The recommended minimum stay is seven days (including travel from Manaus), starting from US$195 per day.
The price includes:
- Transport from the city center to Manaus docks and back
- The return river journey from Manaus to Xixuaú or car to the small port town of Novo Ayrão and then a speedboat to Xixuau
- All food and soft drinks
- Excursions and activities
- Use of the solar Internet connection
- Contribution to conservation and sustainable development activities to support the local population
To join the tour we require a nonrefundable 20% deposit. Full payment is required no less than three weeks prior to departure. For reservations made closer to your travel date, please contact us to discuss payment options.
Although Xixuaú is very remote, there is clean running water, electricity (powered by solar energy), Internet service and a health post.
Guest rooms are inspired by traditional indigenous round houses, called malocas. Rooms have one or more single beds as well as hooks to fasten a hammock. Facilities are rustic but clean and comfortable; there are well-maintained showers and restrooms with Western-style "sit down" toilets.
Xixuaú is very safe and secure, and theft or other crime is extremely rare.
The tour starts in Manaus, which is served by a few international flights. As of June 2013, United Airlines and TAM Airlines flew there nonstop from Miami. Copa Airlines served Manaus through Panama, which is a reasonable alternative, especially if you're coming from the western United States. You can also reach Manaus by connecting in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, which is served by many more international flights than Manaus; however, the travel time is longer and you might need to spend the night in the city in which you arrive.
Please consult your doctor or qualified travel adviser. No vaccines are required to enter Brazil, but yellow fever and other vaccines may be recommended by your doctor. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health information for international travel for up-to-date information on proper health safety safeguards for traveling to the region.
To take anti-malarial medicine is a personal choice; however, malaria is not endemic in either Xixuaú or Manaus.
We always recommend high-protection sunscreen and insect repellent. Also remember to bring a sufficient supply of any medicines that you normally use or anticipate needing. Xixuaú has a health post which is staffed by a trained nurse and stocked with first-aid equipment.
We require all travelers to provide us with your medical needs on your registration form. We do this for your safety so we have the information immediately available in the unlikely case that you need medical care.
US citizens are required to have a visa when entering Brazil. A tourist visa, which is good for up to five years, costs $150 plus processing fees (usually $35 to $45). Visas can take as long as 21 days to obtain once you’ve purchased your airline ticket. For more information, please visit the Brazilian Consulate website. You will either need to appear in person at a Brazilian consulate to make your visa request or use an expediter. Please contact us for recommendations of visa expediter services.
Insurance (Travel Medical Insurance is Required)
Traveling creates memories of a lifetime and can also mean encountering the unexpected, ranging from an inconvenient flight delay to a cancellation for sickness or a truly serious medical emergency. Considering the unpredictable nature, remote destinations and conditions encountered, we require all travelers to have travel medical insurance, and trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended. If you're going to spend your hard-earned money to enjoy your holiday, why not spend a bit more to safeguard it?
Upon starting the tour, we will ask everyone to provide a copy of their insurance details to keep on record. Failure to provide this information can result in travelers being unable to continue on the tour, so don't leave home without it.
What insurance is required?
Travel medical insurance is mandatory. With a wide variety of company, credit card and travel policies out there, how do you know if your coverage is sufficient for this trip? We require a minimum of US$100,000 (or equivalent in other currency) coverage for medical emergency evacuation and repatriation and $15,000 coverage for medical expenses for both sickness and accidents. If your pre-existing coverage does not meet these needs, you will be required to purchase travel medical insurance.
Where can I purchase travel medical insurance and other travel insurance?
For a true sense of security, a comprehensive policy from a reputable, independent travel insurance company is paramount. In addition to travel medical insurance, we recommend that trip participants purchase travel insurance to cover theft and loss, and trip cancellation policies are also available. Including the cost of your airfare, as well as your tour(s), ensures that you do not have to worry about any unforeseen situations such as having to rush home to a family member or having a tour changed or canceled because of a natural disaster. There is a wide variety of policies available, so check the fine print. Be sure to check that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.
How much does it cost?
Travel medical insurance is based on the number of days of coverage — so how long you will be away. All-inclusive insurance, which adds cancellation to your medical insurance, is based on the dollar value of the tours, airfare, hotel nights and other services being covered. Typical costs, in US dollars, on a 10-day tour valued at $2000 with airfare coverage at $1500 as well would be:
- Medical insurance only for 10 days: around $69
- All-inclusive insurance (medical and cancellation) for $3500 (tour and airfare): around $92
The following are two reputable insurance providers:
What to bring
Dress in the Amazon is very informal, so pack plenty of shorts and light shirts. Here’s a list of items we recommend you bring or purchase in Manaus before you catch the boat up the river:
- Light trousers (for treks in the forest)
- Light shirts with short sleeves for canoe trips
- Light shirts with long sleeves for the forest
- Hat (or you can buy there)
- Women might choose to bring a loose cotton dress for use in the city of Manaus; however, even there, shorts are very acceptable.
- Lightweight walking shoes that provide some foot protection for hiking. They may get wet and we don’t recommend really good shoes, flip flops or sandals (which you can buy there).
- Bikini or swimming trunks
- Poncho or light raincoat
- Binoculars for seeing animals
- Flashlight (you can buy in Manaus)
- A waterproof bag is advisable — especially for camera equipment
- A supply of any prescriptions you’ll need to take
- DEET mosquito repellent
- Moisture-resistant sunscreen (you can buy in Manaus)
- Three-prong to two-prong plug adapter if you plan on using any electric device that has a three-prong US-style plug
- Hammock and thin covering for the boat journey (you can also buy in Manaus)
Manaus is on GMT -4 and does not change for summer time. Please take extra care when connecting with flights from the south of Brazil (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, etc.) because some itineraries are given in Brasilia Standard Time, which does change by one hour in the summer.
Manaus is four hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time, one hour ahead of US Eastern Standard Time.
Manaus is three hours ahead of US Pacific Daylight Time, the same time as US Eastern Daylight Time.
Being only a few degrees south of the equator, the temperature is more dependent on whether the sun is out than how high the sun is in the sky.
During the dry season (June to December) the temperatures usually range from the upper 60s (degrees Fahrenheit) at night to the low 90s during the day. Between noon and 3 p.m., it can be downright hot. Humidity during the dry season can be felt, but isn’t usually extreme, except after a rain (yes, it rains during the dry season too). The river level in front of Santarém drops way down and the beaches are broad.
During the rainy season (January to May) it can rain heavily, but even during this time it is frequently sunny. Humidity is usually higher, but it’s usually cooler. Temperatures usually range from the low to mid-60s to possibly 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) on a dry day. During April and May, the river can be three or more meters higher than during the dry season, and in some years floods the city. Beaches nearly disappear.
Brazil’s currency is the real (rey-al) and the plural is reais (rey-cice). Dollars or euros are very rarely accepted, and although currency exchanges do exist in Manaus (but not anywhere else we’ll be visiting), the exchange rates are usually pretty unfavorable. We recommend you use an ATM when you need money, although you might exchange a few dollars into reais either before you leave or immediately upon arrival at the airport in Manaus in case you have trouble with the ATM in the Manaus airport. (See the section about ATMs below.)
You might also carry some extra dollars in cash for an emergency, as well as at least two different credit cards. Please note that credit cards are not accepted everywhere in Manaus, and even when they supposedly are, the system can frequently be down. Try to make sure you always have enough reais on hand. Also, you’ll usually get a 1% to 2% better exchange for cash than traveler's checks, and quite frankly, our staff has had trouble cashing traveler's checks in the region.
ATMs are the easiest way of getting cash in Manaus, although it can still be a hassle to find a machine that accepts non-Brazilian ATM cards. Look for the stickers on the machines that say Cirrus, Visa, or whatever system your card uses — although this may not mean the machine will necessarily work. Often the bank staff doesn’t even know. We’ve found HSBC to work the most reliably; however, even HSBC's international network can be down and your card can be refused. Your only choice is to come back later.
Telecommunications and electricity
While the hotel might officially offer Internet service, don’t count on it to work. The most reliable Internet is usually found in one of the local cyber cafes. Unless you want to play games, we’d recommend you try to find one that doesn’t cater to gamers. Our staff will be able to direct you to a suitable cyber cafe. Please be aware that Internet service can be very unreliable and slow, especially if it’s been raining or during the work day (evenings are usually the best).
Using your US-based cell phone in Brazil can be very expensive — if your service is even supported at all, since most US cell phones aren’t compatible with the GSM-based system used in Brazil. There is no cell phone coverage once you leave Manaus. To complicate matters further, the local network is overburdened and so service is unreliable. If your phone does support GSM, has a SIM slot, and you feel you really have to use your cell phone, you might buy a local SIM card (buy Vivo network because it has the best local coverage) to use while there. Another alternative would be to buy a cheap phone that accepts a SIM card (most in Brazil do) and buy a local SIM card. You can pick a SIM card up with a few minutes for US$25, but remember that outbound international calls really rack up the minutes.
An alternative if you need to make international calls is to use Skype. The call quality might not be great, especially when the Internet is slow, but it’s usually useable. Forget trying to make international calls from your hotel room or using a phone cabin. It’s almost impossible to find one. If you need to make or receive a call, please let our staff know and we’ll help you the best we can.
Most of Manaus, as well as Xixuaú, uses 110 volts, the same as the US; however, the outlet type varies between two round prongs used in Europe, non-grounded flat prongs common in the US, or on rare occasions a grounded three-prong US-style outlet. We recommend you bring a three-prong (three-prong to ungrounded two-prong) adapter with you if your device has a three-prong plug. Two flat prong (US) to two round prong (European) adapters can be purchased inexpensively in Manaus.
* Activities are subject to cancellation or modification due to weather.