Alta do Tarumã, Manaus - Taruma Falls - A.S.Wadia

This is the account of A.S.Wadias boat trip to the foot of Taruma Falls in July/August 1935

To us all the most memorable saudade(1) of our cruise up the Amazon was the day trip out of Manaos to visit the Falls of Tarumã.

With the exception of Victoria Falls I have seen all the remarkable waterfalls of the world, including Niagara.

Compared to their size and height the Tarumã sinks into insignificance, into a mere absurdity, but when we consider its setting and the way that leads to it, it stands in a class by itself.

All the other waterfalls in the world have an open outlook, and they fall from open heights, wooded or otherwise, but the Tarumã is situated as the reader can see for themselves by looking at its picture, in the thickest of Brazilian forests.

The approach to the foot of the falls is such as is never found anywhere else in the world, and cannot be imagined by any of my readers, no matter how widely they may have travelled in the world.

When the mighty Amazon is in flood after the rainy season it rises to such unbelievable height that it inundates entire forests along its banks. The approach to the Taruma Falls is one such forest.

We happened to be on the Amazon a week after the rainy season had ended, so the Taruma forest was wholly submerged, only the tops of the giant trees being seen above the surface of the water.

Let me narrate our days trip to the falls.

From the Hilary lying alongside the port of Manaus we were taken in steam launches to the entrance of the submerged forests. There we transferred to small rowing-boats in batches of six. The boat with the ships officers took the lead and made its way through alleys of seemingly floating tree-tops, but the alleys soon closed up, and by all appearances there was nothing in front of us but a solid phalanx of wild intertwining branches. A passage was, however, made through it by the leading boat by pushing back with oars the obstructing branches on either side. We followed in its wake as best we could, beating back the resilient branches, dodging the projecting stump of a dead tree, then bending low our heads to avoid the coiling stem of a huge liana which if left to itself would have made a good strong noose round our necks, bodily lifted us out of the boat and left us hanging in the air half-sumerged.

Then, what was that noise, it was the thunder of the Taruma.

Enclosed as it was with the thick forest the Taruma thundered down to our ears, but to our eyes it fell and flowed so gently, so gracefully that it seemed as if some fairy of the forest renowned for the length and beauty of her hair, had seated herself on the top of the falls and loosening her knot let her long silky platinum tresses flow in one thick massive sweep down the hillside.


Note: Photographs from trips taken in the late 1920s to eraly 1930s.

steam launch from manaos Steam launch towing rowing boats
taruma falls by laubch and rowing boats 1935 Entrance to the Rio Taruma from the Amazon
Rowing boats entering the igapo on the Rio Tarumã Deeper into the flooded igapo forest of the Rio Tarumã
The route narrows as the forest closes in Crew at the front passengers at the rear
Visitors and boats at the foot of Taruma Falls Ladies and Gentlemen 'scramble' over rocks to the Alta do Taruma falls
Posing for the camera at the foot of Taruma Falls Alta do Taruma 1927
(1) Saudade (European Portuguese: Brazilian Portugues; plural saudades) is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Alta do Tarumã, Plunge Pool and Rocks, Manaus 1927 Alta do Taruma, Manaus, lip of fall