Cruising along the Brazilian Amazon

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Pandaw River Expeditions will offer its first Brazilian Amazon cruises on the 21-passenger Amazon Dream.
Pandaw River Expeditions will offer its first Brazilian Amazon cruises on the 21-passenger Amazon Dream.

When it comes to river cruises on the Amazon River, much of the development in recent years has been along the much smaller Peruvian stretch of the world's second longest river. But most people imagine the large portion of the river that rambles through the dense rain forest of Brazil, which makes sense since 60% of the rain forest is located there.

Several outfits offer a range of river cruises along the Brazilian sections of the river. And with the 2016 Olympics on the horizon, there's bound to be more attention paid to Brazil this year, with travelers looking to explore the country beyond Rio de Janeiro.

Most journeys to the Brazilian Amazon begin or end in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas.

What was once a small river village has grown into a vibrant city of 2 million. The unique culture and heritage of the region is one draw, but many visitors flock to the Amazon for its rich biodiversity: The Central Amazon Biosphere Reserve is considered to be the largest forest in the world.

Southeast Asia river cruise line Pandaw River Expeditions is making the jump to South America this year, offering river cruises on the Brazilian Amazon with the 21-passenger Amazon Dream.

Pandaw is selling two departures on the Amazon Dream as part of a larger itinerary that includes three nights at the Sofitel Hotel in Rio de Janeiro and a two-night stay near Iguacu Falls, before a nine-night river cruise from Santarem to Belem.

The Amazon Dream is a 90-foot-long Brazilian vessel built from regional wood in 2006. Highlights of the cruise include seeing the confluence of the blue waters of the Tapajos River and the yellow waters of the Amazon, excursions to Maica Lake and Lake Marai and visits to river villages.

Pandaw also offers two-night extensions in the Brazilian cities of Manaus and Salvador. The two departures Pandaw sells are on May 10 and Sept. 27, with prices starting at $3,996 per person, based on double occupancy.

Miami-based Rainforest Cruises sells cruises on the Amazon Dream as well, along with a whole host of itineraries on other ships that sail the Brazilian Amazon. The company sells inventory on 10 different vessels on the Brazilian Amazon, ranging from the eight-passenger, ferry-like Lo Peix, with few amenities (there is no air conditioning) to much more high-end vessels, such as Iberostar's 150-passenger Grand Amazon and the 24-passenger classic schooner Desafio.

Two-day Amazon River cruises on the Lo Peix start at $539 per person. Iberostar's Grand Amazon sails four-, five- and eight-day cruises along the Solimoes section of the Amazon and along Rio Negro, the largest tributary of the Amazon.

Prices for a four-day river cruise on the Grand Amazon start at $909 per person. Desafio offers three- and four-day river cruises starting at $1,099 per person.

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