Amazon 2003

I ended up booking this trip by mistake. I was actually looking online for cheap flights to "Australia", and up under "A" came "Amazon". Anyway it looked interesting and I booked it. The only problem was that I had had to book an inside cabin, that is no window, and Chris had serious problems with this. We were not able to change for a better cabin on board, so had to soldier on with no window,

The Amazon is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, and by most accepted definitions it is the second longest river in the world, after the Nile River. The headwaters of the Apurímac River on Nevado Mismi had been considered for nearly a century as the Amazon's most distant source, until a 2014 study found it to be the headwaters of the Mantaro River on the Cordillera Rumi Cruz in Peru. The Mantaro and Apurímac join, and with other tributaries form the Ucayali River, which in turn meets the Marañón River upstream of Iquitos, Peru, to form what countries other than Brazil consider to be the main stem of the Amazon. Brazilians call this section the Solimões River above its confluence with the Rio Negro to form what Brazilians call the Amazon at the Meeting of Waters at Manaus, the largest city on the river.

At an average discharge of about 209,000 cubic metres per second , is greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined—the Amazon represents 20% of the global riverine discharge to the ocean. The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of approximately 7,050,000 square kilometres .

Belém is the major city and port at the mouth of the river at the Atlantic Ocean. The Pará and the Amazon are connected by a series of river channels called furos near the town of Breves; between them lies Marajó, the world's largest combined river/sea island. The Amazon estuary is some 325 kilometres wide. If only the river's main channel is considered, between the islands of Curuá and Jurupari , the width falls to about 15 kilometres . The plume generated by the river's discharge covers up to 1.3 million square kilometres and is responsible for muddy bottoms influencing a wide area of the tropical north Atlantic in terms of salinity, pH, light penetration, and sedimentation.

The main river is navigable for large ocean steamers to Manaus, 1,500 kilometres upriver from the mouth. Smaller ocean vessels can reach as far as Iquitos, Peru, 3,600 kilometres from the sea. Smaller riverboats can reach 780 kilometres higher, as far as Achual Point. Beyond that, small boats frequently ascend to the Pongo de Manseriche, just above Achual Point in Peru.

Annual flooding occurs in late northern latitude winter at high tide when the incoming waters of the Atlantic are funnelled into the Amazon delta. The resulting undular tidal bore is called the pororoca, with a leading wave that can be up to 8 m high and travel up to 800 km inland

We flew to Manaus, via USA, and boarded the P&O Arcadia (this particular ship changed its name every few years and was the Arcadia for only 3 years). We explored Manaus, then had a midway stop at Santatem, before continuing downstream to the delta, and exiting into the Atlantic. A special pilot is required for the tricky exit from the Amazon, through shifting sandbanks


Manaus is located in the centre of the world's largest rainforest. It became wealthy and famous during the rubber boom. Currently its main economic engine is the Industrial Park of Manaus, a Free Economic Zone. The city has a free port and an international airport. Its manufactures include electronics, chemical products, and soap; there are distilling and ship construction industries. Manaus also exports Brazil nuts, rubber, jute and rosewood oil. It has a cathedral, opera house, zoological and botanical gardens, an ecopark and regional and native peoples museums.

The Solimões and Negro rivers meet just east of Manaus and join to form the Amazon River. Rubber made it the richest city in South America during the late 1800s. Rubber also helped Manaus earn its nickname, the "Paris of the Tropics". Many wealthy European families settled in Manaus and brought their love for sophisticated European art, architecture, and culture with them.

The Opera House was opened in 1897. The theatre's architectural style is considered typically Renaissance Revival. The roofing tiles were imported from Alsace, the steel walls from Glasgow, Scotland and the Carrara marble for the stairs, statues and columns, from Italy. The dome is covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colours of the national flag of Brazil. The interior furnishing came from France in the Louis Quinze style. Italian artist Domenico de Angelis the Younger painted the panels that decorate the ceilings of the auditorium and of the audience chamber. The curtain, with its painting "Meeting of the Waters", was originally created in Paris by Crispim do Amaral. The theatre's 198 chandeliers were imported from Italy, including 32 of Murano glass.

It did not operate for long once the rubber boom evaporated and closed in 1924 It re-opened in 1997 and seats 700 people..


The first stop was at Parantins the second largest city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas with a population just over 100,000 residents. The municipality is located on Tupinambarana. This cluster of four islands are defined by the Madeira, Sucunduri, and Abacaxis rivers as they flow into the Amazon. The port is about 900 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean and 230 miles east of Manaus, the state’s capital. No roads lead to Parintins … literally. The only ways to reach Parintins are by air or water. Sightseeing boats provide tours around the islands and the Amazon River. Riverboats are ferries for people living along the rivers and for connections between cities.

Alter do Chao

Located in the edge of Tapajós River, approximately 35 km from Santarem, during the dry season, when the water level is lower (about ten metres), reveals one of the most beautiful Brazilian beaches, with white sand and green waters, surrounded by the forest and by the magic of its local residents. Nature gives a good impression: the Green Lake, the flooded forest, the pink river dolphins; and the simple way of life, keeping alive the ancestors culture heritage as for the centenarian Saíre - that is a mixing of religious and secular elements.


Santarém is a city in the western part of the state of Pará in Brazil. Located at the confluence of the Tapajós and Amazon Rivers, it has become a popular tourist destination. It was once home to the Tapajós Indians, a tribe of Native Americans after whom the river was named. They were the leaders of a large, agricultural chiefdom that flourished before the arrival of Europeans. It is located some 800 km from the two largest cities in the Brazilian Amazon: Manaus, upriver in the state of Amazonas, and the Pará state capital Belém, located downriver at the mouth of the Amazon on the Atlantic Ocean.

Santarém has an estimated population of 300,000 people. The city was founded by Portuguese colonists in 1661 as New Santarém (after the city in Portugal). It is one of the oldest cities in the Brazilian Amazon. Because of the crystalline waters of the Tapajós River, Santarém has more than 100 km of natural beaches, such as those of the village of Alter do Chão.

After Santarem it was downriver to the Atlantic where we "turned left" and headed to Devils Island, the former French penal colony


Devil's Island

The French penal colony of Devil's Island operated in the 19th and 20th century in the Salvation's Islands of French Guiana. Opened in 1852, the Devil's Island system received convicts who had been deported from all parts of the Second French Empire, and Devil's Island was infamous for its harsh treatment of detainees, with a death rate of 75% at their worst, until it was closed down in 1953.

Devil's Island and associated prisons eventually became one of the most infamous prison systems in history. While the prison system was in use (1852–1953),inmates included political prisoners (such as 239 republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup d'état in 1851) and the most hardened of thieves and murderers.

The best known of the French political prisoners was Captain Alfred Dreyfus ( 1859 – 1935) was a French artillery officer of Jewish ancestry whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became one of the most controversial and polarizing political dramas in modern French history. The incident has gone down in history as the Dreyfus affair, the reverberations from which were felt throughout Europe. It ultimately ended with Dreyfus's complete exoneration.

The vast majority of the more than 80,000 prisoners sent to the Devil's Island prison system never made it back to France. Many died due to disease and harsh conditions. Sanitary systems were limited, and the region was mosquito-infested, with endemic tropical diseases. The only exit from the island prisons was by water, and few convicts escaped.

In 1938, the French government stopped sending prisoners to Devil's Island. In 1953, the prison system was finally closed entirely. Most of the prisoners at the time returned to metropolitan France, although some chose to remain in French Guiana. In 1965, the French government transferred the responsibility for most of the islands to its newly founded Guiana Space Centre. The islands are under the trajectory of the space rockets launched from the Centre eastward, toward the sea (to geostationary orbit). They must be evacuated during each launch. The islands host a variety of measurement apparatus for space launches. The CNES space agency, in association with other agencies, has restored buildings classified as historical monuments.

Since tourism facilities have been added, the islands now receive more than 50,000 tourists each year mainly on cruise ships. And whereas it once was one of the remotest spots on Earth, these days it’s developed for tourists and can be quite easily visited. Well, that applies at least to two of the three islands. The infamous Devil’s Island, however, remains off limits to visitors – but then again there wouldn’t be all that much to see there. The actual highlight of a visit to this archipelago is Île St-Joseph with its extremely atmospherically overgrown ruins of the solitary confinement cell blocks. More remnants are on the largest of the three islands, Île Royale, where there are also options for overnight accommodation.

Leaving Devil's Island we had stops at Grenada, Dominica (where we rented a car and drove round the island) and St. Lucia, before disembarking at Barbados


St Lucia        
And finally Barbados        


All Holidays