Bom dia, Jill,
Thank you so much for all the help you provided in putting together our wonderful Brasilian adventure. We had a fabulous time, and the mix of the Amazon, Pantanal (your idea!) and Rio gave us a fascinating glimpse of different regions and people. I know this wasn’t an easy trip for you to put together, since our personal situation forced us to reschedule it for a year later. We’re enormously grateful for your expertise and for the time you spent making sure everything from hotels to airpasses to tour guides was just right for us.
We enjoyed Manaus (the port area was fascinating—we could hardly tear ourselves away) and thought the Hotel Tropical was very nice. A good way to unwind after our long journey down (frequent flyer miles will do that to you since they route you to kingdom come and back).
Ariau was a hoot: a cross-collection of travel-loving people from around the world in a unique hotel in a stunning setting we’ve always dreamed of seeing. Our guide and canoeist, Joao and Edy, were superb, and the activities were great fun. I won’t ever forget the morning we sat in a canoe in the middle of the Rio Negro as the sun rose, watching for dolphins and listening to the howler monkeys waking up in the jungle. Caiman spotting and piranha fishing were a scream. And a jungle walk in a warm rain after a canoe ride through the flooded forest made us feel a real part of the rainforest. We walked every inch of the miles of walkways several times (both day and night), and saw a number of birds, monkeys and even sloths.
I know the dry season is more popular, but we loved being in Amazonia during the rainy season. Our Ariau group, which included people from the U.S., South Africa, Canada and the Philippines, really bonded…some of us even got together in Rio a week later!
Araras Eco-Lodge was an extraordinary find. We liked the contrast of the more energetic Ariau with the peace of the Pantanal lodge. The entire staff was terrific, the rooms were lovely and the food delicious. We loved having the mix of activities, from horseback riding to biking to hiking to boating. Where else could I get up at 5:00 (first checking for caimans sleeping outside the door) to milk a cow, go biking at 7:00, pet one of the vaqueiros’ pet anacondas at 11:00, nap in a hammock at 2:00, climb a tower to feed monkeys at 4:00 and go for a walk to admire the Southern Cross at 8:30? We saw loads of animals and birds; I became quite fond of the capybaras, coatis and jabirus especially.
Rio, ah, Rio! Every bit as beautiful and exciting as we’d always thought. Flavio is a true jewel; you must never let him get away! Besides being unbelievably friendly and kind, he’s a great student of history, sociology, literature and art. His comments and stories enriched our day immeasurably, and we got to see parts of the city and the surrounding area we’d have missed had we been on our own. With his tour under our belts to orient us, we thoroughly enjoyed the next day on our own, too. Wish we could have stayed longer in that happenin’ city.
Thanks again for the absolutely fantastic job you did planning our trip, Jill. We will be back to Brasil and to more of South America (we feel it calling!), so there is no doubt we’ll be calling on you again for your expert assistance.
Very best regards,