There are several facts to consider when trying to determine which Amazon cruise or tour to do and there are now many choices to select from. What factors should you consider when deciding which is the best option for you?
* Do you want to have an in-depth experience or would you just would like to get a “taste” of the jungle?
* The number of days do you want to maintain the jungle?
* Are you currently only coming to the jungle or have you been thinking about planning to other areas? (Machu Picchu, Rio, Galapagos, etc.)
* How active do you wish to be?
* Have you got specific things you wish to do in the jungle, that a package tour might not offer?
Many people just want to get an understanding as to what the jungle is like. For them, a 3 day lodge stay or cruise might suffice. Which will allow them 1 full day in the jungle, because the 1st and last days are usually mostly for travel from the airport and back to the airport. They shouldn’t anticipate seeing much wildlife or primary jungle though because they’re just not receiving far enough out of the cities and nearby people. For example, Manaus has about 1.5 million inhabitants, so you must get pretty far away from the city to feel like you are in a wilderness area.
People who would like to really get yourself a sense of the jungle must stay longer. It always takes a couple of days for individuals to wind down towards the rhythm in the jungle and you need to get into a variety of ecosystems so that you stand a better chance of seeing more types of plants and animals.
A lot of people think “Brazil” when thinking about the Amazon Basin, however it is also in Peru, Ecuador, and lots of other countries. You can have good experiences in those countries, so that you don’t must fly around South America to find out the Amazon, unless you do have a special reason. In order to head to Machu Picchu, then you certainly might as well do an Amazon trip in Peru. If you want to view the Galapagos, then do an Amazon trip in Ecuador.
Don’t just count on pretty brochures or websites. I had been told with a local that certain particular lodge inside the Iquitos area was possibly the prettiest one there – but their guides had all been fired from other lodges. One of many cruise companies shows many different boats on their website, but only the initial one is now kept up for regular cruises. Another lodge looks nice on the website, but the service has deteriorated badly and also the buildings have gotten run down. Another provides you with great interaction with the local Indians, but those Indians also still hunt, which means you won’t see much wildlife around there.
Alcoholism is a concern in the Amazon and guides aren’t immune from that problem. I remember reading many trip reports years back, where people claimed that the guide they hired knew a great deal concerning the jungle, but he would get drunk at nighttime and would go following the female clients and wouldn’t bother with cooking dinner, therefore they needed to fend on their own. I was recently saddened to learn that one of the top guides in the Peruvian Amazon, person who was the subject of several videos about jungle survival, etc., had been fired, as he had become an alcoholic. His father had also been one of the top guides, but he suffered exactly the same fate. Good operators rely on repeat business and word of mouth advertising, so that they can’t manage to keep guides which will cause pr problems.
An excellent guide can make a big difference on a jungle trip. If you go to the jungle alone, all you will see is really a sea of green plants along with a symphony of sounds. A good guide knows what those different plants are and what uses they have. He can tell what exactly is making those sounds, their relationship to the plants in the region and where to search for them. They have an uncanny eye for spotting seemingly invisible things. I recall an evening walk where we switched off our flashlights and were at nighttime, but our guide somehow spotted a huge black spider over a tree trunk. So he can turn a monotone experience in to a Technicolor experience. Just like in every business, an excellent guide can command a better salary when compared to a trainee, so don’t expect to get along with a top guide should you go on the cheapest trip you can find. (the climate requires a toll on buildings and boats, so low budget operations are probably not going to have well-maintained facilities either. From the same token, the cheaper lodges are also often close to the city, so they are certainly not in areas which can be as pristine or which have the maximum amount of wildlife.)
Airports at Amazon gateways like Iquitos and Manaus was previously havens for scam artists. They knew that lots of people would arrive without any reservations and thus would offer exciting trips at low prices, nevertheless they often times would not deliver whatever they had promised. The governments are working hard to try and eliminate these types, nevertheless they can certainly be a difficulty for unsuspecting budget travelers.
Most travel agencies will provide many of the most highly marketed cruises or lodge stays that provide the activities they think a lot of people might like to do, but in order to camp or kayak or do anything uncommon, then you will have to look elsewhere since most travel agencies are more informed about mass market locations, such as Las Vegas, Cancun and Disneyland compared to they tjxdwn about specialized Amazon trips. Some of the highly marketed properties are like big resorts within the jungle. If that’s what you’re considering, then fine. However, many people want something more intimate and authentic and less intrusive. So it’s better to communicate with somebody who has more experience in the type of trip that you are interested in.