Aqua Expedition’s 3 night Amazon River luxury cruise begins in the remote colonial city of Iquitos, Peru and transports guests in exceptional comfort deep into the Amazon rainforest, along the Ucayali River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, as well as other neighboring rivers, each one rich in vibrant wildlife and thriving rainforests.
Go fishing for the many species of Amazon fish, explore into the dense jungle on foot in search of three-toed sloths, toucans, macaws then come back to the comfort of our skiffs to meet taricaya turtles in their natural habitat and hunt for endangered pink dolphins, unique to the Amazon, at play. As the Aqua Amazon journeys towards the union of the Ucayali and the Marañon Rivers, considered the birthplace of the Amazon, learn from our experienced, English speaking naturalist guides about the diverse Amazon wildlife and birds of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
High Water Itinerary
December - May
A 3-night introduction to the Amazon with piranah fishing at Charo Lake, an exploration of the Yacapana Islands, dolphin sightings,wildlife night safari, guided tour of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, visits to local villages and the Manatee Rescue Center.
Saturday: IQUITOS - AMAZON RIVER
Arrival from Lima, a 1 hour 25 minute journey to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Your guides await you at Iquitos International Airport. Claim your luggage, which our porters deliver to your suite, then board our air-conditioned bus for the short ride to the river.
Transfer to Iquitos’ Main Wharf. The Aqua Amazon, your home for the next three nights, awaits you.
Embarkation and Check-in. Welcome to the low key luxury of the Aqua Amazon. Settle into your well appointed river facing suite as the vessel begins to move and thus begins one of life’s great adventures. Ascend to the Observation Deck if you wish, to take in the view, as the Aqua Amazon leaves Iquitos behind.
Over the next three days, the Aqua Amazon sails along the largest tributaries of the Amazon River, as well as on the mighty Amazon itself, towards remote destinations visited by only a few of even the world’s most experienced travelers.
Safety Drill and Briefing on the Observation Deck. Before dinner, participate in our routine safety drill and then head into the air-conditioned Indoor Lounge to meet the cruise director and for your first briefings from our naturalist guides about the adventures ahead.
Welcome Dinner. Toast your journey with our sommelier-selected fine South American wine that accompany the Amazonia-influenced cuisine of Aqua Expeditions Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant, Malabar, ranks among Lima’s best. Schiaffino’s healthy and innovative recipes incorporate the freshest local products – fruits, fish, spices – adding culinary adventure to our journeys. (Menus always offer choices, including a vegetarian option – please let us know any other specific dietary requirements in advance of your voyage). Perhaps a nightcap on the Observation Deck, counting constellations.
Sunday: AMAZON RIVER - CHARO LAKE - YACAPANA ISLAND
Sunrise Over the River. Catch your first glimpse of the Amazon, as you watch the sun come up over this vibrant world of wonderful wildlife.
Our sumptuous daily breakfast buffet offers a wide selection of traditional egg dishes, Peruvian specialties, homemade baked goods and fresh-squeezed juices, made from luscious tropical fruits you may never have tasted before.
River Exploration and Fishing Trip at Charo Lake. Board our comfortable excursion skiffs for your first adventure. Life jackets, ponchos, rubber boots, and plenty of cold potable water are always available for you on board the skiffs.
As we travel from the Amazon River onto its black water tributaries, fishermen paddling dugout canoes greet us. Our naturalist guides help you to spot terns, egrets, orioles, hawks and kingfishers as well as monkeys among Amazonia’s other fascinating inhabitants.
At Charo Lake, bait your hooks to catch piranhas, as the Guarani Indians named these vicious creatures, and other Amazon fish as well.
Return to the Aqua Amazon to icy cold towels while fresh squeezed camu camu juice awaits you. The vessel continues up the Amazon River, while you relax, or even take a nap, before lunch.
Lunch of Peruvian inspired midday fare in our air-conditioned dining room.
In mid afternoon, enjoy a lecture about the fish of the Amazon in our air-conditioned Indoor Lounge. Learn about the 28 species of piranha swimming in the black waters of the Amazon and its tributaries, as well as the catfish, paiche fish that grow up to 12 feet long in these waters, and about how Aqua Expeditions provides fishing equipment and technical advice to Amazonia fishermen.
Yacapana Islands Exploration, Dolphin Sighting, and Night Excursion. Back on the skiffs, we head off to the Yacapana Islands, or “Iguana Islands” so called because of their resident reptiles. Looking like tiny dinosaurs, they crawl over the ground and rest in the treetops. As we continue exploring the waterways by skiff, gray and pink freshwater dolphins swim and play around our boats. The people of Amazonia believe these very dolphins turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages during celebrations.
As the sun sets, different kinds of wildlife come out. Search for caiman, frogs, owls and capybara, the world’s largest rodent and a most curious sight to behold.
To the Headwaters. Return to the Aqua Amazon as it continues upstream, to where the Ucayali, Marañon, and Amazon Rivers converge. This is considered the birthplace of the Amazon River. Perhaps sip a pre-dinner camu-camu sour on the Observation Deck as the sun sets followed by a delicious dinner.
Monday: MARAÑON RIVER - PACAYA-SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
Breakfast and Jungle Walk.Starting out from Pacaya-Samiria Ranger Station No. 1, take a jungle walk guided by the Park Ranger who introduces you to the sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia and leads the way to one, where villagers plant palms to obtain oil.
Return to the Aqua Amazon for Lunch, followed by a siesta.
At 3pm, enjoy a lecture about the Taricaya Turtles in our air-conditioned Indoor Lounge. Our naturalist guides recount the history of these adorable creatures along the Amazon, their near extinction and the recent efforts supported by Aqua Expeditions that are successfully growing the turtle population in the Pacaya-Samiria Nature Reserve.
Monkey and Dolphin Expedition. On this late afternoon expedition, you are very likely to have another chance to see the Amazon’s two different kinds of freshwater dolphins—gray and pink. Keep your eyes on the jungle canopy too, where our naturalist guides help you to spot some of Pacaya-Samiria’s 13 species of monkeys including tamarins, howlers, dusky titi and pigmy marmoset monkeys. Watch for crocodiles, and keep your binoculars at the ready, as you are likely to see more than 200 species of birds.
Return to the Aqua Amazon and Briefing. Time to learn about tomorrow’s adventures and review your Wildlife Checklist with our naturalist guides followed by dinner at 8pm.
Tuesday: AMAZON BIRTHPLACE - VILLAGE VISIT - NAUTA CAÑO/IQUITOS
Breakfast then Birthplace of the Amazon. On this last morning of your Amazon adventure, the Aqua skirts the edges of Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. Here we witness one of the great phenomena of the Southern Hemisphere as the sun rises over the birthplace of the Amazon River.
Two major tributaries, the Ucayali and the Marañon, converge to ‘give birth’ to the world’s greatest waterway. Nature here appears especially dramatic: birdsong accompanies your morning excursion as you glide past river banks populated by large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, sandpipers, five kinds of parakeets, the exotic short-tailed parrot, and countless other colorful birds.
Village Visit. Meet the genuinely welcoming people of Amazonia at this riverside community. Your naturalist guide acts as interpreter so that you may talk with them about their life along the Amazon. Of course, no one has to interpret these kids’ bright smiles and wide-eyed curiosity about you. This visit also offers an excellent opportunity to buy easy to pack artisanal handicrafts, from painted coconut bowls to surprisingly chic seed bead jewelry.
On the way back to the Aqua Amazon, we navigate on a small connector canal between the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers, to admire the world’s largest aquatic plant, the giant water lilies, or Victoria Regias. Here you become one of a very small number of people who have ever seen these plants bloom.
Share a last lunch with your fellow passengers, before your onward journey.
Disembarkation/Manatee Rescue Center/Transfer to the Airport. En route to Iquitos airport, your naturalist guides bring you to visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have rescued. Learn about this highly successful project, supported by Aqua Expeditions since its inception, and efforts to help these endearing mammals. See how the manatees are cared for, and prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat.
Check-in at Iquitos International Airport at 4:30. Your guides will help you with check-in, and will stay with you until its time to board for your flight back to Lima.
Note: All itineraries are subject to change, due to weather and other conditions. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.