The first question is, "take a 3, 4 or 7 day excursion"? If my count is correct, the 4 day trip has one more outing on the skiff than the 3 day excursion. The 3 day trip explores one of the two rivers that officially form the ... Read More
The first question is, "take a 3, 4 or 7 day excursion"? If my count is correct, the 4 day trip has one more outing on the skiff than the 3 day excursion. The 3 day trip explores one of the two rivers that officially form the Amazon. The 4 day trip explores the other river. In both you will do virtually the same, see wildlife from the skiff, hike thru the jungle, visit a village, its school and living quarters for a family, fish for piranhas, swim and likely see pink dolphins. The seven day trip does everything virtually twice. My travel companion and I did the 7 day trip and enjoyed every day of the adventure.
While I never counted since many of the crew you hardly ever see, AE reports a total of 23 and to a person they could not do enough for you. It was quite amazing. Breakfast was my favorite meal followed by lunch. Evening meals reflected really local cuisine. A couple of nites the meal was outstanding...a couple of nites, just interesting, but I never went hungry.
The detail they go to was just outstanding. An example, sitting on my bed just before dinner one evening, a tiny bug crawled across the white sheet and I squashed it with my thumb. It left a tiny black smudge. When I returned from dinner the sheet had been replaced. Oscar, our cabin steward was the best and we enjoyed his skill at folding animal towels.
The trips are not cheap but AE has a lot of expense. In addition to the boat crew there is a support staff on shore to take care of everything from the time one steps off the plane until you are delivered back to the airport. Fuel is not cheap on the Amazon and they go thru a lot with the big boat and the three skiffs that go out with every outing. Sometimes, we would run 20-25 miles up a tributary looking for particular critters.
So why only a score of three? Booking issues, subtract one!!! I asked multiple times if the boat was running a high water or low water itinerary? Each time I was assured it was the rainy season and the water would be 20-30 ft above normal. I protested the weather patterns were changing and guess what? Thanks to el Nino we had a low water itinerary. Then I wanted to arrive in Iquitos early to explore a bit but was pressured to change my flight to arrive on the 5:45 pm LAN flight. IMHO, that was not necessary.
Gift giving gave rise to a lot of discussion among my fellow passengers. AE needs to get a better grip on this. In the school, a couple of people started giving out things. Some kids got something others nothing. The village leader will be at the school, give him/her everything for a fair distribution later. DO NOT BRING CANDY FOR THE CHILDREN!
While I gave money at each school, we teach better lessons by purchasing from the stands that quickly get set up upon our arrival. The lesson is a reward for doing something as opposed money for doing nothing. If I were to do it again, I would start early shopping at thrift shops for children's clothes of all sizes. Avoid whites...difficult to maintain white when washing in river water. But cute things for the girls, I seen a lot of sequined tops...boys like sport themes and what ever. Flip-flops are OK but don't work so well wading in water. Croc style would be a better choice. Pack everything in a gym bag and leave it with the leader, it will be put to good use.
On the 7 day we visited two living quarters. Things I wished I would have brought for each family, a long stainless cooking fork, durable sharp knives that can be sharpened, metal skewers for kabobs, shears, maybe some 10 lb test fish line and some 1/0 hooks. Is this contrary to what was discussed above? No, they are sharing their life with you...you are sharing with them.
So here's the last deduction: February 15, 2016, Virgin Airways flight 025 London Heathrow to JFK returned to LHR after a laser flashed into the cockpit and left the first officer feeling unwell. AE guides have red/green lasers to help guests find animals in the trees...animals that have vision acuity perhaps a hundred times more sensitive than man. Lasers should never be pointed at an animal!!!
Lastly, and I hate to bring this up knowing how much detail the crew goes into, the chlorine level in the jaccuzi was perfect at the beginning of the cruise. It was at zero by day 7. This should be checked 2-3 times a week.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and for sure the best way to see the Amazon. Read Less