Boca da Valeria, Brazil
A collection of thatched huts on stilts is all you see as you first approach this storied Amazon River port. Once you tender in, you realize that the lack of infrastructure is what makes Boca da Valeria, home to about 75 people, so special.
What We Love
Impromptu Skiff Tours: Skiffs or canoes are the best way to explore this section of the Amazon and its convergence with the Rio da Valeria. They cost just a few dollars to rent, the skiffs complete with a “captain”/owner, for an hour. Explore the main river and the tributaries at a laid-back pace, observing giant lily pads, working fishermen, and primitive homes on the riverbank.
Local Color: Many of the village's children bring their pets to meet cruise ship passengers, and they’ll pose for photos for a dollar or two. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get snaps of sloths, capybaras, and electric-hued parrots. It's also common for smaller children to temporarily adopt cruisers as "grandparents" — again, for tips — and show them around the village.
Best Known For
The Village: Boca da Valeria has become the quintessential native village stop on the Amazon, and many buildings and private homes are open to tour. The church, the one-room school, and the bar are key among the public buildings. This offers a glimpse into a simpler, low-tech way of life that still isn’t entirely cut off from civilization: When not in native dress, locals wear jeans and T-shirts, and there are satellite TV dishes atop the houses.
River Confluence: Boca da Valeria (mouth of the Valeria) is the meeting point of two rivers: the Amazon and the Rio da Valeria. You can see it from your cruise ship or a skiff.
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Who It's Best For
Independent Types: For people who don’t enjoy group shore excursions, the loosely organized skiff tours, canoe trips, and cold drinks at the town’s only bar are appealing mini-adventures.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Bring Your Dollars: A regular stop on Amazon itineraries, Boca da Valeria is no longer isolated and unspoiled — and its residents are all about those dollar bills. Whether you walk hand in hand with a local kid for 100 yards, take a photo of siblings with a sloth, or snap a selfie with someone in native dress, you'll be expected to tip. Pack a wad of singles as they go surprisingly fast.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.