Amazon VillageLinda May Dinsmore

By Linda May Dinsmore

A trip on the Amazon River is on many bucket lists and I was fortunate enough to be able to check it off of mine with an incredible journey from Manaus Brazil to Iquitos Peru. Many cruise lines can only sneak into the entrance of the river due to their size but we were onboard the spectacular SeaDream II which is a small ship holding less than 115 guests and a gross tonnage of 4,300 (compared to others sailing in South America at 38,000 tons) so it was able to maneuver through the winding waterways.

Village DanceLinda May Dinsmore

Our “shore excursions” were less than traditional and were done either in a zodiac touring through the waters or on land visiting the villages. Swimming in the Amazon – why yes you can – not in the muddy waters of the river but in the black water tributaries (although I have to admit, I was still a little nervous and constantly kept checking around for critters.)

Zodiac excursionLinda May Dinsmore

One day we were able to get into the water with some pink dolphins, who are grey when they are born but turn pink as they age, and who seemed to be just as curious about us as we were thrilled to see them.

Pink DolphinsLinda May Dinsmore

We visited a few villages and met the locals who seemed happy and healthy even though they were living in such remote places. Their whole world centres around the river and it was fascinating to see how they went about their daily life. They have to build their homes on stilts due to the rising water levels during the wet season. We were invited into the home of an elderly midwife who made us an acai berry drink, lovingly mixed with sugar (and ants) that we drank to show our gratitude.

Monkey IslandLinda May Dinsmore

A trip to Monkey Island had us all laughing like little children when the squirrel monkeys would dive from the trees onto us, landing on our heads or shoulders and jumping from one person to the other. From there we participated in a traditional native dance and enjoyed chatting with the children who had sloths for pets.

Pet SlothLinda May Dinsmore

The zodiacs were also used to take us out on jungle expeditions and the four naturalists onboard were so informative and passionate about the Amazonian area, made us appreciate all the different species we were able to see in the world’s largest rain forest. In fact, our bird expert told us they have recorded more than 1,500 species of just birds.

Bird NaturalistLinda May Dinsmore

During the day, they would quickly spot these species plus reptiles and animals embedded in the foliage that had us straining our eyes to find. A new camera purchase with a good zoom lens helped to capture those once in a lifetime pictures including a sloth hanging around in his habitat.

Sloth hanging out in the treeLinda May Dinsmore

One day we paddled through the reeds to completely immerse ourselves with surrounding vines and were treated to sounds like being at a symphony with the instruments consisting of birds chirping, monkeys squealing and frogs croaking – it was breathtaking

Amazon Rain Forest

We were lucky on the night expeditions as the full moon illuminated the zodiacs through the blackness where flashlights would light up the eyes of the caimans in the water. The guides were fearless of the river and many times would thrust their hand into it and pull up a snake, frog and even a small caiman for us to photograph.

Amazon CaimanLinda May Dinsmore

As we neared the end of our voyage, an unforgettable day was celebrated as we had breakfast in Brazil, lunch in Columbia and dinner in Peru. Disembarking in Iquitos, it was sad to say goodbye to the beauty of this amazing wonder called the Amazon.