Explore the fascinating city of Manaus, more than just the gateway to the Amazon
This thriving port city lies on the banks of the Rio Negro, 1,000 miles from the sea, yet set amidst an ocean of emerald green rainforest. Originally a Portuguese fort and trading settlement, for a brief dazzling period Manaus became the richest city in the world. Fame and wealth were found with the exploitation of natural rubber, which caused the city to boom and led to the construction of many lavish buildings, such as the government palace, customs house and the magnificent Teatro Amazonas. The decline of the rubber boom came quickly, yet Manaus remains a bustling city and commercial centre for much of the Amazon basin. For those interested in the history of rubber production, there are small plantations where you can see the extraction process of rubber trees being bled for the tree gum and visit small local communities who produce small rubber truncates using primitive techniques. There is also a beach for those brave enough to swim amongst supposedly harmless piranhas.