Manacapuru. Jungle town of Amazonia on the River Manacapuru, Brazil….Town harbour. Part Two.

Manacapuru. Jungle town of Amazonia on the River Manacapuru, Brazil….Town harbour. Part Two.

The town or city of Manacapuru is close to Manaus. Although regarded as a city it looks and acts like a town.

The harbour of Manacapuru is my favourite place to people watch. There is a bustling community of people living and working there. There are small family shops, cafes and carpenters at work and fishermen setting off or returning with a selection of fascinating and sometimes odd looking fish.

The walk down to the decking can be a precarious one for flat footed Westerners. Brazilians, even in their flip-flops, are more light footed and agile. The walk down is best done with a partner for balance or a helpful local. In the dry season a large tree trunk serves as a bridge between the slippery concrete ramp and the wooden harbour decking. Fortunately a terrified look will usually generate the help of a man or two who will help with the crossing.

There are ferries coming and going. Large wooden ferryboats and smaller, faster aluminium craft. They carry locals to their communities on other parts of the river.
Canoes of various sizes are tied up to the harbour posts.
Before the ferries became a mainstay the canoes were the only way of traveling longish distances and could take a day or two of rowing in the heat of the sun to reach town.
Now the canoes are rowed out to meet the ferry midwater if the people can afford the cost…cheaper on the wooden ferry than the speedier metal boats.


Along the harbour decking shops sell all sorts of goods…fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and turtle meat, drinks and water, alongside newly built canoes and plastic kitchen goods.
Washing hangs on lines across the walkways and families, including children, sit chatting, arguing and laughing.


Across the wide river you can catch a glimpse of rainforest…so close and tempting.


Canoes…the lifelines/transport of the rainforest.

Canoes…the lifelines of the rainforest.

Boats are a very necessary part of river life. Canoes are particularly important to rainforest life. With no roads in most areas of the forest, canoes are the only way to get around.
Usually built by the communities or individuals, each canoe will be a one-off.
Large and evergreen Hymenaea trees produce a dense hardwood which is often the wood of choice for indigenous canoe makers. The Jatoba/Hymenaea tree is called in Brazil the Brazilian Cherry or Brazilian copal.

Canoes were for sale on the harbour side at Manacapuru, Amazonia. And delivered to the door by…..yes, canoe.

Whole families pile on to these small canoes to get around. There is a family group of nine in this photo, but I’ve seen even more people in a small canoe. The water reaches the sides and splashes in, but is met with indifference by the passengers. Used to the river and its possible dangers they appear to have no fear of sinking, but as a precautionary measure litre bottles of soft drinks are cut in half and used as bailers to ensure the canoes aren’t completely flooded. They are an essential item in a canoe.

Often too, small children can be seen on the rivers alone in canoes, expert oarsmen at a very young age. Sent off to run errands or fish for the families supper, their use of the canoe is second nature.


Oars are still a popular way of propelling the canoe through the water, but small engines are becoming a desirable way of moving the canoe, particularly by the young.
These little engines, called tuc tucs because of the sound they make, are very noisy. The sound reverberates throughout the forest….they remind me of those awful little motorbikes that can be heard on English roads, driven by young men at full speed and full volume without regard for anyone else.
Oars are silent, they move the canoe through the water as if it was a creature of the forest. They fit, but then that is a romantic view to take. The reality of life in the forest, for the people who live on river banks, is quickening as they embrace western values and engines are a necessary part of that need for more speed.

Some of my most pleasant memories of the rainforest include a canoe and silence, broken only by birdsong, the murmuring of trees and the rush of water over rocks.



Thanks to Argentumvulgaris for info on ‘tuc tucs’.