The big day has arrived. The kids are anxious to get to the Amazon (and they wake up extra early, of course).
Our group leaves the hotel in Manaus at 9:30am. The 180km ride to Novo Airao takes about two hours and, surprisingly, all the kids survived the trip without having to resort to ipads or games. Their excitement is palpable.
“Is this the Amazon?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we really going to live on a boat for a week? Cool!”
And once we get to the port in Novo Airao, there she is. The Jacaré-Açu: an imposing regional-style boat, entirely crafted in wood. Spacious, comfortable and welcoming. And our home for the week.
Once every one is accommodated in their respective cabins (there are 8 total), we depart for lunch at Flor do Luar, a floating restaurant run by São Paulo chef Debora Shornik.
Lunch is a special gift from our local hosts. And what a treat. We are served a feast, but not before we are reminded that this is indeed the rain forest. It pours for about 8 minutes when the storm ends as swiftly as it started.
Just in time for us to enjoy some costela de tambaqui (a local fish), baião de dois (a regional dish made with black eyed peas and rice) and fried banana,
Note to self: leave room for dessert next time. The grilled pineapple and açaí ice cream dessert was to die for.
After lunch, we depart up river, cruising along the stunning Anavilhanas archipelago, deeper into the Amazon, where we begin to spot a few of the birds that will escort us along the way: blue-yellow macaws, festive amazon parrots, toucans and hawks, to name a few.
The kids play as if they were old friends. Captain Tito introduces us to the crew, briefs us on the security measures and gives us an overview of our route and the Amazon fauna and flora we can expect to see.
Our destination today is the Mirante do Madadá, where guests can choose to sleep in hammocks in the lookout tower or enjoy a first night aboard the Jacaré-Açu.
Before we arrive at our destination, however, a stop for our first of many dips in the Rio Negro. And we are all hooked.
Curious to see more about the Jacaré-Açu? Check out this video: