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

Amazon Indian Tribal Dance, Pebas, Peru

 This video was shot on the first day of our Peru/Amazon rainforest voyage aboard Sea Dream 2. This Amazon Indian tribe rarely receive visitors and therefore were totally unspoiled by tourism. They were very friendly and excited to be able to entertain just a few travellers in this way. My favourite story of this day was when I was standing watching the dance and I felt a little tap on my waist. I turned sideways- no-one there! BUT, when I looked down there was a tiny Indian lady, one of the ones standing in the photo on the left, she was smiling and making signs saying how tall I am and how tiny she is. It did make me smile, she was just so lovely and friendly. This photo is of the same lady on the right and her Mum!

Amazon Indian tribal dance, Pebas, Peru

Amazon Indian tribal dance, Pebas, Peru

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.

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!

First Sighting Of Three Toed Sloth

We saw some AMAZING sights on our Zodiac safari today, monkeys, eagles, caimans,tree frogs, tree boa, but the most exciting sighting today was my first view of a rare 3 toed sloth. In fact, there were 2 of them, both high up in the tree canopy. Because the Amazon is flooded at the moment, with still a few feet more to go before the floods reach their peak, the tree canopy is much more accessible during our Zodiac river safaris so we able to see so much wildlife, especially birds.

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…….

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.