Our cruise ship stopped for the day at Santarem and luckily for
us when we tried to register for their river tour it was fully booked
and so using Trip Advisor we contacted Gil to see if he could help.
Result was a fantastic six hours exploring first the fish and vegetable
markets and then the river, it's pink Dolphins, bird life and wild life
on one of the many islands and rounded off with a viewing of the
"meeting of the waters"
Gil is the most enthusiastic,
knowledgeable, energetic and entertaining guide one can possibly
imagine! There were just the two us us and so it really was a very
personal guided tour. Gil met us off the ship and took us to our typical
Amazonian boat (certainly big enough got a dozen or more). First stop
was the market where he identified all the fish and different fruit and
vegetables and how they are used. Back on board he explained a lot about
the river, the history of the area and in particular of the rubber and
related businesses. He has a wealth of knowledge and stories about the
people and how they all developed. We stopped on one of the many islands
and were served snacks, freshly roasted cashew nuts, fried fish, etc
washed down with Caiparinhas! Back on board we continued on our way with
Gil identifying all the different birds and explaining the eco systems
of the Amazon as well as the threats from global warming (the river was
three plus metres lower than normal for that time of the year due to the
lack of rain) and deforestation all balanced with the local needs of
the people of the area. Gil also presented us with an advance copy of
his booklet on the local wildlife and asked us to visit him (which we
did) when we stopped at Alter do Chao on the way back down river having
visited Manaus. One of his helpers kept us supplied with his version of
lemonade made from fresh limes, sugar and ice - almost as good as the
Caiparinhas but rather healthier!
Our thanks to Gil and his crew and helpers for the most remarkable and memorable day.
All in all the most fantastic tour which we highly recommend to anyone visiting Santarem!
Again our thanks for all your hospitality.