There are several things to consider when trying to determine which Amazon cruise or tour to do and nowadays there are several choices to pick from. What factors should you consider when deciding which is the best option for you?
* Do you wish to have an in-depth experience or can you just need to get a “taste” of the jungle?
* The amount of days would you like to remain in the jungle?
* Are you currently only visiting the jungle or have you been thinking about likely to other places? (Machu Picchu, Rio, Galapagos, etc.)
* How active would you like to be?
* Do you have specific things you want to do in the jungle, that the package tour might not offer?
Many people just want to get an understanding as to what the jungle is like. To them, a 3 day lodge stay or cruise might suffice. Which will allow them 1 full day inside the jungle, because the 1st and last days are typically mostly for travel from your airport and back to the airport. They shouldn’t anticipate seeing much wildlife or primary jungle though because they’re just not getting far enough out of the cities and nearby people. As an example, Manaus has about 1.5 million inhabitants, so you have to get pretty far out of the city to feel like you might be in a wilderness area.
People who would like to really obtain a feel for the jungle need to stay longer. It usually takes a few days for folks to wind down for the rhythm from the jungle and you should get into a variety of ecosystems so you stand a better chance of seeing more types of animals and plants.
Most people think “Brazil” when considering the Amazon Basin, however it is also in Peru, Ecuador, and lots of other countries. You can have good experiences in those countries, so that you don’t have to fly throughout South America to view the Amazon, unless there is a special reason. If you wish to go to Machu Picchu, then you might as well do an Amazon trip in Peru. If you want to see the Galapagos, then do an Amazon trip in Ecuador.
Don’t just count on pretty brochures or websites. I used to be told by a local that a person particular lodge in the Iquitos area was possibly the prettiest one there – however guides had all been fired from other lodges. One of the cruise companies shows many different boats on their website, but only the initial one is now kept up for normal cruises. Another lodge looks nice on the website, however the service has deteriorated badly and also the buildings have gotten run down. Another provides you with great interaction using the local Indians, but those Indians also still hunt, so you won’t see much wildlife around there.
Alcoholism is a problem within the Amazon and guides aren’t immune from that problem. I recall reading many trip reports years back, where people stated that the guide they hired knew a whole lot concerning the jungle, but he would get drunk during the night and would go right after the female clients and wouldn’t bother with cooking dinner, so that they were required to fend by themselves. I was recently saddened to find out that among the top guides within the Peruvian Amazon, person who was the topic of several videos about jungle survival, etc., have been fired, as he had become an alcoholic. His father had also been one of many top guides, but he suffered exactly the same fate. Good operators rely on repeat business and recommendations advertising, therefore they can’t manage to keep guides that will cause publicity problems.
An excellent guide can make a huge difference over a jungle trip. In the event you walk into the jungle alone, all you will observe is a sea of green plants and a symphony of sounds. A great guide knows what all of those different plants are and what uses they have got. He can tell what is making those sounds, their relationship for the plants in the area and where to look for them. They may have an uncanny eye for spotting seemingly invisible things. I remember a night walk where we switched off our flashlights and were at nighttime, but our guide somehow spotted a large black spider on a tree trunk. So he can turn a monotone experience in to a Technicolor experience. Just like in almost any business, a good guide can command an improved salary when compared to a trainee, so don’t expect to get along with a top guide if you go on the cheapest trip you can find. (the weather needs a toll on buildings and boats, so low budget operations are most likely not planning to have well-maintained facilities either. By the same token, the cheaper lodges are also often close towards the city, so they are not in areas that are as pristine or who have just as much wildlife.)
Airports at Amazon gateways such as Iquitos and Manaus was once havens for scam artists. They knew that lots of people would arrive with no reservations and thus would offer exciting trips at low prices, nevertheless they often would not deliver what they had promised. The governments will work hard to try to eliminate these types, however they can be an issue for unsuspecting budget travelers.
Most travel agencies will offer you probably the most highly marketed cruises or lodge stays that offer the activities they think a lot of people want to do, but if you want to camp or kayak or do just about anything uncommon, then you will have to look elsewhere since the majority of travel agencies tend to be more informed about mass market locations, including Las Vegas, Cancun and Disneyland compared to what they tjxdwn about specialized Amazon trips. Some of the highly marketed properties are like big resorts within the jungle. If that’s what you’re considering, then fine. But some people want some thing intimate and authentic and much less intrusive. So it’s safer to get in touch with someone who has more expertise in the sort of trip that you are interested in.