Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trip report - Riverboat Expedition

We received this letter and photos from Solange Ethier who recently traveled with us on one of our riverboat expeditions.

I found GreenTracks and its great web site and it encompassed everything I needed to know about the company, boats, tours, guides, itineraries, etc. With my very first message to Greentracks, George answered promptly and was very professional. And then when I talked to him on the phone, well, that clinched it for me. He was very helpful in answering every question, offering solutions and suggesting viable options. Also, I must admit that all his suggestions were very helpful and he never failed me. I let him pick all the hotels and I never questioned his choices - never regretted it either. I think I’ll let him organize all my trips from now on! Plus, I had the feeling that Greentracks had a genuine interest in making me discover the true Amazon.

Arriving in Iquitos I was met by Joel, my Iquitos guide, who had a huge smile, and I immediately felt at ease. When we got to the hotel, and before I even walked in, Joel introduced me to Scott, GreenTracks’ Iquitos point man. A very nice introduction to my trip! I was impressed that he would be there for me. Felt very VIP. He gave me all sorts of information and time of departure for the cruise and took the time to sit and just talk with me.

Joel took me on the city tour, including the floating city of Belen, by motokar and canoe. He also took me to the butterfly farm. We had a special drink on the shore before leaving (an old man making ice from an antique manual ice crushing machine). Afterward, visited a local market where I had my first taste of the Peruvian watermelon, sitting right there in the market. I even went out dancing that night.

Solange and Joel

We went by bus to the small town of Nauta, where the M/V Clavero was waiting. Met Bill Lamar on the bus and he was very relaxed and friendly. On the way we stopped at a local roadside eatery where some of us tasted suri (grubs). NOT ME. But I tasted tacacho (mashed and fried plantain) with roasted pork and jungle grapes. Very good. I loved that stop and the local people were very friendly.

M/V Clavero

Bill Lamar and the adventurers

Ivonne Braga, Guide/Naturalist

I’m used to cruises leaving from big cities, but leaving from Nauta was the beginning of a very exciting and unique experience. We were welcomed on the ship and were each given palm-fiber bags with information and maps for the trip. Then boat rides, day and night treks in the jungle (especially the one walking over the logs), pisco sours, howling monkeys, bats, snakes, spiders; Dennis smiling and helping all the time; Rene very skillfully driving the small boat; meeting Antonio the fisherman, the natives, sloth pictures, black caiman; Ivy’s (GreenTracks guide) smile, jungle sounds, piranha fishing, etc. I really felt like an adventurer and could almost imagine myself alone on the Amazon, hearing strange bird and animal noises.... it was quite something. However, what made the cruise special was the care everyone took of us.

Group in front of a Ceiba tree

René Pérez with a Wolf Fish

Bill Lamar with a South American Coralsnake

Everybody was always smiling (even when we kept bugging them about the name of different animals we had on our cameras), very helpful, very knowledgeable, very funny, and the week went by too quickly. Of course I had charming and interesting traveling companions on this trip, too. I never once had the feeling that Bill had seen the same jungle a thousand times. We were all excited when we saw him catch the snake, handle the tarantula, etc. and he made it very different for each of us, according to our varied interests. That is a skillful art when you are with the same ‘’gringos’‘ for 7 days! There was never a dull moment on the boat. Ivy was unstoppable and we witnessed her MC skills when we met the indigenous people in the village of Bolivar, where they sang, danced and mimicked animal noises for us. Even at 06:00 hours on the deck with my coffee, Dennis and/or Ivy were there, bright and cheerful. But I must mention that everybody else on the boat owner’s crew was very nice to us, too. Always smiling, always bringing an extra glass of milk, pouring us drinks, etc. Forever grateful to Pablo for taking pictures of us.

Fried Piranha

Happy adventurers

The fact that I was escorted and given boarding passes every time I flew was impressive. The only upgrade would have been for them to carry me onto the plane! To tell you the truth, if GreenTracks traveled to all the countries I want to visit, they would be my one and only escorted tour operator! I only hope that George, Bill and their entire crew understand how much their help, suggestions, presence, efforts and behavior made this my very special birthday gift.



Post a Comment