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Amazon Nature Tours began in the early 1980s as a company importing lumber from the Amazon, but as lovers of nature and explorers, and with their years in the forest, they became convinced of the urgency for rainforest conservation. So in 1989 they put aside timbering and began to offer some of the very first "ecotours" offered anywhere. Today their Amazon expedition voyages take place on the Motor Yacht Tucano, a comfortable and elegant vessel specifically designed for exploration. Amazon Nature Tours is dedicated to observing the magnificent flora and fauna of the rainforest and everything about their voyages is focused on this goal: vessel design, small group size, deeply skilled guides, and commitment to exploring remote places help guests experience the true Amazon that is usually hidden from other travelers.

Amazon Nature Tours Cruises

Amazon Nature Tours Ships

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Tucano Relax and swim Enjoy a sightseeing trip in a canoe. Kayaking in the Amazon from the Tucano

Sustainable Travel in the Amazon

The Quest for Sustainability and The Motor Yacht Tucano

Since its establishment in 1988, the company has maintained a strong commitment to organizing Amazon rainforest tours that prioritize environmental and cultural sustainability. Over the years, this commitment has evolved into a range of technical innovations and operational practices that have positioned the Amazon cruises and the Motor Yacht Tucano as exemplars of sustainability within the Amazon. The primary goals have been threefold: reducing impacts on the rainforest, contributing to the well-being of local communities, and promoting rainforest conservation.

True sustainability, as emphasized, is a collective effort, and during the cruises, the staff and travelers work together as an expedition team. Some of the methods employed involve a shift in how travelers think about energy use. This adjustment, although minor, is considered essential in the collective effort to preserve some of the last remaining pristine areas on Earth. Travelers actively participate in the mission to observe, listen, and enjoy the Amazon's rich biodiversity without causing harm. This spirit is cultivated from the moment of arrival when travelers find a detailed booklet in their staterooms explaining the company's commitment to sustainability procedures. These procedures are designed to create only minimal inconvenience, and nearly all travelers appreciate the efforts to minimize the ecological footprint. The spirit of participation in the shared goal of sustainability is considered a significant aspect of travel in wilderness areas. The company strives to engage travelers in the sense of exploration and discovery, encouraging them to join in the preservation of the Amazon, one of the world's greatest wilderness areas.

Efforts in sustainability can be categorized into five general areas, as summarized below and discussed in greater detail in linked pages:

Solar Energy / Carbon Footprint Reduction: From the early design stages, the Motor Yacht Tucano incorporated equipment and design features aimed at reducing the carbon footprint. A key achievement is the ability to operate all essential vessel functions without the need for continuous electricity production from diesel generators. Systems such as shower and toilet water, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, drinking water cooling, ice production, and the propulsion of launches operate without diesel generators, partly due to ship design and extensive solar-electric and solar-thermal arrays.

Ship Design / Environmental Focus: Through specialized equipment, materials, and ship design, cruises on the Motor Yacht Tucano aim to provide travelers with a comfortable, sophisticated, and sustainable experience. All vessel functions, including cleaning, maintenance, supply provisioning, and waste management, are conceived to minimize environmental impact, protect traveler health, and offer an intimate and authentic Amazon experience.

Operations and Crew: While machines play a significant role, the true key to sustainability lies in the personal commitment of the staff. Crew members, from the Chef to the Captain, use their passion for nature to minimize the invasiveness of cruises and conserve resources. They meticulously follow procedures for energy conservation, accommodation best practices, and vessel provisioning. All major vessel functions are designed with conservation and sustainability in mind, and the staff are dedicated to their successful implementation.

Being There: in the Forest Sustainably: Tourism, if poorly managed, can have negative impacts on wildlife, the natural environment, and cultural cohesion in traditional communities. Tour activities are carefully crafted to minimize adverse effects. Field staff, including naturalists and woodsmen, are highly trained in responsible tourism best practices. Throughout the expedition experience, from approaching wildlife to visiting remote forest villages, there is a strong emphasis on environmental awareness and cultural preservation.

Responsible Tourism: Sustainability goes beyond avoiding negative impacts; responsible travel should also have a positive benefit. The operations of the Motor Yacht Tucano are designed to share economic benefits with the community and promote the conservation of the Amazon. Goals include providing stable, well-paid, long-term employment, adhering to procurement policies that distribute ship purchasing benefits, promoting environmental education, and providing a revenue source within local communities that highly value rainforest preservation.

Ecological Tourism and the Future: Tourism, when conducted conscientiously and responsibly, can have a profoundly positive impact on both the environment and local communities. As an industry that values education, tourism can offer stable, well-paying employment opportunities that pave the way for future generations. It may be the only non-extractive use feasible for undisturbed tropical forests. As the company enters its third decade of exploration in the Amazon, the team remains committed to achieving ecotourism goals and providing travelers with the privilege of experiencing the wonders of the Amazon while making a positive contribution to the planet's greatest wilderness.

Responsible Travel in the Amazon

The company demonstrates a strong commitment to environmental and community responsibility in its operations at the Amazon Village during Motor Yacht Tucano cruises. Their dedication to responsible tourism in the Amazon region is evident, with deep integration into the communities they engage with, including remote villages and the larger city of Manaus, Brazil, where the vessel is homeported. As active members of these communities, they endeavor to share the benefits of tourism widely and work collaboratively to act responsibly.

The team aboard the M/Y Tucano is dedicated to making positive impacts on both the environment and the local community in which they are embedded. They recognize that sustainability goes beyond merely avoiding negative impacts; it must also yield positive benefits.

The operational strategy of the M/Y Tucano is carefully designed to achieve these dual goals: economic benefit sharing with the community and Amazon rainforest conservation. This is accomplished through several key initiatives, including environmental education, stable and well-compensated long-term employment, procurement policies that distribute the benefits of ship purchasing, and the provision of revenue to local communities in a manner that emphasizes the preservation of the wilderness.

Environmental Education:

The commitment to preserving the rainforest environment is primarily manifested through the promotion of environmental education and engagement with relevant governmental authorities responsible for environmental conservation. While their voyages provide intensive learning experiences for travelers, the focus on environmental education extends to all individuals associated with the expedition voyages, from equipment suppliers to the local inhabitants encountered in remote forest areas. By maintaining conscientious conduct and fostering thoughtful appreciation of the Amazon forest's beauty and wonder, they aim to cultivate an understanding of the imperative need to preserve this magnificent wilderness. Over nearly three decades of conducting Amazon expeditions, this conscientiousness has grown within their communities, evolving into a shared mission and a source of enduring pride.

Supporting Cultural Preservation:

During their cruises, great care is taken in interactions with local communities to prevent the commercialization of villagers or the reduction of their cultural identity to that of trinket vendors or reenactors. Elaborate procedures are in place to ensure that small communities are not disrupted by visits. This includes varying the locations visited and ensuring that interactions with local residents are respectful and do not disrupt their economic or cultural integrity. They contribute materials that benefit not only individuals but the entire community, such as providing diesel fuel for generators or writing materials for village schools.

Community Support:

Significant purchases for cruise supply and maintenance are made, with a preference for direct purchases from local farmers at farmer's markets. The economic impact of their vessel operations is substantial, and since they are locally based, nearly all activities generate social and economic benefits for local residents. They prioritize sustainable tourism through long-term employment and thoughtful procurement for expedition cruises. All staff members are licensed by Brazilian maritime and tourism authorities, and the team consists of long-term employees rather than part-time or freelance guides. Their staff, skilled in naturalism and maritime expertise, play a crucial role in communicating knowledge of the forest and promoting sustainability, making them essential to the success of the cruises. Many crew members have grown up in the forest, offering a wealth of experience to share with travelers. The entire M/Y Tucano team enjoys the benefits of long-term employment, including comprehensive healthcare, paid vacation time, retirement plans, and various other perks, underscoring their collective commitment to working together as a team to preserve the forest sustainably.

Amazon Solar Energy and Sustainability

The commitment to minimizing the carbon footprint is evident in the utilization of solar energy during Amazon river cruises aboard the Motor Yacht Tucano. The company maintains a dedication to reducing the environmental impact while exploring the untamed Amazon wilderness. This commitment extends throughout the vessel's design, equipment, and operational procedures.

Solar-Electric System: The M/Y Tucano is at the forefront of employing solar energy in the Amazon. The solar-electric system generates electricity to power various vessel components, including the ship's launches, freezers, refrigerators, passenger refrigerators, water coolers, ice maker, and illumination in multiple areas. Through a custom-designed switching system and an extensive battery array, a wide range of other appliances throughout the vessel are powered by the sun, even during nighttime hours.

Solar-Thermal Hot Water System: Despite the potential misconception for those from temperate climates, constant access to very hot water is not a necessity in the Amazon due to its hot climate and generally warm water. Therefore, full-time hot water heaters are uncommon for residents in the region. The Motor Yacht Tucano provides heated water for showers from two separate systems, with the solar-thermal system being the most sustainable. Notably, the vessel does not rely on diesel electric energy around the clock to heat water, as is the case with many water heaters that consume significant fossil fuel and contribute to air pollution.

To minimize carbon emissions, the Motor Yacht Tucano was designed with two fully independent showering systems: one solar-thermal and another diesel-electric. Each stateroom is equipped with two separate showerheads, one for each system. Solar-thermal panels efficiently warm water, which is stored in an insulated tank on the top deck. The warm water is distributed vessel-wide via gravity through dedicated insulated piping during the day and night. Although rainy days may result in slightly cooler water, most travelers find the temperature perfectly suitable for their needs. As with many sustainability systems, user participation and acceptance of some variation from normal routines are required, and the travelers are typically eager to engage with the Tucano team in the spirit of exploration and sustainability.

The secondary hot water shower system, powered by diesel-electric, also incorporates a sustainability feature. Water is distributed under pressure via electric pumps through its own dedicated piping system to "on-demand" electric heaters in each stateroom's bathroom. This approach saves energy by eliminating the continuous heating of large water tanks. To align energy use with actual necessity, this system operates only during specific times of the day. For most travelers, adjusting their routines to this system is a straightforward change in scheduling, and the steps taken to reduce the carbon footprint are relatively easy. These small adjustments in traveler habits yield significant positive outcomes for sustainable tourism and rainforest preservation, with active participation from all on board.

Solar Propulsion for Excursion Launches: Another noteworthy innovation on the Motor Yacht Tucano is the use of electric motors to power the ship's launches, which, in turn, are energized by energy from the solar-electric panels. (Conventional outboard motors are also available for the launches.) Several factors contribute to this unique propulsion system, including the small group size of the cruise vessel, accommodating a maximum of 18 travelers - an ideal size for forest exploration. During excursions, travelers are divided into two smaller groups, each comprising a maximum of nine travelers with a naturalist guide and a mariner driver/woodsman. This small group size allows for the use of vessels that can be propelled by electric motors. Key elements making this possible include the ship's capacity, the launch size, powerful electric motors, deep discharge-capable gel batteries, and advanced solar-electric chargers that keep the batteries charged using solar energy. Consequently, the small groups can enjoy expedition excursions characterized not only by sustainability but also by the absence of noise and exhaust smoke, creating thrilling and eco-friendly experiences.

Amazon Vessel Design and Sustainability

Environmentally Minded Design
The Motor Yacht Tucano was intentionally designed to be the most environmentally sustainable vessel in the Amazon. It incorporates a range of innovative design elements and operational practices aimed at reducing its environmental impact and promoting sustainability. These features and practices include a Dual Water System, Passive Solar Design, Conservation through "Small-Spec" Equipment, Accommodations Best Practices, Waste Management, Sanitation Waste Treatment, and Provisioning.

The vessel is equipped with two entirely independent water distribution systems, each with its own ship-wide piping. The primary and sustainable water system operates using gravity, requiring minimal electrical power, which can be supplemented by solar electric energy. This system provides water for toilets, sinks, showers, and the galley. This design ensures the vessel can operate quietly and sustainably, even with all fossil fuel equipment turned off, particularly when anchored in pristine natural areas. This approach helps reduce the need for constant generator operation. The secondary shower water system functions similarly to conventional marine water systems, with diesel engine-generated electricity pressurizing the pipes and valves. However, energy conservation measures have been integrated into this system.

Passive Solar Design is another key aspect of the vessel's sustainability. It was designed with large opening windows and high-density thermal insulation throughout. This design allows for natural lighting during the day, reducing the reliance on electrical illumination. The windows are equipped with insect screens, allowing travelers to open them and experience the fresh, scented air of the Amazon. This immediate connection with the rainforest is a unique pleasure often absent on more typical cruise vessels with hermetically sealed, climate-controlled rooms. The staterooms and interior public spaces are well insulated to conserve energy and ensure traveler comfort.

Energy conservation through equipment specification is a fundamental practice on the Motor Yacht Tucano. The vessel employs a "small spec" policy, ensuring that all engines, including main propulsion, generators, and launch motors, are as small as possible while still efficiently fulfilling their functions. This approach conserves fuel and significantly reduces air pollution emissions. Additionally, most engines are of the newest and most fuel-efficient generation, resulting in lower hydrocarbon emissions. The ship's launches are equipped with small-spec, highly efficient four-stroke outboard motors, favoring ecological travel over high-speed journeys through the rainforest.

The small-spec philosophy extends to various technical aspects of the vessel, such as the use of LED lighting throughout, low-pressure water systems, and the utilization of solar-generated electricity and solar-thermal heating to the capacity of the arrays. Large windows in staterooms and public spaces minimize the need for electrical illumination during daylight hours. Despite cruising near the equator, where air conditioning is often in high demand, the small-spec technique is applied to reduce energy consumption. This is achieved by creating multiple independent cooling zones on the vessel, each equipped with standalone air-conditioning equipment, enabling efficient cooling only where and when needed. Staff procedures are implemented to monitor and optimize zone cooling, resulting in substantial energy savings.

The vessel also has a comprehensive waste management system in place. Inorganic and organic waste from the galley and hotel services are separated onboard. Inorganic waste is stored in an enclosed exterior area on the vessel and, upon return to the home port, is further separated into recyclable and non-recyclable categories, and then taken to municipal processing facilities. The use of disposable packaging is minimized, with travelers encouraged to use washable drinking cups and glasses rather than plastic disposables, although disposable options are available for those who prefer them.


The company's voyages offer comfortable and elegant accommodations, with a focus on providing exceptional experiences rather than luxury accommodations or fine dining. The emphasis is on the sophistication of the narrative, the storytelling, the forest activities, and the authenticity of the overall experience. Their vessel is designed to deliver outstanding and extraordinary experiences, with comfortable but not overly extravagant accommodations. They cater to a discerning clientele, aiming to provide a sophisticated and elegant shipboard experience and an exceptional field experience at a reasonable price.

The cruises are designed to be active and engaging, yet they also offer relaxation options to suit the preferences of their guests. The company navigates the M/Y Tucano primarily during the middle of the day and at night, allowing ample time for off-vessel exploration in the rainforest. Travelers can choose between active programs, which include several hours of daily exploration, including optional kayak excursions deep into the flooded forest, and more leisurely but engaging experiences. Being on the vessel itself is a unique experience, as it is surrounded by the wild rainforest.

In terms of wildlife encounters, the Amazon's incredible biodiversity ensures that travelers see various types of animals during the cruises. However, it's important to note that they may only spot a small number of each species, as the creatures are spread throughout the forest and often hide from human presence. Binoculars are often needed for close observations. These are truly wild creatures, not semi-captive animals typically found in forest lodges or hotels. The company's cruises typically spot a wide variety of creatures due to the expertise of their guides, small group sizes, numerous excursions, the remote wilderness location, and their commitment to exploration. Travelers can expect to see around 100 different bird species, 3-6 kinds of monkeys, 5-10 different reptiles and amphibians, approximately 5 other types of mammals such as anteaters or otters, and a diverse array of fascinating plants.

The cruises are designed to be enjoyable and lighthearted, with a focus on experiencing Amazon nature. Activities include swimming off pristine beaches (weather and navigation permitting), fishing for piranha, and sampling local cuisine, such as the famous "caipirinhas" of Brazil, accompanied by music and dancing, including the Amazon's sizzling favorite, the forró.
Exploring the forest is a central focus of the cruises, with 3-5 excursions off the vessel every day. These voyages are not sedentary, and the nature portion of the journey primarily takes place outside the vessel. Activities include morning forest walks, daily excursions in launches or kayaks, and visits to small villages or pioneer families' homes. Some nights, weather permitting, there are excursions to observe nocturnal creatures from the safety of launches.

An important aspect of the M/Y Tucano cruises is that they offer travelers choices of activities. During daily excursions, travelers can select between two groups: the Science Group, which explores at a leisurely pace and focuses on detailed observations of Amazon flora and fauna, or the Adventure Group, which offers a more vigorous and exploratory experience through hiking or kayaking. This flexibility allows travelers with different interests and expectations to enjoy activities in their preferred manner and have a customized experience.

The best time to travel to the Amazon depends on individual preferences, as the diligence of guides, guests, and a bit of luck play a more significant role in wildlife observation than the specific travel timing. The company operates expeditions year-round, and trips are wonderful at any time of the year.

The company's voyages take place in the central Amazon in the State of Amazonas, Brazil. The region experiences less rainfall than the Peruvian end of the Amazon, with up to 30% less precipitation. The rainy season typically occurs from late January to early May, although full days of rain are rare. There are advantages to traveling during this season, including fruiting and flowering of riverine plants and slightly cooler temperatures.

The dry/low-water season lasts from September to November, during which rivers become shallower, and sandy beaches emerge. Afternoon rain showers are common during this period. It's an excellent time to spot large fishing birds, marine mammals, and reptiles like Caiman. The months of October and November are drier and hotter, corresponding to the lowest river levels of the year. While some creatures may be less abundant during the dry season, migratory species compensate for this. The itinerary may be adjusted during these months to navigate changing river channels and expansive beaches, reflecting the spirit of exploration. The cruises primarily travel in the middle of the day and at night, allowing for optimal exploration. Travelers have the opportunity to observe various creatures congregating at the river's edge, all while remaining comfortably connected to the surrounding forest. The river offers fascinating sights, including leaping fish, pink dolphins, numerous birds, and remarkable trees with hanging vines.


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