Amazon Family Small Boat Cruise

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7 Days
Airport in Manaus, Brazil
Airport in Manaus, Brazil
Min Age : 3+

The Jaú National Park is the largest freshwater forest park in the world.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site with an abundance of wildlife and beautiful scenery, this area of the Amazon is still relatively unexplored by tourism.  This seven-day Amazon family cruise itinerary offers the full Brazilian Amazon experience.  You’ll explore Manaus, hike Jau’s paths, admire waterfalls, swim creeks, and visit riverside communities where you and your family can learn and make a difference.  The trip concludes with a stay at a small, highly rated, luxurious eco-lodge.  Read my review of this phenomenal Brazilian Amazon family adventure!


  • Visit and interact with local communities
  • Hike through the primary rainforest 
  • Fish for piranhas, spot caiman at night
  • Support visited communities through local education and conservation projects
  • Travel in a way that respects and benefits local people, culture, and environment

Our partner began its projects with the goal of developing economies along the Rio Negro river communities and maintaining biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.  Several projects include:

  • Maintaining Amazonian turtle population, a species that is in serious danger of extinction as a result of illegal hunting and the fragility of its ecosystem.  By funding the surveillance of the region’s “APAs” (protection areas), the hope is to bring back the turtle population.
  • Creating opportunities for interaction with the “ribeirinhos” remote riverside communities with the goal of revealing the peculiar way of life of those people who rely on the forest the river as a source of living in a sustainable way.
  • With two boats built right in Novo Airão, the Jacaré-açu has 8 double air-conditioned cabins and Jacaré-tinga has 3 air-conditioned cabins, both of which made of hardwood and finished in natural fiber crafts arts.
  • 90% of employees are from the region and contribute with their talent and local wisdom – either for the preparation of a meal served on board, in the maintenance of the boats, or as knowledgeable tour guides of the forest.
  • Provides funds to support two social projects in the Rio Negro area that can be visited during expeditions. One tour – which takes the Jauaperi-Xixuaú route – leads visitors to the community of Gaspar, where a European couple Paul (Swiss) and Bianca (Italian) have dedicated their lives to the children of the VivAmazônia school (Lower and Middle School).  The second one, which is visited during this 7 day tour, is based in the municipality of Novo Airão. There, Almirinda Malaquias Foundation provides complimentary education on environmental awareness to more than 150 children between 6 and 16 years, as well as working stations for craftsmen to develop outstanding design works in carpentry, making furniture and decoration objects such as plates, pots, and boxes.

Day 1Arrival in Manaus

Welcome to Manaus, Brazil – a 5-hour direct flight from Miami places you in the heart of the Amazon. A driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel. The next morning, you can visit Amazon Theater just around the corner and the Fish Market, which is a short drive away. The Amazon Theater was built in the late 1800s during the rubber boom in Brazil.

You may also take an optional excursion to the Meeting of the Waters and Janauari Ecological Park.

Day 2Novo Airao - Anavilhanas

After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be driven to the riverside town of Novo Airao (approximately 2 1/2 hours west of Manaus). Local taxis from Novo Airao will be used in an effort to boost and preserve the local economy. Upon arrival in the early afternoon, lunch will be served at a floating restaurant where you can also enjoy the first splash in the Rio Negro. After lunch, you’ll board the Jacare-Acu and receive a briefing about the expedition, Amazon’s biology, history and things you may see along the way. This afternoon, you’ll sail through the spectacular Anavilhanas Archipelago towards Madada observatory, which is a lookout over the Rio Negro with basic bungalow facilities in the middle of the jungle. After dinner onboard, you can choose if you want to spend the night in your cabin or in a hammock at the observatory.

Day 3Anavilhanas - Madada Caves

After breakfast, you’ll sail to Casa Rosa (pink house), which is a small Amazon farmhouse museum where you can learn about local customs, farming techniques, and crops. From the farmhouse, you’ll take a 3-hour hike through virgin rainforest to the Madada Caves. Along the way, you’ll discover the secrets of the jungle and learn basic survival skills with your guide. After the hike, you’ll be able to cool off a bit with a dip in the Rio Negro before lunch. Afterward, you’ll set sail toward Jau National Park and try your hand at piranha fishing before sunset. Once back on the boat, you’ll sail to Sleepy Beach where we’ll anchor for the night and enjoy dinner before dozing off to the sounds of nature.

Day 4Jau National Park

After breakfast, you’ll stop at Airao Velho to witness the vestiges of the rubber cycle in Brazil. Then, you’ll sail through Igarape de Santo Domingo for a splash in one of its waterfalls / rapids. You’ll enjoy lunch aboard as you sail to the Jau National Park Ranger Station, and then along the Rio Jau, a river of mirror-like waters with likely sightings of aquatic mammals and birds. The Park consists of three major rivers – Unini to the North, Carabinani to the South, and Jau in the middle – along with countless smaller black water tributaries. The water level varies drastically during the course of the year and the igapo forest found near the waterways can be flooded for up to eight months of the year. This type of forest is tropical and humid, with as many as 200 species per hectare. In the afternoon, you’ll get to the Cachoeira river community where you’ll dock for the evening. After dinner, we’ll set out on canoes looking for caiman and other nocturnal animals.

Day 5 Jau National Park

Early this morning, you’ll canoe to Ilha dos Macacos (Monkey Island) in search of these fun and friendly creatures. After breakfast aboard, we’ll visit the Cachoeira community where you’ll experience life in this corner of the world. You’ll learn about the yucca flour making process, visit a traditional cabocio home and spend some time at the local school. The children of the village are always happy to interact with visitors, so be prepared to get involved in a game of soccer or swimming or some impromptu arts and crafts. You’ll learn about their current challenges and find out about their existing projects. Activities today also include a short hike to the Samauma, which is the biggest tree on the Rio Negro, growing to more than 165 feet tal. For many children, a face to face meeting with this “Queen of the Forest” is among the highlights of the trip.

Day 6Mirante do Gaviao

You’ll arrive in Novo Airao early this morning and dock at the Mirante do Gaviao Lodge. After breakfast, you’ll visit the Almerinda Malaquias Foundation (FAM) which provides after-school ecology education in addition to carpentry skills. You can enjoy the rest of your day lounging around this eco-lodge before meeting up for a farewell dinner.

Day 7Departure

Depending on your departure time from Manaus, a local air-conditioned taxi will take you to the airport.

Tour Details

Pricing is for a minimum of 4 people.  Discounted pricing is available for children under 9 years old.  This trip is recommended for children who are at least 3 years old and are comfortable in the water. 

Contact us if you want to charter this 8 cabin boat, another 3 cabin boat or have a larger group (for discount).

The Rio Negro is known for its dark waters.  The color comes from humic acid due to an incomplete breakdown of vegetation.  The good news is that this means less mosquitos and plenty of safe areas to swim and cool off, making it ideal for a safe and enjoyable family vacation. 

A yellow fever shot is not mandatory and not prevalent in the areas we visit, but HIGHLY recommended.  Malaria is endemic to the region, but not prevalent in the areas we visit. However, we recommend long sleeve shirts, long pants and use of tropical-grade insect repellent during hikes and community visits.

Price Includes

  • Hotel & Cabin Accommodation (Double)
  • All Meals
  • Activities
  • Bi-lingual Guide
  • Airport & Taxi Transfers

Price Excludes

  • International or Domestic Flights
  • Airport Taxes
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa Fees (if Applicable)
  • Optional Excursions
  • Gratuities
  • Personal Expenses

Optional Activities

  • Meeting of the Waters & Janauari Ecological Park Tour
  • Amazon Theater Guided Tour