Into the rainforest to swim with pink dolphins and catch piranha fish, and go on expeditions to meet macaws and monkeys and dance with the local shaman.
At the point where three rivers intersect, we swam in the Amazon: a river that accounts for 20 per cent of all the fresh water in the world. Floating free, listening to the sounds of the jungle…One of those moments that remain imprinted in the memory for ever.
Here, 2,500 miles upstream from the Atlantic, life takes on a different perspective. Haimark Line began sailing its Amazon Discovery in October 2015. I was on the second voyage. Inevitably there were teething problems but comments were acted upon swiftly and more recent reports are that the product has improved tenfold.
There were 34 crew taking care of 42 passengers, making for attentive service. The three naturalists on board – Adonay, Anselmo and Denis – one for each skiff, together with the eagle-eyed boatmen made every trip an education. They don’t provide dull tour-speak commentaries, their involvement comes from a real love of the jungle, the country and the job. To a man and woman they were happy to be working on this ship.
Embarkation in Iquitos sets the tone of the six-night voyage to come. There was a rough-and-ready entrance and a set of uneven steps down to the tender but once on board I found Amazon Discovery to be simply but well-appointed.
There is a large air-conditioned lounge with bar as well as outside space for those wanting fresh air but it’s wise to be wary of mosquitos. Deet is the best defence and advisable, especially when ashore.
This trip doesn’t leave too much time for relaxation but there’s a sundeck complete with Jacuzzi. There is a tiny gym but a trip to Patricia for a rainforest tender touch massage and bora facial was more to my liking.
The itinerary has been rejigged since I was on board and now promises a better mix of skiff trips, onboard demonstrations and activities. With immersion being today’s buzzword when it comes to travelling, the first trip off the ship offers that in abundance in the form of swimming combined with spotting pink dolphins. These creatures are quite extraordinary but very shy so it’s all eyes on the river and you have to be quick.