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The Meeting of Waters - An Amazon River Phenomenon

Known by its Portuguese name ‘Encontro das Aguas,’ this confluence located in Brazil, South America, is a true phenomenon where two rivers meet without mixing and flow side by side for a few miles.

The Rio Negro, which is Portuguese for ‘black river’ and the Rio Solimões, which is the name given to the upper stretches of the Amazon river, both form an awe-inspiring sight of nature called the Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Águas) .

Encontro das Aguas the Meeting of waters in Manas, Brasil | Joshua's Amazon Expeditions

Two Rivers

Below we zoom in on these two rivers individually to learn more about their properties.

Rio Negro - The Black River

Here are the water properties of Rio Negro:
  • Origin: This river that runs from the Colombian hills and interior jungles is almost sediment-free.
  • Composition: You are probably wondering what makes the Rio Negro black? Well, its dark waters get their tea-like color from plant matter and decayed leaves from the Amazon rainforest.
  • Temperature: Rio Negro is slightly warm at 28 °C (82 °F).
  • Speed: The Negro River flows approximately 2 km/h(1.2 mph).

Rio Solimões - The Amazon River

Here are the water properties of Rio Solimões:
  • Origin: The Solimões river is the name used for the upper section of the Amazon River and originates in the Andes mountains of Peru.
  • Composition: It is rich with sediments as it collects sand, mud and silt from the Andes Mountains, giving it a muddy brown color.
  • Temperature: Rio Solimões has a slightly cool temperature of 22 °C (72 °F).
  • Speed: The Solimoes river flows at approximately 4 to 6 km/h (2.5 to 3.7 mph).

A Natural Phenomenon

This phenomenon occurs in the Brazilian Amazon when rivers meet and refuse to mix but instead flow at the same time for about 6km(3.7miles) before they finally combine into one to form the Amazon river.

What is even more impressive is that the two rivers and their distinct separation in color can be seen from space, according to Nasa Earth Observatory .

A Geologist named Robert Meade describes the meeting of the waters this way: “Six Mississippis’ worth of cafe-au-lait-colored water are converging here with two Mississippis’ worth of black-tea-colored water to produce the greatest hydrologic spectacle on the planet… what we are seeing here is a volume of water at least a dozen times greater than the total of the water falling over the Niagara, Iguassu, and Victoria Falls combined”.

“Six Mississippis’ worth of cafe-au-lait-colored water are converging here with two Mississippis’ worth of black-tea-colored water to produce the greatest hydrologic spectacle on the planet,… what we are seeing here is a volume of water at least a dozen times greater than the total of the water falling over the Niagara, Iguassu, and Victoria Falls combined.” – US Geologist Robert Meade

What Causes the Meeting of the Waters?

You may wonder what causes the Meeting of the Waters and if science can provide an explanation. The reasons why these two rivers do not mix could be due to their difference in water properties.

Note the following points:

  • Their different speeds: The black Rio Negro flows slowly at about one-third of the rate of the Rio Solimoes.
  • Their different temperatures: The brown Solimões River is cooler than the black water Rio Negro.
  • Their different compositions: Due to high sediments, the Solimões River is much denser than the Rio Negro clearer, which is less dense because of nearly no deposits.

While this difference in properties may prevent them from mixing, their resistance only lasts for a few miles, and they eventually join to form the lower amazon river.

Where in Brazil Is the Meeting of the Waters?

Manaus Brazil

Manaus is the capital of the Brazilian Amazonas state, located in the northwestern region of Brazil. Surrounded by rainforest, Manaus is the nearest city from which you can access the Encontro das Águas as it is situated about 20km(12miles) from the confluence.

Visitors looking to see the meeting of the waters usually fly or take a cruise into Manaus and then use it as an access point to venture onto the confluence by boat.

In addition to Encontro das Águas there are other attractions that bring visitors to the city. Manaus is located in the center of the largest rainforest on earth, the Amazon rainforest. This makes a good starting point for those looking to explore the Amazon jungle, learn about the culture and life of an indigenous tribe in the region and create memorable experiences of adventures in the wilderness.

Below are the diverse experiences Manaus has to offer:

Attractions

Manaus has a metropolitan side which consists of sights such as historical theatres and shopping malls. However, the authentic Amazonian experience lies outside the city.

Tour boats leave Manaus to see the Meeting of the Waters, and visitors can also explore river banks and travel along “igarapes,” which are canoe-friendly routes. In addition, you can choose to walk and venture into the forests or book a stay at a lodge nestled within the jungle and enjoy being surrounded by uninhibited views of nature.

Rain Forest

The Amazon jungle is a researcher's dream and provides an educational experience for anyone leaping and journeying deeper into this vast rainforest. Learn about medicinal plants and fascinating wildlife both on land and in rivers—Trek to the forest to immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of the jungle. A rainforest tour with an expert guide will be a relatively safe and thrilling experience!

Cruise and Floating Houses

Enjoy speed boat cruises along the river to give you a taste of river life in the region you visit. Learn about river wildlife and get to see some of the largest scaled fish in the world. Get to know more about life on the water as you see fascinating floating houses that are a creative architectural initiative designed to adapt to rising water levels of the rivers.

Pink Dolphins

It's one thing to see the famous local pink dolphin. It's another thing to get to swim with them. Some tours offer the exciting experience of swimming with these magnificent creatures, while others will take you to see them on a canoe. Depending on how adventurous you are, you could choose the option that best suits you. Either way, you get to see these beautiful animals and learn about them.

Holidays

Enjoy breathtaking sunsets with a calm, peaceful stay in nature or experience the adrenaline rush of adventures in the jungle. There are great 3-5day tour packages available for Manaus and the surrounding Amazon holidays. These could include all the above activities in one deal, so you don’t have to stress booking for each activity individually. Instead, your itinerary will be all laid out for you to have a taste of everything and a memorable holiday experience.

Transportation

What are transportation options available to you? Most of the Amazonas state is a tropical jungle with various rivers and water channels, so to get to Manaus, you can either take a boat cruise or fly in by plane. Once in the city, you have taxis buses, and of course, if you tour the Amazon basin, you have boats and canoes at your disposal.

Visit

Visit Manaus and give yourself a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the lungs of the earth and its two-toned natural phenomenon Encontro das Águas – the Meeting of the Waters.

Pictures are beautiful, but they don’t do justice to the real thing. If you would like to experience this with your own eyes, you can do so by booking a trip to Boto Lodge and departing from there to Manaus.