FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Venture Deep Into the Remote Wilds of the Amazon

by Richard Newton

Sep 9, 2022

PHOTO: © AMAZON NATURE TOURS

September 2022

A city of 2 million people sinks into the river. Less than an hour earlier we were stuck there in heavy traffic. We finally arrived at the riverside, where the three-decked wooden boat Tucano awaited. We transferred to it and cast off, heading upstream. The near bank became dense with greenery. Pairs of scarlet macaws flapped over us. Insects and birds and howler monkeys provided a natural soundtrack above the rhythmic throb of the engine. Manaus disappeared in our wake.

This was everything we imagined of the Amazon, though in fact we had set off slightly upstream from that great river. We were on the Rio Negro — the Black River. Decaying vegetation stains the water with tannins, giving it the look of black tea. The Amazon itself is silty and resembles milky coffee. The two join at Manaus, Brazil, and flow side by side for several miles before blending.

With a maximum of 18 guests, Tucano is modest by Amazonian standards. (The Iberostar Grand Amazon, for instance, carries 148; and 2,000-passenger cruise ships voyage the 1,000 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean to Manaus.) In contrast to its larger, modern rivals, Tucano sports the wood-paneled ambience of the late 19th century, when this style of boat was favored by Brazil’s rubber barons, among the richest people on the planet.

This felt like a different era in more ways than one. As the city receded, WiFi and cellphone coverage dropped away. For much of the next week, we were out of reach of the 21st century. Whenever we made guided excursions on foot into the rain forest, even the boat was left behind, and we experienced the Amazon in its raw, primordial glory.

One thing we quickly discovered beyond the hermetic cocoon of the Tucano was a rain forest is not the most comfortable of places. It was humid and stinky and full of creatures — some large, some microscopic — that bite or sting. We soon resigned ourselves to having our skin increasingly covered with itchy insect bites.

It could have been worse. On our initial forest trek, the guide rushed to grab my sleeve, stopping me mid-step. If my foot had reached the ground, it would have landed on a fer-de-lance, South America’s most dangerous snake. It lay coiled and camouflaged in the leaf litter, ready to strike in defense. We took photos, then skirted safely around it and resumed our trek. From then on, I let the guide lead the way.

The Amazon rain forest is full of wildlife, but the nature of the habitat means encounters are usually fleeting. You hear a noise or see a flick of movement within the thick vegetation but rarely more than that.

© MIROSLAV LISKA | DREAMSTIME.COM

Monkeys proved an exception. Time and again during our week-long trip we attracted the curiosity of howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, monk sakis and tiny tamarins. They bounced from branch to branch above us on the trails or tracked the progress of the boat from the river- side canopy. Periodically we’d spot what appeared to be a mildewed bundle of rags high in the trees and recognized a sloth.

Even in the river we saw abundant life. We often spied the eyes and snouts of caimans (relatives of alligators) drifting in the shallows, and on one memorable occasion, pink river dolphins accompanied the boat for a time.

We also had the opportunity to grapple with one of the world’s most feared fish. One afternoon we cast fishing lines baited with meat into the water. Before long we were hauling out red-bellied piranhas. The guides were on hand to unhook them, skillfully avoiding razor-sharp teeth that can bite through metal. We ate some of our catch for dinner.

For much of the voyage we were the only boat on any given stretch of the river. That began to change when we returned downstream. The traffic increased, and we saw boats loaded with families as well as motor yachts, ferries and water taxis.

The skyline of Manaus rose out of the water ahead of us, and then our dormant cellphones started to ping with seven days of missed messages. Good as it was to be back among the familiar trappings of modern life, there had been something revitalizing about our time in the rain forest. And we couldn’t help viewing with alarm the logging barges heading downstream, carrying the forest away tree by tree.

INFO TO GO
Domestic and international flights arrive at Eduardo Gomes International Airport, 9 miles north of downtown Manaus. Transfers to major hotels are available by shared bus or by taxi.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed

Global City Guidebook: Rotorua

Located on Lake Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is a hot spot for volcanic landscapes, hot springs, outdoor recreation and Māori culture. If you are looking for a destination where you can spend most of your time outdoors, Rotorua is for you.

Explore Gyeonggi Province in South Korea

Gyeonggi Province, encircling Seoul, offers seamless travel with access to two major airports and a well-connected transportation system. It boasts top-notch MICE facilities, like KINTEX and Suwon Convention Center, along with a wide array of international-branded and resort-style hotels spread across its 31 cities and counties. Visitors can explore rich historical sites, including UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites like the DMZ and Suwon Hwaseong Fortress.

Balearic Islands Tighten Tourism Laws

Spain’s Balearic Islands’ government recently announced tighter laws targeting excessive tourism. The new law bans drinking on public roads and prohibits shops from selling alcohol late at night. Tourists found breaking these rules could be fined up to €3,000.

NH Collection Debuts in Finland

The new NH Collection Helsinki Grand Hansa marks the brand’s latest property. Located in the center of the Finnish capital, the property combines two historically significant buildings, Hotel Seurahuone and Student House. The hotel features 224 guestrooms and suites, including a grand, 1,722-square-foot presidential suite.

IHG Hotels & Resorts: Elevating the Guest Experience & Expanding Globally

With a robust portfolio of brands catering to diverse traveler preferences, IHG has been on a strategic trajectory to conquer key markets worldwide. The IHG footprint continues to grow, offering unparalleled experiences to guests around the globe.

Global City Guidebook: Toronto

Toronto, Canada’s largest and most populated city, sits on Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. Ontario’s capital city, it boasts a skyscraper-crowded skyline dominated by the iconic CN Tower, but it also features many green spaces and 530 miles of the Bikeways Network. With 158 distinct neighborhoods, the city is known for its multiculturalism as well as being a world leader in technology, finance and entertainment.

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Celebrate National Caviar Day at The Meritage Resort & Spa

Calling all caviar lovers! Celebrate National Caviar Day July 18 at the newly renovated Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, California. Sip delicious, handcrafted cocktails and indulge in a lavish, luxurious spread of the world’s finest caviar for the ultimate taste experience.

Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler

Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Patrick Mouratoglou Partners with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón on Tennis Center

World-renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced a partnership with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón to debut the first Mouratoglou Tennis Center in Florida. The center opened in early summer 2024 boasting training camps, private lessons, leagues and retreats that deliver a premium tennis experience.