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Amazon Wildlife Cruise

Amazon River Dolphin

Amazon River Dolphin

Our inaugural Amazon Wildlife Cruise ran in 2015. This holiday offers a unique opportunity to experience the Amazon rainforest at its best, and a rare chance to spend time in a remote part of the world where very few other people are seen. We had two departures this year, with Alice Tribe from the office joining the tour in August. In this article, she describes some of the highlights from the trip …

We spent seven nights aboard the Iracema, a comfortable river cruiser with a bar, restaurant and spacious top deck – perfect for watching the world go by whilst enjoying the sights and sounds of the rainforest and vast Rio Negro, which appears to be more like the sea than a river! Our crew on the Iracema were extremely friendly and hard-working, always looking to ensure that the passengers were happy, safe and, very importantly, well-fed and watered. Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, seemed to be the drink of choice during the trip!

Every day we maximised our time out on the river, using small motorised canoes to explore the area both before dawn, during the day and after dusk. It is rather magical to start your day in the dark on a canoe, sailing slowly down the river, listening to the loud chorus of insects and tree frogs but nothing else, except for the gentle splash of oars in the water from time to time. We were lucky to have clear skies most days, and the stars were just amazing. As dawn approached, the Red Howler Monkeys added their voices to the mix, booming and echoing all around. It’s the sort of noise that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up! Nocturnal nighthawks and bats were soon replaced by the first early risers in the bird world; Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Cattle Egret, Green Ibis and Scarlet Macaw were quick to make their presence known.

Night trips out on the river conjured up other wonderful creatures such as Great and Common Potoos, Three-toed Sloth, Amazon Bamboo-rat, Greater and Lesser Fishing Bats, Spectacled Caiman and Spectacled Owl. Among the many avian highlights of the trip were Spangled Cotinga, Capped Heron, King Vulture, Hoatzin, Swallow-tailed Kite, and the rather rare Caica Parrot. We also saw a few species of hummingbirds such as the White-chinned Sapphire and the wonderfully named Glittering-throated Emerald. Five species of kingfisher and numerous different woodpeckers were spotted too, including the stunning Cream-coloured Woodpecker. However, the main avian delight of the holiday was the Wire-tailed Manakin – we visited one of their known lekking sites. For around two hours we enjoyed getting close views of these birds, and saw the males practising and showing off their dance moves to one another.

Of course, this trip was not just about the birds; primates were also greatly enjoyed, ranging from the curious Squirrel Monkey to the shy Brown Bearded Saki Monkey. Other species included Red Howler Monkey, Brown Capuchin, Night Monkey, and the elusive Golden-backed Uakari. We used the local expertise of a primate researcher called Siba to locate Uakari, which are otherwise very difficult to find. We also enjoyed wonderful views of Grey and Pink River Dolphins, and we even had the chance to swim in the water with the latter – a real privilege.

To sum the trip up, this is an action-filled holiday to a rarely visited area of the world which is full of stunning scenery and wildlife, yet still carried out in a leisurely, relaxed manner.
Our next 10-day ‘Amazon Wildlife Cruise’ departs on Sunday 28th May 2017. For further details please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email