In Amazônia, rivers have been the main highways for centuries, and the Amazon itself is navigable to ocean-going ships as far west as Iquitos in Peru, nearly 3000km upstream from Belém.

In all the large riverside cities of the Amazon – notably Belém, Manaus and Santarém – there are hidroviárias, ferry terminals for waterborne bus services. Amazon river travel is slow and can be tough going, but it’s a fascinating experience. On bigger boats, there are a number of classes; in general, it’s better to avoid cabine, where you swelter in a cabin, and choose primeiro (first class) instead, sleeping in a hammock on deck. Segundo (second class) is usually hammock space in the lower deck or engine room. Wooden boats are much more comfortable than metal, but usually slower. Take plenty of provisions, and expect to practise your Portuguese.

The range of boat transport in the Amazon runs from luxury tourist boats and large three-level riverboats to smaller one- or two-level boats (the latter normally confining their routes to main tributaries and local runs) and covered launches operated by tour companies. The most popular route is the Belém–Manaus trip, which takes four to six days.


Everything you need to know before you set off.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Brazil features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Incredible aerial images of one of the Amazon rainforest's uncontacted tribes have been released by Survival International. The pictures, taken by photographer …

18 Nov 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

Forget about virtual-reality roller coasters, the future of theme parks just got a whole lot raunchier. Developers in Brazil are planning to build an adults…

13 May 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook