2007 Roadtrip The Amazon Jungle, Perú

The Delfin

The cruise on the Delfín from Iquitos was perfect. We learned a great deal, we floated on the Amazon in comfort and luxury, we ate well, we socialized with wonderful people, we felt well taken-care-of by a warm and professional staff and we enjoyed ourselves enormously.

Our cabin #7 was snug but comfortable and air conditioned (although the matrimonial bed has a large column in the middle, which effectively separated the 2 sides of the bed). There was no seating but enough shelves for our stuff and our computer (so we could listen to our computer music).

We're in our cabin with Lissy Macchiavelo (one of the owners of the Delfín and Amazon Horizons.)

There were 2 decks of cabins, with the dining room on the second deck. On the third deck there was a large sitting area with a library and TV (with a DVD player and DVDs) at one end and a bar at the other.

The ship's library on the third deck is well-stocked with interesting books about the Amazon and Perú.

It was pleasantly cool on the third deck.
We're on the top deck having a lemonade.

The food was individually prepared, delicious and plentiful. The Delfín serves local fruit and fish, prepared in creative ways. Usiel, our guide, showed us the fruit on our excursions and then at meals we could taste it.
That's Usiel on the left with the other guests in our skiff.

We were very impressed with the use of local food products and also with the individually prepared meals served by waiters in white gloves.
Dennis is welcoming us to an (unusual) buffet lunch in his white gloves.

The tables were artistically decorated by Lissy Macchiavello.
A photo of the dining room and the artistic presentation.

Usiel was a great and enthusiastic guide and teacher.

Usiel's night spotting of a baby caiman amazed us.

The itinerary of the ship was interesting and varied. This is a map of our course towards the source of the Amazon:

We were lucky that both Lissy and Aldo Macchiavello were on the cruise. They are charming and attentive hosts. That made the trip very special. We had long talks about living in Perú with Lissy and what it was like to raise a family there versus the US where they also lived. We learned of the danger of kidnappings and why people are so concerned with safety. The other guests were delightful and we had interesting conversations with them too

One day Lissy said that while she knew that Dimitri and I were two different people, she perceived a unique fusion of the two of us into a magical unit. She said that she had even had a conversation about us with some of the other women on the cruise and they had agreed with her. What a wonderful thing to say and, if true, what an achievement! Since Dimitri and I met in 1989 he has been saying that we should think as a couple, not as individuals. It appears we’re making progress.

On the Delfín, there were many treats for the guests. There was night "turn-down" service in our cabin and a "sweet dreams" chocolate for us (even though there was so much delicious food, we couldn’t possibly have eaten more before bed). At the end of the trip, each woman on the cruise received a gift of a locally-made necklace. That was another of many nice touches.

Our trip on the Delfín was 7 days/6 nights and that allowed us to travel deep up the Amazon. Probably a shorter cruise would provide enough of an Amazon experience for most people. And, at US$550 a day for the two of us, enough of an expense.

Typically we had two excursions in the launch boat a day. Each of the two boats accommodated 8 people. There were only five of us in our launch boat because the rest of the guests were working biologists and photographers creating material for Amazon Horizons. One day we saw the launch boat of another top end cruise provider. The boat had at least 20 people on it packed like sardines. We liked the smallness of the Delfín.

Our trip was in March and it only rained during one of our excursions—not bad for a rainforest.

A grey river dolphin is performing for us

We took wonderful pictures and they are all posted on our photo website. Click here to see them all.

The next phase of our Amazon experience was at a lodge near Iquitos. The "luxury" lodge, Ceiba Tops, wasn't luxurious, especially at the price they charged (about US$280 per day for the 2 of us). On the Explorama website, it mentions that some rooms have an Amazon River view. Our room (#303) was supposed to have a river view. However, because of the thick jungle in front of the rooms, there wasn't even a glimpse of the river.

Ceiba Tops is not well-maintained and looks old and run-down although it isn’t. The room was basic, not luxurious, and had no comfortable chairs in it (although they brought us some chairs from the common sitting area at our request). The standard furniture is a table and 2 straight-backed chairs.

There is Internet Wi-Fi available in the common area of Ceiba Tops so we were able to download our e-mail. All of the meals at Ceiba Tops were buffet and the food was never hot. The vegetables and fruit were not interesting or special. The meat, chicken and fish were uninspired and not at all creative.

The owner of Explorama, Peter Jensen, was at the buffet table at meals but never spoke to the individual guests. Instead he "spoke to the room in general" in a loud voice. He makes it a point that the meals are exactly the same at all the Explorama lodges; so we were paying "luxury" prices and getting the same meals as those paying "basic" prices at the other Explorama lodges.

Our guide at Ceiba Tops was bored and not talkative. We heard other guests also complaining that their guides had to be encouraged to give information. We talked to other guests around the swimming pool and in the common sitting area before dinner.

Although there was entertainment in the evening, we didn’t stay for it. Instead we watched our DVDs in our room on our computer, sitting the in the comfortable chairs we had brought to the room.

In summary, even though the Delfín cruise was more than twice the cost of Ceiba Tops, we felt we received value for our money. We would highly recommend the Delfín cruise for 5days/4 nights. Ceiba Tops was over priced and we would not recommend it at all. We are very glad we went to the Amazon Jungle in Perú. It is unique and an exceptionally interesting experience. Our pictures tell the story of our delight with what we saw.

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