Expert Review: 4-Day Delfin I Amazon Cruise
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This past June, I flew to Iquitos from Lima to board the 4-Day Delfin I Amazon Cruise. I stayed in Iquitos the night before the cruise at Casa Morey. The Delfin crew picked me up at 7pm from my hotel and we headed to the Al Frio y Al Fuego port to start the Amazon adventure. My cruise was during a time when the Delfin was departing out of Iquitos temporarily, but it normally departs from Nauta, a two hour drive from Iquitos.
Delfin I Cruise Vessel
The Delfin I riverboat is very impressive. The cabins are large and spacious, and the common areas are very nicely done. The dining room is gorgeous and has a really nice and clean open kitchen. Having only one large dining table is kind of nice on a boat with so few passengers. It helped to encourage interaction between the guests. They change the décor for every meal, from seat covers to curtains and table decorations. The theme always being the Amazon, of course.
The food on board the Delfin is absolutely amazing. Better than most restaurants I have ever been to. The plates have a very tasteful presentation and reasonable portion sizes. The well known local Patarashka dish was especially good. The desserts are unique, excellent and made in-house. Breakfast is buffet style and offers an assortment of breads, local fruits and meats, cheeses, and eggs made to order. Local ingredients are used whenever possible, though some are brought in from Lima when necessary. All food for the Delfin cruises is carefully packaged and vacuum sealed at their own facility in Iquitos to assure that everything is as fresh as possible for the guests. They also make their very own chocotejas, so be sure to enjoy these delectable treats.
The rooms were nice and spacious overall. The beds are very comfortable, and being able to view the Amazon jungle scenery passing by while lounging on one is bliss. There is a nice little futon style sofa that can be used as an extra bed if needed. The extra large private balconies are a really nice touch, very nice for guests that want solitude or privacy without needing to be confined to their cabins. The cool water whirlpools on the first floor balconies were an impressive addition. They are very satisfying after a hot day of jungle excursions.
The Delfin cruise supplies a nice set of shampoo, conditioner, body and hand soaps, body milk, and insect repellent/sunblock, all of which are made specifically for the Delfin cruises at a place in Lima. The chocotejas that they leave on your pillow each night were amazing. They are made by the Delfin company itself in their production facility just for the cruises, according to the staff.
Delfin I Staff and Service
It seemed as though each time we returned to the boat the staff was serving us a different freshly made fruit drink, made with camu camu or cocona or other tasty local fruits. The service exceeded expectations. The staff was always smiling and happy to offer assistance whenever needed, and didn't hesitate to go above and beyond. When returning from our visit to the community of Puerto Miguel, where it happened to be muddy from previous rain, they even took our shoes upon returning to the ship and brought them back spotless later that day. This of course helped contribute to keeping the boat as clean as it always seemed to be as well.
The chefs that were on board the Delfin I during my cruise were really nice guys. They seemed to really enjoy their jobs, and were very attentive to the dietary needs of the guests. Wilson, the main server and musical entertainment, was an incredibly amiable guy, and very musically talented. He was always smiling, paying attention to detail, and was happy to explain each of the dishes served. Martin, our barman for the cruise, was happy to offer tasters of the different types of pisco and tell us about them and other popular local drinks. Our guide, Sandro, who also doubles as the cruise director from what I understood, was extremely knowledgeable about the Amazon. He grew up in one of the villages in the jungle and went to university for one of the guide/naturalist related degrees. He worked fifteen years as an ecologist before starting to work on the Delfin cruise about three years ago. He has eyes like a hawk. He was spotting all sorts of birds and creatures high up in the trees while the skiff was cruising along. Lead by Wilson, these three played a creative mix of local and foreign music for us after dinner on the first and last nights of our cruise.
The Delfin cruise supplies a nice set of shampoo, conditioner, body and hand soaps, body milk, and insect repellent/sunblock, which are made in Lima from natural ingredients.
Delfin Cruise Excursions
Some of the excursions we went on: visit to Puerto Miguel to visit the artisan market and local school, visit to the monkey habitat, piranha fishing, jungle walk tour, caiman spotting, bird watching, kayaking and swimming, on board lecture on local fruits. I noticed that the guides give offerings of food or money to some of the locals we visited or passed. Sandro left a large bag of fresh bread with the villagers in Puerto Miguel and some pastries with a local fisherman and his family that were tending their line near the monkey sanctuary, among other occasions. Seems like a nice way to keep good relations. He said that the company also gives donations to some of the villages to encourage them to continue to protect and care for the jungle.
On our caiman excursion Sandro spotted one after dark while it was raining and snatched it out of the water with one hand. On our final day's excursion, he was also a good enough sport to jump in the river in his pants in order to motivate us to go swimming. He had not brought his swimsuit because I guess we weren't the most enthusiastic about the idea when he brought it up the night before. But sure enough, after about an hour of kayaking along one of the tributary rivers and working up a sweat, we decided to jump in with Sandro. And we were glad that we did. After all, it is not very often that one who isn't a local gets the chance to jump into the great Amazon river.
While walking in the jungle during one of our excursions we were lucky enough to see several very interesting animals. Our local guide, Ronnie, brought us a red back poison dart frog practically the size of a thumb nail, as well as a slightly larger yellow strip poison dart frog. Then he surprised us with a much larger find, a tarantula larger than the size of a hand. We were also lucky enough to see a rainbow boa wrapped around a thin tree above head level. Sandro had to lead us a little bit off the trail to find this beauty. He also showed us a strangling fig, walking palm, and chuchuhuasi tree, among other fascinating trees and plants, each of which has its own unique history and usefulness to the locals.
During our excursions on board the skiffs we saw many beautiful birds and animals as well. We were fortunate enough to catch several brown throated three toed sloths in action, as well as several packs of squirrel monkeys swinging through the trees and also a large iguana perched high on a treebranch. We also got a nice view of some beautiful and vibrant blue and yellow macaws flying playfully around the treetops. We also saw several other kinds of monkeys in the monkey habitat excursion, and many more types of birds on each excursion. Just a few that come to mind are the slate colored hawks, mascobi ducks, several types of herons, parrots, and parakeets, toucans, among others.
Expert Review written by: Dan Draeger