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Manaus is a relatively safe city for travelers to explore during the day and night without a tour guide. But even the most experienced travelers can fall foul to local criminals looking to make a quick dollar or cause harm.
It's not smart to walk through dark alleys or isolated beaches at night, let alone through the Amazon jungle without a guide when it's dark.
Sadly, Manaus has issues with drugs due to its connection with Colombia by boat. There is minimal border control to stem the flow of drugs, and the favelas here are rife with drugs.
Beyond the importance of looking after your valuables and belongings, here are some important tips to take on board:
You may encounter locals with scandalous intentions when you arrive at Manaus Airport, offering services, tours or guides. Pre-book all tours and accommodation prior to arriving to avoid the headache of deciding which potential scammer you should trust.
There are stacks of tour agencies and guides to choose from. Some are reputable, some aren't. Do your research and find one that operates sustainably and responsibly, but also offers the services you're looking for in the Amazon. There are many Caboclos that work for smaller tour agencies; Caboclos are some of the best people to take you to the jungle, they know the city well and they know the jungle like the back of their hand. You will be safe in the jungle if you are with someone who knows the jungle. The downside is most of these smaller agencies are not available online, and you have to find them through word-of-mouth, by talking to the locals and other travelers.
I highly recommend that you hire a guide when venturing out to the villages or into the jungle, as it can be difficult to find people that speak English. There is also less access to public transport and accommodation here.
Learning a little bit of Portuguese can make all the difference. It will also give you the chance to communicate with the locals and experience a different culture.
Before you leave home, there are a few recommended vaccinations to get for a trip to Manaus and the Amazon. Many diseases such as Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Yellow Fever are prevalent in South America, with some particularly found in remote locations where access to sanitation and hygiene may be limited.
When staying in urban areas, if you are sensitive to the heat, attract mosquitoes or both, avoid hostels that don’t have air-conditioning or bug nets. The heat and humidity can be intense in Manaus, so stay hydrated. Mosquitoes breed incessantly, especially in the wet season, so always wear long-sleeved clothing in the early mornings, during the early evening and at night. Always carry insect repellant with you, and apply it to uncovered areas throughout the day, and especially at night.
Do not go into the jungle alone and or underprepared. The Amazon is an ancient, primal place and once you are deep within the rainforest, access to medical services is limited. Always remain aware of your surroundings and your intuition can be your best friend in Manaus.
Here are a few standard safety tips for women traveling in Manaus.
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