means “Black River”, the water is not black but is more the color of thinned Coca-Cola; the distinctive color comes from the tannins during the decay of plant material. The Rio Negro is rich in fish species, with over 700 documented; among them is the popular aquarium fish, the Cardinal Tetra. During the wet season, April to October, the river floods up to 30 miles/48 km wide up to 400 miles/650 km upstream from Manaus, necessitating adaptations by the inhabitants of the river’s banks.

  In January, 2013, I cruised the Rio Negro for four days on the M/V Amazon Clipper with only nine other passengers. We sailed upstream from Manaus into the nearby Anavilhanas Archipelago, a protected area of hundreds of small islands and narrow channels surrounded by jungle. We stopped for jungle walks, visits to riverside settlements, and a dip in the river’s waters. We ate fish from the river and fruits from the jungle and relaxed on the sundeck or in the air-conditioned cabins. It was a pleasant way to spend a few days before boarding the Quest for Adventure cruise from Manaus across the Atlantic to Ghana, Africa.

WORLD HERITAGE SITE

The Rio Negro, a “River Sea”—and this is at the low water season
The Rio Negro, a “River Sea”—and this is at the low water season
Sunrise—I don’t see many of these...more a sunset person
Sunrise—I don’t see many of these...more a sunset person
My home for five nights on the Rio Negro
My home for five nights on the Rio Negro
Meals were al fresco—and pretty darn good
Meals were al fresco—and pretty darn good
The snack bar
The snack bar
We used this boat for expeditions on the waters and into the jungle
We used this boat for expeditions on the waters and into the jungle
The tannin-stained waters of the Rio Negro
The tannin-stained waters of the Rio Negro
A local going about his business
A local going about his business
At low water, lots of nice sandy beaches appear
At low water, lots of nice sandy beaches appear
Thunderstorms appear at any time with little warning
Thunderstorms appear at any time with little warning
Some backwaters are as calm as a sheet of glass...
Some backwaters are as calm as a sheet of glass...
...providing some strange and wonderful mirror effects.
...providing some strange and wonderful mirror effects.
The three bumps on the left side of the tree are little bats, resting during the daylight hours
The three bumps on the left side of the tree are little bats, resting during the daylight hours
Another mirror-image of a tree rising from the water
Another mirror-image of a tree rising from the water
A calm shallow lagoon just recently inundated
A calm shallow lagoon just recently inundated
The jungle is surprisingly free of underbrush, but ya gotta watch for rotten tree trunks
The jungle is surprisingly free of underbrush, but ya gotta watch for rotten tree trunks
Nice bird perched for a picture
Nice bird perched for a picture
Our naturalist scrapes some medicinal bark from a tree
Our naturalist scrapes some medicinal bark from a tree
He also manufactured a small animal trap from sticks
He also manufactured a small animal trap from sticks
Tree with some seriously thorny defenses
Tree with some seriously thorny defenses
This little lizard visited with us for a while
This little lizard visited with us for a while
The Cashapona, or Walking Palm has stilt roots that look like legs
The Cashapona, or Walking Palm has stilt roots that look like legs
Moss and fungus on a tree stump
Moss and fungus on a tree stump
A week earlier, this was dry grassland
A week earlier, this was dry grassland
Two toucans in a tree
Two toucans in a tree
A settlement of Caboclos: descendants of Portuguese colonists who intermarried with local Indians
A settlement of Caboclos: descendants of Portuguese colonists who intermarried with local Indians
Each house is raised on stilts to stay above the flood waters
Each house is raised on stilts to stay above the flood waters
Slash-and-burn farming of manioc
Slash-and-burn farming of manioc
Scraping home-grown manioc with a machete
Scraping home-grown manioc with a machete
The family’s cooking pot
The family’s cooking pot
The manioc flour can be used dry or mixed with water like batter
The manioc flour can be used dry or mixed with water like batter
Caboclo man of the family
Caboclo man of the family
He’s the one who get to climb the palm trees for coconuts
He’s the one who get to climb the palm trees for coconuts
The European genes mixed nicely with the indigenous Indians
The European genes mixed nicely with the indigenous Indians
The family gathers for a group portrait
The family gathers for a group portrait
The youngest girl is a real charmer
The youngest girl is a real charmer
The river will eventually rise to completely cover this bank...
The river will eventually rise to completely cover this bank...
...all the way up to about three feet high on these palms behind the house
...all the way up to about three feet high on these palms behind the house
Another solution to rising waters: floating houses
Another solution to rising waters: floating houses
Floating houses require floating transportation
Floating houses require floating transportation
Locals coming home from shopping
Locals coming home from shopping
A local navigates the flooded grassland in a small canoe
A local navigates the flooded grassland in a small canoe
A sandbar rises from the stained waters...
A sandbar rises from the stained waters...
...giving us an opportunity for a walk and a dip in the river
...giving us an opportunity for a walk and a dip in the river
The waterbirds ignored us
The waterbirds ignored us
Lake Janauari, on the west side of Rio Negro, is a nature reserve
Lake Janauari, on the west side of Rio Negro, is a nature reserve
Raised walkways lead to the lakeside
Raised walkways lead to the lakeside
Lots of river vegetation and birds
Lots of river vegetation and birds
A group of Capuchin monkeys lives near the walkways and gather to beg for handouts from the tourists
A group of Capuchin monkeys lives near the walkways and gather to beg for handouts from the tourists
Here’s lookin’ at ya!
Here’s lookin’ at ya!
Young monkey in a vigilant pose
Young monkey in a vigilant pose
The lake has several colonies of the giant Victoria waterlily
The lake has several colonies of the giant Victoria waterlily
The blooming flowers change color as they enjoy their one day of life
The blooming flowers change color as they enjoy their one day of life
The Ponta Negra, a beach built lacking the proper foundation and now slipping into the river
The Ponta Negra, a beach built lacking the proper foundation and now slipping into the river
Manaus, capital of the Amazon, with skyscrapers rising from the jungle
Manaus, capital of the Amazon, with skyscrapers rising from the jungle
The new bridge spanning the Rio Negro is allowing urban sprawl to continue on the west side of the river
The new bridge spanning the Rio Negro is allowing urban sprawl to continue on the west side of the river
Quite an attractive bridge, leading into the vastness of the western Amazon
Quite an attractive bridge, leading into the vastness of the western Amazon
Where the Rio Negro meets the Rio Solimoes, the Amazon begins
Where the Rio Negro meets the Rio Solimoes, the Amazon begins
Dark Rio Negro water flows side by side with the muddy Solimoes
Dark Rio Negro water flows side by side with the muddy Solimoes

Central Amazon Conservation Complex

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