Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon is an ambitious six night expedition cruise. We travel by riverboat far up the Rio Negro to an area very rarely visited, exploring the mysterious life of the wilderness in the heart of wild nature. We visit quite remote forest that has very few settlers so the flora and fauna is very little disturbed.
Deep Forest Exploration - a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site
The Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon explores some of the most untouched rainforest in all of the Amazon. The M/Y Tucano is the only vessel that explores far into the world’s largest Amazon reserve and the only expedition cruise in a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site: The Central Amazon Conservation Complex. Within this reserve are tens of thousands of square miles of uninhabited wilderness with the creatures that have made the Amazon the object of myth and legend. Along the Rio Negro there are only a few small settlements large enough to be considered towns. It remains a true wilderness.
Our basic plan is to explore the Rio Negro upstream, weather and river levels permitting, as far as the Rio Jauaperi, a remote and very interesting tributary coming in from the north part of the Amazon. The only settlers upstream on the Rio Jauaperi are native Americans living in tribal life. We end the trip with a visit on the Amazon River itself. It is important to explore the tributaries of the Amazon, since the main river has many settlers along its banks. Over several days we will gradually explore the rainforests for up to 200 miles away from our starting point. This region has some of the most untouched rainforest in all of the Amazon and is the least inhabited place on the planet.
We will visit several kinds of forest including the strange and beautiful flooded forest known by Amazon native peoples as the Igapó [ee-gah-poh]. In the Igapó, the dark water seasonally floods into the forest, at times for several miles. Orchids and bromeliads cling to the limbs of overhanging trees, which are home also to many fishing birds and iguanas. We will also explore the other two kinds of rainforest of the Amazon: the tall terre firme forest and the fantastically rich varzea forest. It is because of this fantastic variety of habitats that this region has been named a Natural World Heritage Site. We will see amazingly colorful birds, magnificent rainforest trees draped with vines and carpeted with orchids, and occasional monkeys chattering and cavorting in the tree branches.
The rainforest in this area has very unique plants and animals and our aim is to both observe them and describe their astonishing habits. We will get out into the forest and explore----not simply watch the river banks from the deck of the boat. We will walk in the forest, kayak in narrow remote streams hardly touched by human presence, and scout in our launches the small rivers that wind their way deep into the wilderness. We will swim off deserted beaches in refreshing fresh water and be treated to vistas of wild rainforest stretching as far as the eye can see.
On our walks in the rainforest we will observe magnificent plants of every imaginable shape and size. We will listen to the exotic calls of birds and mammals and watch them from the shaded forest trail. In the evenings we will have a brief discussion on creatures that we observed during the day and about the extraordinary ways in which these plants and animals have evolved to live in this ancient rainforest.Some nights we will explore the river's edge with flashlights and we will see caiman, close relatives of crocodiles. Their eyes have a reddish glow in reflected light.
The Rio Negro
The Brasilian Amazon has an area of over 2.7 million square miles. Though there are a few cities, the continental size floodplain is still almost entirely covered with primitive tropical forest. Within this vast watershed, the Rio Negro drains over 300,000 square miles, fully ten percent of the entire Amazon basin. From its headwaters in the Colombian foothills of the Andes, the Negro River flows southeast for over 1,020 miles. At its confluence with the Amazon River, it has over three times the volume of the Mississippi. It is the second largest river in the world---second only to the Amazon River itself.
Despite the great length of the Negro, there are only a few small settlements large enough to be considered towns. It remains a true wilderness. Beyond the tangle of vines and limbs along the river banks are hundreds of thousands of square miles of primitive forest where the forces that shape plant and animal evolution continue on as they have for millions of years.
Three Different Rainforests
The three rainforest environments that we will observe on Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon are the Igapó, Terre Firme, and Varzea. The igapó is a forest flooded with the dark tannin rich waters drained from the ancient sandy soils of the Rio Negro region. This environment has seasonal variations in water depth of as much as 40 feet. To adapt to this enormous fluctuation, plants and animals have evolved some of the most bizarre shapes and behaviors. Also due to these seasonal floods, the wildlife along the rivers is constantly changing and every trip we see creatures that we have never seen before.
Above the high water of the seasonal flood mark lies the terra firme forest, roughly translated as “solid ground”. Terra firme is the forest most people have in mind when they think of rainforest. On the hills and stretching for thousands of miles away from the river banks, terre firme is dominated by giant forest trees with buttresses like the fins of rocket ships. Along the shaded forest floor there are wonderfully adapted plants and we will see the trails of wild pigs, agoutis, paca, jaguar, armadillo, and other large animals that live in the rainforest.
Though large forest animals are usually wary enough to stay hidden, one terra firme resident that insists on being heard is the largest primate in South America, the howler monkey. At dusk different tribes growl to one another and their howls echo across the trackless forest from stream to river to hill.
The third major type of forest we will observe is the varzea. This type is also a flooded forest, but the water that rushes through the trees is café au lait in color and is heavy with minerals and nutrients eroded from the Andes Mountains. In this tremendously rich system we will see large concentrations of birds, mammals, and a collection of plants entirely different from igapó or terra firme.
In addition to our rainforest explorations another important feature of the program will be our visits to the homes of deep forest settlers. We will visit with them and learn what their lives are like, living on the edge of this vast trackless forest. A walk through their gardens is always interesting and we will marvel at the skills they possess for living in the complex environment of the tropical forest. All deep forest settlers collect plants for medicines and we will talk with them about which plants they collect and their uses. Many of these settlers are of native ancestry and the breadth of their knowledge of the rainforest is enormous since it has been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.
On the last day of the cruise we will travel to confluence of the two greatest rivers in all of the Amazon, the Rio Negro and the Amazon River itself. Here at the “Encontra das Aguas” the volume of water is so great at that on Brasilian maps it is actually given a different name joining as it does these two storied watercourses. The light colored water of the Amazon and the dark water of the Negro do not readily mix and the two rivers flow side by side for many miles. We will explore the beautiful and fabulously rich environment at the confluence of these two rivers and visit the Lago Janauari Ecological Park which lies in a wedge-shaped delta that divides the Amazon from the Negro.
In addition to several crew members, all of whom grew up in the forest, our staff includes deeply skilled naturalist guides. These bi-lingual specialists have worked with us for many years and they, along with our skilled woodsman crew, help us make sense out of the great profusion of plant and animal life that we will see during the cruise.
The Daily Schedule
Though the schedule varies according to navigational and weather conditions, our days will have a basic outline of activities. We will get up with the sun every morning. Some travelers will choose to explore the forest in our ship's launches in search of birds and wakening howler monkeys. Other travelers will prefer to board our kayaks and silently paddle deep into a forest stream overhung with vines and bromeliads.
By mid-morning we return for a hearty Brasiilan breakfast and a little relaxation. But at about mid-morning, out we go again on an excursion walking into the rainforest. We normally divide into two small groups, each with a naturalist and a woodsman. We quietly walk along narrow trails deep into a forest hardly changed for millions of years.
At about mid-day on most days, the Motor Yacht Tucano will get underway and we will travel until the late afternoon when we will then do some exploring using the boat's launches, fish for piranhas, swim, or on some days visit local forest settlers.Every evening we will have an informal talk about the flora and fauna that we have observed during the day. We will especially focus on the ways that plants and animals have evolved in the rainforest and the relations between the plants animals and their physical environment. This is the ecology of the forest---the most fascinating of all ways to look at the rainforest. Some evenings we will spot wildlife with powerful searchlights.
We will see and do a great deal in the forest, but there will also be plenty of time to relax and have fun during the trip. We will swim in clean and safe water, angle for piranhas, and at the end of the trip perhaps try a little samba. Every afternoon we have hors-d'oeuvres on the Observation Deck and are treated to a magnificent sunset. After sunset guests often go to the observation deck to look at the millions of stars and constellations of the southern hemisphere. Because we are in such an interesting place with exceptional guides, the days are full and exciting.
Itinerary: Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon (7 Days / 6 Nights)
Early this morning all guests board the vessel the Motor Yacht Tucano and depart upstream on the Rio Negro. Through the morning we will cruise through the world’s largest river island system, the Anavilhanas Archipelago. From the observation deck we scan the magnificent tangle of vegetation at the water’s edge. By mid-afternoon the vessel has gone beyond the frontier of settlement and entered a wilderness area. Both shores are covered by dense rainforest. Though we cannot predict what we will see, we have a good chance of observing pink river dolphins and a large collection of exotic birds. Most certainly we will be treated to magnificent forest vistas and the spectacular trees themselves. In the late afternoon we embark in the launches and hunt for wildlife. We may also go for a swim in some of the world’s most clean and refreshing water. (LD)
We return to the M/Y Tucano for hors d’oeuvres on the observation deck and a toast to the rainforest sunset. Following dinner we will embark in our launches in search of nocturnal creatures such as the Caiman, the Amazon’s crocodilians. We may also see one of the large night birds such as a Potoo with its bulging eyes and large mouth adapted to swallow the huge Mariposa Moths. (D)
Early this morning we explore the rainforest along the waters edge in our launches or kayaks, each group with a naturalist guide. We should hear and perhaps see howler monkeys and we should hear a morning serenade of toucans. After breakfast we go for a walk in the forest where we will get a good start on understanding Amazon ecology. Around midday we return for lunch and the vessel will get underway, perhaps stopping at a place to swim. In the late afternoon we will again explore the forest in our launches and listen to the sunset chorus of birds and frogs. (BLD)
This morning there will be an early exploration of the waking forest. We will keep our eyes open for monkeys... on most trips we see them often. We return for breakfast followed by either a walk in the forest or an excursion in the launches. M/Y Tucano will travel during the middle of the day and we stop in the afternoon for an excursion. Tonight the vessel may travel a bit more as we marvel at the night sky crowded with stars. (BLD)
After our two morning excursions The M/Y Tucano will navigate along the heavily forested shore, scouting for wildlife. We may stop for a visit at a settler’s home carved out of the forest. In the early afternoon we will be near an extraordinary river called the Rio Jaueperi. Here we will see a kind of forest known as the varzea. We will scout along the shoreline for some of the extraordinary creatures found only in this unique environment. Weather permitting we will have a night excursion to observe nocturnal creatures. (BLD)
Today we will voyage to the west side of the Rio Negro and continue to scout in our launches and walk in the forest. We will explore according to the weather and water depth areas rarely visited by anyone else. Tonight the M/Y Tucano goes downstream and river depth permitting, will enter an east bank affluent of the Rio Negro and explore on deep into the rainforest on this small river. After our nocturnal exploration of the rainforest in our launches and we return to the Motor Yacht Tucano for “Caipirinha Night” on and perhaps try a bit of samba on the top deck. (BLD)
We begin the day with a dawn excursion hunting for wakening wildlife followed by a full Brasilian breakfast. We will then go one last time into the forest. In the mid-afternoon we will begin to journey downstream to arrive late in the day at the “Encontra das Aguas” a stark several mile long line where two of the world’s largest rivers, the Amazon and the Rio Negro join in a turbulent maelstrom. Here the dark water of the Negro runs beside the opaque brown water of the Amazon. At sunset the M/Y Tucano will once again turn her bows upstream on the Rio Negro and journey to our overnight anchorage north of the City of Manaus. As we pass in front of Manaus, we will marvel at the scale of one of the world’s largest and most vibrant port cities, that is over one thousand miles from the sea. Tonight we will have a farewell dinner and prepare for an early departure in the morning. (BLD)
Early this morning, after a hearty breakfast, all guests disembark from the M/Y Tucano. (B)
Meal Codes: B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner.
Please note that the day to day schedule must be considered approximate. The exact order of the days and specific features may be altered due to navigational considerations.
Departure Dates and Prices
This voyage explores some of the most untouched rainforest in all of the Amazon. On the Motor Yacht Tucano we venture far up the Rio Negro visiting several different kinds of rainforest along the way. Near the end of the trip we enter the Amazon River itself. We see amazingly colorful birds, magnificent trees draped with vines and covered with orchids and occasional monkeys chattering and cavorting in the branches.
2018 Cruise Dates: Jan 13-19, Jan 27-Feb 02, Feb 10-16, Feb 24-Mar 02, Mar 10-16, Mar 31-Apr 06, Apr 14-19 , Apr 21-27, May 05-11, May 19-25, Jun 09-15, Jun 23-29, Jul 07-13, Jul 21-27, Aug 04-10, Aug 25-31, Sep 08-14, Sep 22-28, Oct 06-12, Oct 20-26, Nov 03-09, Nov 17-23, Dec 08-14, Dec 22-28
2019 Cruise Dates: Jan 12-18, Jan 26-Feb 01, Feb 09-15, Feb 23-Mar 01, Mar 09-15, Apr 13-19, Apr 27-May 03, May 11-17, May 25-31, Jun 08-14, Jun 22-28, Jul 06-12, Jul 20-26, Aug 03-09, Aug 17-23, Sep 14-20, Sep 28-Oct 04, Oct 12-18, Oct 26-Nov 01, Nov 09-15, Nov 23-29, Dec 07-13, Dec 21-27
Rates: Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon
(double occupancy, per person)
|Green Category Staterooms||$3,150||$3,150|
|Yellow Category Staterooms||$4,665||$4,665|
|Blue Category Staterooms (single)||$4,665||$4,665|
How to Sign Up: Simply give us a call to reserve the space or complete our online reservation form and we will get right back to you.
***Prices Include: Price is per person, double occupancy and includes accommodations, guided excursions, and meals as indicated in the itinerary. Prices and itineraries are subject to change without notice. Bottled water served free of charge. On joining the group on Day One, passengers board the vessel on a short walk from the lobby of the Hotel Tropical, Manaus.
***Prices Do Not Include: Not included are airfare, airport transfers, visa fees, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages, or items of a personal nature.
***Stateroom Categories: There are three stateroom categories on the M/Y Tucano. Please see the deck diagrams.
Yellow Category staterooms are larger and have beds side by side.
Blue Category staterooms are single staterooms.
Green Category staterooms have bunk beds with above and below berths.
***Triple Occupancy: For three or more travelers sharing a stateroom, each passenger pays the Green Category Rate even though they occupy a Yellow Category Stateroom. These staterooms are numbers 3, 4, and “0”.
***Single Occupancy: No single supplement is charged if a single traveler is willing to share a stateroom with another same gender passenger. Passengers that request single accommodations will be given Blue Category staterooms. If single travelers wish to reserve a Yellow Category stateroom, they must be charged the full fare for two travelers at the Yellow Category rate. Single accommodations may not always be available.
***Discounts for Children: Children that are 12 years of age and under who share a room with an adult receive a discount of 50% off the Cruise Rate for whichever stateroom category they select, subject to availability.