Day 54 & 55: São Luís to Belem – How to Organize an Amazon Boat Cruise to Manaus With a Motorbike

Of course it was time to forget again something in the hotel. Too much time passed without doing so, lol. And what could have been better to lose than…

my longsleeve shirt which is bulletproof against mosquitoes? Just a couple of days before laying in a hammock on the Amazon river… which is a paradise for these little monsters.

When I realize my loss I was super upset but also had to laugh at the same time, lol. What a mess!!!!

And yeah, I should also mention that I forgot my second pair of gloves which I wanted to use in Canada or Alaska in case it would get cold again (I bet it would be 😂😂😂👌👌👌).

At least I managed to catch the ferry to the other side of the bay of São Luis which saved me 4 hours of the day.

There were just 8 hours left… the road was not really in its best condition but at least I could make it within one day to Belem.

I knew the ferry would leave on Wednesday from Belem to Manaus which meant I still had time to get my laundry done and to manage somehow the travel. I had no glue where to get the tickets and how to put my bike on the boat. I just knew it is somehow possible.

When I arrived in the early evening in Belem I found a super cheap hostel (25 Reals) with a great parking and went out with a young chap from the staff to have a PF (prato feito or a ready dish) for dinner.

He told me that there would be an Italian staying in the same hostel who would have the same plans. I was super happy and curious to get to know the person asap. It is always easier to share the burden of such an organisation… this is what I thought at least, lol.

When I met Marianna she was in the middle of a conversation with Brazilians from the hostel and full of joy I was greeting her. She must have thought “what does this guy want want from me?!”

Time table / Operating hours

She told me the ferry leaves only on Thursday and she had already plans to visit a nearby beach and a butterfly park in town the day before. On “Quarta Feira” the boat would be leaving at 7 pm.

Uno momento… quarta feira? This is Wednesday I said, hahaha. Really????? Yes, really. Brazilians start to count the beginning of the week with “segunda feira”…

Make sure the operating hours are up to date. Check out the official time table here.

Alright, I said. Let’s meet in 10 minutes and put an agenda together. We need to organize the next day and in case there is still time left, we can still see the butterflies 🙂

Agenda

  • 8-9 am: breakfast (Marianna realises after spending already three days in the hostel: “what? They serve breakfast? I got up only at 10 or 11 am the last days, lol)
  • 9:00-10:30 am: 3 different quotes from various agents and get best price offer
  • 10:30 – 11:30 am: hammock and mosquito net
  • 11:30 – 14:00: Food and drinks
  • 14:00 – 16:00: Medication

It sounded like the perfect plan! It sounded… lol.

At least we could tick the first agenda item with success 😂

We figured out the address of the passenger terminal and got an uber which brought us after 20 minutes to the Terminal Hidrolautica.

Already after leaving the car we got surrounded by three agents who wanted to sell their tickets to us. Out of experience I knew it is always a bad idea to talk to these kind of guys first. They always rip you off.

We went inside the Terminal and to the tourist information and asked for the right place to buy the tickets. The woman pointed into the direction of the agents again which we at first happily denied. Certainly, they would charge unfair prices…

Boat company / Agent

After 5 minutes we discovered the official stand of AR transporte which is apparently the only provider of transport between Belem and Manaus. They even take motorbikes onboard. Great!

How much is a ticket?, we asked. Again she just pointed at the agents and did not want to sell the tickets directly to us.

“So weird! Ok, we have no other chance… let’s talk to them.” Their first offer for one person was 350 Reals but since we would be great friends they offer it for 300. Wow, thank you 🙂 And the motorbike? How many “ccm?” “What role does this play? There is no big difference between a 250 or a 800,” I said. It is still a motorbike and not a car. No, there is a difference… hahaha… ok, it is a 800 ccm. 800 Reals normally but for you 600, my friend. Of course...

Alright, we have 2 persons and 1 motorbike. Can you come up with a special price amigao? This is still too expensive for us… we have no money and 5 children at home!

Let me talk to my boss, I see what I can do.

Costs

After 5 minutes he came back and offered a total price of 900 Reals. 400 Reals for the motorcycle and 250 Reals for each person in a hammock. Of course, there are no meals included but free water. Check out the official prices here.

I was not bothered to try to find more agents in other places of town. It was already 11:00 am and time was running out. We accepted the offer!

Of course, they did not accept credit cards and the money we had was not enough for ticking off the rest of our agenda items.

We paid 50 each and agreed to pay the rest the day after.

The motorcycle had to be brought to a different port and could not be done on Wednesday.

I realized that it was impossible to arrange everything the same day. We decided to split our agenda and to do the food and medication shopping the day after.

We took a bus in front of the Terminal which brought us after 5 minutes to a market place where we found hammocks (Marianna already bought hers but of course did not know she needed the additional ropes too, lol), ropes, mosquito nets, shirts and other stuff we needed.

Afterwards we went back to the hostel where we had traditional Açai with fish, shrimps and other unusual ingredients. It was weird first but tasted after a couple of spoons pretty good. I still preferred the banana, granola and chocolate version of the other parts of the country.

The Motorcycle Port

I withdrew the additional cash and went off with my bike to the other port – Marques Pinto Navegaçao. Jorge from the hostel warned me about the area. “It is highly unsafe with lots of robberies and assaults.” He usually said that about anything else in Belem but this time I believed him somehow more than before. His eyes were not lying!

When I arrived at the harbour area I immediately knew why… it was scary, really! Everywhere trash, weird looking people on the road and the most disgusting canal I have ever seen in my life. I even did not want to stop at the traffic lights and nervously checked the area for possible assaults.

I finally arrived at the port but stood in front of closed doors. No bell, no sign of people behind the door… great, what was I supposed to do but wait?! God had mercy with me… not a minute later, the door opened and a car was leaving the port. After I showed my receipt to the guard he let me pass without any problems.

Two ferries were tied up to the dock. One of them was in a miserable condition, full of rust and I was praying that it was the other one next to it. My prayers got heard… luckily, lol.

A dozen of men were coming to me and asked if I need help. I tried to explain that I need to put my motorbike on board. “Just speak to the captain.” Said and done…

A small guy with a big belly was already waiting for me behind his massive wooden table. I showed him my receipt and he gave the order to his crew to bring “Fury” on board.

Boat

It seemed not to be that easy… they pulled out three large blanks and 5 or 6 people started to push my bike on the Amazon Star. Get here more information on the boat.

Certainly, they asked me for money again… I felt guilty and did not know what to do. I gave them like 5 reals which I still had in my pocket. But they wanted to have more… 50 Reals! I simply said “Obrigado!” and went to the captain again to tell him that I just had a couple of bugs left. He got angry and told me not to give them anything.

“Banditos!”, I thought! Well, next time I would know it better again.

I fixed Mariannas hammock with the help of an old Brazilian. At this time I did not know yet that we should become good friends…

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