After visiting one of the “eco-resorts” called Tiwa Lodge, just a 20 min boat ride across the water from Manaus we embarked on the much anticipated river cruise on the Amazon. The name of the company is Amazon Clipper and they offer few options. We chose a 2 night/3day cruise just to get an idea of the area.
After embarking on our vessel we were briefed by our guide Sardes as to the itinerary. The vessel itself was a three level clipper with 9 cabins. Each cabin was very cozy, with a bunk bed and private bathroom. We were both excited by this trip as neither one of us has ever been on a cruise. In total there were seven passengers and five crew members.
Our itinerary took us out of Manaus heading initially east on Rio Negro. Then we cut south through a channel to Rio Solimoes and then moved on west. Sardes explained to us that for Brazilians, the river Amazon starts at the Meeting of the Waters, where Rio Negro (the brunette) and Rio Solimoes (the blond) meet. This is a very interesting phenomenon. Each river has distinct color due to the differences in the pH and temperature . They also have different speeds, Rio Negro rolling at a 1.4 km/hr and the Solimoes at a brisk 9 km/hr.
That night we went out on a small boat and our two guides to the shores to look for Caymans. They are plentiful at night and it was eerie looking for their eyes reflecting the light of the lantern. A lot of the wildlife here is nocturnal and the jungle is quite alive. This maybe due to the fact that the day temperatures can reach close to 40 degrees C with up to 80% humidity, not very comfortable for any creature.
After a delicious meal we went off to sleep while gently and slowly rocking on the river.
The next day we had a chance to visit a local school and the kids. They were very shy and curious at the same time. We talked to one of the teachers and learned a little about their struggles and needs but also joys of teaching. The school needs basic supplies and they don’t even have a first aide kit! All of the kids are brought to school by small boats as there are no roads.
We also visited a local family and saw the inside of their simple but tidy house and their little farm. The man showed us how they process manioc root to become edible. The same evening we went on yet another little trip to fish for piranhas, yes, those little fish with nasty looking teeth. Sardes told us that whoever caught the biggest fish would get a free caipirinha. So the competition took off. After a slow start I got a little coaching from Evange, also called “G” and started to reel them in. All in all I caught 14 fish and the biggest one. So our Polish/Argentine/American team won two caipirinhas. We competed against one English woman, an Irish couple and a French couple.
The third day at about noon we returned from our little adventure, learning a lot about the area, the rivers and nature and having had just a great time on these amazing rivers.
We’ll miss it!