Stretching for more than 4,400 miles, the Amazon River is the world’s second-largest river. Located in South America, this amazing river offers a whole other world that includes exotic jungle life and contact with indigenous tribes. Taking a riverboat journey on the Amazon River is one of the most affordable ways to experience the mighty river and surrounding jungle. When planning a riverboat trip, the following tips should be considered.
Choosing a Boat
Choosing a boat is up to a traveler’s budget, comfort preferences, and schedule. There are large speed boats, and there are small, slower boats. The larger boats may offer air conditioning but may also cost more and tend to be overcrowded. On the other hand, smaller boats may cost less and be less crowded but require more days to get down the river.
Most boats contain three decks. The top deck is for viewing and socializing while the middle and lowest deck are where passengers sleep. The middle deck is usually the best for sleeping because the engine is on the lowest deck. While tickets can be purchased from ticket agents, most passengers buy tickets upon boarding. Many boat owners allow people to come on board and have a look around before buying a ticket.
Choosing a Route
There are several boat routes that travel along the many tributaries of the Amazon River. Traveling downriver of the Amazon is usually the best way to go because less fuel is needed, making the trip quicker and cheaper. Also, some parts of the Amazon are several miles wide, so there is not much to see except water. Routes along the smaller tributaries allow travelers better opportunities to experience the jungle and see wildlife. Some of the tributaries that provide the most boat traffic service include the Maranon, Urubamba, Huallaga, and Ucayali rivers in Peru as well as the Rio Negro, Rio Madeira, Rio Solimoes, and Rio Purus in Brazil.
Travel routes can vary between two and three days to more than a week, so it is wise to inquire about the route before boarding a boat. However, tourists can opt to get off the boat at certain points to rest, sightsee and choose another method of transportation if so desired. The longer routes include Belem to Manaus and Manaus to Tabatingua. Some of the popular routes among tourists include Belem to Santarem and Manaus to Belem in Brazil.
What to Bring
A hammock is the number one item to bring along on an Amazon riverboat. Other supplies to bring include a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, extra toilet paper, bottled water, water purification tablets, and ear plugs to wear while sleeping. While many boats provide food and snack bars, travelers may not always like boat food. It is wise to make good use of cruise stops to go ashore and buy fresh foods and drinks. Additionally, hawkers often pull up to the riverboats to sell fresh foods and cooked meals as well as other needed supplies.
What to Expect and Experience
Riverboating on the Amazon can be a challenging experience, which is what makes it all the more worthwhile. Boats can be crowded and stuffy. Sleeping sections can be tight with little or no privacy. Food choices on the boat can be limited and taste bland. There are showers on the boat, but the water used is river water. Being on a boat for several days can be tiring. These are some of the main negatives of riverboating, but the incredible experiences outweigh the drawbacks.
Simply being aboard a riverboat cruising down the Amazon River is an extraordinary experience in and of itself, but it gets even better than that. Travelers can enjoy stunning sunsets on the river or wake up to the calls of jungle birds and the roaring cries of howler monkeys. A variety of wildlife can sometimes be glimpsed such as river otters, pink dolphins, manatees, river otters, exotic birds, and unique reptiles and butterflies. In addition to that, visiting the friendly and hospitable locals to see how they live is a remarkable experience. What’s more, meeting other passengers, hearing their stories, and learning their culture also makes for unforgettable memories.
Regardless of the lack of creature comforts, and no matter what the boat type or route choice, a riverboat journey on the Amazon River offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.