There were only six guests on the Amazon Riverboat so it was almost like a private cruise, and it was the highlight of our Ecuador trip. We can highly recommend the Manatee Explorer.
As we flew high above the clouds from Quito to Coca over the Amazon Jungle , we were astonished to see the mighty Andes Mountains poking their rocky heads up well over the tops of the clouds!
At the airport, we were met by a driver who took us to the dock. We had a nice break there watching the river and the boats and people before the Manatee Explorer long canoe arrived to take us down the deeper part of the river to where the riverboat was waiting for us.
We were so excited as the motorboat took us miles down the river to the Amazon Riverboat. It took a several hours to get there, but it was well worth the wait.
There she was – The Amazon Manatee Explorer Riverboat!
We were up at 5:30 am everyday. Oh pardon me, there was one day when we got to sleep in to 6 am. They had everything on that little riverboat including air conditioning and internet, a fabulous shower, and super attentive staff.
The Upper Deck
Briefing Room and TV/Video
Each day the Naturalist Guide would brief us our next excursions, advising us what to expect, safety issues, and what to bring with us that day.
Boat Captain and Staff
The accommodation was modest but very clean and the staff were eager to meet the needs of the passengers. We were treated with kindness and respect, and our Chief Guide was personable, knowledgeable, and well-organized.
The riverboat program provided the perfect balance of planned activities, excursions, meals, and free time. The entire week was full of fun, exciting and absolutely unique experiences in the pristine Amazon Rainforest.
Safety was a top priority always, while still being able to experience the natural wonder of the wildlife in Amazon jungle.
We couldn’t think of a single thing that was missing.
Meals on the riverboat were served in a semi-formal dining room and were excellent and abundant. They were always served with soup, appetizer, meat, 2-3 different kinds of vegetables, and dessert at every meal. Never have we had so many homemade soups and so much fruit juice and fruits (many different kinds that we don´t have in North America). All delicious.
But no one could stop eating the Cocaine Buns, as I called them… melt-in-your-mouth, delicious freshly made buns.
I’m not sure how many times we heard a slightly guilty, “Just one more…”.
(Or maybe that was just me…)
One of our favourite parts of the Amazon riverboat cruise was the daily excursion in the canoe.
Just floating down the river in the canoe absorbing all the sights and sounds and smells left us open-mouthed and yearning for more.
We were in awe of the lush green plants growing right into the dark water, the sounds of the Amazon jungle, the heavy humid air, the silence, the reflections, the blue skies, the sounds of different birds, the cries of strange animals, an occasional jungle house with a few people, exploring the narrow tributaries and branches of the wide river…
We were on several rivers – wide, narrow, black, green, brown – but it was so grand, yet peaceful, sliding through the water on our long canoe with the jungle sounds radiating all around us.
Bats on the underside of a tree trunk sticking out of the water.
Once we got stuck with the canoe in one river – lots of fallen trees and logs in that narrow river. We tried to get through a narrow passage but couldn´t make it, then tried to reverse and couldn´t go backwards either! Quite a predicament.
Then the trainee guide put one leg out of the canoe and jumped up and down on a crooked log that had us wedged in, and swoosh, we moved back out.
Another day we visited an Quechua Indian village, but we had already lived in one with Fernando and Toa in the Andes a few days before. The dancing was fun to watch, and the babies and little kids offered some great photo ops.
The Shaman did some weird and strange chanting while sucking the illness out of a young girl and spitting it out, then waving around a bundle of leaves like a wild man.
We saw a spider on the Quechwa village grounds, and Thomas was certain the diamond shape bite on his lower leg was a tarantula bite, and he was going to die any day. He clutched at his throat every once in a while, or started weaving like a drunk, and saying he´s agonner. Personally, I think it was either a snake bite or the Chicha he had been consuming – the local cane liquor.
There was, of course, one woman on the riverboat that was completely annoying. We nicknamed her ¨The Mouth¨ because she would not keep quiet. She asked questions constantly and before the guide could finish a sentence, she was interupting and answering it. Everything was, ¨Well in Florida we…. ¨ And of course she knew everything about everything.
The most annoying thing of all was when you had to be very silent sometimes to see an animal, while stealthily moving by in the canoe. Invariably, the guide had to shush her. You could tell his patience was being tried, but he kept it carefully under control and remained completely professional. We had to wonder if he was imagining throwing her overboard, like the rest of us.
We had so many adventures on the Amazon! See post titled Piranahaus, Pink Dolphins and Wild Parrots and Searching For Crocodiles In The Amazon At Night In a Canoe
Night on the Amazon was beautiful too….
To have the opportunity of exploring the wild untouched Amazon Rainforest while enjoying all the comforts of home is a rare experience, in my opinion, and tops the list of most desirable trips.
Flights from Quito to Cato were about $200 per person, and the cost of the Amazon Riverboat was about $1000 per person for five days – not cheap, but worth ten times more. Don’t forget that includes all accommodation and meals. It was an amazing experience that we will never forget!
Link to Manatee Explorer Amazon Riverboat site: http://www.manateeamazonexplorer.com/
T said to say he was very brave despite his many brushes with death.
We could NOT believe it! Just a few days after the riverboat cruise, we were in a nice little cabin motel with a pool, sitting outside on the deck by the pool, when who do we see waving across the other side of the pool?! The Mouth! Oh no, no, no. Grinning and waving, they came right over of course, before we could escape. After the usual greetings, and before they could sit down, we said we were just about to go find a place for dinner, and excused ourselves. (It was true, that’s what we had just been talking about doing.) Thank Goodness they never invited themselves to join us. Everywhere we went after that, we were cautiously peering around to make certain we were not about to receive another surprise visit. To be fair, we know she was a nice lady, but she had this compulsion to speak constantly and at inappropriate times. We could all learn a lesson from her on those times we should just listen and keep quiet while travelling.
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