Travel 6: Anavilhanas National Park + Lodge, Brazil

Dry season on the Rio Negro, Anavilhanas National Park

After leaving the ship in Manaus, my friend Thess and I journeyed 3 hours into the rainforest for 3 days at the fabulous Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge. It was the PERFECT way to end a month-long trip which began in Bergen, Norway. After 3 solid weeks of long shoot days and editing slideshows, I was ready to experience the Amazon without constantly thinking about composition, lighting and exposure. I lightened the load drastically, only using a 50mm lens or my iPhone (I was in the Amazon after all – I couldn’t quit photography completely), and enjoyed the sights and sounds along the Rio Negro, a major tributary to the Amazon. One of the beauties of the Rio Negro is the acidity level during the dry season is such that mosquitos can’t breed there – I’ll say that again, I spent 3 days in the jungle and did not see a single mosquito. Giant furry spiders, snakes and other bugs – yes, mosquitos – NO. Guess those malaria meds weren’t necessary… (NOTE: I still took them because my doctor said so…OK, Mom?)

The Lodge was rustic chic (is that a thing?) and our guides were amazing. They had grown up in the jungle and could spot animals well before we were even close, even at night. They also had a very sarcastic sense of humor which I enjoyed. Even though my fear of snakes is embarrassingly intense, I donned my snake gators and headed out for a nighttime hike. We saw the BIGGEST spider I’ve ever seen, “smelled” the howler monkeys sleeping in the trees above us and stood quietly, flashlights off, listening to the sounds of night (only part of the time I was thinking about something slithering up my pant leg).

Great local food, delicious cocktails and an infinity pool took the lodge over the top. If you have an opportunity to visit the Anavilhanas National Park, do it. My husband is insisting on going together and I’m all for it.

Bonus images from the trusty old iPhone…because maybe you didn’t believe me about the snake gators or the furry spider:

Thanks to Thess for sharing this wonderful place with me and making this mini-adventure possible! Cheers!


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Travel 6: Amazon River, Brazil

Young family fishing with nets in a channel outside Parintins, Brazil

Once we left the Atlantic behind, we spent 3 days making our way to Manaus in the central Amazonas. We stopped in the port cities of Santarém and Parintins to take smaller boats into the narrow channels feeding the river. A wide variety of birds, iguanas and pink river dolphins greeted us daily along the river. To see the mammals, we would have had to go deeper into the forest which time did not allow, unfortunately. I guess that means I’ll just have to go back!

It was the dry season so the exposed riverbanks showed off the light colored soil. One might think the soil in the Amazon Rainforest would be nutrient-rich and dark in color due to the intense amount of vegetation but it is not so. Due to hundreds of millions of years of erosion, the soil is thin, crumbly and almost white. Studies are underway to understand how native peoples utilized the soils to produce crops over thousands of years. If you’re curious about this, there’s an interesting article from The Atlantic this month based on a report in Science. The gritty details are fascinating…get it…gritty? Yeah, I know but I couldn’t resist…let’s get to the pictures, shall we?

North channel, Amazon river, Brazil

Great White Egret near Santarém.

Piranha fishing near Santarém

Fisherman, Santarém, Brazil

The colorful and bustling port city of Santarém, Brazil

The last installment from my Norway – Brazil adventure leads us further into the jungle…stay tuned.



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Travel 6: Meeting the Amazon River

One of my favorite experiences from my journey last fall was meeting the Amazon River approximately 100 miles out to sea. I had heard the currents of the river are strong enough to push up to 200 miles into the Atlantic during the wet season but witnessing it was something I’ll never forget. Surreal to say the least.

Eventually the river’s sediments took over and it looked like the image above for the remainder of the trip.

Here’s where each of those images were made:

As we entered the river basin, we sailed through currents of dumped crude oil. Yes, amidst this amazing ecosystem of mixing sediments, oil sludge was (most likely) intentionally dumped. Upon doing some research, I found that this is still fairly commonplace even though it is illegal. Seeing it firsthand broke my heart. If you’d like to learn more about this and what is being done about it, check out the Marine Defenders page.

Crude oil in the Amazon river basin

Once we crossed into the north channel of the river, the rainforest came into view. The next post will feature images from our days traveling up the river to our final destination, Manaus.



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Travel 6: Cape Verde

As we made our way from the western coast of Europe and Africa onboard MS Fram last fall, we landed on the island of Santiago, one of ten islands making up Cape Verde. We had been at sea for 4 days so having solid land under my feet was a treat.

The Cape Verde islands were colonized by the Portuguese in the 1400’s as merchant ships began their expansion westward. Due to it’s proximity between Africa and the Americas, it was an active port during the slave trade, of which the Portuguese were the first engage in as early as 1526. This has influenced the cultural makeup of the islands, with a majority of the current population being creole, a mix of African and European heritage. The Portuguese controlled the islands until 1975 when they were granted independence. Since then they have established a stable democratic government, are ranked second in Africa for education and are developing a solid tourism industry.

When we arrived at the busy docks in Praia, I was ready to make the most of my day on the island. I headed inland to São Domingos for my nature fix before exploring the country’s capital city, Praia. It is indeed a fascinating place with dramatic scenery, friendly people and colorful heritage.

Travel 6 is a new theme on the blog where I share 6 images from places near and far. Yes, there are 7 images for this post but I couldn’t bear cutting the street art or food :)





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Travel 6: Cádiz, Spain

I know I said I fell in love with Honfleur, but that was before I visited Cádiz on Spain’s southwest coast. This town has me wanting to brush up on my Spanish and start looking at real-estate listings. Seriously, Cádiz is gorgeous.

Cádiz was founded by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago and is considered by many the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe. Everywhere you look you see remnants of its colorful history. Plus there’s a beautiful vista in every direction due to its location surrounded by the sea.

It was a sunny Saturday when I arrived and the city was alive with activity – bustling cafes on every corner, alleyways filled with locals playing music, children dashing through town squares, families enjoying the beach and wedding parties walking the city streets. All I could do was wander, make pictures…and sample some delicious lemon gelato. 

Travel 6 is a new theme on the blog where I share 6 images from destinations I’m lucky enough to visit. 



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