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Ilha de Silves



Four adventuresome Americans with reservations at the Pousada dos Guanavenas wanted to drive the 350 kilometers (217 miles) in a pickup truck through the rainforest to a boat launch near the jungle lodge. As it was not the rainy season, the trip would take about five hours.



Could the Americans take along a few containers of food scraps for the birds in the aviary at the jungle lodge, asked the Manaus travel agency? Mostly fruit, the cargo (which was beginning to ferment) would travel better in the bed of a pickup than with a boatload of people or in a small plane. The jungle road trip on a clay track up and down densely forested, steeply rolling hills provided splendid photo opportunities.



The boat owner at the launch site looked hesitantly at the containers of “bird food” and was told the hotel had requested it. With a reluctant shrug, he loaded duffels and garbage into his wooden flat-bottomed canoe and ferried the travelers a short distance across Canacari Lake to Ilha de Silves.



For visitors to the remote island town of Silves and its hotel, the Pousada dos Guanavenas, the reward is a magnificent view—a picturesque, thatch-covered roundhouse, built from local materials, surrounded by lush tropical foliage and brilliant bougainvillea. On Canacari Lake north of the Amazon River, the island and hotel are accessible only by boat or small plane. Hotel guests take a pleasant two-hour boat ride from Manaus, eastward down the Amazon River, before arriving to the town of Silves and being transferred to the hotel.



Comfortable rooms line the outside perimeter of two floors. Hewn log verandas and screened porches are strung with inviting hammocks. Buffets of delicious local cuisine are served in the dining room or beside the pool at the top of a bluff overlooking the lake. Macaws, parrots and other exotic birds provide additional beauty as well as song in the aviary adjacent to the hotel.



The town of Silves is a short walk from the hotel, down a clay road. Ambling tourists aren’t hassled as in big cities and can watch furniture makers carefully carving wood and fitting pieces together. Depending on the time of day, you may spot giggling children returning to school after a mid-day lunch break. Small shops offer cold sodas and local souvenirs. The heat bothers no one but the tourists.



On arrival, bird stuffs in hand, the cheerful bellhops greet the entourage, quickly hefting duffels, totes and garbage onto their shoulders and climbing a sheer and lofty wooden stairway. The Americans follow at a slower pace. Hotel staff meet them with refreshments and broad smiles, informing them the birds were already being fed their catered dinner.



In every aspect the hotel, service and ambience were excellent, and you can’t beat its jungle location. Posada dos Guanavenas and the town of Silves provide a most untainted, relaxing experience. And getting there is part of the adventure.

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