Good Monkey; Bad Monkey… A Visit to an Eco-Tourist Lodge in the Amazon

Spider Monkey hug

This spider monkey adopted Peggy. Here it gives Peggy a monkey hug. Later, Peggy wondered where all of her flea bites came from…

Spider monkey hitches a ride

Monkey hug from the back.


“The war of the future will be between those who defend nature and those who destroy it. The Amazon will be in the eye of the hurricane. Scientists, politicians, and artists will land here to see what is being done to the forest.” —Jacques Cousteau


Cousteau’s statement to Dr. Francisco Bernardino inspired him to erect the Ariau Amazon Tower Lodge in the mid 80s to accommodate the expected influx of ‘artists, scientists and politicians,’  which it did up until it was closed in 2015, attracting such luminaries as Bill Gates, Prince Charles and Jimmy Carter, not to mention the Mekemsons.

Since it was located a mere 30 miles outside of Manaus on the Rio Negro River, Peggy and I decided to visit. We ended up staying in the same room that Jimmy Carter had occupied. Today’s photo essay reflects our stay there and how we hung out with the monkeys…

Amazon jungle lodges

The Ariau is located at number 3 on the map. We took a boat out of Manaus to get there.

Map of Ariau Amazon Tower

This is a map of the complex with its long walkways that wander throughout the rainforest.

Jungle walkway in Brazil

A view of the walkways. Peggy and I had a lot of fun hiking on them, whether we were accompanied by our monkey friends or not.

Peggy Mekemson on jungle walkway

Peggy on one of the walkways in the tree canopy.

Jungle walkway at Ariau Lodge in Brazil

Another view.

View from Ariau Lodge walkway

Looking out at one of the sights along the walkway.

Boat on Rio Negro River

We arrived from Manaus on this double-decker boat.

Ariau Lodge pickup stick look

You didn’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about the structure. I doubt that it would meet earthquake standards. Pickup sticks come to mind.

Our room at the Ariau Lodge

We stayed in the Jimmy Carter room. The eel reminded me of current politics. You don’t want to be a small fish.

Treehouse room at Ariau Lodge

Not to disparage Carter, who I really like, but I would have preferred to stay in the Tarzan suite shown here. It was nestled up in the top of a tall ebony tree.

Snake tongue and Bone

Bone put in an appearance.

Wooley Amazon monkey

Wooly and Spider Monkeys were found around the lodge and out on the walkways. This Wooly Monkey was behaving how monkeys are supposed to behave, dangling by his tail from a tree.

Wooly monkey hat

And this one wasn’t. It isn’t my best photo. (grin) I was not happy about having a monkey for a hat!

Monkey rear view

When I suggested that he go play with an anaconda out in the jungle, he wrapped his tail around my arm and treated me to this view.

Scary monkey

And then gave me the evil monkey look…

a handful of monkey

Before threatening to take a chunk out of my hand.

Spider monkey near Manaus

Peggy got the good monkey. Given its heart-shaped face and adoring look, this seems an appropriate time to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day!

Spider Monkey mouth

I will note that the spider monkey had an impressive set of choppers.

Peggy with spider monkey

When Peggy sat down, it settled into her lap and hammed it up for the camera..

Spider monkey in lap

Before deciding to take a nap.

Spider monkey on Peggy's lap

Monkey feet

I decided its feet and our “Travelers’ Tales of Brazil” would make a fitting photo to close my posts on the Amazon.


FRIDAY’S POST: I learn about cross-cultural relations as a second-grader— on a queen sized bed.

MONDAY’S POST: We finally start to make our way down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon while fighting a strong headwind.

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: Peggy and I begin a trip up the Alaska-Canada Highway, one of the world’s premier adventure-travel roads.




20 thoughts on “Good Monkey; Bad Monkey… A Visit to an Eco-Tourist Lodge in the Amazon

    • Peggy wouldn’t have been nearly as comfortable with the spider monkey had she known she would have flea bites as a result. Fortunately, there were no negative consequences. I had immediately tried to discourage the wooly monkey but he wasn’t easily discouraged, Sue. He did get the point in a few minutes, however. The spider monkey must have hung around for an hour! –Curt

  1. Great photos. Manaus is pretty incredible isn’t it. The Opera House was interesting with the renovated by Matt Damon plaque on the front. Did you see the pink dolphins? I did, but no jaguar~

    • Manaus would have seemed even more exotic when rubber fortunes were being made and the opera house was in full swing, Cindy. We must have been there before the Matt Damon plaque was put up. We missed the pink dolphins and the jaguar. 🙂 –Curt

  2. I could manage without the monkey attention Curt!
    I stayed in a hotel in Haugesund in Norway and every room was named after a famous film. I hoped for the Gladiator room but got Shane. I didn’t mind, it is one of my favourite westerns.

  3. Peggy seems a natural with the monkeys … bringing out their gentle cute nature! I’m not sure I’d like one as a hat either! Curt, it was wonderful to walk along those glorious walkways with you both, even if only virtually!! The views are stunning. You mention that it closed in 2015. I wonder why that is?

    • I was surprised to read about the closing as well, Annika. It was a beautiful, unique place. Some of the eco-tourist places argued it was a bit ‘too Disneyland.’ And obviously the wildlife had become a bit too domestic. We did nothing to encourage the monkeys— and they weren’t about to be discouraged. 🙂 I read that 9/11 had a substantial impact on it, as it did many places, by the fact that Americans, who made up the majority of the visitors, cut way back on traveling. It never quite recovered afterwards. Glad to have you along on the walk! –Curt

  4. I wonder how well they maintained that scaffolding. I bet all that moisture in the Amazon would give it a beating. Did you find yourself getting soggy while you were there?

  5. Peggy, the monkey whisperer! Your monkey on the other hand reminded me of an aunt who didn’t like cats or dogs, but for reasons I never understood they always gravitated to her. What a truly wild experience!

    • Peggy has her ways! I like animals, and, as a general rule, get along well with them. But the monkey and I obviously got off on the wrong foot, or, er, make that paw. It was wild. 🙂 –Curt

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