Rio Negro Dunes in Brasil

Rio Negro or “black river,” water dark with tannin, which swirls across virgin sand in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. In the park’s ponds, thriving communities of algae can turn the water blue or green. 

Rio Negro



Rio Negro (Portuguese: Rio Negro, Spanish: Río Negro, English: Black River) is the largest left tributary of the Amazon and the largest blackwater river in the world. It has its sources along the watershed between the Orinoco and the Amazon basins, and also connects with the Orinoco by way of the Casiquiare canal. In Colombia, where the sources are located, it is called the Guainía River. Its main affluent is the Vaupés, which disputes with the headwaters of the Guaviare branch of the Orinoco, the drainage of the eastern slope of the Andes of Colombia. The Rio Negro flows into the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River below Manaus, Brazil.

Rio Negro is navigable for 700 kilometres (430 mi) from its mouth in 1 metre of water in the dry season, but it has many sandbanks and minor difficulties. A small portion of it forms the international boundary between Colombia and Venezuela.