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Cruise to the Wild Side Along the Amazon River

The Amazon jungle is a must-see for every destination collector. This incredible attraction boasts over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests.

Nine different South American nations have territory in the Amazon, but 60 percent of the rainforest can be found in Brazil. Holland America Line’s ships cruise along the Amazon river and take guests to a variety of unique destinations. Get in touch with your adventurous side and see how the locals live with these adventurous shore excursions.

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Santarém, Brazil:
Santarém is a city in Pará, Brazil, where the Tapajós and Amazon River meet. The Maica Lake & Piranha Fishing tour is the perfect way to experience this port of call. Cruise to the ‘meeting of the waters,’ then head to Maica Lake, whose beautiful landscape showcases the Amazon basin. You will see the locals, spot many different species of birds and maybe even freshwater dolphin. Then you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fish for perhaps the Amazon’s most notorious inhabitant, piranhas!

Guest Loreto from Victorville, California, participated in this tour and wrote this about the experience:

Santarem was the first Amazon River port on our cruise. The ride on the boat was very interesting as we cruised out to see the Meeting of the Waters. We saw all kinds of traffic on the river along with pink dolphins. Lake Maica seemed more like a small canal, but it was filled with wildlife, even an iguana. We saw locals living in boats and water buffalo bathing in the river. The boat anchored close to shore in the shade, and we were given pre-baited hand lines to fish for pirahna. My husband caught two small river catfish, but alas no one snagged a pirahna. We all had fun trying!

Guests looking to spend their time on land at Santarém can hit the Santarém-Cuiabá Highway — the only way to reach southern Brazil by road — en route to Tapajós National Forest. This section of the Brazilian Amazon is a major resource of tropical hardwoods and covers an area of nearly 1.5 million acres. Take a walk through the forest and learn of the many different species of trees, including Brazil nut and rubber trees.

With a variety of different species of trees and gorgeous natural waterfalls, there is something new to be seen with every turn on a  hike through the Amazon.

With a variety of different species of trees and gorgeous natural waterfalls, a stunning scene awaits around every turn on a hike through the Amazon.

Alter do Chão, Brazil:
Alter do Chão, Brazil, may boast one of the most beautiful freshwater beaches in the world, but it offers more than sunshine and crystalline waters. Guests can take an Eco Walk through Santa Lucia Arboretum. This woodland treasure, explored by foot, features more than 200 species of trees, including the rubber tree, the Brazil nut and hardwood. The trees have been identified so you can learn about them as you walk through the trails that have been perfectly laid out.

Manaus, Brazil:
Many South American itineraries feature an overnight call at Manaus, Brazil, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy the jungle in the evening. The Alligators by Night tour is perfect for those looking for a thrilling adventure. Cross the Rio Negro by riverboat into Lake January, board a canoe and head into the jungle. Watch the shadows and listen to the mysterious sounds as you wonder what everything is. Your guide will watch for alligators and quickly jump into the water to catch the ones he spots. Get an up-close view of thee incredible creatures before they’re released back into the water.

The Amazon is home to a variety of wildlife.

The Amazon is home to a variety of wildlife. You’ll enjoy hearing the sounds of parrots and spotting alligators at night.

If spending the night in the Amazon jungle is on your bucket list, the Amazon Ecopark: A Night in the Jungle overnight tour at Manaus is the one to choose. This tour invites guests to spend the night at the Amazon Ecopark Jungle Lodge in the heart of the jungle. The lodge features six miles of jungle trails, a variety of uncatalogued species, natural savannas and creeks. Participants are able to visit the homes of local residents to learn about their traditions and jungle life. At night guests spot alligators before heading back to the lodge.

The following morning guests enjoy breakfast and a jungle recognition tour that offers a brief introduction into survival techniques and Amazonian flora and fauna. The tour then visits Monkey Jungle — a rehabilitation center for primates where the primates can be observed and photographed in a safe environment during their feeding time.

An overnight at Manaus gives you plenty of time to explore all it has to offer.

An overnight at Manaus gives extra of time to explore all it has to offer.

Another exciting tour from Manaus lets guests Step Off the Beaten Track for the Amazon Jungle Trek that is an experience of a lifetime. Your guide will talk about life in the wild — from how to find water and make fire to growing crops and hunting animals. Participants learn how to get their bearings and easily hike the jungle. You will even learn about building shelters and traps and basic survival rules.

Guest Fossy from Australia did the trek and said it was “the real deal!”

Our guide was a local, with first hand experience of life in the jungle. Our group was small enough so we could hear and see everything being said and demonstrated. Lots of fascinating stuff. There are some steps at the beginning and some tree roots to watch out for, but well worth the effort.

Parintins, Brazil:
To see another side of the Amazon, the call at Parintins, Brazil, features the perfect indoor activity that will still have guests feeling like a local Brazilian. The Boi Bumba Festival Show is one of the greatest folk festivals in Brazil and truly a must-see! Step off the ship into this world full of bright colors, up-beat music, dancing, folklore and magic. The performers don luxurious costumes, similar to those that can be spotted at the world-famous Carnival in Rio. They dance and sing and tell the captivating story of two disputing families — the Cids and the Monteverdes — while a local Caipirinha drink is enjoyed by the group.

Photo Credit: BoiBumba.com

Photo Credit: BoiBumba.com

Titicaca from Kentucky attended the Boi Bumba Festival show and wrote a review on the Holland America website.

“This was OUTSTANDING & GREAT. The show should be on Broadway. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW — you will be sorry. This was one of the main highlights of the cruise.”

Sunray from Winnipeg, Canada, also had a great time:

“This show had loud, peppy music, action, dancing girls, mythical figures and a depiction of a complicated story. It had everything. A photographers delight. Get there early to get a good seat.”

Amazon Cruises:
If you’re looking to cruise the Amazon, Holland America Line has a variety of options. On Nov. 20, 2014, ms Prinsendam will depart Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for a 28-day Amazon Explorer cruise that features all the ports mentioned above. Guests will sail in and out of the Amazon River and cross the equator!

The 26-day Amazon & Carnaval Explorer itinerary onboard ms Maasdam departs Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 15, 2015. Guests will spend three days at Rio during the world-famous Carnaval, then head to the Amazon. The trip wraps up at Fort Lauderdale.

Have you already booked your cruise to the Amazon? You can also pre-book so your shore excursions to get the tour of your choice.

Cruising through the Amazon is an incredible experience, and these tours will have guests feeling fully-immersed. Have you taken any of these tours before? Which one would you like to try on your next Amazon cruise?

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