Encontro das Águas, the Water Encounter in Brazil

rencontre des eaux Manaus

The incredible meeting of the waters of the Rio Solimões and Rio Negro in Manaus

Brazil is a land of contrasts, but what’s even more astonishing is to be found in the waters around Manaus, the largest city in the whole of Amazonia. Here, some 8 km downstream of the city, lies an astonishing natural phenomenon known as La Rencontre des Eaux (or Encotro das Aguas in Portuguese).

This is the name given to the meeting of two rivers, the Rio Solimoes and the Rio Negro. It is at this particular point that the river takes on the name Amazon.

rencontre des eaux Manaus

Photo credit: NASA

A scientific challenge

For a long time, local people believed in an extraordinary phenomenon, and this place has always been considered special, even sacred.

Yet here, too, science was faced with a challenge: why didn’t these meeting waters mix? How could this apparently natural phenomenon be explained? In fact, the waters of the Rio Solimoes are quite silty and ochre-coloured due to the heavy erosion in its Andean basin. The waters of the Rio Negro, on the other hand, are black because they have passed through stagnant areas in the Amazon forest plain and marshes rich in humus.

rencontre des eaux Manaus

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo

Because of differences in density, flow velocity and temperature, the waters of these two rivers flow towards each other without ever mixing for dozens of kilometers. It’s as if two rivers were flowing side by side in the same bed.

It’s a natural but unusual phenomenon, as if the two rivers refuse to mix, as if the waters refuse to merge. The result: the waters seem to slide over or against each other.

rencontre des eaux Manaus

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Immelman284

What’s more, while the Solimoes River averages between 20 and 22°, the Rio Negro is much warmer, at around 28 to 33°.

A phenomenon visible from space, the Meeting of the Waters intrigues, subjugates, questions and fascinates, whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned scientist. It should be noted that the Rio Solimoes has a greater flow than its neighbor, its waters are denser and flow faster, and they eventually absorb those of the Rio Negro, but not before 150 km downstream.

The exceptional character of this atypical place in Brazil makes it a tourist destination not to be missed. Come and discover a seascape unlike any other on the planet!

rencontre des eaux Manaus

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Simara Couto de Abrantes

rencontre des eaux Manaus

Photo credit: GetMetravelled

Main photo credit: Juma Amazon Lodge