Expert Review: Desafio Amazon Cruise
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This April, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy a river cruise in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest aboard the Desafio. Our Itinerary was the 4-Day, 3-Night Maguari Program, which is an excellent, soft adventure for those interested in exploring the Amazon in comfort.
Desafio Amazon Cruise Itinerary
The Maguari itinerary begins when you embark the Desafio from the David Port, a short drive from the Tropical Hotel. Immediately upon boarding, we are offered refreshments and given a short but thorough safety briefing and overview of the following days activities. Leaving the port, we cruise along the Amazon enjoying panoramic views of Manaus and Ponte Negra from the Amazon River and Rio Negro, before heading in the direction of Anavilhanas National Reserve. That evening, we have our first excursion in which we search for nocturnal caiman by spotlight.
On Day two of the itinerary, we wake to a rose colored sun, rising over the tea-colored waters of the Rio Negro - a beautiful sight. After a sumptuous breakfast, we have some free time in the morning to take a dip. Some in the group take the opportunity to jump off the side of the ship! Late morning, we depart on a jungle trek in which we learn about flora and fauna followed by a visit to a local community. We were greeted by the local children and presented with a recital of the Brazilian national anthem.
Day Three has the group testing their skills at a bit of rudimentary fishing. This really means stick, line, hook, meat and luck. We fared well by catching around 20 fish in the group. We were able to identify around 4-5 different species, including the red bellied, white and black piranha. Some of the catch were brought back to the ship and converted into a tantalizing fish soup by the Desafio’s chef. In the afternoon, we visited a floating pier and were allowed to wade in the water while Pink River Dolphins were offered fish. Its pretty exhilarating to be so close to these prehistoric looking creatures.
Our last day of the river cruise is spent exploring the rich ecosystem of Largo Januari. This is a white water, fed by the more nutrient rich Solimões (or Amazon) river and is therefore supports a wider array of wildlife. Species can be observed in this area that do not inhabit the darker waters of the Rio Negro. After a visit to the lake, and some time spent around the famous meeting of the waters, we return to Manaus to disembark.
Desafio Boat Specifications
The Desafio is a 34 meter, three-masted river cruise vessel made entirely of Brazilian hardwoods. She has 12 cabins divided into 6 upper and lower deck cabins. All cabins are air-conditioned, and are mostly twin (usually bunk) beds or matrimonial beds. Cabins all have private bathrooms with nice hot water showers. It should be noted that lower deck cabins do not have windows, while the upper deck cabins do. We suggest upper deck cabins for this reason, but it should be noted that the cabins are used primarily for sleeping, and that the majority of the time guests are on excursion, in the dining room, or enjoying the terraces of the top deck.
Desafio Meals and Excursions
Three square meals are served per day, buffet style. And, let me just say they are delicious! Don't expect to lose weight on this trip. Time spent gorging yourself is broken into blocks as you are typically taken on three excursions per day. Excursions are designed to be soft but adventurous - exploring the natural and cultural assets this area of the Brazilian Amazon has to offer. The Desafio is an excellent river cruise option for travelers looking for a short but comprehensive visit to Brazil’s Amazon. We suggest combining with one or two of Brazil’s highlights, such as Rio de Janeiro and/or Iguazu Falls for a nice introduction to the treasures Brazil has to offer.
(Expert Review Written By: Jeremy Clubb)