Kristin Day, IE's Director of Travel Agent Sales, reports in after a week on our Amazon River cruise .
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to the Amazon as a new employee with International Expeditions to experience our flagship program and to check-out IE’s new riverboat while it was being built. So I was especially excited to join one of La Estrella Amazonica’s inaugural Amazon cruises!
IE travelers are always thrilled to be exploring the Amazon, but the enthusiasm about seeing the new boat for the first time was palpable. Of maybe they just knew how excited I was to finally see La Estrella Amazonica in the water! Our first glimpse of the riverboat was magical as we approached at sunset. I honestly don’t think that — having only seen the renderings in our brochure — anyone expected the riverboat to be as gorgeous as it is…we even took a group photo before boarding the first time!
Other IE staff had always told me that writing a true daily itinerary for the Amazon Voyage was difficult — if not impossible — because of the huge fluctuations in water levels throughout the year and because we allow our guides the flexibility to take advantage of local conditions. Having traveled to the Amazon now during both high and low water seasons, I understand the difficulty! The water can rise as much as 40 feet, changing the landscape and prompting entire villages to relocate. You honestly can't imagine the differences and seeing the cliffs created by the land being moved and carved by the river. During low water season we had a nice hike around Ranger Station #2. In high-water we took the skiff all the way to the top step! Each day in the Amazon is a new adventure with our day’s schedule adjusted to make the most of wildlife sightings, local festivities and changing seasons, but there is a pattern too. Guests enjoy twice daily excursions to view wildlife, frequent village visits, nighttime wildlife excursions, hiking and even kayaking.
All of our guides are so knowledgeable and even create a little “friendly competition” to see who observes the most species during the cruise. At the end of the voyage, each team presented a slide show of their best photos — a showdown highlighting guest and guide photos.Highlighting our sightings were FOUR highly endangered giant river otters and capybaras, which I didn’t see on my previous trip.