This is me in april 2006 on a 5 day boat trip on a river in Brazil. Not just any river – the Amazon. It is also the only photo left to remind me of what was probably the best week of my life.
In september 2005 I took off for a one year trip around the world and when people ask me about my favorite part of the trip I tell them about the Amazon jungle. Most of my relationship to nature consists of no more than a few gladiolas on my living room table but in the case of the rainforest I really felt this stuff people talk about sometimes. that ‘being one with nature’, ‘going back to the roots’ type thing.
Ao you may wonder why I only have that one photo, right? Because after all I’m a photographer and probably have lots and lots of shots, right? Yes, all true. I even had a video camera, a digital camera and a manual film camera and I shot about 4 rolls of film. But unfortunately my bag with all those things was stolen in Salvador. Probably by some druggies who hoped for cash to buy heroin with. I think I will never quite get over it.
But back to cheerful things. Jungle days were lucky days because my travel buddy bea and I didn’t book some dodgy tour on offer for tourists, we had a recommendation for some guy who is not an official guide but he could provide private tours. Thanks to him we had the best time at the smallest budget.
Things I did in the jungle:
a) Fishing piranhas. That’s right. Cruel, flesh eating piranhas and I fished them with my bare hands! Fine, it wasn’t my bare hands and they were only about the size of 3 fingers but at least I caught one. And may I add, I was the only one of the 4 of us in the boat.
b) Swimming with crocodiles. Cool right? Fearless Katja Hentschel hangs out in the water with 5 meter-long reptiles. This actually happened unintentionally. The sun was about to set and the water was so beautiful that I was dying to jump in. One guide refused to go in the water and wouldn’t say why. The other one jumped right in with me. Once inside I was told why the guy who stayed on the boat didn’t think of night-swimming to be a good idea. Apparently people get eaten up by crocodiles that way every now and again. Err, great. So let’s get back in the boat now, shall we?
c) Swinging on lianas. To be totally honest the idea was to swing on lianas. In reality I was too weak and fat not in shape to properly hold on to the suckers. There is a video of me making a total ass out of myself which also lies in the hands of the thieves. Maybe one day it’ll appear on YouTube and I can sue.
d) Dancing in the rain. Possibly my strongest memory from the trip is when one morning (we went there during monsoon times) it was raining so much and we put on our bikinis and went outside screaming like 3-year-olds under a water-sprinkler. Then we jumped into the nearby river and the water had the exact same temperature as the air. I wanted to live in that moment forever.
e) Building a fireplace in the jungle and making a table, plates and spoons from palm leaves. This field day was sort of fun. Not as cool as piranhas and crocodiles though.
f) Spending 5 days on a boat to get from Manaus to bBelem near the sea. No streets connect Manaus to the rest of Brazil so it’s either the boat or the plane. I was worried about being on a boat for so long (and we’re not talking a yacht or anything) but then we actually had a great time. There was a bar on top which was a great place to tan/socialize/drink beer at 10am.
I wish I could remember the name of our jungle tour guide because I know that he could give you a good time. If you travel through South America or Brazil with plans to visit Manaus, talk to other travelers about their experiences and have them recommend a tour they liked. This is how we got connected to our guide.
If you have jungle stories, let us hear them!