Guest blogger and THIRDHOME member Lawrence Grossman, recently returned from an exclusive Inner Circle trip down the Amazon River, while on the maiden voyage of the Zafiro, a luxury river cruise ship. This trip was made possible by International Expeditions, an industry leader in adventure and travel partner of THIRDHOME.
Check out Lawrence’s Amazon adventure below:
There it was scribbled on our daily schedule: “15:30 Fishing for Piranha.”
It was our second day of exploring the Amazon River on our Peruvian Amazon Voyage and the highlight was certainly going to be fishing for a 5-inch long carnivorous fish whose mouth is filled with razor-sharp teeth. Obviously, the trip planners had never seen the “River Monsters” Piranha episode (2009) or the 2010 campy horror movie “Piranha 3D” prior to arranging this outing. Our bait for this fishing expedition was small chunks of raw steak and we were cautioned to let our guides take the fish off the hook lest we risk losing a finger. 2 hours later we survived with all digits intact and a combined haul of over 35 piranhas were caught and released. Our guides informed us that piranhas don’t feast on humans, but rather insects, worms, crustaceans, and unfortunate small birds or reptiles who linger too long in the Amazon water.
Our Inner Circle Voyage was hosted by THIRDHOME Founder and CEO, Wade Shealy and Senior Vice President of Business Development, Roger Conner and took place aboard the elegant M/V Zafiro Riverboat. For starters, the Zafiro (Spanish for sapphire) was the perfect vessel to cruise down the Amazon River and its tributaries in Peru. With wall to wall panoramic windows, spacious cabins and large public areas inside and out, the boat was comfortable and luxurious. The Zafiro even included a small massage room, an outdoor jacuzzi and an exercise room. With a crew of 22 members outnumbering the 16 guests, we were truly spoiled for 4 days.
What I didn’t expect was some of the tastiest cuisines I’ve ever experienced termed “Amazon Fusion.”
Included were Amazonian fruits such as aguaje and carambola, Peruvian tamales and ceviche that rivals the best Mexico has to offer. There were also scrumptious dinner entrees with quinoa, chili peppers and sweet potatoes. Every meal was a culinary delight and was coupled with Peru’s Cusquena beer and their national cocktail, the Pisco sour.
Probably our most “decadent spoiled guest” moment was when our guides served us champagne on the skiffs while we sat and watched the sun set over the Amazon horizon.
When we weren’t eating and drinking we were out exploring in the 3 skiffs attached to the Zafiro.
You want wildlife? Here’s an abbreviated list of our best sightings while breezing through the Amazon:
Pink (yes pink!) river dolphins
Arguably the most rewarding and difficult sighting of all was the largest rodent in the world, the Capybara, a pig-shaped distant relative of the guinea pig. The Capybara has a face like a beaver, no tail and can weigh up to 175 pounds. That was a big “rat” we watched scurry into the jungle at night.
There were several highlights that made this trip unforgettable including:
1. Our visit to a local Amazonian village where the students sang to us, the Shaman healed us, and the village president welcomed us.
2. Our ride in the tik-tuks (3-wheeled motorized rickshaws) through the town of Iquitos on our way to the animal preserve.
3. The final night on the Zafiro when we were serenaded by our Peruvian band and ended up dancing the night away to melodic music we had never heard before, and very likely, will never have the pleasure of hearing again.
4. Exploring the river at night in our skiffs with more stars in the sky than seemed possible and experiencing close encounters with the Black Cayman Alligator.
I can’t say enough about the warmth, kind spirit and customer service of the entire Zafiro crew and International Expeditions’ staff members throughout the trip. The guides were so knowledgeable and informative about the Amazon Rainforest and the service staff on the boat were professional and helpful in every situation. It is simply impossible to have a better “people experience” than our THIRDHOME group had on this wonderful trip. Special thanks to Liz Bates from THIRDHOME for her organizational prowess and willingness to answer every dumb question I had prior to embarking. Now that this bucket list item is behind me please sign me up for the next Inner Circle adventure!
THIRDHOME’s Inner Circle program allows members (in the Chairman’s Club Preferred tier and higher) to travel with other members on exclusive group trips around the world. Be sure to contact Travel & Concierge Director, Liz Bates for information regarding The Inner Circle Member Appreciation Event on April 27th and 28th, 2018. If you are interested in upgrading to Chairman’s Club Preferred and accessing the benefits of a higher tier of membership, including future Inner Circle events, please contact Member Services.