Even though it’s where he was born, designer Luis Morais was looking for a new experience on his most recent trip to Brazil. “I typically end up going to places where I find myself running into friends, and I was looking for something different,” he tells us. That’s how he ended up discovering the Anavilhanas National Park and the jungle lodge by the same name—a retreat that took him far off the beaten path and deep into the Amazon.

“The lodge and park are in the state of Amazonas, which is very isolated from the rest of Brazil—the only exchange that happens with the whole rest of the country is either via air or river travel,” Morais says. “There are no roads that cut through the Amazon to reach the people there.” That sense of detachment and isolation was exactly what the designer was looking for, as one of his criteria for the trip was that he be somewhere that cell phones wouldn’t work. “We’re all so deep into our phones, and to be deprived of that allows you see things as they are without thinking about sharing it. It was a moment of mental hygiene for me. You reset everything.”

The men’s jewelry designer—who describes his pieces as gothic, spiritual, and relaxed without being hippy—still managed to find a way to inject a bit of work into the vacation, taking time to source new materials that will find their way into his future pieces. Join him on the adventure as you scroll through his travel pics below.

SHOP ALL LUIS MORAIS

luis morai

“The trip begins with a five-hour flight from Miami to Manaus. The city became huge in the 1800s, thanks to the harvesting of rubber here by the Goodyear company. The whole city was developed to look like a European capitol in the middle of the jungle, and it still feels that way today.”

luis morais

“Manaus’ opera house, The Amazon Theatre, was envisioned as “the jewel of the jungle” when it was built in the 1880. It’s made entirely of materials that were imported from Italy and France, with the ceramic tiles in the dome forming the Brazilian flag.”

luis morais

“The pattern of the stone pavement in the square outside the opera house is typical of Portuguese colonial style and makes the place feel even more European.”

luis morais

“I stayed in Manaus for one night at the beginning of the trip, after I landed but before I made the trip into the jungle, then returned for a few days on my return trip. This is at the Villa Amazônia, the adorable boutique hotel where I stayed.”

luis morais

“From Manaus, there are three options as far as getting to the Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, which was my ultimate destination: a seaplane that lands on the river, a boat ride up the Rio Negro, or a three-and-a-half hour ride on the hotel shuttle. I took the latter, but enjoyed the ride through the jungle and the river views.”

luis morais

“The Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge is right on the Rio Negro, and consists of about 20 cottages plus one communal area for meals. This is the infinity pool at the lodge.”

luis morais

“Engaging in the activities at the lodge community center.”

luis morais

“The lodge is located in the Anavilhanas National Park, which is a very special part of the jungle. It consists of over 400 islands located in the river, and the islands go through an annual cycle of flooding during the rainy season. Because of this, only certain animals can live there, and you don’t have the density you have deeper into the jungle. There are no jaguars or other large animals, and the top predators are caiman crocodiles. But birds like this Macao, as it’s called in Portuguese, flourish.”

luis morais

“One of the activities offered was a dolphin-spotting boat trip. Even though we were so far from the ocean, the Rio Negro has pink freshwater dolphins. When we spotted them, they look more like small beluga whales as they come up to the surface. I was keeping my eyes peeled for them everywhere we went!”

luis morais

“Here, I was shopping at a marketplace in one of the local riverside communities. It’s an incredibly tight-knit community, and they work together on everything from harvesting to doing arts and crafts. They’re so open to showing you what they do, which I really appreciated. They don’t have a lot of material wealth, but there are a lot of natural resources and they know how to put them all to good use. It’s a beautiful culture.”

luis morais

“One of the discoveries I made on this trip was the incredible beads that the local people make. There a special palm tree called the tucum, and they use it for almost everything in their culture, from furniture to food, since its berries are edible. I fell in love with the beads they make from its black wood—if you see my collection, I’m the king of beads. I’m going to work them into my future collections. I made a connection with a cooperative to be able to work directly with them to supply the beads.”

luis morais

“These are some of my personal pieces, but you can see that the handmade woven bracelets made by the native people from an indigenous fiber called arumá pair perfectly with them.”

luis morais

“Another of the lodge’s activities is that you can learn a lot of survival skills—they teach you what to do if you were to find yourself there alone. Things like how to start a fire faster, or to hunt like the native people. They give me a bow and arrows made by the locals to practice my skills. It’s very difficult!”

“Some of the trees in this part of the jungle are more than 700 years old! It’s completely humbling, you know? That tree was there long before me, and hopefully it will still be there long after I’m gone.”

SHOP ALL LUIS MORAIS

Shop The Story