HOW TO EX­PLOrE THE BrAZIL­IAN AMA­ZON

A num­ber of small cruise lines nav­i­gate the great river and its tributaries, with ex­cur­sions by land and wa­ter that of­fer a close look at rain-for­est wildlife. Con­sider hir­ing a travel ad­vi­sor who can ex­pand your visit with fur­ther ad­ven­tures through­out S

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GET­TING THERE

Most Ama­zon cruises in Brazil de­part from Manaus, in the state of Ama­zonas. There are sev­eral flights per day to Manaus from ma­jor cities, in­clud­ing Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, as well as non­stop flights from Mi­ami on the Chilean air­line LATAM.

TOUR OP­ER­A­TORS

Lo­cally owned char­ter cruise com­pany Amazô­nia Ex­pe­di­tions has been nav­i­gat­ing the Ama­zon for 37 years. The team ex­cels at small-group cruises tai­lored to pas­sen­gers' in­ter­ests, such as botany or fish­ing. ama­zo­nia ex­pe­di­tions.com.br; cruises for up to eight peo­ple from US$2,350 per group per day.

Ama­zon of­fer­ings from con­ser­va­tion-minded tour op­er­a­tor Wildlife World­wide in­clude group river sa­faris and be­spoke pri­vate itin­er­ar­ies that take you to see the re­gion's an­i­mal in­hab­i­tants. Tack on a trans­fer to the bio­di­verse Pan­tanal, a wet­lands re­gion in south­west­ern Brazil, for a jaguar-track­ing trip. wildlife­world­wide.com; nine-day trips from US$3,690.

TRAVEL AD­VI­SORS

Rio-based Brazil travel spe­cial­ist Paul Irvine (paul. irvine@de­houche.com) is the founder of the South Amer­i­can travel firm De­houche and a long­time mem­ber of the A-List, T+L's col­lec­tion of the world's top travel ad­vi­sors. He can plan cus­tom river­boat itin­er­ar­ies, with stays at Brazil's best rain-for­est lodges, and a va­ri­ety of post-cruise ex­ten­sions, like a trans­fer to Tran­coso to ex­pe­ri­ence Bahia's beaches and Afro-Caribbean cul­ture. de­houche.com; US$800 min­i­mum daily spend.

Mary Curry (1-406-5401901; mary.c@ad­ven­ture­life. com), an ad­ven­ture-cruise spe­cial­ist on the A-List, can or­ga­nize itin­er­ar­ies that put a river ex­cur­sion in the con­text of a broader South Amer­i­can ex­pe­di­tion. Her team at Ad­ven­ture Life can book a small-ship cruise sup­ple­mented with a visit to Iguazú Falls, Machu Pic­chu, or the Galá­pa­gos Is­lands. ad­ven­ture-life.com; US$200 min­i­mum daily spend.

WHEN TO GO

Irvine notes that fluc­tu­at­ing wa­ter lev­els mean the Ama­zon changes dra­mat­i­cally from sea­son to sea­son. The rainy sea­son, with in­tense show­ers, runs from De­cem­ber to April. River lev­els are high­est be­tween Jan­uary and Au­gust, al­low­ing ac­cess to small tributaries and se­cluded swim­ming holes. But the drier sea­son, from Septem­ber to Novem­ber, is best for fish­ing, hik­ing and vis­it­ing the re­gion's white-sand river beaches.

WHAT TO PACK

Curry en­cour­ages trav­el­ers to take pre­cau­tions against mos­qui­toes. Bring a strong re­pel­lent, pre­treat clothes with Per­methrin spray and get an­ti­malar­ial med­i­ca­tion from a doc­tor. Plan on tak­ing light, loose-fit­ting pants and longsleeved shirts in light col­ors. Evenings are cool, so pack lay­ers to keep warm.

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