Discover the Brazilian jungle aboard a traditional river boat, sailing from Manaus to Anavilhanas

Leave the beaten tracks, board a private Rio Negro cruise vessel and set off on a comfortable expedition along this fascinating river to discover the mysteries of the Amazon!

If you have always wanted to discover the Amazon but don’t want to stay in a lodge in the jungle, this private Rio Negro cruise  is a great alternative: with its dark and peaceful waters winding between the impressive trees of the Brazilian forest the Rio Negro is, in itself, an invitation to explore.

An interesting bonus of this trip is that the river is rich in tannin from the millions of tons of vegetation that break down slowly in its bed. This makes this river  more acidic than most. Therefore it prevents most mosquito eggs from hatching and you can enjoy your evenings aboard the boat without being bitten by mosquitoes which is a true luxury in this part of the world!

With this package, you will enjoy the privilege of a unique and exclusive cruise into the heart of the tropical jungle to discover all the hidden treasures in one of the most beautiful and preserved regions in Amazonia. Aboard your traditional boat there will only be you, your English speaking guide, a cook and the captain. Therefore, you will be comfortably accommodated and well looked after so you can concentrate on observing the fauna and flora of this amazing part of Brazil without any of the usual constraints inherent to collective travel.

This private Rio Negro cruise will take you to the heart of the Amazon jungle. The Rio Negro is the largest black water river on the planet and is mostly untouched by modern civilization. Going up this river from Manaus, you will see the Anavilhanas, the largest freshwater archipelago in the world and its enchanting setting of hundreds of small jungle covered islets. Here, you will stopover and go onto the lake Acajatuba set in splendid and totally preserved natural surroundings.

Each day will have its share of activities and excursions so that you can really feel like a native Amazonian or at least experience some of how they live.  You will also meet the inhabitants, the famous “Caboclos” (Mixed race Indigenous people who have kept a semi-traditional way of life). It’s an opportunity to better understand how they live in harmony with nature and the changing seasons.

During a forest excursion, your guide will teach you how to recognize the plants essential for survival in the forest. You will slip silently down the current aboard a small boat looking for monkeys, sloths and other forest dwellers. Or go fishing for the famous piranhas (watch your fingers!) and meet the Jacaré, little caimans which are harmless and found everywhere in the local waters.

Finally, after returning to Manaus, you will discover, with a local guide, the history full of twists and turns of this regional capital by wandering its historic centre. This will be a chance to visit the beautiful buildings erected thanks to the prosperity of the “rubber era” such as the 700-seat theatre built entirely from materials imported from Europe. You will also see the Municipal Market with its beautiful forged iron halls which have now been completely renovated and the port, which was the first in the world to operate with a system of floating docks.

With our private Rio Negro cruise package, you will discover the best of the Amazon in privileged conditions and experience a truly extraordinary adventure.

On the private Rio Negro cruise
discover :
The life of the Amazonian Indians
The Luxuriant Amazon forest
The Anavilhanas archipelago
The amazing ‘Encounter of the waters‘

Map showing Anavilhanas National Park in relation to Manaus.

Rio Negro Cruise – Itinerary at a glance

  • Private transfer from the airport to Manaus and the hotel.
  • Private transfer from the port to the airport.
  • A night in a hotel with a double room in Manaus.
  • A 4 day and 3 night cruise: including a privatized traditional river boat with a double cabin and private bathroom, full board not including drinks, all excursions and the staff hire (skipper, cook, guide) are included.
  • Tour of Manaus with a guide.

Discover the Rio Negro aboard a local boat and visit the Anavilhanas region.

For this private Rio Negro cruise, you will embark in Manaus and then sail up the dark waters of the Rio Negro for about 60kms to the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Traveling on a cruise boat typical of this region, as charming as it is comfortable is the best way to visit this part of the Amazon.

These boats are reminiscent in their design of the paddlewheel boats on the Mississippi in the story of Tom Sawyer. They are characterized by their relatively flat bottoms to enable them to pass shallower parts of the river in the dry season as  well as during the rains between December and May / June. They also have the same shape with 1 or 2 decks. Walkways run around each deck to allow access to common areas and individual cabins. There is also a large covered terrace, which offers a ventilated and shaded space very appreciated during the hottest hours of the day. Depending on the number of passengers traveling together, the boats we choose for this package contain 2 to 5 cabins. All cabins have double beds and often a single bunk above, convenient for storing your luggage. Each room has its own bathroom and air conditioning for comfortable and restful nights.

Near the Anavilhanas, in the heart of the Do Jau National Park, the Rio Negro widens, measuring 27kms across. The river water runs around 400 green islands topped with lush vegetation in the heart of the jungle. This freshwater archipelago is the largest on earth and the largest ecological conservation area in the Amazon. A unique setting, reserved for a privileged few who have had the chance to come here. You will explore it before joining the Lake Acajatuba where you will stop. In the dry season, the islands are surrounded by fine sandy beaches while in the rainy season they disappear under water,  only the tree branches emerge above the surface.

The ecosystem of this region is incredibly rich, with dozens of bird species, fish, and also monkeys and reptiles. This extreme level of biodiversity makes it easier to see the local fauna which is generally very discreet.

A typical Amazonian cruise boat, used now mostly for tourisr cruises.

Total immersion in the heart of the Amazon 

The jungle is a real food surplus for the natives living here. During this private Rio Negro cruise, you will participate in activities that will make you appreciate this wealth but also its dangers.

For example, cassava, the local staple food is both a source of life and death and is of such great importance that it is revered by many cults in the local indigenous tribes. You will discover all its secrets during visits to the local villages. Here you will be shown how if eaten raw, cassava tubers are deadly.  When treated properly it becomes a food that is added to almost all of the local cuisine. This is an exciting demonstration of how these once so called “primitive people” are real experts of their surroundings . Once you have discovered the ingenious techniques used, you will appreciate all the work done over the generations to adapt to one of the most inhospitable and yet rich environments on Earth. You will also see demonstrations of the arts and crafts of these forest inhabitants.

At nightfall, you will quickly realize that another Amazonian world is only starting to wake. Enjoy a night time canoe ride on the Rio Negro waters, to discover the nocturnal wildlife with your guide. Snakes, crocodiles, owls, frogs and many more surprises only come out after dark! Once spotted with lamps, specimens of these “hard-to-see” and rare species become fixated by the light, which makes them easier to observe and gives you plenty of time to enjoy these encounters.

The Rio Negro contains many species of fish which is why the locals mostly live from fishing. You can share a little of this local life on a piranha fishing trip. Although you have to be careful of their particularly sharp teeth, they are easy to fish and very tasty!

Finally, one of the highlights of this cruise on Rio Negro will be meeting the pink dolphins: the relationship that humans can establish with this playful marine mammal is a magical experience.

The Amazon river and the Rio Negro river running through the Anavihanas, one of the stops on the Rio Negro cruise.

Visit the biggest town of Amazonia : Manaus

On the way back, you will discover Lake Janauary and “Victoria Regia”, the Amazonia’s giant water lilies, before seeing the “Encounter of the waters”.

This is where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meet the milky waters of the Amazon, they run side by side creating extraordinary patterns for several kilometres along the river.

Manaus is a city full of contrasts. An enclave of modern humanity in the middle of the jungle, it is a living image of the combination of nature and culture. Originally, almost 350 years ago, a modest fort was built on the banks of the Amazon to prevent any attempt to invade this region by the Spanish and Dutch. Until the first half of the nineteenth century, it was no more than a small town lost in the heart of the jungle almost 1700kms from the Atlantic Ocean. It was the destination for explorers and workers going up the mythical Amazon looking for fortune and adventure. But everything changed with the discovery of vulcanization, the process that transforms local rubber tree sap into precious rubber.

From then on the city expanded rapidly and became one of the centres of the modern world. With the constant influx of capital from all continents, its development was constant and it became one of the world’s most modern cities. For example, it was the first ever city to be fully electric and have a sewerage system! Paradoxically, at that time, it was isolated by thick jungle at more than 1700kms from the rest of the modern world.

This was when the various historical buildings that you will admire during your private visit to the city were built. Your guide will show you, among others, the incredible Amazonas Theatre, the Palacio Rio Negro and the Mercado Municipal (municipal market) recently totally and beautifully renovated.

After the collapse of the Amazonian monopoly on rubber production, the city fell into oblivion, until the 1960s when the military government declared the region of Manaus a “Free Zone”. The aim was to re-develop the city and thus increase the population while economically developing this remote border region, but also to strengthen its strategic position, attracting lots of foreign investors at the same time. Today, it is Brazil’s third largest industrial centre and you will discover an interesting mixture of ancient Empire-style and Belle Epoque buildings, massive modern glass and steel towers and areas of modest brick, stone or wooden dwellings.

What you will see in Manaus is nothing less than a glimpse of the whole history of the Amazon region from the beginning of Portuguese colonization to today. It is an unexpected and captivating journey through time to better understand this isolated and mysterious region.

Manaus lit up at night.

Rio Negro Cruise – Detailed Itinerary

Full stay and board from dinner on the 2nd day to breakfast on the 5th day (except drinks). All transfers are private. The cruise program can be modified by the guide depending on the local weather or for an exceptional reason, so that you get the most out of your stay onboard.

Day 1 : Manaus/ In

After your flight arrives at Eduardo Gomes Airport in Manaus, you will enjoy your private transfer to the hotel and realize that you are in a unique place with your first glimpse of local life.

Many are often surprised by the size of this city in the middle of the largest jungle on the planet, no less than 11,000 sq.kms and 1,700,000 inhabitants! It’s a true maze where humanity has learned to live between tradition and modernity, wealth and poverty and especially between wilderness and the civilized world.

In the afternoon, you will visit the city by car with a guide (about 3 hrs.) During this visit, you will discover Manaus’ main cultural attractions; first and foremost the Amazonas Theatre, built at the height of the city’s prosperity from the rubber trade, decorated almost entirely with materials brought in from all over Europe. You will also discover other remarkable monuments from this period, such as the Palácio Rio Negro, the wrought-iron covered marketplace all imported from Scotland and recently renovated. It’s a perfect tour to learn a little more about the local life and the fluctuating history of this Amazonian capital.

You will then check-into your room for a restful sleep before setting off on the program that awaits you for the rest of the trip.

Man brings his harvest of bananas on to the banks of the River at Manaus.

Day 2: Manaus – Rio Negro Cruise

After breakfast at the hotel, a vehicle will pick you up around 9:30 to go to the boat that will take you along the quiet waters of the Rio Negro during this private and exclusive cruise (option to leave a little later or be picked up directly at the airport if necessary).

Once you have boarded the boat the guide will introduce himself and the other crew members (the captain and the cook).

Then you check-in to your cabins equipped with a double bed and a private bathroom.

The guide will then help you to hang your hammocks on the roof terrace, so you can relax comfortably in the shade for the hotter parts of the day. From here, you will be able to admire the landscape as it goes by.

The boat then departs towards the confluence of the Rivers Negro and Solimoes. During the journey, you will see the famous floating port of Manaus and the area of houses built on stilts which sits on the river banks. You will then cross the phenomenon of the ‘Encounter of the waters’.

The clear dark waters of the Rio Negro, meet the pale milky waters of the Rio Solimoes creating strange swirls and an amazing sight before very slowly mixing to become the gigantic Amazon river.

You then carry on towards the January ecological park where you will discover, on foot, the lake and its giant water lilies (Victoria Regia) which can grow up to more than 2 metres in diameter! The guide will then take you for a walk around the Xiborena quarter, before a lunch break.

In the afternoon, the adventure continues this time aboard a canoe to go fishing for piranha and other fish.

Once back on the main boat, you will start going up the Rio Negro, the boat will go past Manaus and you will finally see all forms of modern civilization disappear from the river banks.

Dinner is served on-board by the cook, a chance to taste the delicious Amazonian cuisine made from the regional forest and river produce.

The boat will drop anchor in a quiet place, for a peaceful night under the incredible spectacle of the starry sky that comes alive, far from the lights of modern civilisation.

The two rivers Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes at the famous "encounter of the waters," one of the highlights on the Rio Negro cruise.

The giant Amazonian water lily.

Some tourists piranha fishing from a boat accompanied by a guide on the Amazon river.

Day 3: Rio Negro Cruise

A wake up call early in the morning for a canoe trip in the Amazon dawn.

The boat sails along with no noise other than the lapping of the water on the hull, in the morning mist, you can watch for the first signs of the forest and its animals awakening. It’s a magical moment that feels like it could be the first morning of the beginning of the world.

Back to the boat at a leisurely pace.

A local breakfast of coffee and tapioca pancakes, fruit juice, local fruits, bananas, and pacova fries.

You will then set off on a short 2hr excursion in the jungle where the guide will show you the unique ecosystem of this amazing Amazon rainforest.

He will show you some techniques for surviving in the jungle, how to eat and heal injuries with local plants … an extremely interesting demonstration of the immense wealth of the forest and information unknown to the vast majority of humankind.

Lunch on the boat.

In the afternoon, there is a visit to a village on the Lake Acajatuba reserve to discover their way of life and interact with the local people if you so wish.

Dinner and night on-board.

A small canoe works its way up the river.

The Amzonian canopy from above, home to millions of different species of plants and animals.

Day 4 : Rio Negro Cruise

You will have breakfast to the sound of nature waking up, then it is time to go on a motor boat ride to observe the fauna and flora of Lake Acajatuba.

You will go slowly past Igapos (portions of forest flooded from January to June) and along Igarapés (waterways connecting the rivers) in search of local animals such as sloths and monkeys.

Return to the boat for lunch on-board comprised of delicious local cuisine.

In the afternoon, the excursion continues along the small waterways to get closer to the biodiversity of this amazing place.

Once back from the forest, cool off and relax whilst contemplating the sumptuous Amazonian sunset afterwhich a hearty and delcious dinner awaits you. It is cooked from local products such as the giant fish Pirarucu or Macaxeira, and Cassava roots.

Then it’s time to get ready for a canoe trip at dusk to meet the nocturnal creatures sharing the forest with you. During this adventure under the stars, you can see the little caimans thanks to their eyes that reflect in the light of the onboard electric torches. As soon as they are caught in the lights, they remain motionless. The brave can then gently seize them by the muzzle and the tail (yes!) and take them out of the water for a closer look!

It is also a magical and privileged moment to listen to the astonishing concert of nocturnal sounds made by the profusion of animals that live here.

A canoe making its way though a narrow igrapé.

Sunset over the Amazon river, something to really look forward to on your Rio Negro cruise!

One of the many caimans you will find lurking in the dark waters, especially at night time.

Day 5 : Rio Negro Cruise – Return to Manaus

Take the time to savour one last breakfast on-board the boat.

Then your guide will take you to visit the Caboclos community (Mixed race Indians) of  “Nossa Senhora do Perpetuo Socorro.”

You can visit their handicraft market, which is the main economic resource for this isolated community. Living on the edge of the modern world, their ancestral knowledge enables them to thrive in this difficult environment.

Lunch on-board. It’s the last opportunity to indulge in the fresh tasty food prepared by the on-board cook.

Then, it’s time to turn around and let the winds take you back down the waters of the Rio Negro to reach the Amazonian capital.

For a last time you will take in the many shades of green that hide the river banks and seem to extend to infinity. Finally the place that was once called the “Paris of the Americas” appears in the slowly setting sun.

Arrival at Manaus port around 17:00.

A driver waits to take you to the airport or your hotel.

End of our services.

Native Indians performing on some wooden pipes.

A motorboat excursion on the Amazon river.

Accommodation in Manaus and River Cruise Boats

Hotel Saint Paul (standard)

A modern, well located and reasonably priced hotel, this is our favourite in Manaus. It is a few steps from the famous opera Amazonas, which can be admired from some of the hotel rooms. It is an excellent and comfortable choice in the centre of Manaus. This property offers recently decorated rooms that are plain yet well-equipped, allowing travellers to relax in comfort.

The Saint Paul Hotel offers all the basic services with a restaurant, gym, sauna and swimming pool. It is our best value for money in the centre and ideal for travellers wishing to go out at night with the Largo São Sebastiao the hub of local cultural life only 5 minutes walk away.

A triple room in the Tropical Eco resort in Manaus.

Hotel Tropical Manaus Ecoresort (superior)

The Tropical Hotel is a quality resort located 13kms from the centre of Manaus, near the Ponta Negra beach and 15 minutes from the airport . Here you will find a more touristic area and the more affluent residents of the city. Surrounded by a beautiful park, this 611-room hotel offers a wide range of activities and entertainment, sports fields, a huge pool and even a small zoo with animals from the Amazon jungle.

With a jetty on the river, it is also ideal for boarding directly onto your cruise boat without even leaving the hotel grounds. An interesting option for families with young children thanks to the entertainment facilities and easy cruise boarding. It is also the preferred accommodation for customers looking for higher quality services.

View of the beautiful pool of the Hotel Tropical Manaus Eco resort.

Lady Mara boat (ex Shaloom) (standard)

Lady Mara is a beautiful wooden boat, typical of this region and completely renovated in 2016. She would be entirely privatized for your stay.

She sleeps up to 8 people in 3 cabins: 2 with a double bed and a single bed, one with a double bed. All cabins are equipped with bathrooms and air conditioning.

There are 2 decks with a large covered terrace for meals and hammocks.

Crew:  captain,  cook and an expedition guide.

Lady Mara, and Amazonian tourist vessel built from wood in a traditional way.

Premium boat (superior)

The Premium boat is of a more modern design but respects the shape of the traditional boats that sail the Amazon and its tributaries. She offers top of the range services with 16 comfortable cabins with 2 single beds or a double bed each with a private bathroom and air conditioning. (2 forward cabins with frontal views are available with a supplement.)

There are 4 decks including 2 for bedrooms, a dining room and a large terrace.

The crew consists of a captain, 3 sailors, 2 cooks, 3 waiters and 2 English speaking expedition guides.

The premium boat, that sails the Rio Negro.

Prices for a double room:

Standard category: 2 persons $1663 /pers 4 persons $1142 /pers
Superior category 2 persons $1649 /pers 4 persons $1584 /pers

Low season price of the current year, given as an indication and not a quote.

Other exclusive cruises in the Amazon region