Cruise the Ecuadorian Amazon in style
What better way to complement a Galapagos cruise than with a voyage into the heart of the Amazon? We give the lowdown on itineraries offered by the Manatee and the Anakonda, two new, high-end cruise vessels plying the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Until fairly recently, folks who wanted to combine a Galapagos adventure with an Amazon cruise had to contend with the annoyance and expense of flying from Ecuador to either Peru or Brazil. The Anakonda (launched 2013) and the Manatee (launched 2017) have changed all that. As two of our Destination Experts, Jenny Byrne and Corey Cruzado Jay found out on a recent trip…
Both boats are accessed from the quaint Amazon town of Coca, a 30-minute flight from Quito. You’ll be met at the (tiny) airport by a cruise representative, and driven to the airconditioned riverside office to check in (if you have any heavy bags you can leave them at the office). From there you’ll be taken by motorized canoe to your cruise vessel (this takes about an hour).
The Manatee is a renovated boat, launched in 2017. Corey really enjoyed the “new car smell” and the fact that the doors close hermetically and the aircon really works, “so you don’t have to sleep with bugs.” With room for only 30 guests, it’s got a nice intimate feel. Both Corey and Jenny were really impressed with the food and the service. Of the two boats, the Manatee is seen as the more adventurous choice.
The Anakonda is a little older than the Manatee, but it’s also a bit more luxurious; the suites bigger and more opulent. Jenny was particularly struck by the elegant layout (the grand staircase left a good impression) and, once again, both our DEs really enjoyed the wining and dining experience. With capacity for 40 guests in 18 suites, it is the larger of the two boats – but not by much. Both boats have comfortable lounge and bar areas, Jacuzzis, panoramic viewing decks and small spa/massage facilities.
Both Corey and Jenny are veterans of the Amazon, having visited the jungle in both Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado. They were really impressed by the pristine state of the forest in Ecuador and enjoyed the variety of wildlife. They had great sightings of howler monkeys, sloths (which Jenny hadn’t seen before) and macaws, not to mention loads of weird ants, butterflies, insects and other critters. If you opt for an 8-day cruise you will venture into a section of the jungle where you’re virtually assured of encountering pink river dolphins.
While the Manatee has a slightly more adventurous agenda than the Anakonda, guests on both boats enjoy daily nature excursions in canoes that accommodate about ten guests each. Some days you will enjoy some boat-based wildlife watching, while on others you’ll fish for piranhas, enjoy nature hikes and go swimming and kayaking in an oxbow lake. Jenny had an especially good time during the community visit – although both she and Corey declined the offer of a skewerful of sizzling suri worms.
Both the Manatee and the Anakonda offer 4, 5 and 8-day itineraries (as mentioned earlier, the 8-day itineraries include the chance to spy pink river dolphins) operating out of Coca, Ecuador. We’ve listed two of our most popular itineraries below but would love to use our vast knowledge of South American travel to craft a bespoke itinerary that meets your exact desires.
Our 10-day Galapagos Islands Cruise & Amazon Tour combines a four-night Galapagos Cruise with three nights aboard the Anakonda (or in a lodge near Coca).
Our 11-day Galapagos Island Hopping & Amazon Manatee Cruise includes four nights in different hotels on the Galapagos Archipelago and four nights aboard the adventurous Manatee cruise vessel.
One last thing…
Jenny and Corey had really good things to say about the canopy tower – attached by steel cables to a massive tree – which was much higher and sturdier than others they’d been on. Watching a troop of red howler monkeys from above, while sipping on chilled champagne was, Corey says, “a delightful highlight.”
Suffering from a bad case of jungle fever? Check out our Ecuador and Amazon itineraries here, or speak to one of our passionate Destination Experts about crafting the tailor-made Ecuadorian Amazon adventure of a lifetime.