Parabens to Viverde and Juma Lodge! My three night/four day stay at Juma Lodge (21-24th August 2007) was outstandingly good and thoroughly enjoyable. I felt I had made exactly the right choice in opting to have my first Amazon Rainforest experience with Juma.
Viverde was very efficient in organising a late booking. Your customer care was excellent, both in terms of email response and advice.
Juma’s transfer arrangements were reliable, punctual and professional. On top of that, the transfer, consisting of a considerable journey by fast boat, was exhilarating and meant that the exciting Amazon experience ‘exploded’ immediately once we left the dock in Manaus. Being met and accompanied by your guide from the outset was a good idea. However, Juma Lodge might like to consider emulating some European safety standards such as: the wearing of life jackets and formal instructions on emergency procedures during some of the fast moving river transfers. I imagine not all your customers are confident swimmers and a focus on client safety is a good selling and satisfaction point.
The Juma Lodge itself was brilliant! The setting was idyllic and the buildings blended perfectly into the natural beauty of the river and forest. The free roaming presence of pet monkeys, parrots and a lethargic tapir was a great touch.
The accommodation was of high quality, clean and spacious. Lying in the hammock overlooking the river was a delight. That lights and generator powered electricity were not available all day was understandable and did not detract from the comfort offered by the rooms. The absence of air-conditioning (offered by some other lodges) was appropriate. Certainly in August even the fan was not needed at night. Incredibly, and not mentioned anywhere in your publicity material ( a mistake in my view!) is that Juma Lodge is almost mosquito free since the irritating insects do not thrive in the acidic black waters of that part of the river. I wasn’t bitten once and nor was I ever woken by that high pitched whiz in my ear.
The food was delicious: indigenous, fresh and varied – and I did not even touch the meat dishes. The bar prices were not prohibitive, only just above the normal Brazilian bar tariff.
The trips out of the lodge both along the river and into the flooded forest were brilliant. Enjoyment of them was sharpened by the young, but very knowledgeable guides whose expertise was communicated very proficiently in English. The scenery is stunning and often magical. I think the piranha fishing outing could be expanded into fishing for a wider variety of fish, although I accept that the piranha itself has become an icon of the Amazon. Caiman spotting was hit and miss, but no one minded. We got our eyes and hands on an 18” specimen! Conrades, our guide, introduced us to tarantula, pointed out a vast array of bird life and gave us an interesting insight into how the local people make use of the jungle for both commerce and subsistence. The trip to meet the vice-chief of the local Indian community (Evangelical Christians!) was delightful and surpassed our group’s expectations. It was a pleasure to meet him and his family in their home, stroke the pet monkeys and sloth and buy their artifacts.
How could Juma Lodge improve? I think that most travelers to the lodge, like me, are probably knowledge hungry about the Amazon. It would enhance some guests’ experience if they could access a small library of information and pictures about the surrounding area. I am sure that customers would share their photos and videos. Perhaps in the evening a film about successful caiman searches or other events. I would have enjoyed a talk/discussion with local people about their lives and culture.
I would go back!