Frequently Asked Questions in Planning an Amazon Cruise
1) We are going to South America, can we join the trip there?
Yes! Many of our travelers join the group in the Brasil. If you wish we will help coordinate your Amazon voyage with visits to other areas including The Pantanal, a little known but also interesting grassland south of the Amazon, Iguassu Falls a magnificent cascade of water with its own nature preserve, or one of the most enchanting, beautiful, poetic, magical places in the world, Rio de Janeiro.
2) What is the best time of year to go? Isn't there a rainy and a dry season? Is it hotter in the Summer?
The best time to travel is really dependent on your own scheduling considerations. Our trips take place in the very middle of the Amazon in the State of Amazonas. In this region the rainy season runs roughly from late January through early May. There are some advantages of traveling between January and May. Since most riverine plants fruit and flower during this period, it is one of the best times to see birds and monkeys at the waters edge. Though it can rain slightly more in the rainy season, it usually rains some every day in the dry season too. For more information, consult our page on Seasons and Weather. We operate our expeditions year round and the trips are wonderful any time of year.
3) Do we get a chance to actually go into the rainforest or do we spend most of our time on the boat?
All our expedition cruises spend a considerable amount of time in the forest. Our small ship, the Motor Yacht Tucano, keeps us comfortable and takes us into some of the most forest on earth. But the main part of the nature exploration takes place off the vessel in the forest itself. We venture off the M/Y Tucano several times a day to explore - usually four or even five excursions, each of which is 1.5-3 hours long! Travelers can stay on board the ship whenever they wish, but when they want to engage with this thrilling otherworldly forest, they go with us into the woods! We offer travelers different activity options according to how vigorous they would prefer. Travelers can also choose to stay on the vessel at any time and enjoy the peace and stillness of the greatest wilderness on earth.
4) Are the walks in the forest strenuous?
Our forest walks are primarily to spot plants and animals and are not particularly strenuous. The best way to spot wildlife is a quiet stalk along the forest trail, not crashing through at a sprint. Since different people choose to walk at a different pace, we usually divide into two groups, each with a guide. If you would like to get out into the forest for a vigorous walk and work up a sweat, one of the groups will forge ahead through the forest, going for distance. One of our groups generally goes at a deliberate pace closely examining the soil, animal life, and plant life of this bizarre realm of nature. In addition, tavelers can remain on the boat at any time, and some choose to simply relax on the observation deck with a cold drink, binoculars, and a good book.
5) What is the risk of catching a tropical disease or attack by wild animals?
There is very little risk of either of these happening on our cruises. We are in the wilderness, far away from areas where diseases are mostly found and far away from people. Our chef’s standards of cleanliness are very high and the splendid Brasilian / Amazon cuisine is adapted to digestion by visitors. Most wild animals are extremely wary of contact than humans. We have never, ever, had a traveler injured by animals, including piranhas! All our walks in the forest are accompanied by our very experienced naturalist guides as well as our mariners who are accomplished woodsmen.
6) What are the accommodations like? Is this a luxury boat?
Our Amazon exploration boat, the Motor Yacht Tucano, is a wonderful boat. It is cool and comfortable and designed specifically to explore the most remote corners of this magnificent forest. Our cruises are a luxury experience, the Tucano Experience, but we haven't tried to create luxury accommodations, because, really, that just gets in the way of a true expedition cruise. But our vessel is very sophisticated and very comfortable. There is plenty of space for guests to have privacy and relax. Our services are certainly very much like a luxury hotel; all of the staterooms are air-conditioned and have private baths. There are also comfortable public spaces to enjoy at any time of day. There is an open sun deck, a dining room for lounging and meals, and a covered balcony around the front of the boat. The expedition design of the M/Y Tucano allows us to go where luxury vessels cannot - deep into the farthest reaches of the greatest wilderness on earth - and to experience the elemental nature of the Amazon in its most unspoiled and authentic way. Our cruises are also the most sustainable in the Amazon and all of us, mariners and travelers together are a team in sustainability and exploration. Check out the ways in which the Tucano Team ventures far, explores deep, but true to the goal of sustainability, leaves no trace behind.
7) Does the boat go close to shore or does it stay in the middle of the river?
The course of our expedition vessel usually hugs the shore line. The Motor Yacht Tucano weaves in and out of narrow channels in one of the most uninhabited regions of the world. We are constantly on the lookout for interesting wildlife which frequently congregates at the river’s edge. We make numerous stops to investigate and explore with our launches. Though we remain comfortable, we do not become insulated from the forest. The river itself is interesting to watch since we often see large fish jumping, cavorting dolphins, countless birds, and strange gargantuan trees with hanging vines.
8) Are the areas where the trips take place over-visited?
The M/Y Tucano explores places that are very rarely visited by anyone else. We are often the only travelers ever to stop in the places we select. The Motor Yacht Tucano especially ventures into a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site...the only boat! We go much farther than other groups and it is extremely rare for us to see any other humans except the occasional fisherman. On every cruise we will visit a small isolated village or a pioneer family, but we prefer not to visit the same areas more than a few times a year. This minimizes our impact as well as offer a great variety of experiences for our guests and crew members alike.
9) Is the water safe to drink?
The water is perfectly safe. Our expedition boat is equipped with large dispensers of fresh bottled water, and we keep them full for the duration of the trip. We provide this water free of charge.
10) What are most of the travelers like on the cruises?
Our travelers come in all ages, all walks of life, and from around the world to experience the Amazon. The single thing that all travelers have in common is a curiosity for the tropical forest and the Amazon. The wonderful variety of their backgrounds enriches the experience for us all. Our travelers are some of the most interesting and nicest people in the world - they are what makes the Tucano Team so dynamic and memorable.
11) Is the Amazon dangerous? Are there lots of criminals? How are visitors perceived, do they like us?
On the river and in the forest we are in one of the most remote areas on the planet and also one of the safest. There is virtually no risk of crime on the expedition. The large cities of South America are no safer than large cities elsewhere in the world, but in the Amazon, there is a strong sense of community and our guests can be at ease.
We are in Brasil! There is a style and easy going nature to Brasil, the alegria do Brasil, that makes our cruises a lot of fun. Brasilians are fond of North American and European culture which they garner from movies and from large immigrant communities in the Europe and North America. Brasil is a large country with a significant immigrant population and the culture is easy going, friendly, and open. In short, Brasilians are generally quite fond of travelers and when travelers get to know Brasil, the feeling usually becomes mutual! We are very careful to ensure that all our contacts with people in the field are respectful and positive and our small ship, the M/Y Tucano, our mariners, and are travelers are much liked even in the farthest depths of the greatest wilderness on earth.
12) Are we going to see lots of large animals?
Ecological Hunters: The Amazon has the greatest diversity of wildlife on earth and yet to the first time visitor the Amazon can be a blur—an opaque ocean of green. The Amazon actually is very like an ocean, but instead of dark waves concealing the great beasts that roam its depths there is an almost incomprehensible riot of plant life. There are jaguars padding through the forest very close to where the boat is anchored. There are monkeys too, and sloths, giant anteaters, leaf cutter ants, anacondas, tarantulas and all of the wonderful storied beasts of the rainforest. But the Amazon is an elusive place and these animals are very hard to see. They are hiding!
We will navigate within this great forest and on our walks dive into its depths, but we never know what we will encounter. A visitor expecting to see lots of large animals will be frustrated. We hope to see some of these large mammals, but without question, we won’t see very many of them. In this dense foliage and with their sharpened senses, large animals are very successful at hiding from us. This is a vast, elusive, and with the right perspective, utterly fascinating place. Our guides are always trying to spot large mammals but on the trip we will go one step farther. Within this dense forest are a multitude of astounding stories. It is in the details of what its bizarre creatures eat, how they reproduce, and how they elude predators that the truly astonishing and beautiful aspects of Amazon wildlife are revealed.
On every cruise we examine how the animals and plants relate with one another and also their physical environment. This environment is in some ways a paradise and in others brutally harsh. Creatures adapt by forming relations to these conditions and to their prey and predators in the plant and animal world. It is in these relations, evolved through eons of evolution, that the secrets of the Amazon are hidden and where a real understanding of this complex environment can be found. This way at looking at the forest, this perspective, is ecology.
While we are armed with ecological curiosity we should also become hunters. The great skill of hunters is that they are focused on finding wildlife and try not to think or talk about other things when they are in the forest. They are very attentive to their surroundings and concentrate on observing changes in the forest around them. When we are on our excursions if we can stay focused and not become engaged with topics unrelated to observation, we will be successful. Hunters are quiet. They use all of their senses listening for small sounds like the breaking of a branch or fruit falling from the canopy, sniffing for animal odors, scanning the leaves above and below for motion. With this heightened attention and care to make little noise, the chances of observing creatures large and small is greatly increased. This level of attention, this focus, is an important way in which our expedition cruises open up the mysteries and secrets of the forest for our travelers.
So, about expectations and mammals: the Amazon has the greatest collection of life on earth, and so understandably, many visitors to the Amazon expect to see lots of mammals. But it should be kept in mind that the story of the Amazon is that it has high diversity, but low density. On our trip we will see lots of kinds of creatures but not a very high quantity of each kind. But the beauty of this place is how the flora and fauna have evolved the wonderful and bizarre adaptations to thrive in this wilderness. With this perspective, travelers can experience and appreciate the infinite variability and magnificence of nature, which is for many of our travelers, truly a gift.
13) Do the trips damage the wilderness areas we visit?
Ecotourism is one of the very few ways in which income can be generated from undisturbed rainforest. The presence of our travelers has a very positive impact on the places we visit by providing income in wages and material and, as importantly, by involving a large number of local people in an economic relationship to forest preservation. On the trips we are very conscientious not to disturb the natural areas that we visit. We leave them as wild and undisturbed as when we arrived.
We also have the most ecologically sustainable vessel in the Amazon. It has taken years to pioneer technologies suited to remote wilderness, but we have succeeded in crafting our vessel and our operations to be very sustainable. We use solar power to heat showers, to refrigerate our provisions, to cool our drinking water, make ice, and last to but by no means least, power our launches. The Motor Yacht Tucano is the first vessel to have a detailed sustainability plan for our expedition voyages. This commitment has benefits for everyone the local communities, the natural environment, and our adventurous travelers. Our mariners and our travelers work as a team to explore and enjoy the greatest wilderness on earth.