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All reviews pink dolphins day cruise the river ecuadorian amazon flora and fauna crew members excellent cruise motorised canoe clay licks recommend this trip plenty of hot water local family daily excursions english speaking guide raul manatees passengers
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Reviewed February 11, 2012

From the moment we first saw the Manatee Amazon Explorer we knew it would be an unbelievable experience. The ship just exudes what one would imagine an exploration of this famous and mysterious river to be. Three decks, with two devoted to cabins and the bottom deck to the dining room. The rooms are snug but very comfortable and afford all you need for a good nights sleep. The bathroom has the nicest shower I have ever had occasion to use, with the standard European held shower nozzle, and overhead nozzle which makes hair washing a breeze, and eight side jets to make it sort of a vertical Hot Tub. Fantastic. The crew could not be more wonderful, and led by the boats manager, Fausto, they are one step ahead of your every need. From the very humane approach to awakening you at ungodly hours in the morning, by playing some soothing music over the ships intercom, followed by Fausto voice 30 minutes later to inform you that breakfast is ready to be eaten. Every trek is met on your return with the impeccably clad waiters offering a different type cool fruit juice and some goody or another. Lunch and dinner are normally around 12:30 and 7 - 7:30 PM and served to you at your table which is seated family style. The food is impeccable,and fresh from A to Z. Fausto also makes sure he demonstrates with a real fruit or vegetable of whatever we are having that meal. Dinners are followed by a briefing on the upper deck of what we will do the next day, followed by a cold beer or an expertly made cocktail of your choice by the ever present and always smiling. barman.. The excursions are generally early in the morning and last until around noon, and then later in the afternoon around 3:30 or 4 PM. and back onboard around 6:30 and then dinner. There are normally 3 guides all totally university trained in all aspects of the tourist trade. You cover a lot of miles, and generally leave the moving ship, as it continues either up or down river, and then the motorized canoe catches up with it for the evening mooring. The ship never runs at night, as the river is much to dangerous with debris and shifting sandbars to travel in the darkness of night. Once moored for the night, WiFi is available at a very modest price of $10 US for the entire trip. Also, satellite TV is available when moored also, but who the hell wants to watch TV. I cannot say enough about the Manatee Explorer as it met and beat every expectation i had.

Room Tip: they are all the same and all extremely comfortable
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank toberua
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 25, 2012

3 of us spent 4 nights on the Manatee in January 2012. First, we could easily have rated this as 4 stars; we gave it three to point out some needed changes and encourage them to work on what is necesary to make this a truly great experience. A big problem with Trip Advisor rating is that 4/5 stars are positive, while 3 or less stars are rated negative. They really need to make 3 stars a neutral rating!

As for the Manatee, start with the key fact that the name of the boat is highly mis-leading. There are no Manatees to be seen, and you are NOT in the Amazon, you sail on a tributary river that eventually leads to the Amazon river hundreds of miles east. You are on the very western edge of the amazon baison. This means you will see lovely tropical foliage, plenty of insects and bugs (don't go if you can't handle some ugly crawling creatures on the walks!), lots of pretty birds and butterflies, but no animals of any kind you'd expect in the amazon. That said, the river is beautiful, amazing flowers, water, landscapes, the protected reserves you visit are wonderful. As long as you know going in what to expect, it's a very nice place to visit and a nice way to visit it.

The boat itself is generally comfortable, not the QEII but very nice for this kind of small boat (30 people) cruise. The rooms are surprisingly comfortable, with A/C that works and a decent sized bathroom and closet space. The staff is overall excellent. The two bi-lingual (England and Spanish) crew leaders both had an extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna, (one was a botany teacher previously) and did thier jobs flawlessly. Ernesto was very friendly and made you feel totally comfortable from the start. Milton was totally capable but gave the impression he was a bit tired of doing this and/or wasn't crazy about the job. The rest of the staff, all young men, were polite and helpful and did thier jobs well. There were however, three problems that collectively reduced a 4 or 5 star review to the above three stars as follows;

1. Food. The food on board ranged from barely passable to totally inedible. Mostly canned goods, tasteless and unhealthy with strange combinations (try mushy beef stew with canned beets and radishes for one memorable dinner!). In a country renouned for fresh fruits and vegatables grown locally everywhere, this was inexcusable. Breakfasts were simple and fine, one lunch at a site away from the boat was simple and good (grilled chicken and nice pasta), the rest of the meals were horrible. On the plus side, if you want to go on a diet, this is the place, you won't want to eat much and there are no restaurants to go to!

2. Delayed maintaince. The boat is 10 years old and really needs some updating. The floors in particular bang and pop they are so warped, making incredible noises when someone gets out of bed above you. Some showers leak, etc. Hey, its the jungle, things wear out fast, but they aren't keeping up with needed repairs.

3. Nickle and dimed to death. Once you get aboard, be prepared to be hit up for a number of "extras". $10 to rent binoculars (which are essential since most birds, etc are far away), $10 to use the Internet for the trip, no cold drinks except water with an added charge. It felt like we were being sucked for every dollar they could get! Far far better to have charged $50 more for the trip and included these things!

Aside from those three issues the expereience had much to offer. The scenery while not the heart of the amazon (think Amazon Light) was amazing, the day trips were well planned, the staff was mostly friendly and totally capable, the flowers and birds and butterflies and plants were a joy to see. Just the amazing sunsets and travels down hidden rivers and lakes by canoe made any inconveniences seem managable. No regrets for making this trip but with a few important (and simple to do) improvements it could have been a true 5 star trip!

Room Tip: Be sure you room has facilites that work properly, some are better than others!
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
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8  Thank TravelandAdventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 5, 2012

What a great trip. Travelled with Saga and spent 7 nights on board. The on board guides Ernesto and Milton were fantastic and very knowledgeable on the wildlife and fauna (as was Carlos our Saga guide). Saga even provided a doctor for the trip.

If you go on this trip you must be physically fit not only for walking in the jungle, clambering in and out of the canoes, but for getting around the boat between decks. The trips out can be quite tiring due to the temperature and the humidity and sometimes getting very wet. It is the rain forest! Wellies and ponchos are provided.

The beds were comfortable. The air conditioning was good. The shower was problematic because we were on the top deck and everyone tended to shower at the same time and the lower decks got the water. As another writer said soft luggage would be preferable.

The food was good. There was no choice as such but you will not starve. If you have any culinary issues speak to the chef beforehand and he will conjure something up. Coffee, tea and water is available all day and night.

You can use a credit card to settle your on board expenditure (bar bill).

Don't forget your swimsuit, you wouldn't want to miss the swimming opportunities ( swimming towels provided).

An experience of a lifetime and whilst you are in Ecuador, you must follow up with a trip to the Galapagos. That will give you two experiences of a lifetime on the same trip.

Room Tip: For a better showering experience get a room on the lower deck.
  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank PooleyNorthampton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 31, 2011

We took the 5 day / 4 night trip on the Manatee. It's a unique opportunity to see a part of the world in relative comfort, that not many people get to see at all. It's a great way to extend a trip to the Galapagos, but be sure to start with the Amazon first. Otherwise, the Galapagos will spoil you for wildlife sightings, which on the Amazon are much more typical.

We were pleasantly surprised by 3 things on the Manatee: the food, the shower and the availability of WiFi. The food was typically Ecuadorian and very good. The futuristic new shower capsules are right out of the Jetson's. In the evenings after they tie up along shore, they provide WiFi access throughout the ship.

You'll want to take a lot of pictures on the walks and powered canoe rides. Be sure to bring your longest lens. I'm attaching a picture taken from the clay licks with a 300mm (6x) lens. I would recommend a mega-zoom camera with a 25x or 35x lens. To take movies at the clay lick bring a tripod.

Overall, I felt the crew and guides worked very hard to be sure we had a great experience!

Room Tip: Ask for a room with the renovated shower/bath.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank LarryUSA0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 25, 2011

We just returned from a four day trip on the Manatee Explorer. It is an experience which we will cherish for a very very long time.

Food - excellent. You will surely gain a bit of weight as the Chef makes some delicious food. We are vegetarians, so the options for us were a bit limited. The special yellow sauce is awesome and we even took the recipe for it from the Chef.

Cabins - are a bit small. Ensure that you have only the relevant clothing with you. It can take a while before the water gets hot in the shower.

Daily activities - your typical day starts early morning at around 5.00am and by around 6.30 you are out on the canoe. These guys know how to keep your day fully packed. The trip to the Cuyabeno reserve, Yasuni National Park were excellent. We saw a lot of wildlife (pink dolphins, parakeets, tucans, snakes, all kinds of insects and birds) etc. The weather changes quite suddenly and you have to be ready for it. These guys accordingly change the plans to suit the weather.

Milton, our guide was great. He has a great eye and is a good asset for the Manatee Explorer. At the end of the trip, he made a CD of all the photographs that he clicked of us and not to mention, he had some fantastic shots as well.

Luckily for us, we were only 6 guests for the whole trip. We had the most amazing time with two couples from the UK and had some fascinating conversations.

Our regret - couldnt do the 7 day trip rather than the 4 day trip. Highly recommend that you should do the 7 day trip rather than the four day one. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE TRIP!!!!

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Madhurrao
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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