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I concur with the report on the Uakari Lodge. It is a fantastic experience, and at approz $110 per person/day is inexpensive for what is offered. The price is all inclusive from pick-up in Tefe to drop-off also in Tefe. This means transfers, accomodation, all meals and all sightseeing. The only extras are alcoholic beverages and tips. I was there in February 2005. There was a canoe and guide for each 2 guests (at that time the maximum was 20 guests, it appears that it is now 16) and no time was too early or too late to go out and experience life on the river, be it pre-dawn or after dark. The food was fantastic, many of the items unknown outside the Amazon.
The accomodation is simple/rustic but clean and adequate. Each floating lodge has 2 bedrooms each with private bath, and a hammock on your private balcony. There is hot water, sewage and grey water are treated.
I was especially impressed with the fact that there were four complete crews employed at Uakari. This enabled people from the river villages to have a job earning real money, without having to leave their position in their family or village, as they work only one week out of four. They remain farmers, fishermen, family fathers and village elders. This ensures that the villages and their ecosystems remain viable and sustainable. Too many rural Brazilians are daily leaving their villages and flocking to already overcrowded city slums to earn a little hard cash. Uakari is helping to prevent this from happening in their area.
The sounds and also the silences are memorable. The dawn chorus - your wakeup call can be deafening, the birdsong augmented by howler monkeys. At night the frog chorus could be loud enough to keep you awake. Sudden loud splashes could be a caiman on the hunt. a soft pshhhhhh from the river outside your room is a pink dolphin surfacing. It takes a pre-dawn silence to make you realise just how much noise we are so used to that we are no longer aware of it.
Updated Nov 6, 2006
Uakarí Lodge in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve is a combination of luxury and wilderness experience. Four 2-room updated cabañas with bath and covered deck connect to a central reception/dining building. The lodge is solar-powered. Meals are served cafeteria style and are mostly from local foods. There are always rice and beans, a chicken or pasta dish, and dessert from local ingredients. It's great getting the know the local people who work at the lodge.
The planned activities are well-organized. There are trips to development projects and local communities, boat trips and hikes. There are English-speaking guides for about every 10 or 12 people. It was also magical to listen to a native person share his world with us even with the language barrier. Most people stay 3-4 nights now that the airport in Tefé is closed, but we recommend the week-long stay to explore the Amazon rain forest.
The local people from the nearby community take turns working at the lodge one week a month. When the supply boat arrives with supplies, you realize that there are many people supporting your "primitive" stay. The lodge interacts with local communities- actually coexisting rather than dominating! Excess profits from the lodge go to special projects within the neighboring communities.
August was a good time to avoid mosquitoes but a bad time if you want to see the flooded rain forest. There is no good time to avoid bugs; "no-see-ums" and such are around all the time.
Flying to Manaus and catching the "fast boat" (12 hours) upriver to Tefe was surprisingly easy. We were met by lodge staff and put up in a local hotel to await the Uakari boat ride in the morning. Others had taken the slow boat (>40 hours) which is a more local experience. To book, simply email the lodge directly---- and they will take care of your arrangements in Tefe. We encourage people to take the time to visit Uakarí. You don't have to be fit and young, only flexible and open to the adventure of a lifetime.
Updated Oct 22, 2006