Teds Travels – What to choose: amazon lodge or boat?
I often get asked what’s my favourite country in Latin America! And I must be honest, is not an easy answer as there is way too many. I love them all. Though preference would lean towards the smaller countries like Ecuador and Guatemala. Same question regarding the Amazon…would I prefer boats or jungle lodges?!
Quote from my 1924 South American Handbook (No I’m not that old, and this is a reprint, 90-year celebration) says about the Amazon in 1863 “there is a great variety of mammals, birds and reptiles wrote Bates in his “The Naturalist on the River Amazons”, but they are widely scattered and excessively shy of man”.
Over many years I have sailed on the Rio Napo in Ecuador, explored the lodges in Iquitos, travelled overland and by canoe around Puerto Maldonado, visited Manaus and saw the mouth of the river in Belem… and yes, I would tend to agree with Mr Bates… the wild life sees and hears you first and therefore hard to spot.
I think the main difference between a cruise and a lodge is usually the price. Cruises are more expensive than a lodge due to operating costs and the luxury items and comfort they afford like air-conditioning, gourmet cuisine, and hot tubs. Now both include and offer your clients the tropical jungle experience, which include excursions by motorised canoes and jungle walks. Of course, the cruise will take you further and offer a wider diversity whereas as a jungle lodge is confined to a certain area.
The choice will depend on your client and what they are looking for as an Amazon experience in terms of accommodation on a luxury boat or your basic accommodation with private facilities such as a lodge built from local material with a mosquito net over the bed at night.
The lodges that are in remote areas (not close to the town) are the best ones. Why would you want to stay close to town on an Amazon tributary to watch the water traffic go by?! You clearly won’t see any wild life here! My idea would be to look for a lodge and its location. We can recommend lodges in areas with incredible diversity and density of wildlife… this may mean that clients will need to sit in a motorise canoes for 2 or 3 hours, then walk a Km to the lodge which then they will be rewarded with an unrivalled experience. You will certainly know you are in the Amazon.
If they don’t mind getting their feet wet and muddied or drifting silently along a small tributary late sitting on the balcony of your small boat evening while listening to the jungle, is equally a magic experience. As they say, just do it!
I must add that the most important part of the Amazon experience are the guides, whether they work in the jungle lodge or on a cruise, they will amaze you with their knowledge and expertise. Whether aboard an Amazon River jungle cruise or in a jungle lodge, the best experience is had by travellers with open mind and sense of adventure. The wild life is difficult to see, you need a local guide to show you and tell you about this amazing forest.
Quote from a Contours Traveller, Carla who just visited a lodge in Peru:
“We could just be walking through the jungle and he would suddenly turn around and say: do you hear that? That’s the leoncito monkey! Of course, I couldn’t see anything and there are so many sounds in the jungle that I couldn’t hear the monkey, but suddenly… there it was just in front of me”
Looks like the sounds in the Amazon haven’t change since 1863 and you can still see animals around…
Ted Dziadkiewicz is Director and Founder of Contours Travel, Australia’s longest running tour operator to Latin America. He has been more than 100 times to Latin America over the past 40 years and visited over 20 countries. If you want to know more visit www.contourstravel.com.au