Departed Nov. 23rd, returned to US Dec. 3rd
I thoroughly researched several companies before deciding to book with Rainforest Cruises (RC). From the initial contact to the trip's end I was impressed. Traveling alone, the only American in our small group, I felt comfortable and safe at all times.
RC booked us into La Casa Morey our first night, which was smart. Then no one misses the boat due to missed connections! The Morey, which has many great reviews on TA, is a lovely old rubber baron mansion refurbished by Dr. Richard Bodmer, who also owns the historic riverboat, Ayapua, which was our designated boat.
Dr. Bodmer hosted our dinner that evening and provided additional trip details including time of departure for our charter mini-bus the next morning. We drove the approximately two hours up river to Nauta where the Ayapua is moored. That drive was fascinating due to the scenery and the challenge of a narrow, two-lane highway.
We boarded the Ayapua, were given cabin assignments and settled in. The cabins are clean, but simple, each with a private bath. This isn't the QE2, this is an experience on an historic vessel. Dr. Bodmer, renowned Amazon biologist, later gave a short lecture on the origin of the Amazon, the animals and people. We were really thrilled to have our very own expert on board! He was always available to answer our questions and an all-around genial fellow.
All week long we went on morning, afternoon and evening excursions, often using a small skiff. Bird watching, monkey, sloth, pink and grey river dolphin sightings, pirana fishing, caiman spotting, and the thrill of a jungle hike were all on the itin. Everything is optional. You get to choose, but who wouldn't want to do it all!!
Every evening there was a cocktail hour on the upper deck, stern, of the Ayapua. Dr. Bodmer's house rules are simple. It's the honor system. You keep track of what you consume and pay up at the end of the voyage.
Special mention must be made of the food on board. Excellent and plentiful! Ruth, the chef, and her two assistants made three meals a day, kept fruit and drinks available all the time and often served up a surprise dessert.
Laundry service is available on board, too. You bag up your dirty, sweaty clothes, drop them by the kitchen and the next day, voila!, they appear folded in a basket.
The sunrises and sunsets on the river were beautiful beyond description. Bring a good camera and your own pair of binoculars. RC wasn't kidding when the emphasized how important it would be to bring your binoculars!
Our native guides, Roberto in particular, were outstanding. With their innate knowledge of the Amazon our time there was enhanced. By the end of the week, we could identify dolphins just by the sound of the exhale.
At the end of the cruise, all of my shipmates departed Iquitos, but I stayed two extra days, again booked into La Casa Morey. I'm glad I did. Through TA I found a local guide named Lilia who spent several hours with me one day, showing me the real Iquitos and its people. We went up the Nanay River to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage, as well as going through local neighborhoods and markets. She made sure I was safe and that I didn't get ripped off when purchasing trinkets or paying for mototaxis. If you need her contact info, send me a message through TA. She's a real gem in the Amazon!
I'll close by saying that my experience with Rainforest Cruises was stellar. I would sail with them again, in a heartbeat!
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