Exploring the flora and fauna of the jungle, learning about indigenous cultures, and experiencing untouched landscapes make the Amazon rainforest a draw to travelers from all over the world. As demand for unique travel experiences increases and cruising continues to gain popularity with travelers after nearly two years of shutdowns of maritime travel, now is the best time for a luxury Amazon River cruise.
Amazon River cruises take adventurous explorers on one of the world’s most rewarding wildlife expeditions. Journey deep into the heart of the largest rainforest on Earth on a boat trip down the Amazon, an untouched realm of boundless biodiversity. With most of Peru covered in jungle, river cruising is one of the best, and sometimes only, ways to explore the region—particularly in the dense Amazon Rainforest. If you’re looking to enjoy the lush landscapes of the Amazon but with the comforts of a luxury cruiseliner, here’s all you need to know about touring this vast and mysterious part of South America:
– Choose your season
There are only two seasons along the Amazon: Low Water and High Water. If you choose to travel during the Low Water season (June-November), you can travel up many tributaries and walk deeper into the jungle and local villages to see more wildlife and meet more communities than in the High Water season (December-May) which offers a greater array of fauna but often floods with water that rises 20-30 feet.
In the low water season, which is the warmer of the two seasons, the temperature averages about 98 degrees Fahrenheit and receives 20-25% less rainfall than in the high water season. In the high water season, the average temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit, cooler than in the low water season. Although the water levels swell significantly, the rainfall increase is less drastic: 20-25% higher than that of the low water season.
Though the Amazon rainforest has these two distinct seasons, as the name suggests, the Amazon rainforest sees rainfall throughout the year regardless of month or season. The Amazon experiences microclimates, meaning rain can occur in a particular area while other areas remain sunny. Regardless of the season, you will see spectacular Amazon wildlife, birds, and plant life at any time of year.
– Choose your cruise liner
Most cruise liners offer 3, 4, and 7-night cruises, with most visitors choosing 4-night stays. While there are numerous ships that depart from Iquitos and take travelers through the Amazon communities, here are our three top picks for a luxury Amazon River cruise:
Ships have anywhere between 4-22 rooms, depending on the vessel. All ships come complete with 180° panoramic windows, movie screen size windows, and first-rate design that offers both elegance and comfort while sailing through the Amazon region. An array of spaces, including the dining room, an observation deck and lounge, a bar, an entertainment center, and a lecture room, among others, provide ideal gathering places for all guests.
Setting a new standard for luxury river cruising on the Amazon, Aqua Nera draws design inspiration from the Peruvian Amazon’s mystical black water lagoons and bears the hallmarks of contemporary style and generous interiors that Aqua Expeditions cruise ships are known for. The vessel’s 20 spacious Design Suites draw inspiration from the colorful cultures of Portugal, Spain, and Peru.
The cruise features cuisine by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s finest chefs who is celebrated for creating refined cuisine from native Amazonian produce. Every day, expert naturalist guides conduct small-group excursions that reward guests with up-close wildlife encounters in the world’s most biodiverse rainforest. Setting a green example for every other Amazon river cruise vessel in the region, Aquanera features a water treatment plant and virtually smoke-free, fuel-efficient engines that comply with strict US and international environmental standards.
Onboard Zafiro’s cruiseliner is 19 spacious suites that come equipped with air-conditioning, en-suite bathrooms, and magnificent views out of floor-to-ceiling windows; and for those on the Upper Deck, their private balconies too.
The boat itself has some remarkable standout features, including both exercise and massage rooms, and an outdoor Jacuzzi on the Observation Deck, itself equipped with sun loungers and a bar.
Four of the Lower Deck Suites also interconnect, and the remarkable Zafiro Suite has a 180º panoramic view, a large front-facing balcony, and a sofa bed suitable for children younger than 12, making the cruise ideal for families.
Guests can curl up with a book in the indoor reading lounge, or sip a cocktail at the indoor bar. In the dining room on the second deck, the ship’s restaurant uses native ingredients to create unique recipes to let guests savor new flavors for an authentic culinary experience. After a meal guests can work off the calories from a decadent meal in the ship’s gym, or schedule a treatment in the massage room for a little extra pampering.
– Fly into Lima, first
Most luxury cruise liners heading to the Amazon Rainforest leave from the Peruvian gateway city of Iquitos, accessible via a short flight from Peru’s capital, Lima. Spend a few nights in Lima before you cruise the Amazon river in luxury and explore the Peruvian capital’s dynamic gastronomy, history, art, and culture. For more ideas on how to spend a few days in Lima, click here.
– Port of Iquitos
No Amazon tour kicks off without a visit to the port city of Iquitos. The region is readily accessed by daily 1.5-hour flights from Lima. Iquitos is of the mighty Amazon River – is no ordinary city, but a steamy jungle metropolis. No roads lead here and it can only be reached via water or by air. Cruise the Amazon River in luxury leaving from Iquitos – most cruises commonly depart from the port of Nauta, just south of the city. From here, the roaring waterway continues to snake through the continent for more than 4,217 miles before finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
– What you’ll see in the Peruvian Amazon
The Peruvian Amazon provides visitors with the optimal opportunity to experience South America’s most untouched natural wonders. On a luxury cruise to the Peruvian Amazon, you will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of monkeys, macaws and many more of Peru’s most curious animal inhabitants, gloat along the Amazon River and participate in jungle excursions. Witness the immense biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest and experience the over 965 types of flora and 1000 species of fauna that reside in the Peruvian Amazon.
On more Amazon River itineraries, you’ll set sail from the bustling city of Iquitos and head to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve to enjoy excursions on the water and ashore to help you discover the region’s wildlife and indigenous cultures. Search for pink river dolphins or take jungle walks to find some of the Amazon’s remote inhabitants and enjoy opportunities to explore the river and tributaries by canoe or kayak.
Finally, on your tour, visit Amazonian schools or tour local indigenous communities for a truly culturally immersive program that allows you to understand life in the remote villages of the Amazon, contributing to the livelihoods of the local communities.
– How to book
Work with on-the-ground experts and luxury travel designers at Kuoda travel who are committed to crafting the best possible experience for your luxury Amazon River cruise. For itinerary inspiration and to get in touch with the experts in luxury Amazon River cruising visit our website for more.
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