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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

The Brazilian Anavilhanas is the largest river archipelago in the world – a beautiful labyrinth of forested islands, some fringed with white-sand beaches lapped by the jet-black waters of the Rio Negro.

Bubble-gum pink river dolphins play in the waters, caiman-crocodiles bask on the beaches and at sunset, when the light is a deep, rich gold, thousands of Amazon swifts descend to roost in the rainforest trees.


Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

It is not possible to visit the Anavilhanas on a day trip from Manaus. Day trips can be made from the small town of Novo Airao 190km north of Manaus and 3 hours speedboat from the archipelago itself, where there are a handful of very simple hotels.

Or the archipelago can be visited from one of the Rio Negro jungle lodges, most of which are within an hour of the islands, or on a multi-day river cruise from Manaus.

When to do it

The islands are beautiful all year round, but the weather can be difficult to predict; close proximity to the equator means year-round humidity and rain, with no winter season or real dry season. In spite of the humidity, the river Negro is black-water, meaning less mosquitoes than in other areas of the Amazon.

The white sand beaches are exposed between August and January, which gives a better chance of spotting wildlife and the opportunity to swim (safely).


Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Lurys Didier

Lurys Didier

Manaus, Amazon, Brazil

One of the few genuine indigenous Amazon guides – based in Novo Airao itself and conducting trips throughout the Manaus area. Excellent boat tours and hikes and rainforest survival training.

Destination guides


Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

The Amazon

Amazon, Peru

Three tiny amazon milk frog on branch, Panda Bear Tree Frog

Earth’s largest and most spectacular tropical wilderness is a landscape of huge waterfalls tumbling off table-top mountains, vast, coloured rivers, and fragrant cloud forests. All filled with astonishing, endemic wildlife.