Arriving in Manaus:
My husband and I arrived in Manaus on Gol Airlines Flight 1634 at 11.59pm. Upon arrival, a gentleman was waiting at the airport for us with a sign in his hand. It had my name on it. Since Gero had said that he would pick us up from the airport over email, I asked if this guy was Gero (since I have never seen Gero before). He said he was sent by the Hotel Dez De Julho (the hotel we were going to stay with for a night) and asked us if we had booked with Gero. He then beckoned us to go with him. I thought that Gero had arranged for him to pick me up as I know that Gero's office is situated within the Hotel Dez De Julho, so we followed him. On our way out of the airport, we then bumped into the real Gero. We were confused as to what was going on and eventually, because the 2nd guy said that he was Gero, and because he was wearing the Gero Tours shirt, we followed him to the car. It was only in the car that Gero explained that the gentleman was actually the tour operator of Amazon Backpackers, another tour operator which also operated out of Hotel Dez De Julho. At no point in time did we ask the hotel to send someone to pick us up. I recall that when I emailed the hotel to place a booking for a room, I was asked if I had already booked a tour to the Amazon. I said I did. But the hotel dude probably tipped off this other tour operator anyway because he was probably promised a kickback. So do check out how Gero looks like from his website and make sure you are being picked up by the real McCoy!
Having said that, Gero's tour was amazing! From Manaus, we took a bus to the pier, transferred onto a boat to see the meeting of the rivers, traveled by van to some far away land and finally put on a speedboat to venture deep into the Amazon before reaching the lodge owned by Gero. The journey was long but incredibly picturesque. If you choose to sleep communally, you have the choice of hammocks or beds. They are all in 1 big room, so there is no privacy at all. But I must say it was fun, because it was a great way to meet other travelers. My husband and I opted for the hammock. I was apprehensive at first because I have never slept in one before, but it turned out to be ok. Apparently, if you have trouble sleeping in the hammock on Day 1, you can pay the difference and switch to the bed on Day 2 (depending on availability). There are 2 toilets next to the big room. No warm water, but because it's so hot in the Amazon, you'd appreciate the cold water. It's not that cold anyway, so not to worry. When I was there, I made a mental note to myself to warn others about the heat at night. There is no electricity after 10pm because the generator is turned off and so there are no fans. It is stifling hot! So bring a small battery operated fan for your own sake! I had 2 options: sleep in longs to protect myself from mosquitoes (even though Gero provided us with mosquito nets over our hammocks) or sleep in minimal clothing (coz it was so darn hot). I chose the latter. It was so hot that I would rather have gotten bitten by mosquitoes than to wear layers to sleep in that heat! Having said that, I didn't get bitten by mosquitoes because I sprayed myself silly with repellent. We swam in the river after lunch everyday. Yes, the same river where piranhas, anacondas and cayman roam. But everyone seemed to be doing that, so what the heck. Being in the cool water was a great respite from the scorching sun. But one of my friends who went to the same lodge 2 weeks after our return, told us that a South African dude got his toe chomped on by a piranha. Erm. So you may want to consider that before you take a dip.
Excellent spread! I am a fussy eater, but the food surpassed all my expectations! Breakfast consists of fruit, eggs, cheese, ham, bread, juices, coffee, tea.
Lunch spread is the best! Salad, pasta, rice, soy, mashed potatoes, meat (some days we had piranhas, other days we had some other kind of fish, beef, grilled chicken), stew, fruit, juice
Dinner: similar to lunch
Most of the guides are freelancers. So it really depends on who you get. We got English-speaking Matthias (originally from British Guyana) who was excellent. He was articulate and knowledgeable. He loves catching snakes and caymans. We spotted monkeys, dolphins, sloths, cayman, exotic birds, tarantulas. Even a dead anaconda. Unfortunately, we didn't see the boa constrictor. It all boils down to luck, so manage your expectations well. When you go trekking into the forest, wear longs no matter how hot it may be. And bring your mosquito repellent! There are billions of mossies! My husband and I used up 1 entire bottle of repellent during our 48 hours in the Amazon.
Totally enjoyed the trip. Can probably say it's one of the best trips I've ever taken. The Amazon is so beautiful! Gero is a hardworking chap who made us feel like we were taken care of. I would highly recommend booking a tour with him.