Tag Archives: singles travel

Amazon tour with Events & Adventures

Amazon Tour with Events & Adventures

Amazing Amazon Tour with members of Events & Adventures

An Amazon tour is not something the average American gets to experience firsthand, but visiting the rainforest is something that has always been beyond my bucket list.  How awesome would it be to visit one of the most remote and spectacular places in the world?  But to actually do it…um, no thank you.  I wouldn’t say I’m a girly girl, but I really don’t like bugs.  I mean I really Don’t. Like. Bugs.  But as event manager with Events & Adventures, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across the country and around the world with the club and its members, and I can tell you Events & Adventures does travel right.  So when I saw an Amazon tour was being planned my curiosity was immediately piqued.  We reserved the entire Amazon Clipper Premium boat, and Erik’s Adventures customized an eight day Amazon river trip just for us.  I had to ask myself, “When was I going to get this opportunity again?”

When I told my family and friends I was going on a trip to the Amazon River they either laughed or looked at me dumbfounded—but I am so glad I did it!  The Amazon Clipper was lovely. Our cabins were super clean and even had air conditioning, and the staffed visited two or three times a day to make the bed and tidy the room.  Even though I brought PB&J in case the food was weird (don’t judge), the food was amazing.  While we enjoyed all kinds of meat, fish, veggies and fruit from the area, the chefs prepared the meals with Western tastes in mind.  Sufficed to say, I never opened the peanut butter or jelly, and I ended up giving them to the head chef before we left.  I swear I’d not eaten that much the entire month before.  I definitely packed on a few pounds from the yummy and seemingly never-ending food we were so graciously served during our trip.

So now that I felt assured my creature comforts were not going to be uncomfortable, I felt safe enough to check out my surroundings. That’s when it really occurred to me—I was actually on a boat in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and it was spectacular!  Did you know that every 100 km there is a different ecosystem?  That means there are different species of trees and plant life, as well as different inhabitants and cultures, throughout the rainforest.  We traversed the Amazon River and then explored one of its main tributaries, the Rio Negro.  We took ‘canoes’ (a 16-seat long boat with an engine) every dawn and after sunset from the boat to tour smaller tributaries and explore the shorelines.  We saw variety of birds, snakes, and reptiles (like gator relative the caiman) on every ride. We even had flying fish land in our canoes—usually after ricocheting off someone’s leg or chest!

I was thrilled that all my insect repellent purchases were rarely needed.  A little bug spray and we were fine.  Back home in Texas seemed to have more mosquitos than we encountered on our Amazon tour.  During the trip, we drank bottled water and showered in filtered river water.  We were advised to get some vaccines prior to the trip.  The hepatitis A vaccine was a good idea, but I’d probably skip the malaria, typhoid and yellow fever vaccines if I did it again.  We walked through the rainforest with a guide that carried a machete to clear the path that is covered with overgrowth in days.  The naturalists showed us how the trees release rubber, milk and sap and how the native people remove the cyanide from the plant to use the fibrous root.  They even showed us how to protect ourselves from a jaguar and how to build a fire in an area that is always wet.

One day we planned to visit the ‘ruins’.  I was very excited because I love ancient history and super old stuff in general.  Well, these ruins were from the rubber baron era of the early 1900s, so they were not quite ancient as it turns out.  But the way the jungle has consumed them you’d think these ruins were at least 500 years old.  Besides the ruins, there are national parks that are world heritage sites.  These sites have the highest level of environmental protection in the world and are rarely visited except by scientists.  Visitors on an Amazon tour must leave anything that could be hunting or fishing gear with the park rangers upon entering (which is by boat).  These rangers work a month at a time since it takes eight to nine hours by speedboat just to get there.  We kept these hard working rangers entertained by trying to make conversation, but they spoke no English and we spoke almost no Portuguese.  So we just gave them candy!

We visited areas that are almost never encountered by humans.  We couldn’t even leave our canoes in the park, it was that pristine.  The sunsets over the Rio Negro (so named because the slow moving water contained so much decomposing vegetation it is almost black) were astounding.  And the stars?  WOW. I had no idea the southern hemisphere has different constellations. They were so bright; I wish they would have come out better in our photos.  Even the occasional downpour in the rainforest was impressive.  On our first night, I watched one for a few minutes from the comfort of the partially enclosed bar.  It was just me and Mother Nature at four in the morning.  One surprising highlight was when we met the most elusive and probably ugliest water mammal ever, the fresh water pink dolphin. There is a spot they are known to frequent because they are fed fish they don’t have to hunt.  But belly rubs were out of the question—a quick touch is all they would accept. Even the amount of food and how often they are fed by humans is strictly controlled to ensure preservation.

Our Amazon tour brought us as close to a truly native people as you will ever be.  Meeting a tribe and watching some of their ceremonial dances was incredible.  They were a very private people, but they like to have visitors so they can share their heritage and customs.  If they are accepting visitors, two white flags are hung by the river bank. If not, they hang black ones. The truly live in large huts made of the trees in the area. All the furniture is handmade too; their pots and cooking tools are made of metal.  No plastic, no glass.  Our naturalists translated for us and we even got to participate in one of the dances.  We bought crafts and jewelry they hand make; the blow dart guns were a huge favorite.  They were so friendly and the kids amazed by our clothes…and our height.

For our last travel day on the Amazon tour we had one final dawn canoe ride.  We took a small tributary from the Amazon to the Rio Negro. The trees were moving—and not moving because of wind.  As we got closer we could hear a chirping, squeaking sound.  Suddenly, we saw lots of little faces!  The canoe drivers and guides opened their sacks and started pulling out dozens of overripe bananas.  A few spider monkeys make a bee line for their treats.  Once the others figure out that there really is a snack and it’s safe, they make their way onto the boats, too; over, under, across, however they can get to the fingers that are offering a sweet treat.  We were inundated with 30 or 40 friendly little monkeys sitting on our shoulders, laps, even heads where they were enjoying the snacks we had to offer.  Naturally, when the bananas were gone the spider monkeys made their way back to the trees.

I still can’t believe I went on this trip.  Going as a member instead of staff was the best decision I could’ve made!  It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, one everyone should try and I’m so glad I left my comfort zone (or at least thought I was going to) to take the chance to do something this amazing, astounding, spectacular…words really can’t do it justice.  If anyone ever has this opportunity, take it—with both hands!  I hope Events & Adventures offers this Amazon tour again so you can take advantage of it too!  The staff and members of all the clubs from around the country will make sure it’s an experience you will never forget.

~ Jacque C., Events & Adventures Dallas

Our Adventure in Australia!

collage

Australia. Wow. Definitely a bucket list item for most of us. And Sydney does not disappoint. Directly after our early morning arrival we were whisked away to drop our bags at our hotel (THANK YOU  early check in!) changed our clothes and headed out for a great, enlightening tour of ‘The Rocks’ the original area of town built by English criminal that had be sentenced to their new penal colony. It was so interesting! You can still see chisel marks, foundations and even a few original buildings. Since they are sandstone and not wood they are still in use! After that we jumped on a lunch cruise around Sydney Harbor. It seemed odd to have the day we arrived jam packed but by 7pm I totally understood. Stop moving and you crash from the overnight flight and time change. We were gifted with a lovely spring day where the outside deck was warmish. Dinner on the harbor was a perfect end to our very long day. Day 2 started with early morning breakfast and the group scattering a bit to different adventures. Eastern Seaside Walk and Blue Mountains tour were the top choices. The coast is spectacular. The ocean breathtaking around each point. I’ve walked how far? No wonder my legs a sore!

We got to feed Kangaroos and pet Koalas! Betcha didn’t know kangaroos like ice cream cones – just the cone part! The animal park fills it with grass and we got to feed them. Koalas are adorable, but rather boring since they sleep 20 hours a day and pretty much eat the rest of the time. Hiking in the Blue Mountains are spectacular. Some went the day before and raved about it so others went today.  It looks like the Grand Canyon with rainforest covering it. Waterfalls galore, great hiking and inspiring views. Our super adventurous members walked up the Sydney Harbor Bridge and watched the sunset from the top! The Sydney Opera House at night is a sight to behold. It’s majestic. It’s even better when you are sitting on a rooftop patio bar on a mild spring night.

Holy Great Barrier Reef! We just saw one small corner of it and it really is amazing. Wally is a snorkeler/divers favorite. They trained this massive fish to visit the tourists, be petted and ‘pose’ for photos.  Even inexperienced divers could dive with a dive master and experience this once in a lifetime event. I loved it. Nothing else like it. Our dive master let us touch corals and items that had interesting texture (and we wouldn’t harm by touching it.) She pointed out interesting fish and the colors of both were astonishing. It is really disappointing that the colors are never as vibrant in photos. The option for an underwater camera was totally worth it.  After a couple dives some of us decided to try the Adventure Snorkel with the Marine Biologist. We went on the outside the reef where you get to see even more astounding schools of fish but you are a human bobber rising and falling with the ocean waves. The fish were freakishly cool until motion sickness overtook all thought.  Gimme some Dramamine and I’d try it again in a second. Got back aboard our boat, headed to shore and we all longed for bed. Oh! Downtown Cairns is hopping at sunset as we arrive. Tired? Who’s tired? We need dinner and to check out town. We can sleep on the flight home. . .

The Australian Rainforest is definitely a sight to behold. It’s breathtaking. The rich forest, massive trees and dizzying number of different greens is a jaw dropper. Our second full throttle day in Cairns took us up the hills into the outback. We had a scenic rail trip up where we all got to Oooo and Aaaah together; we split up in Kuranda to see everything from an Aboriginal Cultural Center, to koala & kangaroos to museums and shopping; then jumped on the sky gondolas for our trip back down. I got to hold a koala! The scenery here can’t be beat. It was fun to have a group to share the experience with. No one got tired of you saying, “Oh! Look at that!” because you could say it to so many different people 🙂  We had a couple stops on the gondolas so we fire drilled the carriages. Tomorrow we are off to Melbourne!


 

Another AWESOME Trip to New York!

new york

Traveling with E&A is awesome. Not only do they do all the planning work, but we get to hang out with members of the other cities. I had such a great time! For many of us it was our first time in New York City. I got to experience the city with friends not only from Dallas but also Minneapolis, San Jose and Vancouver. I met a bunch of new friends from other cities too. I love that E&A scheduled the best stuff for us. Carnegie Deli, Radio City and the Rockettes, Hop on & off bus tour, boat tour around Manhattan Island with a fabulous narrator that knew, well, everything about the city’s history. The holiday lights are awe-inspiring. We had time to do our own thing, too. We got discount tickets for Broadway shows. Spiderman Rocked! Visited the Empire State & Rockefeller buildings-WOW. Sat in the audience of my first TV show. Really cool. We ate all kinds of delicious food (think I’ll be paying for that for a while). How can you stop when it’s EVERYWHERE? Thank you so much for a great trip! I’ll remember it forever!>

Live from New York… it’s Events & Adventures!

New York

Flying in from all over the country… we’re finally here in the Big Apple!! Imagine meeting someone for the first time… in New York… for your first time in the city! If the distraction of the traffic isn’t enough, what about the buildings and architecture, the buzz of Times Square, the roar of the night clubs, or even the scents from the food trucks lining the street? For most of us, it was our first time here… as we walked to our dinner location this evening, I loved hearing the “OMG’s” and “Look at that!” from the group behind me, as I led them down 5th Avenue, then over to 7th, through Times Square… the light was enough to want us to put our shades on, but standing in the middle of the glowing lights, I saw the awe in their faces… as people surrounded us, walking about, not caring that it was our first time here… we took pictures, we looked at our maps… we were tourists tonight, and we were ok with that! As we walked, we thought about our feet and possibly questioned the shoes we wore today, but when we finally hit the famous Carnegie Deli, got seated at our own table and got right to ordering, we knew the walk was worth it! As we look at the menu, we see other plates going out to other tables… “Woah” and “Is that the size??” is what came out of their mouths… but as we got our own plates set in front of us, we couldn’t help but take some photos! And don’t forget the New York Cheesecake for dessert… I have never tasted anything like it… as we talked about what we wanted to see and to plan our next day of adventures, I couldn’t help but think about how great an opportunity this was to meet some fellow E&A friends from our clubs around the country, let alone, check off a New York City visit on our bucket lists! And on only day 1, all I have to say is… “Oh New York… we have only just begun!”

Grand Canyon 2013!

Season of Firsts

This summer 39 adventurers throughout the U.S. & Canada landed in Las Vegas, Nevada for a grand adventure!  What was billed as a bucket list excursion to raft 90 miles of the one and only Grand Canyon ended up being a story of friendship and firsts. 

For many this trip was a first to the Las Vegas strip, Hoover Dam, white water rafting, horseback riding, ATV riding, skeet shooting, helicopter ride, first time seeing the Milky Way & shooting stars and the first time sleeping outside under the stars in the desert!  Even a self-proclaimed adventurer like me experienced the first thrill of sitting shotgun in a helicopter diving through the canyons and speeding 30 miles per hour through a sun setting desert in a roaring ATV!

Strong bonds of friendship formed early in the trip and strengthened through shared mealtimes and river duties.  A circle of camp chairs at night became the stage for two adventurers, who had never met, to give out nightly awards and share stories of the day’s great accomplishments and comical blunders.

When we had tried every adventure and our trip was coming to a close, one member from our Vancouver club quietly asked the guides if she could experience being rescued out of the water.  She quietly, and without warning, jumped into main channel of frigid 55 degree rushing water.  Luckily I happened to have my camera out!  We quickly undocked our boats and found her enjoying the peace and quiet of being alone in the middle of the Colorado River.  She didn’t appear to want to be rescued from the bliss and peacefulness of the Grand Canyon…but we never leave anyone behind because it is just a short time before our next life changing adventure…

By: Reid Johnson

Reid has been with Events & Adventures for four years and led adventure trips to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, The Grand Canyon and multiple destinations in Texas throughout his time with Events & Adventures.  Check back soon for a recap of Reid’s upcoming adventure stories from Peru where he will lead 30 adventurers up 16,000 feet over 10 days to reach mystical Machu Picchu.