Brazil // The Amazon //

Novo Aírão and swimming with dolphins


Novo Aírão, a small jungle town on the west bank of the Rio Negro, is 115km (6hr) by bus from Manaus. By boat it’s around 130km (8hr). Its main attraction is the chance to feed pink dolphins from the floating restaurant next to the tourist information office at the town’s small port. The times for seeing the dolphins are Mon–Sat 9am–noon & 3.30–5pm, and Sun 9am–noon. The owner of the restaurant who has “trained” the dolphins charges R$10 for a plate of fish to feed them. You can get in the water with the dolphins who will splash and bump into you, hoping for food. Otherwise, there’s not much else to see in town.

If you decide to stay there are a couple of pousadas and a few restaurants, and internet access is available at a café at Rua Rui Barbosa 41. The best pousada is undoubtedly Bela Vista, at Av. Presidente Vargas 47 (t 92/3365-1023; R$71-120), which has small but pleasant rooms and serves delicious breakfasts on a patio overlooking the Rio Negro. If the Bela Vista is full, or if you want cheaper accommodation, try the Pousada Rio Negro (R$41-70) on the central praça.

From Manaus’s rodoviária, the bus (daily at 6am & 1pm) takes the Porto São Raimundo ferry and continues to Manacapuru before turning north and following the BR-352 to its end at the port of Novo Aírão, which sits opposite the Arquipelago Anavilhanas. It’s too far a distance to travel in a day, but it makes a good overnight trip from Manaus.

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