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’

Arariba – Indigenous art of the Amazon – Alter do Chao

Today we stopped at a wonderful town called Alter do Chao, Brazil. In the morning, we hiked for a couple of hours along a sandy trail to the top of a small mountain, the last part of the hike was really steep but the view from the top was BREATHTAKING. I’ll write more about what we saw on the walk in another post but one of the best bits of Alter do Chao was discovering  an AMAZING indigenous Indian art gallery called Arariba.The town of Alter do Chao is quite small and the few people we saw were very friendly and pleasant. We had heard of Arariba from the crew on the boat as it is known to be one of, if not THE best gallery for Indigenous Indian art and crafts in Brazil.Mentioned by the international travel guide ‘Lonely Planet’ , ‘ Arariba is the most complete shop of indigenous art of the Amazon with an authentic collection from more than 80 tribes.’Since 1999, Arariba has been working to encourage the Indian art-craft production, believing that this is the main source of development and sustainability on many Brazilian tribes.

 

I was so impressed with the gallery and what the owners are trying to achieve that I took quite a number of photos whilst I was there and they are displayed below this post.Visit their website here:

Arariba Indigenous Art Gallery, Alter do Chao, Brazil

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!

Swimming With PINK Dolphins

Pink Dolphins River Negro

Pink Dolphins River Negro

Incredible as it seems, the dolphins in the Amazon river really are PINK!  Noone really knows why, although one theory is that to adapt to temperatures, their blood is closer to the skin and therefore their skin appears pink! These photos were taken in the River Negro, Manaus, Brazil. The dolphins are wild but are used to being fed fish from the locals, it was an amazing experience.

Cuxiu Muni Village, Brazil

Cuxiu Muni Village, Brazil

We had a very interesting day today at Cuxiu Muni, Brazil. It’s a tiny village, I doubt whether they have visitors at all as they were quite unperterbed by a few of us walking past their tiny shacks.

They were all very friendly and in exchange for apples, pencils, books for the children, they were happy to allow us to observe them in their daily lives. I have to say that even though it was POURING with rain the whole time we were there and there was mud just about everywhere, they seemed happy and content with what they had. The scenery was beautiful, rustic, natural and as always, amazing!

More later on our night Zodiac safari along the jungle line, hoping
to see snakes, Caiman, tree frogs all by torchlight. Need to double
up the bug spray though as they will also be out at night!

Hope to get some photos up soon , just need a faster internet connection, although it’s quite surprising that we have one at all as we’re so far up the Amazon!

More later…….

Zodiac trip Uara, Brazil

 

Today is Day 4 of our trip and we took an early morning trip on a Zodiac inflatable to explore a small Amazon tributary.I’ll try to add some photos later, it was a fun trip, plenty of botany to see, a few birds, a toucan, couple of owls, a local tribesman floating around doing some fishing. Looking forward to tomorrow’s Zodiac excursion, it’s a night time one,  need the bug spray but expecting to see LOTS of creppy crawlies, caimans, the odd snake or two!Watch this space!

Sea Dream Blog February 22nd

Sea Dream Blog February 22nd :

This morning we had anchored in the river of Lago Carauacu and we sent our gusts in zodiac trips from 0615 and 0730 in four boats on itch excursions. The guests and crew enjoyed it very much as the four experts we have was very informative about what to be seen and they observed a lot before coming back to SeaDream II for breakfast. Lunch they when we where sailing the river until Itacoatiara where we anchored at 1700 hrs. The two very nice and very good pilots left us for going back to Santana and their family. We have recived the two pilots sailing us to Manaus arriving tomorrow morning. To day we have seen a lot along the river and just before sunset we had many Pink Dolphins around the yacht. We had the Club Member Party taking place in our Main Salon as there was so many onboard we can not accommodate them in the Library as we normally do. I have to say it again another great day on our Amazon journey, the sunset was again spectacular and beautiful with a lot of activities going on around and aboard.

Captains Blog February 22 2012

Sea Dream 2 Captains Blog
February 21st :
Today we arrived at Parintins to see the Boi Bumba show. Today it was the RED team so we all had to have some red colors on. The guests and crew who went there, came back with a happy smile because 50 minute show was fantastic color and full of intensive and rhythm.
This morning we anchored in the middle of the river with a strong current of about 5 knots. We used our tender and zodiac’s to transport our guests to shore and back. During the day it’s very hot outside so we plan to do as much as we can in the early morning and late afternoon, and just sail and chill out during the mid-day.
All are back onboard and we are underway to our next stop Lago Carauacu where we will zodiac our guests into the lake for an excursion with our expedition team early morning at around 0630AM. Another good day aboard SeaDream II. More pictures will come, I am sure. Also visit SeaDream’s Facebook page for photos.

Sea Dream 2 Captains Blog Day 3

Sea Dream 2 Captain’s Blog Day 3

Today we have been all day at sea on the same course, 127 SE for Devil’s Island and we are facing a very strong current against us. We knew that there would be a current against us. Normally in February this current going NW along the coast has an average of 1 to 1 ½ knots. But I think we are facing stronger; up to 3 – 4 knots against us and with a swell of 2- 3 meters. We have a challenge to make it to Iles Du Salute and Devil’s Island on time or before sunset.
Today there was some “motion in the ocean” but most of the guests have been outside enjoying a sunny day and walking on deck (16 laps on Deck 6 = one mile). Our guest photographer, Sue Flood did a very nice lecture this afternoon. I know that many of our guests are waiting for the Amazon River and the adventure ahead. The sunsets on the river are absolutely fantastic .
Have a great evening all…. from a yacht sailing against the Guiana Current.

Sea Dream 2 Captain’s Blog

Day 1

Just departed Tobago and heading 127 SE for another 553 n.miles before we set for Iles du Salut on Devil’s Island. The wind is the same as yesterday, around 13 knots from ENE and there is some “motion in the ocean”. The wind is supposed to decrease in the next few days but the swell from the north will be 2-3 meters.

Today in Tobago we had the last of the Caribbean before we start our adventure in South America and the Amazon. Some of the Officers went all the way up to Flagstaff Mountain over looking Man of War Bay and down trough the rainforest. It was a great day with swimming and waters sports. Some guests went on tour, others just enjoyed the yacht the first day of this 20 day’s journey.

Tonight is the Captain’s Welcome and the introduction of the Senior Officers. It might be lobster on the menu tonight. Have a great evening all. Sailing SE towards the Equator and our adventure

 

Day 2

All guests onboard and emergency drill done, as always before we sail. We’ll stay longer in Bridgetown, Barbados this evening so guests can enjoy Dinner on Deck. Then we will sail for Tobago, arriving tomorrow morning. The weather for the next few days is looking good with ENE winds around 11 to 15 knots and a swell about 1.5 to 2 meters.

Everybody onboard is excited about this adventurous voyage; sailing the Amazon through Brazil, Colombia and ending up in Peru. We will have a few days on the Atlantic Ocean before we will meet the great river. Have a great evening from all of us onboard, we have the yacht ready to sail.