If you're going on a South American cruise, you won't want to miss Manaus, a city nestled deep within the heart of the Amazon Basin.
While the Amazon rainforest is often considered to be virtually impenetrable, the city of Manaus is located more than 1,000 miles upstream from the mouth of the Amazon River. Situated at the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes, the settlement has a rich and storied history. During the 19th century, it was a hub of activity for rubber barons, whose business helped make it one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Although the city's fiscal wealth has come and gone, it is still rich with opportunities for South American shore excursions. Manaus is a center of culture for the Amazon region, and this is reflected in its many museums. At the Museo de Indio, you can learn about the native tribes that inhabit the rainforest, while the Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in the city center provides a window into the area's religious culture. Meanwhile, the Teatro Amazonas Opera House offers a different kind of cultural experience, hosting world-class musical performances.
If you want to experience the wild landscape surrounding Manaus, you can see the region's flora and fauna up close at the Zoologico de CIGS (Military Zoo) and the January Ecological Park. When you're feeling more daring, you can head into the heart of the jungle itself and see a diverse array of plants and animals. Perhaps the most striking natural sight in the area is the Meeting of the Waters. Here, the black waters of the Rio Negro merge with the yellow Amazon, creating a portion of the river where stripes of black and yellow water flow side by side.