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Brazil | Excursionists

UNBELIEVABLE Zodiac Night Safari

Well, we signed up on this holiday  for Adventure, and my goodness, tonight we definitely got it !

This was our third Zodiac river safari of the day, the first was at 6.30 am, 2nd at 4.30 and the final one of the day was at 8.30 in the pitch black. Now, when I say pitch black, I really do mean pitch black! To the extent that there are no lights anywhere on the horizon, apart from the lights of our base Sea Dream Yacht.  In fact, this has been one of the most amazing highlights of our Amazon voyage for me, walking on the deck at night and seeing NO light pollution anywhere on the horizon, no villages, no boats, just total darkness as far as the eye can see. Not even a plane in the sky for days on end.

The first 2 safaris were spectacular in their own right and I’ll write about them in other posts but I have to write about this night safari while its still fresh in my mind.

We were about 8 passengers in the Zodiac inflatable dinghy and our expedition leader for tonight was Guillermo Knell. We’ve been on several of Guillermo’s expeditions and he never fails to find interesting and exciting things along the way, tonight was no exception.

Sea Dream was anchored in the middle of a very wide section of the Amazon, just off Guajara, Brazil. The current here was incredibly strong and together with the fact that the wind was quite strong, we knew we were in for an ‘interesting’ couple of hours. The night sky was being dramatically lit up by distant lightning flashes which added to the exciting atmosphere of our adventure. The area we were heading for was about 10 minutes away and what a 10 minutes that was, fighting the current in total darkness with just the light of a torch in front of the Zodiac.

Once we reached the channel we were going to explore, the current slowed down and we were drifting along at a good pace. So, here we were, in a dinghy, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, 9 o clock at night and out of the darkness we heard the beat of disco music slowly moving towards us, I have no idea where it came from but slowly out of the darkness floated a battered old fishing boat, something along the lines of Humphrey Bogart’s African Queen with disco music blaring out from its loudspeakers. It seems that there were a few houses on stilts quite nearby and the local fishermen were out for a few beers  ! Totally surreal!

OOPS……just realised its 12.30 am and we’re out on the LAST of our water safaris at 6.30 in the morning, will write the rest of this story tomorrow when I get a spare moment……WATCH THIS SPACE!

Ok, I’m back! I KNOW it’s been a few days but it ain’t always easy to get internet when you’re half way up the  Amazon !

So, where was I ? Oh yes, THE night zodiac safari!

Well, before I get to the really good bit there WAS one very funny incident where 2 of the 8 passengers on our zodiac saw a HUGE anaconda swimming past the boat so they shouted ‘SNAKE! SNAKE! HUGE SNAKE! So Guillermo excitedley turned the boat round to try to catch a glimpse of the rare jungle monster and we were all craning our necks to see …and sure enough…..THERE IT WAS……a large, threatening, very scary looking LOG floating gently by in the dark!

We all burst into hysterical laughter and the two ‘spotters’ tried to disappear into the bottom of the boat.For those who know me, yes, you guessed it, ONE of the Anaconda/tree spotters WAS indeed Gordon !

Further on down the channel we saw all kinds of nocturnal creatures, it was very funny to see how Iguanas sleep, they are SO nervous during the day and either run away or drop off a tree into the water at the slightest noise but at night, there there are, in full view of anyone who has ‘cat’s eyes’ or even a torch, lying fast asleep on their branches, wedged in between the twigs so they don’t fall off, we saw SO MANY really good sized iguanas.

The next bit of excitement was when Guillermo spotted a snake hanging from a branch ( oh yes, a REAL snake this time ) and decided he was going to catch it and bring it into the boat to show us. I must say that is was wonderful to have someone as passionate about nature as Guillermo Knell as our night-time safari expedition leader his enthusiasm was SO infectious!

OOPS! Got to go again, time for a presentation by Sue Flood on ‘Behind the scenes at the BBC Blue Planet series’

River Safaris & Monkeys

Todays river safari was on the River Negra, Manaus, late afternoon when the light was at its best! We saw monkeys, an eagle, parrots, an amazing sun Bitern which too fast for me to catch a photo unfortunately!At one point we were shocked by a Cessna that appeared out of nowhere and more or less buzzed us as we were zooming down the river, it was not much higher than the tree line, quite scary but also spectacular!

It seems that the plane came from a huge rustic hotel complex on the River Negra, it LOOKS abandoned but apparently is a place where the rich and famous go to ‘disappear’ for a while!

We almost expected James Bond to appear from behind one of the trees at that point!

Amazing Amazon Sunsets !

The sunsets we’ve been having whilst in the Amazon rainforest are a photographer’s dream. I took this photo from the boat just outside the tiny Amazon village of Uara, Brazil. I couldn’t take my eyes off the evening sky, it was awe inspiring!