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Venture on an expedition into the Brazilian Amazon

Our Sales & Marketing Manager Sven Zika recently experienced our new partner program in Brazil - Rio, Iguacu and the Amazon. This blog gives you a first-hand account of why you should consider this exciting expedition for your next trip.


In Santarem the blue waters of the Tapajos River and the mighty Amazon meet for several kilometres, creating a delightful ever-changing spectacle. Lined by the forests, beaches of fine white sand and the crystal-clear waters of the Tapajos are an idyllic paradise to explore. Not only will you discover the natural wonders of the great rainforest with its varied wildlife, flora and fauna, but also like Pandaw’s expeditions in Asia, we visit friendly local villages and discover their unique way of life of the Amazonian people.

We have packaged the 9-night cruise on the Amazon with an exciting 3 night stay in Rio before your cruise and a 2 night trip to the incredible Iguacu falls. You also have the choice of adding an optional post- tour extension to travel to the Brazilian cities of Manaus and Salvador.

Why the Amazon and the Tapajos Rivers in and out of Santarem, Brazil?

Pandaw has carefully chosen this off-the-beaten-track region of the Amazon, rather than the cruises in and out of Manaus. You won’t see any tourists or other cruise vessels on your expedition, other than some large ocean-going ships passing Santarem from Belem to Manaus.

You'll be alone on the village walks and speed boat expeditions watching wildlife, nature or visiting tribe villages. The Amazon with its brown water can get very wide, at some points you cannot see the river banks. Tapajos River is more scenic and has blue water.


When to go?

You will be cruising in the Brazilian state of Para. The temperature is year round 30 C / 90 F. The Amazon can be visited during dry and wet season, here is an overview of what to expect at certain times of the year:

Wet Season

December to June
HIGHLIGHTS: visit flooded forests by canoe or speed boat. Villages are closer to the water. Forests are greener and washed down from the dust.

Dry Season

July to November
HIGHLIGHTS: Beaches along Tapajos River. More places are accessible than during the wet season. Sunnier days. Less insects (note: mosquitos do not breed in the Tapajos river where you spent most of your time). Lots of opportunities for cayman spotting.

Richest wildlife: May to June
Fruits growing: August to September
Beaches showing: 2nd half of August to mid January

Your ship: The Amazon Dream

Pandaw has partnered with the Amazon Dream*, a vessel under French ownership. Expect good food, an excellent guide (Mr. Karim) and a small intimate vessel with only 9 cabins. There is a dining room and a sundeck with bar and lounge to enjoy the stunning views of the river banks.

Cabins are decorated with Brazilian themes, and come with storage space and private bathroom. Cabins on the upper deck (numbers 6,7,8,9) have more light and a small balcony shared with the neighbouring cabin. The suite, cabin 1, on the sundeck is the largest of all.

The Amazon Dream has a slightly lower standard than a Pandaw vessel and smaller cabins, nevertheless you will feel instantly at home on this lovely ship with a great crew.


The Excursions

All excursions are included in your cruise price, and there are usually two per day. Daily expeditions include bird watching, and animal spotting, such as monkeys or sloths, and of course the pink dolphins which you will see daily! On jungle walks we will take you to villages where you will learn about flora & fauna, the local community and tribes, or the history during the rubber boom.

Try your luck with a fishing rod, where you may catch a pirana or two (which are inedible), explore the river at night to spot some Caymans, or go on a 6-hour trek to see the world’s largest tree, the Sumauma.

You will spend your afternoons visiting stunning beaches on the Tapajos River, including a visit to Alter de Chao, probably the most touristy place of your trip but voted among the 10 best beaches worldwide.

Note: the program is not suitable for those with walking difficulties.

What to bring

A small backpack, good shoes for jungle walks, binoculars for bird and animal spotting, hat, sunscreen. The Amazon Dream will provide ponchos and rubber boots. It is also recommended that bags are easier to store in your cabin than big hard case suitcases.

There are ATMs in Santarem and Alter do Chao, however they don’t always work. Bring cash (Real, USD or EUR) to pay for your on board bill and tipping. Alcoholic drinks are around 3.- to 4.- USD per glass, a bottle of wine is around USD 25.

Suggested tipping per person for the entire cruise USD 25.- for guide and USD 50.- for crew.


For those who have enjoyed Pandaw River Expeditions in Asia, you can expect the same format of adventurous itinerary along with the same level of service and staff friendliness. The excursions are well-planned and creative. There is more nature and wildlife offered on the Amazon than on our rivers in Asia. There are no pagodas or temples, but plenty of villages with local tribes and an interesting history of the rubber boom in Brazil.

There are only two cabins left on our charter departures in 2016 and we are happy to announce our new dates for 2017. Book here

Ship facts:
Ship images:

Book online or get additional information and the itinerary:

Sven Zika

If you need more first-hand information, email Sven directly at

Note: Pandaw partnerships do not include drinks or tipping.


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