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Spot monkeys in the rainforest canopy

Fortaleza to Bridgetown

Example 22 Day Cruise aboard Silver Wind
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Amazon sunset
Highlights
  • Visit the Forte do Castelo in Belem
  • Marvel at the Giant Water Lilies in Lago Canaçari
  • Tour the city of Georgetown in Guyana
  • Observe the wildlife in Chaguaramas National Park
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Fortaleza | Embark

Lie back and let it all go in Fortaleza - a bright and breezy Brazillian beachside city of relaxation and rejuvenation. The ‘City of Light' basks in the reliable glow of the bountiful Brazilian sun for 2,800 hours each year, and the locals make the most of it, spreading out across sweeping stretches of pristine golden sand. Nestled on the north-eastern coast of Brazil, reaching towards the equator, the city is as off the beaten track as a vast state capital can be, and it moves to its own infectious forró rhythms. Get energised for a day exploring - or relaxing - with a morning swim.

Raise the pulse by skidding and roll across sand dunes while you're out here. If you've had your fill of sea and sand, explore Fortaleza itself to discover more of Brazil's fifth-largest city. Walk streets of ice-cream coloured colonial buildings, or head to Dragão do Mar Cultural Center - a mini-city of arts venues alive with culture and creativity. The Metropolitan Cathedral squeezes a congregation of 5,000 into its Neo-Romanesque architecture, and its stain glass windows blaze vivid colours across its elegant, white-wash interior.

Day 2-3: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 4: Belem

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The gateway to the Amazon River is how Belém, the capital of Para State, is often described. It is located approximately 100 km (60 miles) upriver from the Atlantic on the Pará River, part of the Amazon River delta. Portugal established Belém in 1616 as the first European colony on the Amazon. Belém looks like a modern city, but it has retained its older colonial heart, with squares, churches and facades of traditional blue tiles. These reflect the 17th century architecture of Lisbon. The Forte do Castelo, located high above the old city, was built to deter French, Dutch and British colonization attempts. Neoclassical architecture is also present, along with later French influences There was less colonial rivalry then. Walking is the best way to see and get the feel for the historic district.

One way to grasp the variety of edible ingredients available in the Amazon region is to visit the Ver-O-Peso Market. The huge outdoor space sprawls across four blocks. It is a city landmark and possibly the largest market in Brazil. Stalls offer typical local foods, vegetables and tropical fruits, and daily supplies of fascinating freshwater fish. Of course, any food market visit stimulates the appetite for local specialties. Other products for sale include pottery handicrafts, handmade clothing, and charms made by the practitioners of macumba, a spiritual practice with African roots brought with slavery in the 16th century and sometimes labelled as witchcraft or voodoo. Maybe a good luck charm is best.

Day 5: Breves Narrows

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 6: Guajara

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A small black water sidearm of the main river will entice you on your first outing to the Amazon and its people. Visit a small community in part of the Verde para Sempre Extractive Reserve, established to protect the lifestyle of the local people. Their activities include small-scale extraction of products from the forest, tending family vegetable farms, fishing and caring for domestic animals including water buffalo. Three important native palm trees are tended and harvested. The Açaí Palm produces hanging bunches of Açaí berries which have become popular as a nutritious food around the world. Perhaps you have tried it? This Brazilian berry was traditionally a staple for the people living in the Amazon delta. Babassu Palms form long hanging lines of hard fruits. Their seed is crushed for an edible oil and starch is extracted from the fruit. Buriti Palms have fringed round leaves and a scaly fruit. The fruit’s flesh is eaten raw or dried and ground into flour and its seed produces an oil. All these palms produce edible palm hearts, leaves for thatching, trunks for timber and sap for fermenting into the local home brew. Palms attract wildlife as do the flooded fields and the gallery forest on the higher banks between the main river and this side arm. Look out for large green iguanas sunning or resting on tree branches. Particularly hard to spot but worth looking for are sleepy sloths. These are specialists of a casual lifestyle of extended sessions of eating and just hanging about.

Day 7: Rio Balaio | Furo dos Botos

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Amazon rises annually, overflowing its main channel. Launch the zodiacs to explore the floodplains at the Rio Balaio. With high water levels, small boats can easily travel around the wetland system. A scattering of local people live around the waterway, dependent on canoes and small wooden vessels for movement. Islands of vegetation are magnets for birds. Watch for flying parrots, both small and large, and the occasional birds of prey. On the ground look for Black-bellied Whistling-ducks, the Jabiru Stork and the Horned Screamer (yes, that is a bird!). Larger areas of trees support a variety of forest birds and monkeys. Monkeys love the trees but seldom travel on the ground and generally hate the water and avoid swimming. The large rivers of the Amazon Basin have acted as barriers for many species. 

Botos means river dolphins. Furo means hole. At the entrance to this narrow channel you have a good chance to see botos. A quiet drift along the channel lets you enjoy the bird chorus and look out for travelling flocks of birds of many species. Who knows what you may see? Perhaps some glorious trogons, shiny anis, pointy-beaked oropondolas or big-billed toucans. The direction and colour of the current in the channel depend on the water level in the main Amazon River. During high flows, white water, coloured by fine clay sediments, from the Amazon flows into the channel. When the main river is low, black tannin-rich water flows from the forest. The river height in the central Amazon varies during the year by about 10 metres (33 feet). 

Day 8-9: Manaus

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Lying in the heart of the Amazon, hundreds of miles upriver from the Atlantic, Manaus is a busy port city surrounded by the richest rainforest habitat on Earth. Placed strategically at the confluence of two rivers, the town was founded as a fortress by the Portuguese Navy, but quickly became a trade hub for the surrounding area. By the late 19th Century, Manaus was the centre of Brazil's booming rubber industry, and grew rapidly into one of the largest cities in Brazil. During this period, many of Manaus' grandest buildings were constructed by the city's 'Rubber Barons', including the Public Market, and the Amazon Theatre, a vast decadent opera house. Today, Manaus is a cultural melting pot, with a diverse population. A complex system of free trade rules has turned Manaus into one of the wealthiest cities in the Brazil, with heavy industry developing alongside traditional livelihoods such as river fishing, and gathering the bounty of fruit, nuts and medicinal plants which the rainforest bestows. However, it is the surroundings which give Manaus its unique character. The famous Meeting of Waters, where tannin-rich water from the Rio Negro combines with milky water from the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon, can be seen just outside town, and the jungle beckons visitors to explore and discover. Excluding Manaus, the state of Amazonas is extremely sparsely populated, and in the largest rainforest on Earth, it is easy to forget the hustle and bustle of the city and simply enjoy the wonders of nature.

Day 10: Lago Canaraci | Furo Comprido

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Giant Water Lilies (Victoria amazonica) are legendary, as they can support the weight of a child. You may see them at Lago Canaçari. A channel dug from the river allows boat access to the lake. Seasonal inundation from the river system replenishes the lakes. The lake waters have few currents and the shallow quiet waters allow water plants to flourish. The famous Giant Water Lilies have enormous round leaves (lily pads) with upturned rims making them look like huge pastry tarts. The plant’s roots are anchored to the lakebed and leaf stalks rise to the lily pads floating on the water surface. The leaves are solar panels using the sun’s energy to fuel further leaf production. The underside of each leaf is artistically patterned with large ribs to give it strength. Birds use the floating platforms. Look for sedate herons standing on lily pads watching for fish and pretty Wattled Jacanas with elongated toes walking casually on the floating leaves. Even if lilies are scarce this year, there is much other flora to explore. Along the shore of the channel look for Ceropia trees with large lobed leaves and visible branches. Sloths like to eat Ceropia leaves so keep a look out for hairy lumps on the branches. Fruit-eating birds feed on the fruit and spread the tree’s seeds in their droppings. Ceropia fruit are called snake fingers. Wait, snakes don’t have fingers! The fruit is so named because it is long and thin. Toucans, aracari and larger parrots are among the birds that seek the fruit.

Meaning Long Hole, Furo Comrido is an old cut-off arm of the river. It lets us explore the forest and the local people. The Amazon changes course as it meanders across the flat lowlands. Loops are sometimes cut off leaving side channels like this. Gallery vegetation at the entrance to the side arm is a good example of plants ‘fighting’ for the best place in the sun. Water does not limit rainforest growth here (perhaps you have noticed it rains frequently) but light does. Getting enough solar energy to photosynthesize is what makes or breaks the growing potential of each plant. Look for wildlife here. If it is sunny, spot butterflies and other flying insects. Search amongst the thousands of different green shades of the forest for monkeys and birds. 

Day 11: Curua Una

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A large open flood plain extends from Río Curuá-Una behind riverside trees. Nearby are hills which are an unusual feature this close to the Amazon. Exploring in Zodiacs allows us to approach floating vegetation to see how these remarkable plants survive without attaching to the riverbed. We can get close to birds from the convenience of the boats. Watch as the birds seek insects amongst the plants or aquatic life below the water surface. Water buffalo have been added to cattle as sources of red meat for local consumption. Originating in Asia the water buffalos are well-adapted to wet conditions and are faster at putting on weight than cattle. They can damage the wetlands so they still must be moved to higher ground during the wettest times of the year. If favorable conditions allow, we will offer an outing after sunset. The ‘orchestra of the night’ created by insects, frogs and other wildlife is an experience on its own. Perhaps an owl or a pottoo will appear, as they hunt for large insects, frogs, and small birds and mammals.

Day 12: Jariuba

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This is a chance to explore where few people visit. The riverside forest supports many orchids and other epiphytic plants growing on trunks and branches of large trees. As well as admiring giant trees, focus on the minutiae—tiny moss and fungi and the vein patterns on rainforest leaves. Much of the Amazon wildlife, like mammals and secretive frogs, hide in the leafy greenery. Birds are a bit more obvious, especially the smaller birds, such as hummingbirds, that constantly move. Ants are important animals of the forest. Leaf cutter ants carry cutout pieces of leaves back to their nest to use to farm edible fungi. If you are lucky, you may spot army ants marching on the forest floor with attendant antbirds picking off insects. Turtles, caimans and even otters live in the water. Perhaps they are resting on the surface amongst floating vegetation or swimming out of sight. They breathe air, so look for them surfacing to take a breath or two. You may only see their nostrils and eyes. 

Day 13: Cajari

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Amazon delta is complex. Many other deltas have one main river channel dividing into several before reaching the sea. In contrast, multiple rivers enter the Amazon delta and several outlets flow to the sea between islands. The width of this entire delta is 325 kilometres (202 miles). The last outing on the river finds us exploring taller rainforest vegetation along a small creek and lets us see how the people live in the delta area. This area once supported rubber tappers and is now part of the Río Cajari Extractive Reserve. It aims for sustainable use and conservation of the forest by the local community. Commercial logging and clearing are banned while locals may hunt for food, fish, grow food and collect brazil nuts and palm fruits from the forest. Most wildlife is protected unless it is a favorite food. That is why large rodents like Paca and Agouti hide. The people of the delta have adjusted to fluctuating water levels. Tides cause daily variation and the annual cycle of wet and dry seasons alters the river height. See how houses and connecting walkways are built on stilts hammered deep into the mud. The stilts prevent inundation and stop the river washing structures away. Hurricanes are not an issue at the delta as we are on the equator. Of course, they know how to live with rain—heavy rain! They receive over two metres (80 inches) each year. Perhaps you may get hints of how to survive downpours. At least it is warm rain. One thing time on the river has spared you from is ocean swells.

Day 14: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 15: Ile Royale

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You wouldn't know it, as you approach the soft sands and gently waving weave of palm trees, but this tropical paradise once stashed away some of France's most notorious criminals. Home to one of history's most remote and brutal penal colonies, Ile Royale is one of three - somewhat ironically named - Salvation Islands. The neighbouring Devil's Island's title offers some honest insight into how these islands were previously thought of. Nowadays, you'll discover a heavenly escape of tropical beaches, and jungle reclaiming the island from the prison’s imprint and cleansing its dark history within a cloak of verdant green. The setting for Steve McQueen's Papillon, and indeed the 2017 remake, the films tell the story of Henri Charriere's attempted escapes from these notoriously impossible to leave islands, which lie seven miles offshore from French Guiana. 

Day 16: Paramaribo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dutch colonial charm still shines through Paramaribao, the capital of Suriname. Many buildings of the World Heritage listed town, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, still stand. The Presidential Palace, the Ministry of Finance and the Garden of Palms are highlights. Birdwatching over coffee is not sitting at a jungle café. At old Peperpot Plantation, it is walking amongst coffee shrubs looking for birds in the overhead tree canopy. The orange flowers of Erythrina trees that shade the coffee plants, attract hovering hummingbirds. Other colourful birds at the site include endemic Arrowhead Piculets, dramatic Blood-coloured Woodpeckers, noisy Black-capped Donacobius, and stunning Green-tailed Jacamars.

Day 17-18: Georgetown

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Jungles, water and wildlife are the themes around Georgetown. They could be in black water tributaries and swamps in the Santa Mission Amerindian Reserve, or the riverside ecosystems of the Mahaica River, or at the massive Kaipaur Falls high in the jungle or even at the manatee pond in the Botanic Gardens. Each location boasts fascinating flora and fauna. Young of the national bird of Guyana, the Hoatzin, have clawed fingers on their wings, a reminder of their dinosaur past. Other avian treats include the Greater Ani, Snail Kite and the Red-shouldered Macaw. Bird song may be drowned out by the loud Red Howler Monkeys. Kaieteur Swifts nest behind the curtain of falling water of Kaiper Falls, the world’s largest single drop waterfall. Watercraft and human activity along the banks are reminders of how essential the rivers are to local communities. The Santa Mission, a community of Arawak and Carib Amerindians, allows you to experience village life and see and purchase local rainforest handicrafts.

In Georgetown itself, the water and jungle still mix. Trees have become buildings with timber the main building material. Most spectacular is the cathedral with gothic arches and flying buttresses made of wood. Canals with sluice gates and a seawall protect the city as it is one metre below the high tide level (Dutch influence at work here). Bourda Market is a highlight and a chance to delve into local foods, and even jungle medicines. A good food shop is best followed by a freshly cooked lunch by a local chef.

Day 19: Essequibo River

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
If you add together expanses of rainforest, mountains and a liberal splash of rainfall, you produce large rivers. The Essequibo River in Guyana begins in the Acarai Mountains on the border with Brazil. It flows through rainforest and savannah for 1,010 kilometres (630 miles) to the Atlantic where it is a 32 km (20 ml) wide estuary with low fertile silt islands. Georgetown, the capital, is located 21 km (13 ml) upriver from the sea. Ships can navigate along the river for 80 km (50 ml) passing, or calling into, Georgetown on the way. The river was important to the Amerindians before European arrived, and still is. The name of the country, Guyana, is derived from the indigenous Amerindian word Guiana which means ‘land of water’. A whole northern region of South America became Guiana and included British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) and French Guiana.

The Dutch settled in Guyana in 1616 and introduced African slaves to cultivate plantations. The British gained control in 1814, and after slaves were emancipated, they brought indentured labour from India. Independence was gained in 1966. Some key British traditions persist, like cricket. Today, the Guyanese people have many ethnic backgrounds and still rely on the river. The river has always been the main transport artery for the country. Observing the houses and activities of the locals from our ship, or a smaller vessel, tells us of their lifestyle. It often involves some boating and fishing. After all, it is a land of water.

Day 20: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 21: Port of Spain

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The calypso rhythms of steel pans are never far away, as you walk the streets of Trinidad and Tobago's capital, one of the largest cities in the region. Overlooking the Gulf of Paria, between the mountains of the Northern Range and the Caribbean Sea, Port of Spain is home to a famous, flamboyant carnival - and the excitement is palpable as it approaches, with spontaneous street parties spilling out. Whenever you visit, and whatever the excuse, there’s always a fete - a party - happening somewhere. Queen's Park Savannah is a lush green urban sanctuary, while Brian Lara Promenade is a striking tribute to Trinidad’s revered cricketing genius. Scattered with artworks, it's the perfect spot for a little liming – the local term for hanging out and taking it easy.

The waterfront is a lively area of bars and restaurants, and the perfect place to soak in some Caribbean sea air, with the waves splashing close by and fountains spurting. Just to the north of the urban sprawl is the revitalising Chaguaramas National Park. A wild place of shooting bamboo, scampering howler monkeys, and delightful coastal walks. Elsewhere, venture through coffee plantations and wildlife sanctuaries to discover endemic, colourful flora and fauna. As you'd expect from this Caribbean capital, it's a journey for the tastebuds, and the food here is fiery spicy and delicious. Try doubles for breakfast, a curried chickpea flatbread sandwich, before tearing into jerk fish later. You’re certain to come across the ever-present green seasoning sauce, flavoured with fresh coriander, during your explorations.

Day 22: Bridgetown | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Bridgetown, the captivating capital of Barbados, combines faded colonial history, captivating tradition, and vivid white beaches plucked directly from your richest imagination of Caribbean perfection. Recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its beautifully preserved colonial architecture, Bridgetown’s mask of modernity covers a core of complex history and fascinating culture. Sherbet coloured buildings line up to overlook the waterfront of the Constitution River at the ‘The Careenage’ - where gleaming ships bob on the blue water, and peaceful strolls along a wooden boardwalk await. 

Photo Gallery

Spot monkeys in the rainforest canopy Amazon sunset Waiting to watch the Amazonica lily pad open for the evening The former mayoral residence, now a museum, is an excellent representative of the city's Caribbean architecture Learn from naturalist guides Explore colorful Bridgetown, Barbados

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Notes

Included in the cruise fare:
  • 1 night pre cruise hotel
  • Transfers (between airport, hotel and ship)
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Spacious suites
  • Butler service in every suite
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Personalised service – nearly one crew member for every guest
  • Choice of restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • In-suite dining and room service
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Onboard gratuities

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