Sep 19, 2016

Exploring the Amazon River by Small Ship

We must look after the forest because the forest looks after us.” Daniel Vasquez, Cocama tribe, Amazon River. 

The Manatee Rescue Centre in Equitos is a rehabilitation centre for the protection of the endangered freshwater manatee, a gentle herbivore found in rivers, swamps and wetlands of the Amazon rainforest. Under threat from poachers, habitat loss and pollution, orphaned and injured manatees are brought to the centre for rehabilitation before being returned to the river. Hand-feeding a baby manatee and watching its hippo-like lips grip the teat of a bottle is one of those life-affirming moments we all seek, but seldom find, in travel. Thanks to donations by Scenic, not only are the injured animals given the best chance of survival, local communities are educated in sustainable alternatives to hunting.

In contrast to the placid manatee is the black caiman, the largest predator in the Amazon ecosystem, best viewed on a night safari when the crocodilian-like creature comes out to hunt. Taking to skiffs (small tenders) under the cover of darkness, spotlighting for red jeweled eyes or drag marks in the mud, is not for the feint of heart. Nor is fishing for piranha, their razor sharp mouths snapping as you haul them ashore, toes safely tucked inside covered shoes to avoid doing the famed ‘piranha dance’. And then there are the pinups of the forest – the capuchin monkeys with their punk rock hairdos, the ever-smiling three-toed sloths, the bubblegum pink dolphins, the cereal box Toucan bird, the slinky jaguar, the giant anteater and the Jesus lizard, so named because it can walk on water. From some of the world’s most beautiful creatures to the most dangerous animals on Earth the Amazon rainforest should be on everyone’s list.

A wildlife trip to South America also provides opportunities to learn about the people. In the Amazon jungle it’s the people from the Cocama tribe who show visitors how to fish for red-bellied piranha and what plants can be used for medicine or magic, while out on the river it’s the Riberenos who’ll share stories about jungle spirits, including El Bufeo Colorado, a shape-shifting pink dolphin and El Tunchi, protector of the forest. 

Guests of Scenic can contribute to protecting the Amazon rainforest through enrichment experiences such as visiting the Manatee Rescue Centre, relocating river turtle eggs or delivering school supplies to local villages. By making tangible contributions to the communities and environments visited, travellers come away as ambassadors for these wild places, ensuring they remain viable and healthy for future generations. 

Cruise the Amazon River in luxury with Scenic on board Aqua Expedition’s 16 suite Aria. Boutique in size, suites feature panoramic windows, luxurious amenities and king size beds. Other on board amenities include an air- conditioned bar, lounge and restaurant. Enjoy delicious Amazonia inspired cuisine with menus exclusively designed by Executive Chef, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino and fine South American and European wines. Two to three times daily take the opportunity to explore off ship into the Amazonian jungle on board custom made motorised launch boats or skiffs with one of the four on board naturalists. 

Discover the Amazon on a journey with Scenic in 2017.