Orchids of the Rio Negro

This is one of the most popular of the Orchids in the Wild Tours. The boat trip begins and ends in Manaus. Participants should arrive no later than noon of the tour start date and leave no earlier than the late afternoon or evening of the tour end date. We recommend arriving the day before the tour starts so that participants can enjoy a tour of the Manaus Opera House and a hosted dinner at one of Manaus fine restaurants. Hotel suggestions will be made upon registration, with choices to fit the budget minded traveler. This OCA trip features a relaxing voyage on the flooded waters of the Rio Negro with many orchids literally within arm’s reach. The waters of this river are quite acidic and colored with tannins, and as a result, there are almost no insects on the river. However, when/if we visit a sand island, you may wish to use some insect repellent or simply cover up. Passengers can enjoy the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets from the SS Otter and partake in twice daily excursions on motor driven canoes into the flooded forests of the Amazon. There we will find orchids, bromeliads, gorgeous flowering plants, several species of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, macaws, and toucans. For the orchid lover or the bird lover, this is an amazing journey. The SS Otter features a library, common room, bar, fantastic food, and one of the quietest and most relaxing journeys you will ever have the opportunity to partake of.

Dates & Prices

Trip 1. Dates May 8-17 (10 days, 9 nights)

  • Price: $3150 per person double occupancy.
    Single Room Supplement: $1200
    Deposit: $1000 per person. Due by Feb 1. (Refundable up to this date)
    Final Payment due: March 15, 2023

Trip 2: Dates May 19-29 (11 days, 10 nights)

  • Price $3350 per person double occupancy
    Single Room Supplement: $1300
    Deposit: $1000 per person. Due by Feb 1. (Refundable up to this date)
    Final Payment due: March 15, 2023

Information About Both Trips

  • Price for both trips includes: meals, guides, accommodation on the SS Otter, entrance to Manaus Opera House tour, parks and reserves
  • Not included: Round trip airfare (to Manaus, Brazil), travel insurance, alcohol, personal items, hotel accommodations in Manaus, tips
  • Conservation Donation: A donation based on the profit (~$1000 per person) is donated to the Orchid Conservation Alliance. The Orchid Conservation Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization, and for USA residents, the donation may be tax deductible. A formal acknowledgement letter with the exact amount donated is sent to each participant at year end
  • Leaders: Peter Tobias (OCA) and Gilberto Castro (Captain of the SS Otter)
  • Group Size: Minimum of 10 and a maximum of 17 (Including Peter Tobias)

Day 0 Guests arrive in Manaus and transfer to one of two hotels (names, address and prices will be provided to participants). The cost of the hotels is not included in the tour costs and we have two choices (differing in price to accommodate the budget conscious). Both are a few minutes from the dock where we depart on the boat. Dinner at the selected hotel or at a nearby restaurant (not included in price).

Day 1. Guests meet at the dock and board the SS Otter. We enjoy the meeting of the waters, then head inland to the flooded forests of the Rio Negro.

Days 2-9 or 10, depending on the selected trip. We make twice daily excursions (2-3 hr each) to the flooded forests, visiting different areas as we cruise more or less upstream. Participants can enjoy sightseeing from the boat, and lots of bird spotting. The boat is often followed by pink dolphins. Those who would like to go for a swim in the Amazon can do so nearly every day if desired. We will have an afternoon feeding the pink dolphins and the prehistoric, huge fish known as the pirarucu. We will visit one or more villages, have a picnic at Gilberto Castro’s home (where Margaret Mee, famous botanical artist, stayed), and visit a rubber plantation museum. On the last day, we return to Manaus. Passengers can transfer to a hotel (not included) or to the airport. Expect lots of orchids, many of which will be in bloom, as well as bromeliads, flowering trees and other unusual sights such as bats, various lizards, many bird species, praying mantids etc. All meals and snacks on the SS Otter are included. Not included are alcoholic beverages. Typically these will include various wines and (many) caiparhina drinks prepared at the bar. If you would like something in addition to this, please let us know in advance so arrangements can be made. Laundry service, for a tip, is available on the boat, and it is also easy to wash clothes in the room and hang them to dry on the top deck. Expect temperatures in the 80s to low 90s, but not really oppressive humidity. Evenings are a little cooler. There are few to no problems with insects on the river and thus malaria medications are typically not required, although if you stay in Manaus more than a day, you might want to add malaria medication.


Participants should plan on arranging their own round-trip flights to and from the city of Manaus Brazil. This may require arriving a day early and leaving a day after the end of the tour. Most flights from the US connect through Miami.

Although all visitors from the USA to Brazil used to need a tourist visa, this has apparently been dropped. However, all participants should double check as this can take 1-2 weeks to get. We will send out a notification to tour participants regarding this requirement as the dates of departure get closer.

All participants should be fully vaccinated for Covid (First and Second shots, available boosters depending on country). We are all traveling together in an enclosed space. Therefore, since our participants are often elderly, we strongly suggest all participants take a Covid test 1-2 days prior to departure. If you have a travel insurance policy that should cover the need to cancel if you are Covid positive. Currently Covid tests are not required for travel on the airlines to and from Manaus, but this can also change.

Peter Tobias

Peter Tobias

Peter Tobias

Peter Tobias initiated OCA’s Rio Negro trips in 2015 and has led four trips with Gilberto Castro on his boat the Otter. With that experience, and a few caipirinhas, he is able to identify many of the orchids you will see.

Gilberto Castro

Gilberto Castro

Gilberto Castro

Gilberto Castro has been running the Amazon for decades as a biologist, nature guide, and boat captain. His boat, the Otter, regularly carries people for orchid trips, botanical illustration trips, and fishing trips, depending on demand and the state of the river. His encyclopedic knowledge of the Amazon and his intimate knowledge of its nooks and crannies makes him the go-to guy for our trips.

Although the tour price includes accommodations and meals on the Otter, hotels in Manaus are not included in the price. You probably want to arrive in Manaus on a day (or even two) prior to the date we depart on the boat, and depending on your flight schedule, we recommend that you include an night in Manaus before departures home. Our tour boat operator Gilberto Castro has recommended the following two hotels.

1. Hotel Juma Opera-Manaus. This new hotel is on the side of the Opera, very close to the Caxiri, that good restaurant on the second floor. This hotel has its own good restaurant, pool and other amenities. The price for two persons per room is approximately US$160, for one person in a single room just slightly less. https://jumaopera.com.br/ (rooms can be booked directly, or through third party sites such as Trip Advisor, Hotels.com etc.)

2. Hotel Casa dos Frades. This hotel is on the square of the Opera besides the church. Although it is fairly new it used to be the living quarters for the friars of the church. The rooms are spacious and have air conditioning, but it is a small hotel with has 7 rooms with 2 single beds (all 7 are at the back), and 18 rooms with a double bed that they rent as single rooms or for couples (11 of those are at the back). We recommend get rooms in the back; the expensive rooms in the front of the building facing the square are too noisy. https://casadosfrades.com.br/ (rooms can be booked through third party websites see above)

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