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Holiday Overview

Highlights

  • Trek into the `Heart of Darkness`
  • Canoe down the Rio Negro and camp at river beach bivouacs
  • Stunning views of the Serra do Araca
  • `Explore More` - the finest adventure holidays on the planet

This is a trekking holiday in Brazil for those with a REAL sense of adventure; in a remote province of northern Brazil, close to the border with Venezuela and hidden amongst the headwaters of the Amazon, a monster has recently been discovered. Dropping 360 metres, sheer and uninterrupted, from the edge of a sandstone plateau in the Serra do Araca, this unnamed waterfall is the highest and most impressive in Brazil. Few people have seen this giant cascade and no more than a handful have made the trek through virgin rainforest to experience the magical view at the lip of the falls. Getting to the start of the trek is arguably the crux of this trip, however, as we travel from Manaus to Barcelos by riverboat and then use small motor boats for the continuation of the journey. For 4 days, we follow the Rio Negro and then ever smaller tributaries, setting up our bivouac each night on untrodden river beaches. If you are looking for a real adventure, you've just found.

Explore International Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these holidays can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

A real adventure holiday in the mould of the pioneering journeys of the 18th and 19th century explorers, this holiday/expedition will present difficulties not normally encountered on the more ordinary adventure holidays. Just reaching the start of our trek in Brazil is an adventure in itself as we make our way upstream navigating the labyrinthine tributaries of the Rio Negro. The trek itself involves some long days through untamed remote rainforest where hot and humid conditions can also make extra demands. The ascent of the tepui will require some easy scrambling where a head for heights is required. However, no technical skills or previous experience of this type of journey are required - just good physical condition, a sense of adventure and a sense of humour! The expedition will be led by a Brazilian rainforest expert assisted by local guides, and the group will be entirely self-sufficient, making bivouac camps each evening. Expedition members will take part in the tasks of building the camp, preparing and cooking meals etc.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Manaus. A single timed transfer from Manaus Airport is provided.
  • Morning visit to the Rubber Museum. Begin boat journey from Manaus to Barcelos.
  • Continue to Barcelos.
  • Arrive Barcelos, start canoe trip.
  • Follow the Rio ‘A’ to Rio ‘B’.
  • Navigate the ‘Green Channel’ .
  • Continue through the ‘Green Channel’.
  • Trek through the rain forest to camp.
  • Ascend the Tepui.
  • Trek to Brazil’s highest waterfall.
  • A day exploring around the waterfall.
  • First day of our walk-out.
  • Return to the boats.
  • Return to Barcelos.
  • Return to Barcelos.
  • Return to Barcelos.
  • Boat to Manaus.
  • Arrive Manaus.
  • Free day.
  • Departure day. A single timed transfer to Manaus Airport is provided.
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Manaus. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Manaus Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.


BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • airport
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Manaus. A single timed transfer from Manaus Airport is provided.

    The group will meet at the hotel in Manaus. A single, timed group transfer is provided. At the hotel we check in and relax. Later our guide will give us a tour of Manaus including its world renowned opera house built at the height of the boom in rubber which brought unimaginable wealth to some of the city’s residents. We can also today take a sneak preview of the Rio Negro which will be our route into the rainforest. There are many lively cafes and restaurants in Manaus and some of these our guide will point out as we orientate ourselves to the city. KE Land Only services begin with overnight in the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

  • Morning visit to the Rubber Museum. Begin boat journey from Manaus to Barcelos.

    We get back on the river this morning for a short boat ride to visit the rubber museum. This is an absolutely fascinating place where an entire early 20th century plantation has been recreated from the tiny huts of the rubber tappers to the fine house of the ‘Baron’. The story of the rise and fall of a commercial empire and the harsh conditions in which its main wealth-creators lived is told by various displays and by a museum guide. We return to the city, for lunch and the afternoon is free. In the early evening we will transfer to the port on the Rio Negro where we board the boat for Barcelos and check into our cabins for the overnight trip.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals b

  • Continue to Barcelos.

    Having been rocked to sleep by the hum of the ship’s engines, we wake to the same steady rhythm as our river journey continues. We have another full day on the boat. Small islands with sandy beaches and green reeds line the way, and maybe we’ll see our first river dolphin. As we continue upstream, we encounter fewer boats on the river.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Arrive Barcelos, start canoe trip.

    Arriving in Barcelos in the early morning, we switch to our canoes and begin the expedition-proper up the Rio Negro. We load and prepare the canoes (aluminium boats with outboard motors) with our supplies, and travel up the Rio Negro. After about an hour we take a side arm ‘Rio A’, and follow this backwater upstream for the rest of the day. On arrival at our camp on the riverbank we may have time for a refreshing swim before dinner. We will sleep in hammocks slung between trees beneath a protective rain-cover.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Follow the Rio ‘A’ to Rio ‘B’.

    There are far fewer signs of human habitation as we head deeper into the rainforest. We are however, more than likely to spot signs of otter, tapir and capybara, and dozens of species of birds. We come to another branching of rivers and turn to fallow the even narrower but equally unimaginatively named Rio 'B'. Tonight’s camp really does feel remote on the riverbank surrounded by rainforest on all other sides and listening to the many calls and sounds of the jungle. After building up the camp there will be time for some swimming or fishing before preparing the evening meal.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Navigate the ‘Green Channel’ .

    The river becomes narrower and more shallow as we progress upstream. We enter the section known as the ‘Green Channel’ where we are likely to have to negotiate obstacles such as fallen trees. At times it may be necessary to get out of the canoe and clear these obstacles or even haul the boat through some of the shallows. Group members may end up working quite hard today and we will certainly earn our supper tonight, cooked in our camp beside the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Continue through the ‘Green Channel’.

    We have another stretch of the 'Green Channel' to negotiate this morning entailing more hauling. It is difficult to predict when, but sometime towards the end of the afternoon we should reach the end of the river journey and the start point for our trek. Once again we string up our hammocks and settle in for jungle camp on the banks of the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek through the rain forest to camp.

    After our long river journey it’s now time to strike out on foot. We secure our boats and load up for the walk to the tepui (table mountain) where Brazil’s highest waterfall is located. After our four-day journey up the Rio Negro and its nameless tributaries we are a long way from civilisation. Consequently, there are no trails here other than those made by the wild animals and our guides will use machetes to clear a path through the jungle. We begin trekking through the rainforest, firstly making headway over fairly level terrain. As the day progresses and we come nearer to the mountain, the slope becomes more discernable and we start to make a gradual ascent, climbing approximately 400 metres above the river to a campsite next to a small stream.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Ascend the Tepui.

    After approximately 2 hours of trekking today we reach the foot of a steep green wall which rises up above the forest canopy. We now have to climb to reach the top of the tepui. The climbing is not technical but will need the use of hands and requires care on the slippery vegetation. We gradually gain height until after around 1½ hours, we arrive the edge of the table mountain and enjoy an incredible view over the rainforest. Now we have climbed the tepui we still have a further 2 hours of trekking across the top to reach the site of our next camp at the edge of a 400m deep gorge. On the other side we can see our first waterfall. We build up our camp tonight on granite slabs.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 500m

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Brazil’s highest waterfall.

    After breakfast we set off along the rim of the spectacular gorge. In just a couple of hours we reach the end of the gorge and view the highest waterfall in Brazil as it plummets over the edge and drops 360 metres directly below our feet - a fantastic sight. So remote and little visited is this spectacular fall that it has not yet been named! We set up camp right beside the waterfall.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • A day exploring around the waterfall.

    This is a truly fantastic location and we will want to make the most of our time here. We spend the day viewing and photographing the falls in the changing light, and exploring the environs of our camp. A superb location to spend a second night.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • First day of our walk-out.

    We begin the 2-day return to the boats, with a short and easy hike around to the rock slabs on the edge of the tepui. Here, we set up our bivouac and spend time admiring the views of the falls and the surrounding jungle-cloaked landscape. 2 - 3 hours of trekking.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Return to the boats.

    A longer day, which starts with a descent of the green wall to the rainforest below and then the long trek through the forest back to our boats. A day of 7 - 8 hours, with a total descent of around 800 metres. Back at the boats we will put up our hammocks, and after dinner, fall into a welcome sleep.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Return to Barcelos.

    We make the return river journey, first navigating the ‘Green Channel’ to the Rio ‘B’, and then more easily the Rio ‘A’ and Rio Negro as we return to signs of habitation. With no unforeseen delays we should arrive back in Barcelos sometime on Day 18.
    Note: there is a contingency day built in within these days. If we arrive earlier in Barcelos we will either camp on the riverbank or we may choose to stay in a basic posada in Barcelos. Lunches and dinners taken in Barcelos are not included in the trip price.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Return to Barcelos.

    We make the return river journey, first navigating the ‘Green Channel’ to the Rio ‘B’, and then more easily the Rio ‘A’ and Rio Negro as we return to signs of habitation. With no unforeseen delays we should arrive back in Barcelos sometime on Day 18.
    Note: there is a contingency day built in within these days. If we arrive earlier in Barcelos we will either camp on the riverbank or we may choose to stay in a basic posada in Barcelos. Lunches and dinners taken in Barcelos are not included in the trip price.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Return to Barcelos.

    We make the return river journey, first navigating the ‘Green Channel’ to the Rio ‘B’, and then more easily the Rio ‘A’ and Rio Negro as we return to signs of habitation. With no unforeseen delays we should arrive back in Barcelos sometime on Day 18.
    Note: there is a contingency day built in within these days. If we arrive earlier in Barcelos we will either camp on the riverbank or we may choose to stay in a basic posada in Barcelos. Lunches and dinners taken in Barcelos are not included in the trip price.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Boat to Manaus.

    We arrive in Barcelos in the afternoon and bid goodbye to our crew before boarding the evening boat back to Manaus. We stay in simple twin berth cabins for the journey.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Arrive Manaus.

    We should arrive in Manaus in the late evening and we check into our comfortable hotel and enjoy hot showers and cold beer.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bl

  • Free day.

    Free day in Manaus. In the evening we will enjoy a farewell meal.

    • Meals bd

  • Departure day. A single timed transfer to Manaus Airport is provided.

    KE Land Only services end after breakfast is provided at the hotel. The morning is free for sightseeing or souvenir buying. A single timed airport transfer is provided.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • English speaking local leader
  • Single timed group transfers in Manaus
  • Accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as per the Meal Plan
  • All land and river transport required by the itinerary
  • Porters
  • All excursion fares and park fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Tips for local staff
  • Meals as per the Meal Plan
  • Airport taxes
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc

During the expedition we will use mainly freeze-dried and pre-packaged food to prepare meals which may be supplemented by fish which we catch. Expedition members will work together under the direction of the trip leader to prepare these meals. In Manaus and Barcelos there is a wide range of cuisines available.

In Manaus and Barcelos, there is a wide variety of dining options from the very cheap and tasty street food to up-market restaurants. Clients will pay directly for a total of 2 lunches and 3 dinners while staying in these towns. If contingency days are not required there will be one further lunch and dinner which will be paid for directly by clients. On the first night on the boat journey from Manaus to Barcelo they sometimes cook dinner and sometimes do not! Therefore we have indicated it as not included. If dinner is cooked it is included in the price. The boat does sell snacks incase they do not cook dinner. Allow from US$5 to US$20 for each meal (in the towns) depending on the type of restaurant you choose.
A single group transfer will be arranged to meet the TAM Linhas Aereas flight from Sao Paulo on arrival at Manaus. This transfer will normally be shortly after mid-day on day 1 of the land only itinerary. At the end of the trip there will be a single group transfer back to the airport to meet the check in for the TAM Linhas Aereas flight to Sao Paulo. This transfer will normally be mid afternoon on the final day of the itinerary. The guide or a representative of our local agent will assist with these group transfers.

Clients not on a flight that can meet this transfer should make arrangements to meet the group at the hotel in Manaus no later than the evening of Day 1. The airport is approximately 10 miles out of town and a taxi from the airport to the group hotel will cost approximately US$25.

Full contact details for the hotel and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
The group will spend 2 nights in hotel accommodation in Manaus and 3 nights in a basic cabin aboard the night boat to Barcelos. During the expedition there are 13 nights camping where we sleep in hammocks slung between trees. The hammocks have a rain cover and a mosquito net. On the tepui we may spend 2 or 3 nights in improvised bivouac shelters sleeping on foam camping mats.

If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex for room sharing. Depending on availability it may be possible to book a single room for the hotel nights. Please contact the office for availablity and prices. Additional hotel nights in Manaus are also available, please contact the office for prices.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

The group will be led by Wolfgang Brög, a Brazilian Rainforest expert and documentary filmmaker. There is probably not a tributary of the Rio Negro that has not been explored by Wolfgang. His film about the devastating impact of gold mining on the Yanomami Indians of northern Brazil in the late eighties was instrumental in forcing the government to create a Yanomami territory. To make the film, Wolfgang and fellow explorer Rüdiger Nehberg had to go undercover, posing as gold hunters to expose the mafia style operations which were threatening the existence of these 'tribes that hide from man'. During our expedition Wolfgang will be assisted by local guides.

Approximately US$250 - 300 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including those itemized below. You should allow $80 - $150 for non included meals, around $75 for tips to your local guides, and US$20 for airport departure tax if this is not included in your ticket (this depends on your airline and the country where the flight originates). If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs or large amounts of beer or soft drinks you should budget accordingly. Brazil’s unit of currency is the Real. It is not necessary to purchase Reals outside the country. Your travel money should be carried in the form of cash in US dollars. Money can be exchanged at the airport on arrival and in Manaus. It is also possible to withdraw cash from ATMs (including at the airport).

Tipping is expected in this part of the world, although you should only tip for services which are well done. The total amount that you can expect to pay in tips for your local guide and support crew is approximately $75.

On the river journey we will travel in aluminum canoes with engines, with a maximum of 3 clients plus 1 or 2 guides per canoe. You should limit your baggage to a maximum of 12kg. During the trek you will carry all your personal belongings plus your hammock. Porter-guides will carry the group’s camping equipment and supplies during this part of the expedition. Items not required on the trek can be left with the boats, and travel clothes can be left in the hotel in Manaus.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday does not involve any significant ascent to altitude and we would not expect any altitude issues with this trip.

The following checklist should help you with your packing.

You should make every effort to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. On the river journey we will travel in aluminium canoes with a maximum of 4 clients plus 1 or 2 guides per canoe. You should limit your baggage to a maximum of 12kg. During the trek you will carry all your personal belongings plus your hammock. Porter-guides will carry the group’s camping equipment and supplies. Items not required on the trek can be left with the boats, and travel clothes can be left in the hotel in Manaus.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots

  • Sports sandals or old trainers for river journey

  • Socks

  • Lightweight trekking trousers

  • Underwear

  • Trek shirts (designed for the tropics)

  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho

  • Sunhat

  • Sunglasses

  • Mosquito hood

  • Gardening gloves

  • Backpack 55 litres

  • Several strong plastic bags or dry bags to keep items dry

  • Second fold-away bag for storing extra items

  • Headtorch with spare batteries

  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)

  • Water bottles 1 Litre (x2)

  • Insect repellant (DEET)

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Small trekking towel

  • Lightweight sleeping bag (confort rated to 10ºC)

  • Foam camping mat/thermarest

  • Antibacterial handwash

  • Basic First Aid Kit. Including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

The following items are optional:

  • Trainers or similar for traveling and camp use

  • Spare laces

  • Shorts

  • Trekking poles

  • Swimwear

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Travel clothes

  • Pen-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)

  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)

  • Camera

Equipment Provided

  • Hammock with mosquito net and rain-cover

 

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport for each country that you visit.

Visa Brazil

UK passport holders do not require a visa for short stays. USA passport holders do require a visa.

Transit via USA

You will require an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), and you must get this before boarding any US-bound aircraft or ship, or entering on a land border. The fee is USD$14 and you should apply for it at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. With the ESTA complete, the majority of British Citizen passport holders can enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme, VWP. As of 1st April 2016 you will be required to have a passport with an intergrated chip. Note that if you have travelled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan in the last 5yrs you will have to apply for a visa.

NOTE: This is required if you are transiting through the USA 

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you specific require any vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella), alnog with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis are required. There is risk of yellow fever and you must carry a current vaccination certificate. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

Zika

Zika virus has been confirmed as active in this country. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes, like dengue and malaria. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The symptoms are generally mild and self limiting usually lasting 2 - 7 days. 80% of people exposed to the virus for the first time experience no symptoms. Pregnant women are advised to avoid areas where the zika virus is active. For the latest information, please see our 'KE Safe' Updates

The unit of currency in Brazil is the Real.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

This is a physically demanding trip and you will enjoy your holiday more if you have an appropriate level of fitness for the activities involved. It makes sense before coming on any active holiday to make sure you are in good shape. We recommend that you adopt a weekly exercise plan building up to departure. Regular hiking in hill country with a reasonable rucksack is the best preparation for a trip like this but if this is not possible, running, cycling and swimming are all good for building up cardio-vascular fitness and stamina.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The basin of the Rio Negro is characterized by a hot, tropical climate. Rainfall occurs year round but the intensity is somewhat seasonal, with less rain during the summer (Northern Winter). During dry periods it can become quite difficult to navigate the tributaries of the Rio Negro. Temperatures vary little throughout the year and we can expect daytime maxima of 33 degrees centigrade at Manaus, falling to 23 degrees centigrade at night. During the trek and while on the tepui, the temperatures will vary between a humid 20 and 30 degrees centigrade, falling to 10 degrees centigrade at night.

  • Brazil – Lonely Planet - Nick Selby et al.

  • Brazilian Adventure. Peter Fleming.

  • Travellers Tales – Brazil Scott Doggett.

  • The Naturalist on the River Amazons. Henry Bates

  • Brazil - Amazon and Pantanal: Travellers' Wildlife Guide. David L. Pearson

  • Amazon Highlights - Bradt

The Amazon Basin. ITMB - International Travel Maps. 1:3,300,000

Double-sided, indexed map covering the whole of the Amazon basin from the eastern slopes of the Andes to its delta, dividing the area east/west. Along the Andes the coverage stretches from north of Bogota to south of La Paz, whilst the eastern half extends from the borders of Venezuela and the Guyanas to approx. 16º south. Elevation tinting with spot heights is used to indicate the relief. Swamps, seasonal rivers and other watercourses are shown. All normal details, i.e. roads, towns/cities, airports, railways, are included, as well as internal administrative boundaries and names. National parks and protected area are marked. Where appropriate, disputed international boundaries are indicated. The map has very faint lines of latitude (at 4º) and longitude (at 2º), although not consistently throughout its whole area.

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