Discover The Amazon, Following Captain Bill Grimes Footsteps And The Trail of Bubbles Behind His Boat

by Captain Bill

Discover The Amazon, Following Captain Bill Grimes Footsteps And The Trail of Bubbles Behind His Boat, With Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.

Captain Bill Grimes on the boulevard in front of the Dawn on the Amazon office

Now you don’t have to be an old school ex-marine explorer. Dawn on the Amazon makes it safe, easy, convenient, and fun for all ages, and fitness levels to discover the Amazon.

Hi, Captain Bill here. Because you are on this page reading this article, I assume you are looking for an Amazon tour or cruise that is the right combination of comfort, service, safety, and price. You know you want to explore the Amazon but you might not be sure where to go, what to do, or who you can trust. I want to share with you how I earned my reputation as a trustworthy authority on the upper Amazon. You can get to know me and my company Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises better by reading the Captain’s Blog about my experiences in Iquitos, the Amazon river and tributaries, the rainforest, the great reserves, and my riverboats. Please join the 400,000 unique viewers who have clicked these links to the Captain’s Blog and over 370 articles to learn more.

My Story

This is the short version of my story about how I became an expert providing and outfitting Amazon tours and cruises. It begins over a decade ago when I first traveled to the sultry river port city of Iquitos Peru looking for adventure. I had traveled over a big chunk of the world, and fished most of the places I traveled. I accidentally, or maybe I should say, without the intention of enhancing my reputation, caught fish on five continents and the seven seas. I always wanted to adventure in the Amazon and I realized if I caught a fish in South America I would have caught fish on six continents and the seven seas so I started making my travel plans. I did catch lots of Peacock Bass in the upper Amazon of Peru, and one of my small claims to fame is I have caught fish on six continents and the seven seas. Maybe thousands of people have accomplished that feat, but I’m the only one that I know for sure that has. Now I’m older and hate being cold so I probably won’t ever get to count the Antarctic for seven continents and the seven seas unless I start my third childhood or am reincarnated as a penguin.

My First Year In Iquitos

On my initial trip to Iquitos I bought my first Amazon river boat. I named her Dawn on the Amazon, after my daughter and favorite time of day, and set out on my great Amazon fishing adventure. That was the first time I out-fitted an Amazon expedition cruise. I was a skilled and tough outdoorsman. It’s a good thing. I stayed out on the rivers and lakes surrounded by jungle for 3 weeks. I roughed it. I ate eggs the first 13 meals in a row until I started catching fish. Those first fresh fish tasted so good. I lived off the fat of the land, until some of the fat ran out. I had a lot to learn. No one starts out being an expert surviving in the Amazon. I struggled back to Iquitos, to restock and regroup. I learned a lot during those three weeks. I was better prepared when I went back to the jungle for the next 2 weeks. Those were some of the best two weeks of my life. I came back to Iquitos and restocked for my final week. I had to return to Iquitos too soon. My time was up. I put my boat, motor, and gear in storage and reluctantly flew back to my home in Indiana USA.

I was sitting around the living room with my family and friends telling the story of my Amazon adventure. How I helped build my boat, caught peacock bass out of dugout canoes, macheted through the jungle, lived in a primitive village 100 miles from the nearest electricity or pumped water, helped a native family whose daughter was born paralyzed from the neck down, drank fermented jungle beer, saw a large anaconda and an emerald tree boa in the wild, and all about the monkeys, and the birds and the bees. I told how Iquitos is overflowing with pretty women, tropical fruits, exotic food, and much more. I netted one of my friends. My best fishing buddy Mark asked if he could go back with me the next winter to get in on the adventure. I accepted immediately and we started making our plans.

Second Year

I had a lot of work to do so time past quickly. The next thing we knew Mark and I were unpacking our binoculars, cameras and fishing gear in Iquitos, getting the Dawn on the Amazon out of storage, taking the motor to a mechanic for a tune up, and I was planning and outfitting our Amazon expedition. I had the notebook from the year before that told how much pure water, and food I packed per person per day, and how much gas and oil I bought per mile. I used that information to fine tune the supplies for our Amazon Cruise. We had a little more culinary variety than my first year, but without refrigeration, until we caught fish it was still simple food, mostly eggs, rice, beans, fried potatoes, and salad made from cabbage, carrots and onions, with garlic and lime juice for dressing. We caught enough fish to survive and again, after all those eggs, fresh fish tasted so good I never wanted to eat an egg again, but I did have to later. We had an amazing three months jungle fishing adventure, combined with coming back to Iquitos to restock and resupply. When our time was up, I put my boat and gear back in storage and we went home to Indiana.

I remember sitting around the wood stove in the early spring chilly weather, telling the stories of our Amazon adventure and another friend of ours got hooked, and sure enough when the next winter came around, three of us packed up and headed for Iquitos for 3 months.

These are links to a couple of the stories we told; Catching Peacock Bass The Hard Way; and Muerto;

Third Year

We took long river trips. On one of them we cruised deep into Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, past the 4th ranger station where tourists aren’t allowed to go. I’m leaving out all the details on purpose because there are too many details for this article. There’s a books worth. I’m working on that book in my spare time. The point I want to make here is I was learning how to plan, stage, stock, outfit, navigate, and safely return from Amazon Cruises. Everything was recorded in my notebook and GPS. That information was studied and refined. I brought a unique skill set with me and sharpened it on the Amazon River and Rainforest.

Fourth Year

The fourth year I had a break through. I loved the whole scene of Iquitos, the rivers, the rainforest, my boat, fishing, the toucans and macaws, the monkeys, the pink dolphins…I had been roughing it in survival adventure style for my own pleasure, with little thought of my personal comfort. I loved my fantasy adventure life more than my “real” life back in Indiana. I was sure many people would want to do what I was doing if they could do it easily, comfortably and safely. I hired a native fishing guide to learn about new fishing places and techniques. This link is to a short story about that fishing guide, Jose.

I started day dreaming about starting a tour and cruise company to share my outdoorsman skills with people like you that want to get to know the Amazon rivers and rainforest, but don’t quite know how to go about it on your own. I had learned a lot, but not enough. When I got back to Indiana I started studying. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Amazon. I spent months surfing the internet learning what there was to learn.

Fifth Year

The fifth year in Iquitos was completely different. I studied boats, and boat building and boat builders. I studied all of the tourist companies in Iquitos trying to learn how their businesses worked. Paul Wright, the grandfather of tourism in Iquitos for 40 years became my mentor. He taught me many lessons. Some of those lessons I had to learn the hard way, which is part of the story of my life.

I fell in love and married Marmelita, a graduate of the Private Institute of Corpus Christi where she attended the three year Official Tourist Guide School. She has worked in tourism since July 1994. We started putting it all together. Marmelita and I make a great team. I’m usually smart enough to seek shelter in a rainstorm, but Marmelita is brilliant and charming, you’ll like her.

Turning Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises into reality was one of the most difficult accomplishments of my life, and one that I am most proud of. Again, I’m leaving all the details out of an interesting story, but for now the points I want to make are that I got my Peruvian Residency, Legalized Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, began building two wooden Amazon River boats, a jungle cabin and a web site. I started finalizing plans to move full time from my life in Indiana to Iquitos Peru. It was a monumental task and an exciting time. Marmelita and I did it. We did everything we said we would do. I always do what I say I will do, barring some exceptional circumstances beyond my control or an act of God.

These links are to articles I wrote that tell some important parts of the story in more detail; Hoosier Expatriate Living In Iquitos Peru; and To Answer The Questions You Should Ask Before You Book A Jungle Adventure.

National Geographic, BBC, 20 Part Mini-Series on TV, History Channel

We have outfitted and provided over 400 tours, cruises, and day trips with over 1,500 guests and brought them all back safe and sound and on time. Not one of them even missed their airplane flight back to Lima. These numbers could be much more but I do not like to do business with travel agencies or travel agents. Nearly all of my guests have been independent travelers like you that discovered my web site or the Captains Blog on the internet and contacted me at; bill @ dawnontheamazon.com (not a live link,…to slow down spam). Like you, I’m independent, and I don’t like travel agencies trying to run my business. They are usually completely clueless, and don’t like customized cruises. They want a set schedule to the same destination with an hour by hour itinerary over and over again. I would be bored. The Amazon is not the Caribbean. As you will see if you read on, we make it easy and convenient do business directly between us using my experience and expertise as the basis for helping you choose the best option for your personal Amazon adventure. Dawn on the Amazon has benefited from a growth in popularity in the last 4 years, a trend we hope to continue, with your help.

Marmelita and Bill in the Dawn on the Amazon office

Dawn on the Amazon hosted Barton Lewis, the editor of National Geographic Traveler, and a team of writers and photographers for seven days in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. We provided my 3 boats and crew for 3 days for a BBC documentary about Iquitos and the rainforest. Our boat Dawn on the Amazon III was featured in a 20 part mini-series called Yuru, Amazónica Princess, and our crew made that series possible with our logistical support. We made an appearance in a History Channel documentary. Dawn on the Amazon is famous in the upper Amazon.

Testimonials

Here are exerts from a few unsolicited testimonials from people like you and me. Follow this link to more testimonials from our guests.

“I really want to let you know how much all of us enjoyed the entire experience. In the airports on the way home we talked about certain events and shared smiles and laughs over and over. Fellow travelers sometimes looked askance at us as we talked and laughed. They would most likely be envious of our good times. You and Marmelita are gracious hosts. I miss you both. Until later, thanks again for a great adventure.”…Larry Williams

“There was so much this trip had to offer–great fishing, beautiful scenery and a food lover’s paradise. Bill showed us great adventure, took care of us personally and customized the trip to our interests. The trip exceeded our expectations. We can’t wait to return.”…Dr. Joseph Sommerville

“Bill, We can never thank you enough for providing us with such an excellent experience. We truly enjoyed our time with you, Marmelita, and Gaby and will be recommending your tours to friends.”
Maribel

“I have been to a few beautiful places in Peru and around the world. If you are looking for a personal, tranquil, yet exotic trip, this is it. It was one of my most favorite trips I have ever taken.”
Jack McCully, Austin Texas

“We have told as many people as we see the great experience we had on your wooden boat, and to be honest it was one of the top highlights of our journey.”…Jacquie

“It seems an age ago that we were on your boat having the time of our lives,”…Tim

“We only had five days left in Iquitos….and we wanted to get out of town….Fortunately we made acquaintance with Bill and Marmelita….who own and operate Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.”…Doug and Tom

“Bill, I travel all over the world and very rarely have a chance to meet someone who makes the place better and more memorable than you did in Iquitos. I hope we cross paths again.”…Bryan

“I also want to thank you again very much for having been so kind in all the help you have provided during the cruise day! You were truly exceptional and I had a wonderful day thanks to you!”…
Jacqueline

“We really enjoyed our short but amazing time we spent with Marmelita and the Dawn on the Amazon crew.”…Jay and Reena

“Thanks again for the wonderful experience up the Rio Nanay. You, your crew and Amazon 1 made for a fabulous journey.”…Rick and Brenda

“As a female traveler, two of my biggest concerns are safety and comfort. Dawn on The Amazon provided plenty of each. Bill is a great host who gives guests his personal attention. This was one of the best trips of my life. Thanks!”…Dr. Marie Mater

“I can never find the right way to tell you what a wonderful experience it was for all of us. You and Marmelita are a great team. And you have put together a staff that anyone would love. It was a “moment in paradise” vacation that I will never forget. It’s impossible to say what were the high points…..every day was a pleasure and every detail was considered to maximize our enjoyment and comfort. However if I had to pick one it would probably be the second night on the river; docked and sitting up on the top deck with dusk approaching and jungle sounds all around; with a cold drink in hand and delicious smells drifting up from the galley; and with the sense that we were sharing a glimpse of nature we might never know again. You must know that you have succeeded grandly when your visitors walk away feeling more like friends than clients. You have my heartfelt thanks. Your friend, Margaret”

“We want to say thanks again to you and Marmelita and to all those working for you for the hospitality and consideration showed to us. It was an experience unmatched in my travels. Coincidentally, I saw a brief interview on TV today of the man who heads up the Loews Hotel group. He was asked what was the key to success in creating goodwill and continued  customer loyalty. His answer made me immediately think of you and our feelings toward you and the Dawn on the Amazon group. His reply was that you must make people feel as though they are being recognized and treated as the individuals they are — that is, tailor your services to their specific needs and desires, letting them know that they are special. Please pass on to Marmelita and all the others our appreciation for all they did to give us such a wonderful experience and memories we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.”…Jerry and Connie

“You and your crew really did an excellent job watching out for us gringos. This trip turned out to be even greater than I had anticipated-thanks to you and your crew.”…John

“Warm regards to Marmelita and your splendid crew…and thanks for another million memories you acquired for me”…Eric

Benefits

Our tours and cruises provide the benefits you would expect from a 1st class outfit like Dawn on the Amazon.

Safe, comfortable boats, and all boat expenses.
Nice knowledgeable naturalist, bi-lingual guide.
All entrance fees.
Explore small Amazon River tributaries and hidden black water lakes.
Hike jungle trails.
Look for birds and monkeys.
Look for Pink Dolphins and other illusive mammals.
Spot beautiful bromeliads, orchids, and other epiphytes.
Learn about medicinal plants from the rain forest, the worlds largest pharmacy.
Check out giant rainforest trees, liana vines, and strange strangler figs.
Look for Poison Dart Frogs and other amphibians and reptiles.
Visit remote villages and schools.
Go swimming.
Go canoeing.
Go fishing for piranhas, peacock bass, sting rays, or catfish.
Night excursions to look for nocturnal wildlife and marvel at the southern night sky far away from urban light pollution.
All meals and snacks during the cruise. (Our guests compliment us on the large portions of delicious food).
All the pure water you can drink.
Everything necessary to live relatively comfortably on the tour or cruise, unlimited toilet paper, soap, shampoo, mirror, towels, sheets, pillow cases, mosquito nets, mattresses and or hammocks.

This is simply what we do, the way it should be done! None do it better, no matter how much more you would pay.

Price, value, bonuses

The price is $99.50 per person per day for the Jungle Cabin. The price goes down per person.

The price $199 per person per day for the Amazon riverboat Dawn on the Amazon I. The price goes down per person. Destinations can include Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, Yarapa River, or Monkey Island.

The price of $398 per person per day for the Amazon river boat Selva Viva, The price goes down per person. Destinations can include, Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, Yarapa River or Monkey Island.

We also operate the best run day trips out of Iquitos for $85, including a delicious picnic lunch of three tropical fruits, a French bread and cheese sandwich, or two, and a tamale or humita, all entrance fees, and boat expenses. Our nice knowledgeable, bi-lingual guides pick you up at your hotel lobby at 9:00am, and we return you to the lobby around 4:30 to 5:00pm. Book your day trip over 48 hours in advance and receive the discount price of $75.

Dawn on the Amazon delivers more than you expect. The only reason to bring your wallet on our tours, cruises or day trips would be if you wanted to purchase souvenirs or personal items along the way, or beer or drinks at the bar. We make it fun, safe, easy, and convenient for you to experience the Amazon region with Dawn on the Amazon.

Guarantee

I guarantee good email and phone communication and support in English or Spanish. You can contact me now at;
bill @ dawnontheamazon.com (not a live link…to minimize spam) or call our office phone# +51-65-223730. Every detail will be transparent. There are no hidden costs. My crew and I are committed to providing and delivering a great service. Your tour or cruise will be as I describe it to you or your money will be refunded. You can trust us to provide a great service.

I can’t guarantee what wild things the jungle will reveal from behind it’s green veil of vines. Every cruise is unique. You never know what’s around the next bend in the river. The jungle is the opposite of a zoo. The unknown is what makes an exciting expedition. Many of our guests have seen monkeys, sloths, pink dolphins, iguanas, parrots, macaws, hummingbirds, butterflies, (including the spectacularly big, brilliant Blue Morpho butterfly), bromeliads, orchids, heliconias, caimans, turtles, snakes, poison dart frogs, Snowy and Great Egrets, herons, hawks, harpy eagles, tapirs, capybaras, giant Victoria Regia water lilies, amazing insects, bats, and numerous other species, but your mileage may vary. The more days you give us the richer your experience is likely to be.

How To Make Your Reservation

To make sure you get to book your custom cruise on the dates you want, make a deposit of $150 per person as soon as possible. The first person or group that makes a deposit for a custom cruise has the option to determine the exact date the cruise casts off, the number of days of the cruise, the destination, and other details. We require a minimum of two guests to make a custom tour at the Jungle Cabin, or a cruise on Dawn on the Amazon I or on our day trips, and a minimum of 2 guests on the Selva Viva Riverboat. Then it is my responsibility to try to coordinate other independent single travelers or couples with the previously established cruises. They have to be flexible with their travel schedule and interests to fit in.

You can pay the deposit by MoneyGram, located in the customer service counter of every WalMart in the States and nearly every Canadian Post Office, or by Visa Card, which charges 7% international service charge, Master Card, charges 6% international service charge, or Western Union.

MoneyGram

If you choose MoneyGram or Western Union, use the international form, to Iquitos Peru, (that is all of the address; we can pick up the transfer at any MoneyGram or Western Union outlet in Iquitos). Make the recipient Marmelita Flores Pua De Grimes, my wife and office manager. Be sure to spell her name as you see it here, it must match her ID. You will be given a tracking number to identify your transfer. Email that number to me and I will get it to Marmelita for her to pick up your deposit. It is an easy, safe way to make the transfer.

Credit Cards

If you prefer to pay by credit card, I’ll attached the proper forms for Visa and Master Card and email them to you. You print the appropriate form for your credit card from your computer, fill out the English part of the form very legibly, sign, and date it the date you fill it out, and either fax it to my office with a copy of your passport and a copy of both sides of your credit card, (the fax# is on the form), or scan it back into your computer, and attach to an email back to me, with a copy of your passport and a copy of both sides of your credit card. Master Card is easier and has a lower service charge.

The total for the deposit using Visa; $150 X .07 = $10.50 per person

$150 + $10.50 = $160.50 per person

The total for the Master Card; $150 X .06 = $9 per person

$150 + $9 = $159 per person

The balance is due 30 days prior to cast off.

That’s a small part of my story, a partial history of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, the prices, benefits, and bonuses, the guarantee, how to make your reservation, the importance of making it as soon as possible to lock in your best schedule, and how to make the transfer.

An important element of our success is the crew. I employ 20 of the best men and women in Iquitos. Everyone makes at least minimum wage, and has health care, which is rare in Iquitos. We are like a family. They have bought into our system. All of the profits stay in Iquitos. We pay taxes in Peru. We buy our supplies in Iquitos. We are good for the local economy. The livelihood of my crew and their family depends on the success of Dawn on the Amazon. We give back 5% of our profits to a rotating group of charitable organizations to help the poorest, disadvantaged, disenfranchised people in our community. You can help just by choosing Dawn on the Amazon as your Amazon adventure provider.

This has been a longer article than usual. If you’ve read this far, thank you for your attention. I assume you must be interested in booking an Amazon Tours and Cruises. You can contact me now by typing this address, bill @ dawnontheamazon.com exactly as you see it, into your favorite email account. It is not a live link, because of spam. Let me know your interests and your approximate schedule. I will email you back as soon as possible, and we will work out the rest of the details together. It will be easy and convenient.

My office address is Dawn on the Amazon E.I.R.L., #185, Maldonado, Iquitos Peru. We are located on the the Boulevard, or Malecon, just around the corner from the first block of Nauta. Our office phone# is +51-65-223730. I prefer communicating about tours and cruises by email, replying back and forth, because then we have an easily accessed record of everything that has been said, and it minimizes the chance of a misunderstanding that might occur by phone. But if you are more comfortable on the phone, I’m here for you. Give me a call. Please keep in mind that our UTC/GMT is -5 hours, the same time zone as New York and Miami. You can also check me out on facebook, twitter, friendfeed,  and linkedin. Join the 568,922 people that have clicked on my flickr internet photo album.

I hope this article has answered some of your questions, that you have gotten to know Marmelita and I a little better, that our credibility is enhanced in your eyes, and that you appreciate Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises is a company you can trust and count on. Don’t forget, we’ve shared Amazon adventures with over 1,500 guests, and brought them all back safe and sound. Email me today at; bill @ dawnontheamazon.com

Marmelita working in the Dawn on the Amazon Office

Captain Bill Grimes is the president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises and the United States Embassy Representative in Iquitos. One of only 20 Wardens in Peru. Click this link to learn more about the Dawn on the Amazon Riverboats.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leo November 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Captain Bill, why don’t you put together three chapters for each of the five years and turn them into a book. Good post.

2 Captain Bill November 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Leo, I’m working on it. Writing books is hard or I would already have 5 of them and so would everyone else. You on the other hand, are my hero for already publishing your books. Under The Mango Tree was a great read.

3 alberto February 7, 2011 at 1:24 am

hola soy beto amigo de wanda saludos para paul tengo gratos recuerdos como las navidad que pasamos

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