Holiday review by Mrs. Tricia Offord
Name: Mrs. Tricia Offord
Date of trip: 12/09/2014
Number of people: 2
It was just so exciting to see the elusive Jaguar behaving normally in the wild, an experience never to be forgotten. The South Wild Flotel was the perfect place for exceptional sightings.
Watching Macaws of all colours feeding a few feet away in the Cristalino Jungle Lodge was such a privilege. Never to be forgotten.
Most of it definitely exceeded our expectations, with a couple of exceptions which didn't bother us much but did annoy some of the people we were with and may upset future customers of yours.
Paul was more than helpful on every occasion and gave us very good advice about all the destinations. Absolutely superb experience, he is an asset to your company.
All the guides we had were excellent (with one exception at the Cristalino) Jean at the South Wild was particularly brilliant as he was always the first on the scene when there had been a Jaguar sighting and knew exactly how long to wait. A real asset to the company. Anoorey was also great at the Araras and helped us whilst kayaking and horseriding at our advanced ages.
Unfortunately at the Cristalino we had a very nice young English man (Henry) who had only been at the lodge for 4 weeks, a fairly unpleasant American man called Michael who upset a number of people in our group by hogging the best views of the animals (who had also been there for 4 weeks) and an Australian man who had been there 11 days. All the others in our group had expected an indigenous guide who knew the forest (as indeed we did expect). In fact the boatman Jose was by far the best at spotting things and showing us how Brazil nuts were opened etc as he was from the area. If he could have spoken English he would have been perfect. I am not complaining about Henry as he showed us lots of birds but when we asked about the trees or what they were used for etc he just didn't have the knowledge a local person would have. In fact the whole staff at the Cristalino Lodge seemed on edge and unhappy. Most of them were trying to be very helpful, but the were nearly all new (in fact one gentleman didn't know how to mix a Caipirinha so it took ages!)As I said, it didn't really bother us that much, but the other people in our group were very well travelled (Swiss and Canadians) and they really were very upset with the situation - especially as the introduction video said all the local guides had 10 years experience.
Response from Cristalino:
do combine English speaking guides with local guides. In this case we had JosÃ©,
a local guide who donâ€™t speak English; and Micheal + Henry who are English
speaking guides. With this, we combine knowledge from both sides. Some of our
local guides have indeed 15 years of experience. However, Micheal and Henry
have been receiving high evaluations; as well as JosÃ©; thatâ€™s why I was very
surprised with this feedback.
have knowledge about many aspects of the Amazonian biodiversity, including the
birds, mammals, ecology and so on. However, it is nearly impossible to
recognize most of the plants; because there are over 1,300 species and they are
similar to each other. We have conducted a study about the flora together with
Kew Gardens and even these specialists couldnâ€™t tell the species on the field
(they had to collect them for further analysis).
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
It is hard to say, and I'm sure in some ways it was beneficial (employment for local people, stopping hunting etc) but with the (necessary) air -conditioning, use of soap etc, I did feel we may have not helped either.
The places you stayed
Lovely setting, very friendly staff, lovely room, lots to do and the hyacinth macaws were amazing. Excellent food too.
Beautiful setting by the river, hundreds of birds and parrots, very comfortable rooms and very good food. Once again all the staff were very very good.Actually meeting and chatting with Charles Munn was a real bonus as he has done so much for South America's wildlife.
Absolutely superb experience in the Suite. Everything was excellent, from our guide, the comfort of our room, the atmosphere (joking with all the fisherman about their daily catches etc)to the fantastic quality of the food and the service on board. Perfect in every way.
The setting and the buildings were fantastic, as were the monkeys and birds in the grounds, but as I explained above, it didn't feel a very happy place and it did get very very hot in our rooms after being so hot all day walking etc. The food was also excellent.