Tag Archives: amijones44

In Search of an Unforgettable Amazon Rainforest Experience?

For many years I had dreamt of seeing the Amazon rainforest. When I was assigned to teach English in Manaus, the gateway city to the Amazon, with a Denver based non-profit, US-Brazil Connect, I could not wait to start planning my adventure to the Amazon.

I had already been in Manaus for a week and was having some trouble finding an operator that was reasonably priced and did not feel like it was a mass tourist operation. This is when I found Max at Maia Expeditions. If you are searching truly for the experience of a lifetime, I recommend Maia Expeditions and the Amazon Turtle Lodge. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. Max grew up in this area of the Amazon. He knows it very well. He personally took my friend and I and a nature and survival hike. On this hike we were shown how to build a shelter, how to make children’s toys out of hearts of palm, natural bug repellent, we drank filtered water out of a vine, smelled the tree that Chanel no.5 derives it’s perfume from, tasted fruits and so much more… Walking through the canopy with someone that has lived with the environment made for a much richer experience.

Harvesting and eating Brazil nuts  © Ami Jones
Harvesting and eating Brazil nuts
© Ami Jones

2. The operation’s focus on conservation and preservation. The owner is very concerned with these elements. Having grown up here he has a unique appreciation for the beauty of the area and has supported and created many projects focused on such things as afforestation, and preserving eco-systems necessary for wildlife. At the end of our hike we helped plant Copaiba trees on the property!

planting trees in the Amazon
Planting Copaiba after our nature and survival hike © Ami Jones

3. The experiences offered at the Lodge. I personal did the Jaraqui Exedition however, Maia offers a slew of different experiences. They offer everything from small canoe rides under the canopy in search of wildlife to searching for Caiman’s after the sun goes down. Other offerings include: birdwatching, visiting a local community, fishing for piranhas, spotting pink dolphins at sunset.. Not to mention the service, accommodations, food and staff are all top notch! Also, the best caipirinhas I have had in Brasil- just make sure to order two at a time because they take a little while to make.

Night spotting for Caiman's- I namer her Susy
Night spotting for Caiman’s © Ami Jones

4. You are guaranteed to have a great experience. It is very important to the owner to ensure that everyone that comes to the lodge has a phenomenal experience. This is his home, he is proud to call it home and is eager to teach others about the beauty of the region.

stillness of the amazon river
The stillness of the Amazon © Ami Jones

I would suggest calling prior to make arrangements for your travel and to let Max know exactly what it is you are wanting to experience. We talked a few times on the phone and when we finally met in person it felt as if we were long-time friends. There are those times that you come across people and experiences that are hard to summarize in a few words. However, that being said if you are in search of a genuine jungle experience I give Maia and the Amazon Turtle Lodge a 10 out of 10! If you do decide to go please tell Max I say hello!

Here is the link for more information: http://www.maiaexpeditions.com/index.php

Additionally here is their page on trip advisor if you would like to peruse through some of the reviews: http://bit.ly/1uAzafO

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Come Away With Me to Central and South America

Nearly eight weeks ago, I started on a journey of a lifetime. I began in Manaus (the gateway city to the Amazon), Amazonas, Brazil. I am now currently in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala. My intention is to travel as long as possible through Central America and further on into Columbia, Ecuador, Perú and hopefully farther (as far as my money will take me- so, yes this is definitely for the budget reader).

My intent with Altruistic Adventurer is to provide you, the reader, with stories, tips, sights, how-to’s, experiences and much more of how it goes traveling through the these parts of the Americas. This area of the world is becoming more and more well-traveled and more well known and thus far it has been an incredible experience.

I hope that you choose to follow me along my journey. Hopefully, I can inspire and entice your curiosity and provide you with some insight into this part of the world. Also, if you have done this sort of thing and have any pointers or must-see’s I would love to hear from you! Buen Viajes!

Breathtaking British Columbia

In a spur of the moment decision to get away with a friend and a dire need for a mini vacation we stumbled upon a cheap flight from Denver to Seattle. Neither of us having been to the northwest coast and not sure what to expect we quickly realized that Vancouver was only a short drive north. We immediately booked our tickets and anxiously awaited for the week to pass.

I had never travelled to Canada and to be honest it was never high on my top 10 must see places bucket list. However, I cannot express how rejuvenating, beautiful, magical and surprising British Columbia was to me. This is a place where natural beauty still abounds. Vancouver is a city full of cultural diversity, culinary expertise, impeccable public transit, and funky districts all surrounded by bridges taking you out of the city into the mountains that encircle it all. If you have not yet been it is a must add to the travel bucket list. Here are just a few of the highlights….

Our first night wandering the city, having gotten settled late, we found this gem of a pub. Moose’s Down Under offering Aussie fare in the heart of Vancouver. I indulged myself on a traditional Aussie meat pie and a local Vancouver beer…

a traditional Aussie meat pie at Moose's Down Under
a traditional Aussie meat pie at Moose’s Down Under

We found the perfect place to stay on airbnb in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Our gracious and accommodating host Justin from London made sure we had everything we needed. Situated on Granville Street we were within walking distance of everything we wanted to see and… the view from the balcony was incredible…

The sunsetting on Vancouver from our balcony
The sunsetting on Vancouver from our balcony

We got up early the next morning and headed up to Whistler/Blackcomb to ski for the day. The drive up the Sea to Sky highway will take your breath away. Although the clouds settled in low, as they tend to do most days during this time of year in B.C. the views were still stunning.

Driving along the coast on the Sea to Sky Highway
Driving along the coast on the Sea to Sky Highway

We arrived at Whistler seeming somewhat surreal that we were just driving along the coast in fog and rain and before us was the largest ski resort located in the Americas.

View from the Peak to Peak tram
View from the Peak to Peak tram

After a day full snowboarding the vast terrain we headed back down the coast on a mission to catch sight of some waterfalls that we had spotted on the drive that morning…

shannon falls, british columbia, canada
Shannon Falls- along the Sea to Sky Highway

After returning back to Vancouver that evening….

IMG_2356

… we gallivanted around town and ran  into the Lamplighter Pub in the Gaslight District. Here we bellied up for the night and induldged in delicious local craft brews. The next morning we stumbled upon the La Luna Café and ordered up coffee, crossaints and a London Fog.

Afterwards, we headed to the Capilano Suspension Bridge just outside of the city. It being one of the largest tourist attractions in Vancouver we were a little hesitant to pay the 30$CAD to be surrounded by bustling crowds. It was money well spent. The park is designed around a suspension bridge that was built by pioneers in the late 1880’s that spans across a massive canyon that is home to diverse wildlife including the majestic bald eagle. They have also built a cliffwalk that overhangs the cliffs above the river as well as a treetop walkway that winds you through the tops of ancient cedar trees. Nearing closing time and the beginning of sunset we were the only two left on the bridge overlooking the vast canyon. Suddenly right below us was a massive bald eagle fishing for his dinner in the river….

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge
View from the Bridge
View from the Bridge
Meandering through the treetops
Meandering through the treetops

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” 

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Later that evening we decided to indulge in some of Vancouver’s finest sushi and sake. We found a place close by located on the riverfront called Miku. Here they prepare some of the most delicious aburi style sushi that I have ever come across. Five stars in my book.

Early the next morning we packed our bags and said farewell to B.C. but only for a moment. This place will forever hold special meaning…. If you have ever traveled on a whim, promised that you would say yes to the whole experience, opened your heart and mind and returned home a different person you can relate to the feeling. A sense of wanderlust had been fulfilled…

Wanderlust

 

 

Beautiful words about Brazil (By:Mateo Hajek)

A fellow and a partner that I am working with and living with in Brazil shared these thoughts with me, he has allowed me to share….

Barely able to see the filth collected on the lenses of my eyeglasses. I manage to snap the perfect shot of favelas under highway overpasses.Perfectly capturing the severe destitution and poverty that exists in Brazil and most notably here in Salvador de Bahia. All the while, our cab driver speeds hurridly through the chaotic and seemingly ungoverned streets with a zen-like calm about him. 

To avoid being caught in the riots and protests against the blatently corrupt government of Brazil, our driver took us through one of the poorest areas of Salvador and in a sweet irony we passes by graffiti that spoke greater volumes than any photo of riots could ever capture. 

(the graffiti wrote..)

“Brasil capital corrupcao terorismo subvercao propina”

(Brazil the capital of corruption and terrorism via subversive propganda).

“Corrupcao fora legislativo, Judicario, Execitivo”

(Corruption comes out of the legislative, judicial, and executive).

No more than an hour before this, a boy who appeared to be early  teens in age begged a group of friends and I for the scraps from our lunch. While scams run rampant in the streets here, the reality of children starving and literally dying in the streets from inadequate nutrition and lack of basic medical care while government officials and legislators recently raised their own salaries to R 17000 per month and the worlds most expensive soccer stadium recently finished construction. Even further, the profits from games belong to FIFA and not the tax payers who funded constructing the stadium to the tune of R 35,000,000.

Since our arrival four days ago, protests and full on riots have spread through every major city in Brazil. While the government has wholly ignored demands for pay to equal costs for living and the media paints epic images of villians destroying the great democracy that Brazil has become. The reality is these people are homeless, starving,  and have no means for upward mobility. As a foreigner, this is not my fight though for the sake of human right, it is and my weapon is the written word. 

Thank you dearly, my friend, Mateo Hajek.