The Upper Rio Negro is one of the most pristine and beautiful areas of the Amazon, home to a number of proud indigenous cultures and physical attractions. On this nine-day cruise, we sail down the Rio Negro, all the way from Santa Isabel to Nova Airao, taking in riverside mountains, historic towns, river islands and beaches, boulder gardens and waterfalls along the way. And all the time, we will be accompanied by the spectacular Amazon flora and fauna.
This itinerary is for those looking for a deep Amazon experience, with plenty of contact and interaction with the traditional inhabitants of the region, and lots of opportunities to enjoy the river and its surroundings.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.
Day 1: Manaus - Santa Isabel - Upper Rio Negro
This morning, we take a commercial aircraft from Manaus to Santa Isabel, a city in the north of the state of Amazonas, where most inhabitants are of indigenous Amazon descent.
We take a guided tour of the town, and then have lunch at a local restaurant. We then take a short motorboat ride to get to the port of Camanaus, where the Jacaré-Tinga is anchored, negotiating some rapids along the way.
Once safely installed in our cabins, we begin sailing on the upper Rio Negro, and have our first delicious meal on board.
Day 2: Ariranha Mountains
Today, we hike to the highpoint of the area, in the Ariranha Mountains. It is only 250m / 820ft high, but affords wonderful views of the surrounding rainforest and its birdlife, as well as having a different eco-system.
For those that want, there is the option of some exercise or meditation on the summit.
Finally, we watch the sun set over the Rio Negro jungle, before descending back to the Jacaré-Tinga for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Pedral do Jacare - Rio Yanuri
This area of the upper Rio Negro is known for its rock formations, and we see the iconic Pedral do Jacaré (Caiman Rock), so-named for its resemblance to the head of a caiman.
The region is also recognised for the wealth of indigenous culture, and so today we spend time in Yanomami territory, meeting locals and learning about their customs and subsistence agriculture. For the energetic, there may be the chance to join a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids of the village!
After lunch, we boat and hike to Yanuri Waterfall, where there is a chance to snorkel to see the indigenous fish species up close.
We then visit the communities of Tessado and Jacamin, to understand further what life in the Amazon rainforest entails.
Day 4: Pedral do Tucurane
This beautiful region of river islands, rapids, waterfalls and riverside communities is our focus today. First we visit the historic site of São Augustine, with its ruins of a Colonial tower, built at the beginning of the 20th Century by a prominent local family, the Jandiras.
We also use the motorized canoes for exploration of the beaches and streams, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the enchanting Amazon River Otter.
Along the way, we pay a visit to the local communities of Tacara and Boa Esperanca, where we can see the local handicrafts being made, much of it from palm fibers.
In the evening, we make another nocturnal canoe tour to spot the wildlife that comes out after dark.
Day 5: Barcelos & Middle Rio Negro
This morning, we visit Barcelos, the former capital of Amazonas state, which has a real warmth and charm, as well as a fascinating history and tradition of handicrafts.
As we sail through the Mariuá Archipelago, the world's largest collection of river islands, we make stops to swim and explore.
At dusk, we take our places at a roost where a colony of parrots, numbering in the thousands, return for the night in an exhilarating - and noisy - spectacle.
Day 6: Mariuá Archipelago & Ecological Sanctuary
We continue sailing through the Mariuá Archipelago, today, making some fascinating stops along the way, firstly at the Amazon village of Carvoeiro, and then at a 'meeting of the waters' between the black water of the Rio Negro and the brown of the Rio Branco.
Here also is an example of the Giant Kapok, the tallest tree in the region.
Day 7: Jaú National Park
This morning we sail along the Rio Jaú, a tributary of the Rio Negro with mirror-like waters and likely sightings of aquatic mammals and birds.
A definite highlight of the area, in the dry season, is the Rio Pauini, a smaller tributary filled with boulders and waterfalls. Here we can swim, canoe, float in inflatables, and picnic on the bank, in a wonderful setting.
Day 8: Anavilhanas & Madadá Caves
Today we navigate through the Anavilhanas Archipelago until we reach the region of Madadá. Here we will embark upon a three hours roundtrip trek into old-growth forest to visit the incredible Madadá Caves. These sedimentary rock formations have a geological history of about 700 million years and show signs of live when the area was under the sea.
On our return we make a tour to a neighboring caboclo site to take a peek at their orchard of exotic seasonal fruits. Tonight we can either overnight on board or stay in hammocks on Madadá Belvedere, a two-floored bungalow with bathroom, set amongst the rainforest with beautiful views of the Rio Negro.
Day 9: Lower Rio Negro - Novo Airão - Manaus
Today we continue sailing through the Anavilhanas Archipelago to Novo Airão. On the way, we may have the chance to swim Pink River Dolphins. A real highlight.
Once back in Novo Airão, we take a city tour to see the ship-building, the craftsmanship and other attractions of this Amazon River town.
We have a farewell lunch on board, before taking the van back to Manaus, arriving at approximately 3.30pm.
- Please note that all cruise itineraries are subject to change due to seasonal weather conditions (and resultant variations in river and tributary water levels) affecting accessibility to locations. Thus navigation routes, times and excursions may need to be modified at the cruise captain’s discretion.
- Passengers should also be aware that animal sightings cannot be guaranteed due to the unpredictability of wildlife behavior.