Kendjam is a small Kayapó community located deep in Brazil’s isolated Mekragnoti Indigenous Territory.
Kendjam is an incredibly unique experience deep in the heart of the Amazon. Kendjam is a hidden and small indigenous community in the remote land of the Kayapo Indigenous Nation. The Kendjam area is perhaps the most awe-inspiring and untouched Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian Amazon: the Mekragnoti Indigenous Territory. The Mekragnoti is an area of 5 million hectares (12 million+ acres) of pure, virgin Amazon rainforest. Only 700 natives live in this enormous area, one of the most isolated portions of tropical jungle on Earth. The Kayapó is perhaps the important Indian ethnic groups in the Amazon. Their ritual life and social organization are extremely rich and complex, while their relationships with non-Indian society and environmentalists from the world over are marked by their intensity and ambivalence.
The Kendjam project has taken over two years to develop, collaborating between Untamed Angling, the Brazilian Government, and the Kayapó. The project launched in 2015 with a brief exploratory season, with great success. It is a true multi-species locale, targeting 10 different exotic species in swift clear waters. The river courses over a huge granite base, allowing for easy wet wading and many sight-casting opportunities.
The Iriri River is almost entirely located inside the Mekragnoti far-reaching Indian Territory and an Ecological Reserve (ESEC Terra do Meio). This untouched environment has more than 800 kilometers of rivers, and three major tributaries inside our new and exclusive fishing area. The Iriri River headwaters system has never before been fished before by “outsiders.” It begins its journey inside the jungle in the border of Mato Grosso and Para states, and run into the northeast side of the Brazilian Amazon for more than 1300 kilometers. It’s a tributary of the mystical Xingu River.
This is an adventurous trip in the middle of an extremely remote tropical jungle area, all anglers must be physically and mentally prepared. You will see and experience many new things! You will want to come into this adventure with an open, exploratory mind. And, most importantly, respect for the land of the Kayapó warriors. It is their territory and their river, protected by their “warrior spirit” for centuries.
To bring the Kendjam operation to fruition, Untamed Angling implemented their now famous concept of partnership with Indian Associations, as created for their Tsimane and Marié River programs. They established a long-term project with the Kayapó Tribes and their representative Indigenous Associations – AFP (Protected Forest Association) and FUNAI (National Indian Foundation) – to create sustainable, productive alternatives that both protect their land and culture as well as improve their quality of life.
Kendjam and Marié River in northwestern Amazon are the only exclusively fly-fishing-only projects allowed and supported by the Brazilian government. Environmental officials and FUNAI worked together with the Indian Association to create these landmark – and very first – official sport fishing operations in Brazil inside an indigenous Indian Territory. This is the first time the Brazilian government has collaborated with local Native Communities to both protect the interests of the indigenous natives, while simultaneously creating an angling preserve and establishing a fly fishing only, catch-and-release fishery.
It is the implementation of this concept which should guarantee not only a unique and world-class fishery well into the future, but the protection of a priceless rain forest, and an amazing cultural adventure for visitors, as well.
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the week-long Kendjam package is $6,500.00 USD per person (exploratory trip package - Double Occupancy)
Included in your angling package at the Kendjam is all charter flights and boat transfers • All necessary ground transfers in Manaus • Charter Flight Manaus to Kendjam • 6 full days fishing, fully guided • 7 night, all inclusive: camp lodging, meals, and beverage • One overnight at the Hotel in Manaus on arrival • Guided fishing with one pro fly fishing guide per two anglers • Fishing licenses.
Not included in your angling package at Kendjam are $650 Native Community Fee • International air fare • Brazilian visa • Tips and gratuities for camp staff and guides • Food and beverages in Manaus and private city tours • Airport departure tax • Satellite phone calls ($5/minute) • City tours in Manaus • Extra hotel overnights • Flies (we have an extensive selection of best flies at Camp - $7.50/each).
Native Community Fee:
This Project was based as a long term social project which supports the preservation of the Indian Culture by improving their quality of life. The Kendjam Kayapo Indians have formed an association (AFP – Protected Forest Association) and board to protect their interests moving forward. This association includes representatives from many Kayapo villages representing the many Indian Communities inside the Mekragnoti Indian Territory. The project has a significant user fee on all visiting anglers. The funds from the fee will primarily be used for social projects, infrastructure development, transportation, and medical and education projects.
The fee for the 2017 season will be $650 per person for the trip. The tax will be payable in (Cash $USDor Brazilian Reals) to the representative at your arrival in Manaus and goes directly to the Indian Association Account and anglers will receive a receipt from the Association. This fee represents an important step in the continuing effort to protect our ability to continue to share this amazing and unique part of the world.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Kendjam
In this region of the Amazon, the fishing season normally runs from late May through November. This is the dry season for the Xingu and Iriri Basin, the time when waters are at their lowest average levels and very clear, allowing for fishing throughout the entire river system, including its numerous tributaries. Based on what Kayapó for generations have deemed the best fishing window of the year for the many species of fish present in these sections of river, we focus the "fishing season" from June through September.
The rainy season in southern Brazilian Amazon starts in November and rivers reach their highest levels in March. That's the rhythm and annual cycle of high water. At the conclusion of the rainy season, rivers drop and clear very quickly. Millions of smaller fish now start their upstream migration to find food, largely staying in the most oxygenated waters of the Iriri's granite base runs and rapids. Predatory fish follow this migration, completing the pulse of life back up to the headwater systems.
The dry season is characterized by hot and windy days, cool nights and the almost total absence of mosquitoes. This is certainly the most pleasant time of year and the Kayapó refer to it as "good weather." In contrast, the rainy season is characterized by torrential downpours, the flooding inundation of the rivers and creeks, and by the annoying presence of a large number of mosquitoes and other types of insects. The Indians refer to this season simply as "rainy weather."
Getting to Kendjam
The week at Kendjam is from Sunday to Sunday. Most US guests will reserve flights to Manaus out of either Miami (American Airlines) or Panama City (Copa Airlines). We recommend working with Alicia Regueiro at Holdy Tours (1-800-446-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for the schedule that will best suit your trip and to book your flights.
Saturday, The day before scheduled arrival at camp:
Arrive at Manaus International Airport. Upon arrival in Manaus, you will pass through immigrations and customs. Do not lose your entrance card to Brazil!!! This is a small white piece of paper. You will need it for your return. Guests will greeted by our English speaking representative/transfer driver. They will arrange for transfers to the hotel in Manaus. You and another angler will be put up in a Double Occupancy room for the night (included in the trip package). The transfer staff will let you know when they will pick you up at the hotel the next morning, to take you to the charter airport. They will also collect the Native Community Fee ($650) from you at this time.
We often recommend arriving in Manaus a day earlier (on Friday) rather than late on Saturday night – this helps buffer you against possible airline delays or lost luggage into Manaus, and will give you a day to enjoy what Manaus has to offer. This is important as there is only one charter flight a week to Kendjam. Booking your arrival to Manaus too close to this charter flight time could prove highly problematic – if you arrive too late for it, getting your own private charter flight would be enormously expensive, if not impossible. Quite a few people opt to come in a day early as this virtually eliminates this potential problem. It costs an additional hotel night, but for many it is worth it, for the peace of mind.
After breakfast at the hotel, the transfer driver will pick the group up around 7:00 a.m. and head to the local airport, to board the Grand Caravan 8 person plane charter to the end destination. Arrive at the Kendjam Indian Community landing strip where our guides and staff will be waiting group. Meet and Greet and a good moment to discover the Kayapo culture, social organization and more. We will present to group Indian chiefs and a brief orientation of fishing week will be made. The fishing team and staff will serve lunch and anglers will have a brief explanation of the daily fishing plans and the exploratory trip plans. Depending the daytime group will head downstream to first camp overnight or will camp at the Indian Community. Get situated in such amazing place we are and ready your tackle for next day.
Please do not bring unnecessary weight to the camp. We use small planes for air transfers to and from the camp and we strictly enforce weight limitations. You will be able to leave items not needed in camp with the hotel concierge in Manaus if you are returning to the hotel at the end of the week. We recommend this for traveling clothes, etc. The camp does not have laundry service, but the crew can wash clothes in the river once during the week. There is a strictly-enforced 40-pound weight restriction per person for the twin-engine, turbo-prop flights divided as follows: one 10 lb. carry-on piece of luggage and one 30 lb. checked bag - soft duffle bags with no rigid bottom (except for rod cases). (If you have only one soft duffle bag it must be no larger than - length: 30in; Width: 22in; Height: 11in. NO HARD LUGGAGE.
Upon arrival at the Kendjam Indian Community, you will be met by the guides and staff. You will have some time to discover the incredible Kayapo culture in the village. We will present the group to the Indian chiefs and a brief orientation of the fishing week will be made. The fishing team and staff will serve lunch and anglers will have a brief explanation of the daily fishing plans and the exploratory trip plans. Depending on the time, the group will either camp at the Indian Community or head downstream to the first overnight camp to prepare for fishing the next day.
Monday to Saturday:
Each day teams of two anglers will head out for the day, fishing downstream on the Iriri River and discovering its many channels and tributaries. Each two anglers will share a professional, English speaking fly fishing guide, along with a local native guide in an aluminum boat.
5:30 am – Coffee is hot
7:00 am – Breakfast
8:00 am – Head to fishing grounds
12:00 - 1:00 pm – Anglers will have a picnic style lunch on the river
1:00 pm – After lunch, fishing will resume until late afternoon when the guides will deliver anglers back to the camp around 6pm. Every day the camp will be moved, and set up in a different place
6:30 pm – Cocktails and appetizers on the covered patio top deck
8:00 pm – Dinners will be served
Sunday Departure from Kendjam:
In the morning, guests will be transferred by boat to the Kendjam Community landing strip to fly back to Manaus at approximately 11:00 pm, weather permitting. On the return flight we will stop in Novo Progresso for Refuel and then head back to Manaus. You will arrive in Manaus around 3:30pm, (assuming no flight delays). Most anglers will be departing on the late night flight that evening, departing Manaus for Miami at 12:05am on Sunday. If you do not feel like taking the red eye out of Manaus that night, another night's stay at the hotel can be arranged; this would not be included in the package, and we will need to know as far in advance as possible if you will need this extra hotel night. Should this be the case, the transfer driver will pick you up the following day, according to your flight departure time, and deliver you to the International Airport.
Travel Visa & Documents:
Brazil requires U.S. citizens to carry a valid U.S. passport and visa when traveling to Brazil for any purpose. You must obtain your Brazilian visa in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to your place of residence in the United States. There are no "airport visas" and immigration authorities will refuse entry into Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. The U.S. government cannot assist you if you arrive in Brazil without proper documentation. It takes up to a month to process a new passport, so please plan accordingly.
Lodging at Kendjam
Being an exploratory trip in the middle of an extremely remote tropical jungle, all anglers must be physically and mentally prepared. They will see new things, experience new waters and fish, and encounter an amazing culture in a place that time has largely forgotten. Guests must have an exploratory mind and soul, but most of all, a respect for the Kayapó warrior's land. It's their territory and river, protected from white people and mining/logging companies for centuries by their warrior spirit. Their official land is a huge virgin Amazon forest territory known as the
Mekragnoti Indigenous Territory, an area larger than the Netherlands or Denmark in Europe, or twice the size of Vermont or Massachusetts in the USA. These people are warriors, and have protected their land against relentless attempted incursions by developers of various types. To learn more about them, check out the January 2014 issue of National Geographic; it will give you a feeling for both the people, and their land.
The Kendjam Lodge accommodations are a comfortable African-Style safari tent camp, with 4 double occupancy tents with spring box beds, private bathroom, hot water and electric light. The camp is located in a wonderful sandy beach area in front of a beautiful pool of the Iriri River about 45 kilometers downstream from the Kendjam Community. Every evening guests will be delighted by wonderful cuisine in a well-fashioned living and dining room.
No Alcoholic Beverages will be allowed during the fishing day in the river according to FUNAI regulations and also a decision of the Kayapo of Kendjam. They are very cautious with the use of alcohol and want to protect the future of their young warriors. Excellent Wines, spirits and fine drinks are served at the lodge during appetizers and dinner.
Solar panels provide full electric power every night and each tent has 110-volt plugs so remember to bring your 110V to 220V converter if needed. You may charge batteries and use an electric shaver in every tent. Laundry service is provided at the camp at no additional cost, just leave your clothes in a designated container in your room and they will be returned washed and clean, usually within a day. For the most adventurous anglers, there is a two-night out camp location to reach the furthest and most wild areas of Iriri.
For a great resource on the people and history of the Kayapo nation, take a moment to read the article in National Geographic Magazine, issue January 2014.
• Nat Geo article on Kendjam/Kayapo:
• Nat Geo article on Kendjam/Kayapo:
• Interview with the Author:
Fishing at Kendjam
The Kendjam project protects freshwater rivers which represent the most prolific multi-species fisheries in the Amazon, and possibly on earth. This incredible variety of species has evolved in a perfectly-suited ecosystem - the amazing wealth of food that comes from the Amazon forest, combined with the life-giving minerals found in the rivers. Together they create a perfect habitat for zooplankton, the foundation of the food chain which allows for such an incredible diversity of fishes.
The water clarity in these rivers is amazing, quite different from the sediment-filled rivers so common to the Amazon. The granite base keeps water very clear, even after some rain. The river downstream from the Kendjam community braids out into many parallel channels, creating several smaller, fast-moving streams, a perfect enviroment for wet wading. A few miles downstream the channels join again, re-forming a single main river. This braiding into channels is very common in many streches of Iriri River, and creates a fishing opportunity unique in Amazon waters. Probing the runs and pools of these smaller channels you can target different species using different techniques.
Imagine yourself in a clear jungle river with many different options for unique, powerful Amazon species, many of which most anglers have never even heard of. You can fish in pools using big hopper patterns for 3-10 pound Matrinxas, or even the crazy Curupete Pacu (3-12 pounds) which eat algae and insect imitations and love fast water (and often jump when hooked). Next, exploring runs and flat areas for peacock bass (averaging 4 to 15 pounds), you begin hooking bicudas - a fast, barracuda-like freshwater predator that will crush your fly and burn your fingers when they run. The next day, hiking in the humid early morning air of the jungle you see fish eating off the surface like trout. What fish could they be? The powerful Seringa Pacu, which eat insects and can be fished with dries and nymphs!
And there are more. We all like aggressive big fish, and Kendjam waters hold many, including the prehistoric trairao (wolf fish), and vampire-fanged payaras. We usually sight cast for 10-25 pound trairao in shallow water tributaries, and they act like hungry wolves chasing a piece of meat when you cast a popper or streamer in their direction. Payara are still a bit of a mystery for us in Kendjam; we have caught a few, but the Indians say there are many big ones in the river. We've seen them rolling in the pools and runs, so it will just be a matter of time before we figure out the right way to fish for them.
5 to 8 weight single-handed rods are the norm. It is best to have two or maybe even 3 rods rigged with different lines and/or flies in the boat. Please plan on bringing extra backup rods, just in case. Powerful rods with a strong butt section are recommended. All of the saltwater series of the top rod brands are considered good choices. Your favorite big trout rod or light bonefish rod for 6 and 7 weights and your favorite bonefish or baby tarpon rod will do just great. We recommend rigging one 6 or 7 weight rod for matrinxas, peacock bass, pacu and bicudas with a floating line, and one #8 or #9 weight with floating and intermediate (clear) sinking line for larger peacock bass, Payara and Trairao. Bring one 5 or 6 weight for the amazing dry fly fishing for pacus and matrinxas, truly one of the highlights of the Kendjam fly fishing experience.
Reels that have been designed for saltwater fly-fishing are the best choice. These jungle fish will test your stripping fingers more than your reel, but in the event you can get them on the reel before they get into the wood, reels with strong smooth drags are recommended. Bring a trusted reel that you feel comfortable with. Weight of the reel is important also since you will be casting a lot. 30-pound backing is required.
Most of the fishing is done close to the surface of the water. Weight forward lines designed specifically for the tropics and saltwater are what you want. Scientific Anglers Master Titan Jungle Floating or comparable, ultra-aggressive, warm water fly lines hands-down work the best. Another amazing line is the Scientific Anglers Titan Jungle Clear Tip intermediate tip fly line, 15ft. Full floating Scientific Anglers Mastery Titan Jungle Floating fly lines are excellent for effortlessly throwing large wind resistant poppers. For smaller line weights (6-7 weight), a Scientific Anglers Redfish or Bonefish line is a great choice. Do not bring cold water floating lines, as the hot weather makes these lines soft and gummy. You will also want to bring a fast sinking sink-tip for some specific spots, and big payara. For this we recommend a Scientific AnglersSonar Jungle Custom Tip fly line, or a 250-300 gr sink-tip line. We strongly suggest you bring at least one back up fly line.
Most fish are not really leader shy but the very clear water situation can make some big fish spooky, so fluorcarbon leaders make line invisible under water. Leaders should be strong and heavy enough to turn over big wind resistant flies, so heavy/strong butt leaders are important. Spools of fluorocarbon should include 50, 40, 30, 20 and 15 pounds. The most commonly used is 20, 30, and 40 pound Fluoro. Mono in 20-pound breaking strengths can also be used in certain situations. Some fish require longer, 9-foot leaders, while others just require a single straight piece of fluorocarbon tippet. You will also want to be sure to bring wire tippets from 20, 30 & 40 lbs for the Wolffish, Payara, and Bicuda. We prefer the knottable wire from Rio.
Fishing is done using a wide variety of patterns including baitfish, large insect, fruit, and even algae imitations. There is a new world here to discover. For baitfish imitations, streamers in white, yellow, chartreuse and combinations of these colors are very effective. Flies with good action and movement in lengths from 2 to 6 inches, in 1/0 to 3/0 (high quality hooks). As for patterns, the most typical flies used are synthetic material streamers such as the Glimmer Minnow and the Sardina Cruiser. Many other baitfish imitations have proved to be very successful, among them Puglisi Streamers in medium to big sizes, Whistlers, and Decievers and Half and Half's. Big foam poppers and Divers as well as rubber leg dry flies like Chernobyl Ants are fun to fish and should be included. For the fun dry fly fishing for pacus and matrinxas, we recommend #4-8 Chernobyl Ants, Fat Alberts, Hoppers, Attractors, and Stimulators.
Flies are available for sale at the camp for $7 each, but be sure to show up with a good selection as well. You can order a packaged selection for Kendjam species from us (recommended, and a sample package displayed below). We will discover a lot of new effective patterns during each trip, so have fun exploring new flies, too.
There is a lot of wading here, and some of the rocks can be slick. Felt wading boots are strongly recommended, and if you are used to using a wading staff at home be sure to bring it with you. Studs are not a good idea, however, as they can be noisy walking and spook fish in the calm, clear waters.