Top Tips for an Amazon Slow Boat

If you’re about to set sail on a slow boat in the Amazon then you may just be about to begin either your worst nightmare or quite possibly one of most unique journeys who will EVER take.

Packed like sardines onto a small boat with the local people of the Amazon, only a hammock for privacy, the humidity of the surrounding jungle and the never ending groan from the engine of the boat. Sounds like it’s already edging towards nightmare. But there is a way that you can turn your surroundings into something good and plenty of other tips to help you along the way.

sunset in the amazon view from our slowboat from manaus to tabatinga

Here are our best tips for a slow boat trip through the Amazon:

Consider the Direction of Travel

Travelling downstream can be considerably faster, however, you tend to stick to the centre of the river to get maximum flow whereas when travelling upstream you hug the treeline. This makes it much slower but you get a more scenic journey and get to look out for wildlife.


Find the Right Price

Never go with the original price you are quoted. Try several agencies to get a rough idea and then head directly to your boat of choice and speak to the captain. He normally has the best rate.


Which Boat?

This can be a major factor. Before you book anything, go down to the dock and check it out the boat for yourself. Does it appear clean? Is there plenty of space for hammocks? How many toilets is there? Are food and water included in the price?


Arrive Early

Get there a few hours before to ensure you get a good spot. Spaces can fill up quickly.


Where To Put Up Your Hammock?

There are several things to consider. First is privacy. Pick a spot where nobody can squeeze both sides of you. If there’s a group of you then pick a corner and fill it up. If the boat is open at all side then stay clear of the edges. Rain can come in sideways and pretty hard too. Go high. The higher the floor you are, the further away from the boat’s engine. Some boats also have a bar on the top floor which can get pretty rowdy so you may want to avoid that if you think it will affect you.

View from our slowboat through the amazon

Don’t Forget Rope

Some boats have hooks that you can sling your hammock straight on to. Others you will need to know how to tie a strong knot to keep you up. But rope is also handy if you want to adjust height and position of your hammock. You can pick up a few metres at any hammock store.


Take Snacks

Food can vary between boats so you should definitely consider taking some extra snacks for either between meals or in place of meals!



You will need some form of entertainment to keep you busy and keep your dangerous thoughts away. I lost Sally for about three days while she was engrossed in The Blacklist

Mosquito net

We didn’t have a problem but you can get a mosquito net if you think it may be an issue.


Sleep Diagonal

Most people jump straight into a hammock and end up shaped like a banana.Trust me just one night sleeping like this will leave you with chronic back pain. Instead, sleep at a diagonal angle, stretching your hammocks width. This will create a much flatter support.

Sally in the hammock, slow boat down the amazon river

Take Earplugs

You may not be able to stop the vibrations but you can block off the noise of the engine (well kind of).


Look After Your Belongings

I hate to say this but if you think it’s worth stealing then carry it around with you. Or take turns of piece minding each other’s belongings.



You may want to look ahead at possible accommodation for the end destination. Also find the safest route as you may just get there earlier than expected and be stranded at a strange dock at 4 am.


Enjoy It!

Don’t get too stressed. C’mon look around you! You’re swinging on a hammock while sailing through the Amazon. How cool is that! Life could be worse.

If you want to know in detail all you need to know about a slow boat in the Amazon then check out our previous post on our experience going from Manaus to Tabatinga by slow boat.

Jamie Richardson

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