The Ariau Towers
The Amazon rainforest is known for its unique and indigenous environment. The rainforest is the home of many one of a kind plants and animals. The delicious malaria prevention plant can be found there along with many other types of plants Westerners use in our medications. One of the more unique animals found in the Amazon is the capivarra, a strange looking creature that on sight appears to have lineage to both the gopher and goat. However, the most amazing of all the Amazon has to offer is Ariau towers.
Ariau is a series of towers built among the tree tops two and a half hours by boat from Manaus , the nearest city, 50 minutes by speedboat or 15 minutes by helicopter. Opening in 1987, Ariau now consists of nine towers and 288 rooms for guests, plus an additional number of beds for employees and family members. Equipped with two swimming pools, a fully stocked bar, restaurant with terrific indigenous dishes and even an internet café in the depths of the jungle, Ariau is as modern as the Amazon will ever be.
Ariau from overhead
Other attractions offered by the hotel is an Amazonian dance show 2-3 nights per week, where employees celebrate their traditions by performing a spectacular show full of energy, special effects and unique interactions. Also, Ariau has a fenced in treetop futbol field, where the natives are more than happy to let you join in their game. I had the experience of playing futbol with many natives and enjoyed it immensely.
Two cuddling spider monkeys
What makes Ariau so fantastic is the location. Being in the jungle, you experience everything first hand. The most amazing part is having monkeys sneak up behind you and grab a melon from your hand, or feeding them mangos. To the people of Ariau, monkeys are as common as squirrels. One precious little monkey named Shakira was abandoned by its parents and somehow found its way to the hotel. Shakira is a spider monkey between eight months and one and a half years old. She is a monkey in a constant search for attention and will cling to you for hours and let you hold her until she must be literally pried from your body. Just be careful Shakira is a biter, but don't worry, her teeth aren't developed.
A tour group on an excursion
Aside from the allure of the scenery Ariau offers many guided tours of the Amazon along the River Negro, which lives up to its name as it could easily be confused with the night's sky. Swimming is only safe in designated areas close to the shore, as there are a few warm water spots with beach-like sand. Aside from guided boat tours of the river, they offer piranha-fishing expeditions. A word to the wise: those piranhas are mighty quick and catching one is a tad harder than you might think! Another day's activity might be a trip to a native's home along the shore where you observe the simplest of lives, of food, shelter and clothing: it wouldn't be any other way. A third day trip could be a jungle walk, to look for the plants westerners use to make into medicines and even taste them. Unfortunately most animals aren't out during the day so a canoe trip down the River Negro at night is a must for anyone visiting Ariau. With only a flashlight and the stars as your guide you can travel down the river and listen to the sounds of the jungle. This is truly a must for all visitors! If you're lucky you'll even be able to see your boat driver tackle a Cayman and bring it for you to hold yourself.
All in all a trip to Ariau towers and the Amazon is an experience you will treasure for a lifetime, and if you ever have the opportunity to take it, you should absolutely go. I know for certain it is an opportunity you would not want to miss out on and one I'm glad I had and took advantage of.