On Monday morning I flew four hours from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus – the biggest city in the Amazon – where one million people live.
I got picked up from the airport by Nonato from Amazon Backpackers who drove us into the city to the highly recommended Local Hostel to start our four-day tour the next day.
We left at 8 am to begin the long journey into the jungle. First, we took taxis to the Port of Manaus, where we were met with the fastest speed boat I’ve ever been on.
We stopped at the meeting of the waters; where the dark brown water meets the blue but never mixes.
Then we got into a minivan and drove along a bumpy road, with the hot wind blowing in our faces until we got to the river and met our boat which we would spend most of our time in.
We took the boat along the river and finally ended our journey at the lodge where we would spend the first and last nights.
We stayed in the last three huts, and Ralf (our guide) and his family lived behind the big one on the right.
We had lunch and went back out in the boat to go fishing for piranhas.
The forest is all flooded at the moment, with the water level falling every day as it’s now the dry season, so we took the boat through the trees to the places where the piranhas are most likely to be.
Some people caught piranhas, and some people just had piranhas eating their chicken and swimming off. Our catch was cooked for tea, along with rice, beans and salad, and those that do enjoyed eating it!
The second day was my favourite ever. First, we woke up at 5 am to watch the sunrise.
We took the boat out and sat listening to the insects with dragonflies flying over our heads and pink dolphins swimming in the lake.
Then we went back to the lodge and had breakfast, before getting ready to spend the night camping out in the jungle.
We stopped the boat at the edge of the river and walked through the trees to where we would set up camp. Most of us were expecting a nice little camp to have already been made, so were a little surprised when we all had to go tearing in with machetes and sticks to clear a space.
A lot of tree cutting and log carrying later, we had somehow built this huge structure where we would hang our hammocks and mosquito nets to sleep that night.
We made rice and chicken on the fire and ate it from bowls made from a leaf and chopsticks from sticks.
I thought I was going to be terrified sleeping in the jungle – especially as the night before had frogs leaping out from our toilet at me, but as soon as it started to get dark I felt like I was camping anywhere.
I made the fire, we had more rice and chicken and got into bed and went to sleep.
The next day we had breakfast and packed up the camp, leaving our new structure for the next groups. The rest of our trip was spent on the boat watching for monkeys, swimming in the river and canoeing through the trees.
With these lovely people.
Watching perfect reflections, and perfect sunsets.
The good life…