Top Tips for Going to the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is known as the lungs of the Earth and along with the Congo and New Guinea is one of the last tropical wildernesses touched by human hands. The Amazon Rainforest is the largest container of wildlife on our planet and is home to many exotic species you may have seen in film or television.

Tourism in the Amazon region has slowly been growing but is still in its infancy. After a shaky start, tourism is now recognized as a means to help conserve the rainforests (if properly managed) and offers an alternate source of revenue for local communities to destructive activities such as logging. In fact, some authors have labeled logging in these places as 'destroying the goose that lays the golden egg', as once the forest is destroyed it will take 100 years or over to restore the level of diversity (dependent on proximate of near pristine forest ). It is the incredible diversity that draws Amazon Rainforest tourists.

There are many tours in the Amazon Rainforest to choose from. However, only a fraction offer the level of service and comfort that we have grown to expect from the tourism industry in combination with exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities and an environmental awareness.

Some of the tours to look out for in the Amazon Rainforest that receive constant and stable positive feedback are what the following paragraphs are about. I will start with Iquitos in northern Peru, the western Amazon Rainforest.

Near Iquitos, the most recommended lodge is the Tahuayo Lodge in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve located 150 km down the Amazon River from the city itself. The Tahuayo Lodge offers private guides, a canopy zipline, and the most extensive list of itinerary options in the Amazon. One of the reasons for the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve establishment was to protect a rather unusual looking monkey named the Uakari.

For cruises near Iquitos city, the pick of the crop are the Delfin I and the Delfin II. The Delfin I is a luxury cruise where you can relax in your personal spa while watching the rainforest gently pass your bedroom. Both the Delfin I and Delfin II offer a comfortable way to explore the flood tropical habitat of the famous Pacaya Samiria National Park.

If you venture to the eastern Amazon side of the Amazon Rainforest you can consider basing yourself in the city of Manaus, Brazil, where you can take an expedition cruise aboard the 7 day Tucano Amazon Cruise or the 5 day Tucano Jungle Cruise. You will leave the vessel at key points in the forest to explore Amazon plants and animals with a professional guide.

The Different Types of Shopping Malls

The shopping malls have been classified by the International council of shopping centers. They have been classified into eight basic types. These include community center, neighborhood center, fashion center, specialty center, outlet center, superregional center, and a theme or festival center. When this list was published in 1999, it was made common for all countries. However, later this list was only meant specifically for the United States and then a separate list was published for the rest of Europe.

A neighborhood center

A neighborhood center is a small scale mall that serves a local neighborhood specifically. They mostly have a drugstore or a supermarket as an anchor. They are also commonly arranged in the format of a strip mall. These types of malls have a retail area of around 30,000 to 150,000 square feet. They also serve a primary area in a 3 mile radius.

A community hall

A community hall can be said to be larger than a neighborhood center. It also offers a very wide range of goods. They mostly feature two anchor stores that are extremely larger than that of a neighborhood center.

A regional center

A regional center is a type of a shopping mall that is designed in such a manner that it can serve a much larger area when compared to a conventional shopping mall. Thus it is capable of offering a much larger retail area and thus it can serve numerous customers at a single point of time.

Superregional center

This is a very large type of shopping center. It covers an area of over 800,000 square feet and this is a gross leasable area.

A fashion center

A fashion shopping center usually consists of upscale boutiques and apparel shops and these cater to customers who are rich or have access to a higher level of income. They also have a retail area that ranges between 80,000 to 250,000 square feet.

A power center

A power center is a very large shopping center that features a lot of big box retailers as anchors. They have a retail area that is in between 250,000 to 600,000 square feet and they also have a primary trade area of 5 to 10 miles.

Festival center

These types of shopping centers have a very distinct and unifying theme that is followed by individual shops and also their architecture. They are mostly located in the urban areas and cater to a large number of tourists.

Dos and Don’ts of Using Cruise Control

It’s an American tradition – cruising down the highway, the radio blaring and the windows rolled down to enjoy the warm, sunshiny day. Except when you go to hit the cruise control to maintain your speed, nothing happens. The cruise does not seem to be working even though it was fine just the other week. What can possibly go wrong with a cruise control button? In reality, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, just like any other electrical system on the car you drive. How you treat that cruise control button will determine a lot of how well your system works in the future.

For people who drive on the highway a lot, they might just leave the cruise control button set to on all of the time. That way, whenever they feel the need to set the speed, they just have to flick one more button and it is on. But this habit can be damaging for the cruise as it is always on and at the ready. Being always on and not used can wear out the control mechanisms of the system.

Another habit people have with cruise control is stepping on the brakes to disengage the speed control instead of turning it off. Is that method safer that turning the system on or off at the controls? The answer depends on who you ask. Conservative mechanics say that if you are going to engage the speed again as soon as the person ahead of you moves, then it is fine. It is easier and faster to hit resume than it is to turn the system off, start it all over again.

Other mechanics say that tapping the brakes can wear on a system. Just slightly. The systems are so advanced these days, however, that it would take a lot of starting and stopping to cause any sort of wear and tear on a system. Cars are built with a lot of great features that are meant to last for the life of the car and the cruise control is one of them.

If the cruise control does not seem to hold the speed or engage, then it might be worth taking it in to an auto shop. There could be a wire disconnected or a short in the system that requires an easy fix to get it up and running again. Cruise control is a great feature to have so it is worth the expense to get it fixed on your car. You never know when, but having the speed set could prevent you from getting a ticket since you know where the speed is set and can focus on the road and not the speedometer!

Inexpensive Methods to Travel the World

Many people dream about being able to someday retire and travel the world. There are also a growing number of people who are considering career breaks and time after school to travel extensively. A top concern and deterrent of these individuals is the cost of travel. This article will outline the several ways to save on transportation costs to allow discounted travel around the world.

Know your top destinations, but be flexible. Making a list of top destinations is an excellent outline for a travel plan, but keeping flexibility on how and when you arrive there is a key to budget travel.

• Airlines use specific airport hubs to connect flights to other destinations. Searching for direct flights both in and out of these locations can save significant amounts of money on tickets. It also often allows for time to explore the area around these hubs between flights.

• Start at an end destination and work your way back. Look at a top destination’s airport website and look at all inbound and outbound flights. This will give you information on which hubs service these locations most often, and other possible destinations of interest you can use as a connection.

Time is your friend. Long-term travel requires considerable planning with as much notice as possible.

• Taking time to research destinations is key to affordable pricing. Traveling to destinations during popular events will cost more than during non-peak times. Researching all forms of transportation are key: South America, and Asia offer luxury buses that are often cheaper and more comfortable than flights, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean can be cheaper on a cruise than by a flight once lodging and meals are factored in.

• Having flexibility in time of travel is a significant source of savings. Searching tickets over a month time-frame will allow for the cheapest options. Additional flexibility in travel time, and not being rushed to your destination will also allow for multiple connections and long layovers, the cheapest tickets usually available.

• Many cruise lines and some airlines offer a best price guarantee but do not advertise it. Booking well in advance and routinely checking back for drops in ticket prices gives you the opportunity to contact the company and request they match their current price. If they will not match the price often companies will provide you with a credit of the difference in price to use on future travel.

Use technology to your advantage. The Internet is the best tool for planning, searching, and booking cheap travel.

• Many search engines allow for you to search multiple airlines over multiple dates to find the lowest prices.

• Checking directly with the airline, cruise line, or bus company and not through a travel agent will give a comparison for all other prices. Signing up for the travel company’s newsletters and loyalty groups will often provide you with first access to special pricing.

• Following travel companies and travel groups on social media provides direct access to immediate news and specials. Travel groups often post glitches in booking software and most travel companies repair these in minutes. Followers that are able to book during the window of glitches are usually allowed to keep their prices. Travel companies occasionally offer followers discounts and travel credits for public feedback on social media.

• Use the booking company’s currency conversion. Changing the booking to multiple currencies can provide significant savings. Often changing currency in software assumes you are in a poorer region and provides discounted pricing. A quick search engine lookup will provide you with an accurate conversion, and a global credit card with no international fees is best for purchase.

Planning well in advance, keeping flexible travel times, and using technology to your advantage can allow you to follow your dreams and travel the world at an affordable price!

Fed Proposal Threatens 10 Million Cruise Passengers with a Rescheduling Nightmare

The Cruise Lines International Association warns that about 10 million cruise vacationers in the United States are threatened with having their cruises re-scheduled or outright taken without a new federal proposal is lifted.

A new interpretation of an 1866 maritime law is being proposed by the Federal Governments Homeland Security Agency (Customs and Border Protection Agency) aimed at Cruise Lines Serving the Hawaiian Cruise Market but effects operations at most West Coast US Ports used by the Cruise Industry. The Proposal's implementation would severely limit the options available for most Hawaiian Cruise Line Operators.

An 1886 maritime law requires foreign registered ships to call on at least to one foreign port for 48 hours if they stop at two US ports. The American Association of Port Authorities said money spent on cruise facilities would be put to waste if the federal government changes the rules.

Coupled with the recent changes in the Passport Rules for reentry into the US by her own citizens These types of Federal efforts seem counter productive to the large investments by US Port Authorities to attract more Cruise Vacation Tourist with upgrades to their facilities!

With the explosion of the Cruise Industry over the past 10 years one has to wonder why any proposal that cuts into US Destinations would be tolerated. The loss of tourist dollars for this country should not be the result of any government action. The Federal Government needs to make this the best possible situation for Vacation Cruisers and encourage Tourism and the accompanying dollars that follow not engage in these kind of senseless actions.

Accessible Cruise Trips for All – What Do You Need to Know?

Its peak summer time and that calls for long vacations, travel excursions, days off from work and a time full of absolute bliss surrounded by family and loved ones.

While most people may plan their vacations without too much planning, persons with special needs need to think of a lot of things before they can finalize their vacation. While it may involve extra planning and organizing, it certainly is possible for people with special needs to travel and enjoy just like everyone else.

One of the best vacations for persons with physical restrictions is a cruise vacation. Many major cruise lines offer accessible travel for persons with limited mobility. From the port to the staterooms and everything in between, each element of the ship is accessible for persons with special needs.

Accessible Travel with Senior Persons

If you are travelling with seniors who may have special needs, then here are some pointers that you need to consider to plan a smooth and fun filled accessible cruise trip:

1. Call ahead – check on the special needs provider for equipment rental, way before your trip, that you may require for you or your senior family member. This gives them a margin to prepare and arrange for the equipment on time – wheelchairs, electric scooters, oxygen equipment, beds, walking aides, etc.

2. Be Clear – clearly mention and specify your needs to the service provider to ensure you get the right kind of equipment and the preferred size (e.g. electric mobility scooters are available in different sizes).

3. Stock up on Meds – take extra medicines on board, you don’t want to miss a dose in case there is a diversion and the trip takes longer than the arrival time to reach the destination port.

4. Special Rooms – when booking your cruise, make sure you ask for rooms that are accessible easily for persons with special needs. Also, they should be large enough so you can easily maneuver using your electric scooter or wheelchair.

Accessible Travel with Children

1. Accessible travel agent – find travel agents who can arrange travel trips for people with disability. Since they have experience with making arrangements for disabled persons of all age groups, they can suggest the best one for you and your child with special needs.

2. Look for bigger ships – when choosing accessible cruises, make sure you choose new ones and bigger ones since they have more facilities; spacious doorways, roll in showers, open theaters, easy pool entrances, etc.

3. Service dogs – if you have a service dog for you or your loved one, make sure you check with the cruise line if they accept them on board. All major cruise lines do accept, but it’s always good to check. You may have to get the service dog vaccinated and keep the documents at hand before booking your trip.

Knowing the details and requirements before planning accessible travel can make travelling enjoyable for both the disabled person and their loved ones. Special Needs at Sea understand the needs of people with physical restrictions or disabilities and thus provides on board special needs equipment to help such people become independent, confident and relaxed.

Persons with special needs can avail wheel chairs, oxygen equipment, electric scooter rentals and other special equipment on board from Special Needs at Sea and enjoy their cruise like capable persons.

Cruise Vacations – Our Top 10 Reasons for Choosing to Cruise

Anyone who has taken fabulous Cruise Vacations can give you a hundred reasons for cruising your vacation time away. Once you have taken a cruise vacation, you’ll know why. Cruising has so much to offer a vacationer it’s no wonder that cruises have become so very popular.

We will look into just ten reasons for choosing a cruise vacation. These may not be your top 10 once you have cruised, but you will certainly understand why we say there are hundreds of reasons!

10. Cruising variety!

There are hundreds of cruise ships and boats to choose from. Small charter cruisers to the mega ships, cruising gives you a tremendous number of options. Then you can look at the destinations and ports-of-call depending on your taste and desires. From a cruise to nowhere, to a world cruise, you have almost unlimited options! On the mega ships, you have a variety of dining venues to enchant with exquisite cuisine. These ships also offer a wide variety of activities and even evening entertainment. Choose a cruise vacation for its variety!

9. Cruise vacation value!

A vacation cruise offers tremendous value. With the price of your cruise ticket, you get your efficient yet comfortable stateroom with housekeeping that seems to be never ending. The pampering service that you receive is exceptional in terms of resorts. You receive all on-board meals. In the case of the mega ships, this can mean a choice of elegant dining rooms with mouth watering presentations. These floating resorts provide a number of athletic activities that can range from volleyball and basketball to rock climbing and ice skating! And when the sun sets, the ships turn into “entertainment central”. From Broadway and Vegas style shows to intimate lounges to rocking discos, the mega cruise ships offer it all!

8. Vacation activities while cruising!

What is your idea of vacation activities? Is it water sports? Cruising certainly has that with swimming pools and resort beaches. How about sightseeing? Do the historic cities of Europe intrigue you or would exotic ports of call be more enticing? Think vacation cruise! How about cultural lectures and educational tours? What about golfing on a different island every day in port? Does your vacation include a visit to the casino? Or, is your idea of vacationing soaking up the sun and relaxing on the beach or by the pool? You guessed it. You can have any of these vacation activities by choosing an appropriate cruise vacation!

7. Cruising for family vacations!

Cruising is fantastic for family vacations of all ages! (See Family Cruise Vacation.) Many of the larger cruise lines and cruise ships offer special programs for children and teens. Kids get to get away from mom and dad, and mom and dad get some free time to relax and enjoy each others’ company. With all of the activities available on board ship, no one should become bored. Add the interesting and educations shore excursions at the various ports-of-call, and everyone gets an appreciation of how others live. Special menu offerings for children make dining a breeze. And on some ships, there are 24 hour pizzerias! Ice cream stations add to the enchantment. Some cruise lines also offer a special coupon or ticket for soft drinks at a minimal cost. Some ships offer babysitting as well – but it’s best to check first. Choose a cruise for your next family vacation!

6. Choose a cruise to experience new horizons!

Unpack your bags when you arrive on board your cruise ship and that’s it! On some itineraries you will be in a new port-of-call every day. But you won’t have to pack… unpack… pack… unpack… – you get the idea! Experience some of the best destinations the world has to offer while relaxing and enjoying your time between ports! No more long waits in airports or cramped seating on trains or busses. Relax by the pool, work-out in the gym, enjoy some free time gaming, read a good book – you decide how you use your time between the fascinating and intriguing ports. Go to sleep in your comfortable stateroom in one port and wake up in a new port with adventure ahead!

5. The simplicity of cruises for vacationing!

With a little investigation up-front, your cruise vacation is as simple as booking… then enjoying! Once on board, your time is your own – no pressure to be here at this time and there at that time. Enjoy your vacation and return from your cruise refreshed (not needing a vacation from your vacation). Do as much – or as little – as you like! Nearly all expenses are paid for with your cruise ticket. A little spending money is about all you need. Talk about simple – come on board and have everything looked after for you! Now that’s a vacation!

4. Romance and cruise vacations!

For hundreds of years there has been a romantic mystique about the seas. What could be more romantic than sailing off into the sunset while sipping a glass of fine wine on your private balcony? Perhaps strolling arm in arm on an elegant formal night with your better half dressed to the nines. What about a honeymoon to some of the most romantic ports in the world? Perhaps a quiet secluded cove with white sandy beach. Enjoy each others’ company at a quiet table in one of the intimate lounges. Or dance into the night under the stars. Take a while and lose yourselves while utilizing the spa services for two. Nothing could be more romantic than a cruise vacation!

3. Vacation cruises’ pampering service!

For many people, nothing is more important for enjoyment while vacationing than service. If you receive good service, you are content. Be prepared to have your socks blown off! Most cruise lines train there staff in the fine art of customer service. Your room steward or stewardess will do their absolute utmost to ensure that your stateroom is kept just the way you like. From the bartenders to the wait staff to the activities staff, each cruise staff member’s aim is to please. On our last cruise, our wine steward and the table staff in the dining room were absolutely wonderful. When you board your cruise ship be prepared to be pampered!

2. Cruise vacation dining!

Many people will tell you that this is the number one reason for taking a cruise. The fabulous menu options have your mouth watering. Then the presentation arrives and you are certainly not disappointed. The main dining rooms are places of elegance and formality. Most ships have alternate dining options as well – some with a small cover charge. There are usually casual dining options as well. Some ships have poolside grilles and some even have 24 hour pizzerias as mentioned earlier. Most offer 24 hour in-suite dining as well. And don’t miss out on the midnight buffet! Special menus can – in most cases – be provided with advance notice. Pack a pair of stretchy pants or slacks – just in case !

1. Because YOU deserve it!

The number on reason for taking a cruise vacation is because you deserve it! You work hard all year long for your vacation time and money. Vacation cruises provide you with tremendous value, variety, comfort and enjoyment. There are itineraries that will elate almost any vacation traveler. Whether your cruise vacation is a romantic getaway, a family vacation or a break from the hustle and bustle of every day life, you deserve this fantastic escape!

If you have any questions regarding choosing the right cruise line for you, send us a note at info@a1-discount-cruises.com using the subject line “Questions”.

Top Vacation Destinations in the World

There are numerous vacation destinations that can certainly be counted among the best in the world. But, there are no pre-established parameters or criteria as such to determine the world's foremost tourist destination in terms of popularity.

However, some of the world's most frequented vacation spots, which are ranked among the top holiday destinations, are described as follows.

• Hawaii: Located in Pacific Ocean, on the south-east coast of the US, Hawaii enterprises of 6 major islands, namely Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Big Island, Molokai, and Kauai. Each of these six islands is known for their scenic beauty, tourist attractions, remarkable location, beaches, and world class recreational activities. Hawaii is an ideal destination for hikers and beach lovers of all ages.
• Goa: Situated on the western coast of the Indian sub-continent, this place is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches, temples, Portugal architecture, churches, regional festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and the Shigmo Carnival, and delicious sea food.
• Switzerland: With tourism being its primary business activity, Switzerland has retained its position among the top three holiday destinations for several years. Its scenic beauty, pleasant climate, and panoramic mountain peaks attracts millions of tourists to this place every year.
• San Francisco: San Francisco, the most popular tourist spot in the US, is well known for its remarkable architecture and tourist spots, like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Chinatown, and the Exploratorium.
• Cape Town: This place is known for offering breathtaking views of the vast Atlantic coast, the Constantia Valley, and the scenic 'False Bay' coast. Every year, it attracts millions of tourists, who come here to enjoy its panoramic landscape and world class recreational activities.
• Sydney: Located in Australia, Sydney is the most popular tourist destination in the continent. It is popular with tourists due to its world famous tourist spots, like the Sydney Harbor and the Harbor Bridge, beautiful beaches, world-class recreational activities, wild life, national parks, and luxury cruise rides.

Finding the Perfect Honeymoon Cruise Vacation

A honeymoon cruise vacation can be an amazing adventure and a great way to start your life together. These cruises allow you to relax in ultimate luxury and visit exotic ports of call on your vacation. Also, because you are on a ship you will not have to worry about the normal logistics and driving that most vacations involve. You can simply book your honeymoon vacation and enjoy the cruise.

Plan ahead for the best honeymoon cruise vacation

Booking the perfect honeymoon travel cruise does take a little planning and you really have a lot of choice on the details of your special day. Many of the cruise lines even provide facilities for having the wedding itself on the ship. Being married by the ship’s captain or chaplain can add that little extra bit of romance to a honeymoon cruise vacation for many couples. Many of the larger ships have a chapel that can accommodate a wedding ceremony and if you arrange for the wedding in advance, they can tailor the event to your preference.

Many wedding parties have their ceremony in a traditional setting like a church and then take a portion of the wedding party with them on the honeymoon cruise vacation. Because of the size of these newer cruise ships, they allow for plenty of time for the newlyweds to be alone, and also provide a wide range of exciting activities for the wedding party as well. A honeymoon cruise can include the perfect combination of exciting travel, great social events with amazing meals and entertainment. In addition to all of the excitement while onboard, a honeymoon cruise vacation can provide great memories that can last a lifetime for you and your guests.

Using a travel agent can make things easier

When planning your honeymoon cruise vacation, you can book the event on your own or use an experienced travel agent. Many people think that using a travel agent will add to the cost of their honeymoon vacation cruise and this typically is not the case. Most travel agents have access to unpublished fares that are offered at a steep discount to their customers and this will more than offset any fees they add to a honeymoon cruise vacation package they prepare for you. Also, by using an experienced travel agent you can avoid many of the mistakes many people make when trying to organize a honeymoon cruise vacation themselves. In most cases these travel agents have booked a cruise like this before and know how best to sort out all the details. They can act like a wedding planner and help take all of the stress out of your special day. A good travel agent can also suggest the best honeymoon vacation destinations to choose from and make your decision an easy one.

Check for special honeymoon cruise vacation packages

When you start planning your honeymoon cruise vacation, check with some of the major cruise lines directly. Many of them have special packages for these types of cruises and even offer a discount on fares for larger parties like yours. In many cases they will offer you special upgrades on cabins and events and help to make your honeymoon cruise vacation even more amazing and memorable. They may also offer you a dedicated coordinator to help you plan your honeymoon cruise vacation as well as someone onboard the ship to coordinate your vacation and help make it perfect for you and your guests.

Amazon Tours and Cruises – Things to Consider When Choosing Your Adventure of a Lifetime

There are several things to consider when trying to decide which Amazon cruise or tour to do and there are now many options to choose from. What factors should you consider when deciding which is the best option for you?

  • Do you want to get an in-depth experience or do you just want to get a “taste” of the jungle?
  • How many days do you want to be in the jungle?
  • Are you only going to the jungle or are you planning on going to other places? (Machu Picchu, Rio, Galapagos, etc.)
  • How active do you want to be?

Do you have specific things you want to do in the jungle, that a package tour might not offer?

Some people just want to get an idea about what the jungle is like. For them, a 3 day lodge stay or cruise might suffice. That will allow them 1 full day in the jungle, since the 1st and last days are normally mostly for travel from the airport and back to the airport. They shouldn’t plan on seeing much wildlife or primary jungle though because they’re just not getting far enough away from the cities and nearby people. For instance, Manaus has about 1.5 million inhabitants, so you have to get pretty far away from the city to feel like you are in a wilderness area.

People who want to really get a feel for the jungle need to stay longer. It usually takes a couple of days for people to wind down to the rhythm of the jungle and you need to get into a variety of ecosystems so that you stand a better chance of seeing more species of plants and animals.

Most people think “Brazil” when thinking about the Amazon Basin, but it is also in Peru, Ecuador, and several other countries. You can have good experiences in those countries, so you don’t have to fly all over South America to see the Amazon, unless you have a special reason. If you want to go to Machu Picchu, then you might as well do an Amazon trip in Peru. If you want to see the Galapagos, then do an Amazon trip in Ecuador.

Don’t just rely on pretty brochures or websites. I was told by a local that one particular lodge in the Iquitos area was probably the prettiest one there – but their guides had all been fired from other lodges. One of the cruise companies shows a variety of boats on their website, but only one is now kept up for regular cruises. Another lodge looks nice on the website, but the service has deteriorated badly and the buildings have gotten run down. Another gives you great interaction with the local Indians, but those Indians also still hunt, so you won’t see much wildlife around there.

Alcoholism is a problem in the Amazon and guides aren’t immune from that problem. I remember reading many trip reports years ago, where the people said that the guide they hired knew a lot about the jungle, but he would get drunk at night and would go after the female clients and wouldn’t bother with cooking dinner, so they had to fend for themselves. I was recently saddened to learn that one of the top guides in the Peruvian Amazon, one who was the subject of several videos about jungle survival, etc., had been fired, because he had become an alcoholic. His father had also been one of the top guides, but he suffered the same fate. Good operators rely on repeat business and word of mouth advertising, so they can’t afford to keep guides that are going to cause public relations problems.

A good guide can make all the difference on a jungle trip. If you walk into the jungle by yourself, all you will see is a sea of green plants and a symphony of sounds. A good guide knows what all of those different plants are and what uses they have. He can tell what is making those sounds, their relationship to the plants in the area and where to look for them. They have an uncanny eye for spotting seemingly invisible things. I remember a night walk where we turned off our flashlights and were in the dark, but our guide somehow spotted a big black spider on a tree trunk. So he can turn a monotone experience into a Technicolor experience. Just like in any business, a good guide can command a better salary than a trainee, so don’t expect to be with a top guide if you go on the cheapest trip you can find. (the climate takes a toll on buildings and boats, so low budget operations are probably not going to have well-maintained facilities either. By the same token, the cheaper lodges are also often close to the city, so they are not in areas that are as pristine or that have as much wildlife.)

Airports at Amazon gateways such as Iquitos and Manaus used to be havens for scam artists. They knew that many people would arrive with no reservations and so would offer exciting trips at great prices, but of course they often would not deliver what they had promised. The governments are working hard to try to eliminate these types, but they can still be a problem for unsuspecting budget travelers.

Most travel agencies will offer some of the most highly marketed cruises or lodge stays that offer the activities that they think most people want to do, but if you want to camp or kayak or do anything out of the ordinary, then you will need to look elsewhere because most travel agencies are more informed about mass market locations, such as Las Vegas, Cancun and Disneyland than they are about specialized Amazon trips. Some of the highly marketed properties are like big resorts in the jungle. If that’s what you’re interested in, then fine. But many people want something more intimate and authentic and less intrusive. So it’s better to communicate with somebody who has more experience in the type of trip that you are looking for.