I have been on a few alternative cruises in my life. In Turkey, Costa Rica, Canada, Thailand. There are some destinations where a river cruise is about the only way you can get to see the true nature of the place. The River Kwai in Thailand or a Chao Phraya cruise from Bangkok which takes you north to temples and hidden villages. There can only be a Nile felucca cruise to help you feel Cairo. Or a mangrove forest cruise in Costa Rica.
Environmentalists agree: The mother of all cruises would never be a Princess Cruise to Venice or the Caribbean: it’s a cruise through one of the still wild places in the world – through the Amazon.
I am already writing my post-Covid bucket list. Travel will no doubt be even better, but probably more soulful once the risks lift. Some companies are already readying intimate and private style charter yachts for cruises to the Amazon River. These kinds of travels like those run by Rainforest Cruises lift the veil on party time and how westerners used to travel. ‘Woke’ stewards of the earth and their children can hire private riverboats with viewing decks to get close to the nature of the Amazon Rainforest.
Years ago, people could only fantasize about taking a boat through the Amazon rainforest, home to millions of wildlife species and plants, about one-third of all species on the planet, and even unidentified tribes. Now, a number of ecotourism operations can help give you the wild and educational experience you crave, while giving back to the locals and raising awareness of rainforest conservation. Banks are exploiting the Amazon but by getting close to the needs and problems of the region via sustainable tourism, you can help be part of the solution and experience its majestic beauty.
For those travellers looking for greater insight into conservation efforts in the region and even the chance to actively participate in research, there are special conservation-themed cruises out there. There are opportunities to help world-renowned biologists do pink river dolphin research deploying acoustic seapods to collect and record the sounds of dolphins and record water temperatures where dolphins are spotted, and several cruises with special guest speakers on board highlighting the deeper problems that face endangered species, such as the Amazonian manatee.
You can get this kind of education as a traveller with an open heart and mind, and lots of time on your hands, like Krista in Indonesia with her slow travel, or if you are a journalist like me and get to interview Alexandra Cousteau. But if your time is limited, and you aren’t a member of the press, a cruise along the upper Amazon in Peru might be the best way to go. Chartering a whole boat for you and your extended family or a group of friends could offer a new idea for a destination wedding or memorable family reunion – hard to come by these days.
No better setting to be with those you love and whose values you share: “Such unique conservation cruises allow guests to directly participate in conservation action and research while on vacation, and hopefully raise awareness to others when they get home of the importance of preserving the Amazon and its species,” Jeremy Clubb, the owner of Rainforest Cruises tells Green Prophet.
“As you travel deep into some of the Amazon’s largest protected reserves, you’ll get the chance to experience different ecosystems and wildlife as you slowly drift on its tranquil tributaries and idyllic lakes, sleeping in different locations each night, under a different spectacular sunset,” Clubb adds.
Founded in 2011, Rainforest Cruises are experts in expedition coastal and river cruises in South America and Southeast Asia, pioneering experiential travel on the world’s most iconic waterways, from the Amazon to the Mekong, aboard their curated collection of unique cruise vessels. The company is Conservation Circle Partners of the Rainforest Trust and members of Sustainable Travel International and the International Ecotourism Society, and are advocates for responsible cruising, sustainable tourism and rainforest conservation.
Eight years ago I had a wonderful eco experience in Thailand aboard a river cruise for a few days. One day I hope to make it the Amazon.