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.




Monkey Business at the Ariau Amazon Lodge… the Passport Series

This photo captures the tree house nature of the Ariau Lodge located on the Rio Negro River near Manaus in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil.

“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

The Woolly Monkey leapt on to my shoulders and rested one paw on my forehead. I hadn’t invited him and suggested he leave.  When I tried to put him down he wrapped his powerful tail around my wrist and then threatened to bite my hand.

An upside down Woolly Monkey holds on to my arm with his powerful tail at the Ariau Lodge in the Amazon.

When I suggested to the Wooly Monkey that he should get down, he threatened to bite my hand.

My wife Peggy took photos and laughed at my predicament. Her turn was coming.

We were staying at the Ariau Amazon Towers Lodge some 35 miles from Manaus Brazil in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest overlooking the Rio Negro River. Located high in the rainforest above the river, the Ariau is the Mother of all tree houses. Tarzan would appreciate the luxury. In fact there is a “Tarzan Suite” perched 110 feet up in the air.

The Tarzan/Honeymoon suite at the Ariau Lodge perched 110 feet above the Rio Negro.

Catwalks, some as high as 70 feet, radiate out from the lodge for five miles into the forest and provide the visitor with the unique Amazon experience of walking among the treetops and visiting with the wildlife… including parrots and the far-too-tame monkeys.

Attractive walkways or catwalks extend out for some five miles from the Ariau Lodge providing visitors with an opportunity to wander through the tree tops of the Amazon rainforest.

This photo provides another view of the catwalks at the Ariau Lodge in Brazil.

This brilliant green parrot greeted us on our walk at the Ariau Lodge.

Jacques Cousteau inspired building the Ariau in the mid 80s.  His statement to Dr. Francisco Bernardino quoted above led Bernardino to erect the hotel to accommodate the expected influx of ‘artists, scientists and politicians.’ Since then the lodge has accommodated a steady stream of famous visitors ranging from Prince Charles to Bill Gates. Peggy and I stayed in the “Jimmy Carter Room,” which was given its name after Carter slept there.

The Peripatetic Bone insisted on having his picture taken with the Carter sign and with a Brazilian mask.

The Peripatetic Bone rests on the Jimmy Carter sign.

A number of carved artworks are found at the Ariau Lodge. Bone is taking a nap in the mouth of this snake-tongue protruding from the mouth of a Brazilian mask.

But back to the monkeys… Peggy’s want-to-be friend was a long-legged Spider Monkey. He joined us on the walkway and immediately wrapped one leg around her neck and looked up adoringly. He held on for a mile as we strolled along the catwalk. When we stopped, he immediately stretched out on her lap and made faces at me.

She only lost her long-legged furry friend when we returned to the lodge. That night she discovered the flea bites.

The Spider Monkey climbed up on Peggy, draped his arm/leg around her neck, and looked up adoringly.

The Spider Monkey joined us for our walk among the tree tops of the Amazon forest.

When Peggy sat down, her new best friend spread out on her lap and made faces at me.

This “wild” creature of the Amazonian Rainforest then proceeded to take a nap.