This eight-day trip has as its goal the little-visited Xixuaú Reserve. Located some 500 km (300 miles) from Manaus, along the Jauaperi River, the Reserve covers around 200,000 hectares of intact primary forest and crystalline waters, protected and conserved by its local inhabitants.It is home to rare animals, that are safe from poaching and undisturbed by boat motors, and exuberant vegetation, that thrives in the rich soil.
Along the way, we will enjoy the highlights of the Rio Negro, including the Anavilhanas Archipelago, as well as a number of fascinating outposts of human settlement. This tour is ideal for those looking for an in-depth Amazon experience with close contact to seldom-seen wildlife.
Please note that the Jacaré-Açu is the sister ship of the smaller Jacaré-Tinga. When a departure has fewer than seven passengers, the Jacaré-Tinga is used.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.
Day 1: Manaus - Novo Airão - Anavilhanas
This morning at 9am we pick you up from your hotel or the airport in an air-conditioned van, and drive to the riverside town of Novo Airão. We arrive here at lunch time, and give you a briefing on the Amazon's biology, history and the things you may see, along the way.
After boarding the Jacaré-Tinga, we start sailing through the spectacular Anavilhanas Archipelago while enjoying our first delicious lunch on board.
In the afternoon, we take a ride on the motorised canoes through the islands and lagoons of the archipelago. This is an area rich in wildlife, and we hope to see two species of river dolpin, as well as multiple species of birds, such as herons, egrets, macaws, parrots, caciques, oropendolas and jacamars
To cool off, there is the chance to jump overboard for a refreshing swim in the Rio Negro.
Once back on board, we set sail for Madadá Observatory, and have a relaxed, tasty dinner.
Day 2: Anavilhanas: Madadá
After breakfast, we make a three hour round-trip hike through virgin rainforest to Madadá Caves, with our guides spotting and explaining the flora and fauna as we progress.
We then visit an Amazon farmhouse to learn about local customs, farming techniques and crops.
In the late morning, we have another chance to cool off in the Rio Negro, using inflatable tubes.
After lunch on board, we take the canoes to an indigenous riverside community, where the locals speak Yanomami and Tukano, and have fascinating centuries-old customs.
Once back on the boat we set sail to Sleepy Beach, on the Rio Jau, where we will anchor for the night. Around the beach campfire, we can share stories and learn more about the way of life of the Amazon's settlers.
Day 3: Jau National Park
This morning we sail to the Jaú National Park Warden Station, and then along the Rio Jaú, a river of mirror-like waters, with likely sightings of aquatic mammals and birds.
The Park consists of three major rivers - Unini to the North, Carabinani to the South and Jau in the middle - along with countless smaller black water tributariess. The water level varies drastically during the course of the year and the igapó forest found near the waterways can be flooded for up to eight months of the year. This type of forest is tropical and humid, with as many as 200 species per hectare.
In the rainy season, we moor the boat and take the canoes through the Park’s creeks, looking for families of Giant Otters.
In the dry season, we explore the Rio Pauini River, a tributary filled with boulders and waterfalls.
We will certainly spot a samauma tree, the largest species on the Rio Negro, growing to over 40m (130ft).
Day 4: Rio Negro - Rio Jauaperi
This morning, we sail past Encosta dos Passaros (Birdwatcher's Hill) to the village of Moura, where we moor for a brief visit and to stock up on supplies.
Once back on board, we leave the Rio Negro and sail up the Rio Jauaperi to Gaspar Igarapé, a model alternative community based on environmental education and the maintenance of local Amazon culture.
The next stop is at the village of Samaúma, where we can buy high quality local arts and crafts made from locally-sourced wood, seeds, and reeds.
Finally, around sunset, we arrive at the village of Xixuaú where we moor for the night.
Day 5: Xixuaú Reserve
After breakfast, we visit the village of Xixuaú to get to know the area and its inhabitants.
We then take to the water, in small canoes, paddled by local guides, to observe bird and aquatic mammal life in the lakes and river beaches of the area. Among the species we are likely to see are river otters, dolphins, toucans, and howler monkeys searching for fruit in the flooded forest. Their call is unmistakable!
Day 6: Xixuaú Reserve
Before breakfast we go looking for black caiman along the river banks, near Xixuaú village.
After breakfast, we begin a jungle expedition that culminates in an optional night camping in the rainforest. We begin by navigating in our expedition canoes through narrow creeks filled with crystalline water. Here we can snorkel to observe the aquatic life.
On arrival at the campsite, our guides give us a short jungle survival course, showing us how to construct a shelter using the resources to be found in the area.
The area is great for spotting wildlife, both in daylight and after dark. So, after dinner, we go in search of caiman and other nocturnal animals, using flashlights. We also try our hand at spear fishing, which is an essential local technique for finding food.
The rest of the evening can be spent around the campfire, hearing about the legendary creatures of the rainforest – such as Mapinguary, Matinta-Perêra and Curupira - before we retire to our hammocks for the night.
Day 7: Xixuaú - Rio Jauaperi - Rio Negro
For those that camped in the rainforest, the day starts with the sound of the jungle - and especially its birdlife and primates - waking up. Breakfast will be at the camp, before return to Xixuaú village, looking out for wildlife along the way.
Once back in Xixuaú, we have a farewell gathering in the village maloca, a traditional Amazon longhouse, before we board the Jacaré-Tinga again to begin the journey back to Novo Airão.
The rest of the day is spent on board, as we sail back down the Rio Negro: a chance to relax, eat, talk about what we've seen and enjoy the views passing by from the sun deck.
We continue sailing through the night.
Day 8: Novo Airão
We should arrive in Novo Airão at around 10am, where we have time for a city tour to see the ship-building, the craftsmanship and other attractions of this Amazon River town. Pink river dolphins can regularly be seen in the river near the 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.