Cruising isn’t just about big ships in the Caribbean or even the sedate waterways of Europe it can also mean expedition and creepy crawlies.
Big Ship or Small Boat Cruise?
There are the bigger ships taking a 1,000 plus passengers along the Amazon, after all this is a big river. These floating hotels are usually found in the lower reaches in the river between Manaus and Belem and offer their guests excursions in either smaller craft or transfers from the boat to explore on foot.
For those looking for adventure the smaller boats can travel another 1,200miles up river to Iquitos, a Peruvian city in the middle of the rainforest with no road access. Even if you choose a smaller boat excursions will still be taken in zodiacs or canoes into the tributaries to spot wildlife and for walking safaris. Any craft in these waters are accompanied by a Peruvian pilot. There are no channel markers and the only way of navigating these ever changing waters is by chart and memory, so don’t upset him.
There are many operators all vying for passengers and offering good deals but take care to research what you will be getting and who you will be travelling with, the best idea is to book with a reputable company in advance that way there won’t be any nasty surprises. Try and pick a boat with no more than 30 passengers, that way you’ll not get swamped when you try and leave on an excursion, smaller groups leave smaller footprints so its better for the environment too.
An Unforgettable Experience
On a ‘Comfortable’ adventure craft expect private facilities and cabins with windows combined with traditional style. An observation deck where lectures on the area’s wildlife an cultures are held and a bar so you can enjoy a cool drink watching the sun go down. There’s no need to dress up for dinner in the restaurant, it’s informal but you will enjoy the locally caught fish and fried banana. These craft will typically have a naturalist Guides aboard who will accompany you on excursions pointing out the local wildlife such pink dolphins, monkeys, toucans and sloth’s. They will also be there during your night walks into the rainforest. For an unforgettable experience spend the night off the boat, camping in the forest means you might not get too much sleep but sitting round a camp fire cooking your own food is a great experience. Wake in the morning and take a refreshing ‘dip’ in the river, don’t forget to check for piranhas first and then off to see the Shaman. The Shaman are still very much part of this areas culture and he will explain his traditional use of medicinal plants and perhaps even bless you for the rest of your journey.
Back onboard there’s an opportunity to sit back on deck and watch the scenery pass by keeping your eyes open for giant water lily, brightly colored macaws and those cheeky capuchin monkeys.
All too soon you will be arriving in Iquitos, this is not a very picturesque place to finish your trip, but all good things must come to an end and it’s only a short trip to reach the airport before your onward flight.