Options studied/considered but not chosen for this trip
Red and Green Macaws at Heath River Wildlife Center
Miles from Rainforest Cruises was very helpful and prompt with all responses to my questions. His was the only other company that responded to me. The cruise he offered had not met the minimum required participants and therefore was not guaranteed to go when I needed to make a commitment.
I investigated Muyuna Lodge, which looked intriguing and had a private guide option. Booking through Rainforest Cruises was the same price as going direct with Muyuna. Green Tracks did not work with Muyana. Those in Peru that I asked about Muyuna gave the lodge positive feedback. (If you check out Muyana’s detailed and very intriguing itineraries you may see a tiger watching activity. I think there was a lapse in translation.) I opted for the boat to better my chances at dolphins and believe I chose wisely, especially in August.
I thought about Pacaya Samiria Lodge, rather than the boat. When we passed the lodge on the Marañón River, I was surprised how far away from the heart of the reserve it was. It is in the “buffer zone,” which was a long ways from Ranger Stations 1 and 2 WITHIN the reserve.
Those I questioned about the various “Swim with Pink Dolphins” Lodges in Peru were skeptical of the claims that dolphins were actually drawn to any particular lodge with any predictability. My time on the river watching dolphins, and waiting for hours/days without seeing dolphins, makes me skeptical too. Furthermore, I was cautioned that some of the owners/”researchers” of the dolphin encounter lodges were charlatans and not really researchers.
I did not include Manu because I felt it deserved more time than I could devote to it on this trip if I was going to do the cruise and Machu Picchu. I also thought the best option for macaws on a clay lick would be Heath River rather than the Manu clay lick or any other clay lick. I’d still like to visit Manu, but Heath River offers an ideal setup to see macaws: easy/quick to get there & very close views from a comfortable hide/blind (with ensuite Western toilet) for a limited number of guests.
One knowledgeable individual shared this about Heath River vs. Manu: “Everyone thinks Manu is by far the best for wildlife and Heath River is not as pristine and has less wildlife. At one time, Manu was the only wildlife game around and that is where the reputation for wildlife came from. But Heath Wildlife Center has enjoyed protection for many years now and the species are rejuvenating. Heath is improving, while Manu is deteriorating from encroachment and hunting in the area. Heath has less human activity nearby and actually has slightly better wildlife than Manu now. There are about two primate species that can possibly be seen in Manu that cannot be seen in Heath.”
Sunset on Heath River
Both a tour operator and some tourists I spoke with said that the drive over the Andes to get to Manu was something that should not be missed. I’d be interested in the comparison of Heath River and Manu from others who have visited both. Eventually, I hope to be able to chime in on the difference.
I noted that the International Expeditions Pacaya Samiria Amazon cruise emphasized that they are the “only company that will take you to Ranger Station 2.” When we cruised past Ranger Station 2, I asked how IE could make that claim. The answer was that IE is the only company that goes TO Ranger Station 2 (and I think IE goes INTO the station). We technically did not go TO Station 2; we motored BEYOND it. We did go into Ranger Station 1 and got to bury some Sidenecked turtle eggs with the rangers.
We saw the IE boat docked and it looked very nice. Everyone I talked to had nice things to say about IE, me too from my one trip with them. The cost of the IE Amazon boat trip was almost exactly the same as my entire
itinerary, but I also had Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Tambopata, in addition to the Pacaya Samiria/Amazon cruise.
Natural Habitat (great company, I’ve done 3 trips with them) just came out with a Pacaya Samiria/Amazon cruise for max 28 (vs. Green Tracks max 18 and we were 8), almost 2x the cost of my Iquitos trip/cruise. Looks similar.
Sunset in Pacaya Samiria
Edited by Atravelynn, 11 October 2012 - 02:13 AM.