Last month, 64 global citizens traveled on riverboats down the Amazon and Negro Rivers. Over the next few intense travel days the group experienced too much to cover in a quick blog post, but here are 7 of our favorite highlights!
1. Fishing for piranhas. Using sticks for poles, no bobbers, no lures and no sinkers, the group spent an afternoon pulling in some of the meanest looking fish on the planet. To attract the piranhas, guides instructed students to thrash their poles in the water before dropping their line in. Who knew? Thousands of piranhas surrounded the boats as we made sure to keep our fingers and toes inside of the boat.
2. Soccer match against the locals. When in Brazil, why not a little futbol? We organized a barefoot, 11 v 11 match against a local village on the river and spent the next couple of hours rooting each other on. After the dust settled and the locals had dribbled us in circles, the game ended in a 3-1 defeat. Without our goalie Deke, it could have been a lot worse! The game was interrupted at one point by a parrot flying down onto the field. Only in the Amazon.
3. Swimming with the pink river dolphins. On the third morning, the group woke up early to head to a part of the river frequented by wild pink river dolphins. After a few students at a time got into the water, the locals helped the group attract the dolphins in closer by slapping fish against the water. 6-8 dolphins (despite the occasional screech from a group member) surrounded the group, jumping in and out of the water.
4. Camping in the Rainforest. As it started to get dark on our first night, the group packed up their bags and headed into the rainforest for a campfire and an overnight. The guides prepared barbequed chicken and sausages over the fire as Jordan and some of the others played some sing-alongs on guitar and had drinks. Some new mosquito nets pre-sprayed with Deet caused a small scare, but the group was tough and came out of it with a great story. The whole night was an experience we won’t soon forget.
5. Hiking to the Waterfalls. The morning after camping in the rainforest, the group set off on a long hike learning about the medicinal plants and different animals that are unique to the Amazon. Our final destination was to a set of small waterfalls where the group enjoyed cooling off after the hike. When we were almost back to the boats on the hike back, the group experienced their first Amazon downpour – with arms out and heads to the sky we got back on the boat and went on our way.
6. Caiman (Alligator) Spotting. Using canoes, the group headed out at night with our guides to find and catch caimans with their bare hands. With one guide in the back and one in the front with a flashlight, the boat would sneak up on the alligators and quickly bring them into the boat while holding them tightly. Although the caimans weren’t enormous, they didn’t look too happy with us! After a few pictures, we let them get back to their life in the Amazon.
7. Indigenous Village. On our last morning, the group made one last stop at an indigenous village before heading back to Manaus. The villagers showed the students some of their traditional rituals and dances and even got the group doing some of the dances with them. Some of the younger girls in the village painted our group’s faces before we said our goodbyes and made our last trek down the river towards port.
Cam Braddock is the director of business development for Global Citizens Travel. Cam studied abroad in Australia as an undergraduate and has traveled the world with GCT since. If you have questions for Cam, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.