This ten-day itinerary is an epic Amazon expedition to see the highest waterfall in Brazil, El Dorado, located in the remote tabletop mountain range of Aracá State Park, in the High Rio Negro region.
With five nights spent camping in the mountains, this trip is for the adventurous traveler who wishes to see the remarkable geology and wildlife of an area which receives very little tourism on account of its remote location.
Owing to the remoteness of the region and the reliance on high water levels in order to negotiate the Amazon tributaries, this itinerary is only available from May to August.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.
Day 1: Manaus - Barcelos - Rio Negro - Aracá River
This morning, we transfer you to the airport for your scheduled 7am flight from Manaus to Barcelos.
On arrival at Barcelos Airport, we welcome you and take you on a tour of the city to explore the former capital of Amazonas state, which has a real warmth and charm, as well as a fascinating history and tradition of native workmanship.
We then board the Jacaré-Tinga, settle into our cabins and meet the crew before setting sail on our expedition to the Aracá Mountain range. As the boat sails through Mariuá, the largest fluvial archipelago in the world, the guide gives an introductory briefing, outlining the itinerary and some of the remarkable geography and biology that we will see. We then have lunch on board.
We continue sailing upstream during the afternoon and evening, reaching the Aracá River. This is a great time to get used to life on board an Amazon cruiseship and enjoy the majestic Amazon scenery and wildlife passing by.
Day 2: Aracá River: Bacuquara - Tauatu
We awake outside Bacuquara, a caboclo community, on the shores of the Aracá River, and after breakfast, we visit the village to meet the locals, and witness some of their customs, such as the grinding of farinha - a flour made from yuca - hunting and fishing, agriculture, and handicrafts.
After our walk, we return to the boat to continue sailing up the Aracá River. We make a stop for a refreshing swim in the sweet river water.
Around sunset, we arrive at Tauatu Creek, where we moor for the night.
Day 3: Tauatu Creek - Seu Anisio - Basecamp One
Breakfast on board, followed by a trip in a motorised canoe through this beautiful creek, with dense vegetation lining the banks, up to the caboclo village of Seu Anisio. Here, we meet the locals and have lunch. The Aracá Mountains are already visible in the distance. They are part of the Guyana Plateau, which is one the oldest geological formations on Earth.
After lunch, we continue by speedboat to Basecamp One, at the foot of the mountain range, where we set up our campsite.
We have dinner round the fire, and then spend the night in our tents surrounded by the unique sounds of the forest after dark.
Day 4: Aracá Mountains: Hike to Basecamp Two
We have breakfast in the camp at daybreak and then begin our medium level hike to the top of the Aracá Mountain range. This takes approximately eight hours, with stops for rest, refreshment, and the observation of flora and fauna. As we go higher, we see a change in the vegetation as the rivers, creeks and flooded forest of the Great Amazonian Plain give way to the ancient rocks and waterfalls of the Guyana Plateau.
On arrival at Basecamp Two, at the top of the mountain we set up our tents, and have a hearty dinner around the camp fire.
Day 5: Aracá Mountains: El Dorado Waterfall
El Dorado Waterfall Brazil Amazon tourWe awake to fantastic views from atop the Aracá Mountain range, and have breakfast.
We then hike a short distance to a waterfall lookout to appreciate the 200m (656 ft) drop and the beautiful landscape.
We then make the three hour hike to El Dorado Waterfall, the biggest in Brazil, which has 353m (1,158 ft) of free falling water, and a true highlight of the tour.
We have a picnic lunch in the area, and time to relax and explore, before returning to Basecamp Two for the night.
Day 6: Aracá Mountains: Boto Waterfall & Parima Lake
Today is planned as a buffer day, in case logistical or climactic conditions have made it impossible to reach El Dorado Waterfall on Day 5.
If all has gone smoothly, there are some very nice, relaxed options for the day. There is an easy trail to Boto Waterfall, which is approximately 200 meters (656 ft) high. And we can have a leisurely swim in Parima Lake.
We spend the night back at Basecamp 2, with dinner and chat around the camp fire.
Day 7: Aracá Mountains: Basecamp Two - Basecamp One
After breakfast, we begin the hike back down to Basecamp One, making the usual stops for refreshment, rest, and the observation of flora and fauna.
We have a final night's camping at Basecamp One.
Day 8: Tauatu - Aracá River
From Basecamp One, we make the journey by motorised canoe to the mouth of the Tauatu creek, where our boat is anchored.
Once back on board, we begin sailing downstream to Novo Airao.
Tonight, we have a special group dinner on board to celebrate our achievement of seeing the El Dorado Waterfall.
Day 9: Rio Negro
Today we sail down the Rio Negro, making stops along the way for canoe excursions and river swimming.
Day 10: Rio Negro - Novo Airão - Manaus
Having sailed through the Anavilhanas Archipelago, we arrive in Novo Airão, where there is the chance to swim with Pink River Doplhins. We also take a city tour to see the ship-building, the craftsmanship and other attractions of this Amazon River town
We have a last lunch on board before disembarking to travel by air-conditioned van to Manaus airport or a hotel, 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.