All eyes will soon look to Brazil for the World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016 and these events will be as good an excuse as any to explore the region by superyacht. Wild, untamed and remote, the Amazon basin has to be the ultimate Brazilian attraction for the truly adventurous owner. As a superyacht destination, Brazil is very much still in its infancy and as a result it can be a demanding place to visit to say the least. However, with adequate research and flexibility, it is possible make a trip to the Amazon unforgettable for the right reasons, as the adventure of a lifetime.
Weaving its way through Brazil, the Amazon is a river of superlatives. The sheer scale of it is astounding: on average 28 miles wide when the water is at its highest, and during the rainy season the mouth of the river can be 300 miles across. Only a handful of superyachts have ever made the journey up the river and with mixed experiences, but all agree that it is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
“Brazil has so much to offer and is so off the beaten track that it makes for wonderful cruising,” says Captain Christoph Schlaefer who helped plan and research the passage of a 60m motoryacht in 2011. “And to be fair, the logistical hassle is not any worse than in many other destinations.”
Speak to any captain or owner who has completed the challenging journey up the Amazon and they will tell you that research is absolutely key to the success of any trip. Abraham Rosemberg a yacht agent at Superyachts Brazil, an organisation that has helped many superyachts in the last two years plan and execute their Brazilian odysseys, recommends sending your captain on a pre-trip six months to one year in advance to allow them to start making the right connections and get the ball rolling on obtaining the correct documentation.
In terms of regulation, the country can be a bit of a minefield for superyachts. Captain Laird of Lauren L, another one of the few yachts to have navigated the Amazon says that their trip was made significantly smoother by working with an agent. Not only can a local agent provide an extensive list of what is going to be required, but their connections, knowledge of the language, region and potential obstacles will be invaluable when in the country.
Overcome all the red tape and legislative hurdles and you will be rewarded. From wildlife to fascinating and friendly local indigenous people, cruising up the Amazon is one of the most memorable experiences an owner can have. “Anyone who really wants to take full advantage of their yacht and do the exceptional things that only yacht owners are privileged to experience should have Brazil and the Amazon very high on his list of places to go and visit,” says Captain Schlaefer.
“Wildlife is everywhere,” says Captain Jürgen Mais, who captained the 60m motoryacht that Captain Schlaefer researched the trip for. “There are some special spots in Novo Airão on the Rio Negro were guests can watch the pink dolphins, which is extraordinary.” Sometimes the wildlife gets too close though and a four-metre anaconda once visited the foredeck of the yacht at night. According to Captain Schlaefer, who was also on board at the time, anacondas live in the floating islands and when the islands drift against the anchor chain, the snakes can mistake the chain for a tree. “It took some gentle persuasion to get the anaconda down the hawse pipe and a bit more to get the second officer down from the foremast back onto the deck.”
Taking a superyacht to Brazil does seem logistically exhausting and it would be easy to be deterred from taking on the Amazon, but get past the bureaucratic hurdles and your efforts will be rewarded tenfold. “It might appear a bit daunting at the beginning but it is a rewarding experience,” says Captain Schlaefer. “There is no doubt that any trip to far flung places is challenging and that to a degree you put your boat in harms way. But at the same time there is no better way to experience the Amazon than on your own yacht.”