Aqua Expedition’s 4 night Amazon River luxury cruise begins in the remote colonial city of Iquitos, Peru and transport guests in exceptional comfort deep into the Amazon rainforest, along the Ucayali River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, as well as the four other rivers, each one rich in vibrant wildlife with thriving rainforests. Go piranha fishing, trek into the dense jungle in search of Amazon monkeys, three-toed sloths, crown headed hoatzin birds, toucans, macaws and giant water lilies.
Come back to the comfort of our skiffs to cruise up close to view Taricaya turtles and spectacled caimans in their natural habitat while pink dolphins, at play, challenge your photography skills. As the Aqua Amazon journeys towards the confluence 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 Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
High Water Itinerary
December - May
Explore the Ucayali, Yanallpa, Dorado, Puinahua, Pacaya Rivers and rainforests. Go piranha fishing, trek into the dense jungle in search of Amazon wildlife and birds on night safaris and guided trips through Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, visit local villages and learn about wildlife preservation efforts in Peru's Amazonia.
Tuesday: ARRIVAL - NAUTA - EMBARKATION - MARAÑON RIVER
Arrival from Lima, a 1 hour 25 minute journey to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Your Aqua Expedition's 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 ride to the river.
Transfer to Nauta Wharf. Enjoy a scenic one-and-a-half hour drive through the Peruvian countryside to the small village of Nauta. You will be traveling on the only road out of town to the end of the line, as it only goes as far as Nauta. The Aqua Amazon, your home for the next four 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 four 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 and your dinner companions with our sommelier-selected fine South American wines, the perfect accompaniment to 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.
Wednesday: UCAYALI - YANALLPA - DORADO RIVERS - PACAYA-SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
Breakfast. 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.
Yanallpa River Expedition. 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.
Within the vast Amazon flooded forest, cruise along an amazing black water stream, as your guides tell you about the rainforest. We explore what scientists call a “gallery forest,” because of its narrow vegetation that creates a tunnel of leaves. As we float through this tunnel, our naturalist guides help you to spot parrots, macaws, and fluffy monk saki monkeys in the trees along the riverbanks.
Return to the Aqua Amazon at 11:00 followed by lunch, Peruvian-inspired midday fare in our air-conditioned dining room.
At 3pm, enjoy a lecture about the Taricayas 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.
Dorado River Exploration and Night Excursion. Take a magical journey aboard the skiffs through the “Mirrored Forest” to see towering trees reflected in the black water river, while on the lookout for enchanting parrots, blue-yellow macaws, as well as the great variety of primates and sloths unperturbed by our presence. As we make our way back to the Aqua, our guides point out caimans and frogs in the water, and fishing bats overhead.
Return to the Aqua Amazon and Dinner at 8pm.
Thursday: PUINAHUA RIVER - HATUM POSA LAKE - PACAYA RIVER
Hatum Posa Lake Expedition. Rise early to cruise this magnificent ox-bow lake. We follow its shoreline, sure to surprise the many species of monkeys and birds, including terns, neo-tropic cormorants, egrets, herons, hawks, and our favorite horned screamers. From here we continue by skiff into other black water lakes linked to this huge lake in the flooded forest.
Return to the Aqua Amazon for breakfast followed by a Jungle Walk Near Hatum Posa or a Village Visit. Walk into the jungle to meet native Amazonia people. With our guides as your interpreters, ask about subsistence farming in Amazonia and they will tell you how to cultivate these wild plants and trees. Here, deep in the primary rainforest, your guides identify for you the fruit trees and medicinal plants that comprise Amazonia’s natural pharmacy.
Return to the Aqua Amazon for lunch.
In the afternoon, enjoy a lecture about the fish of the Amazon River 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.
Pacaya River Exploration, Night Trip from Ranger Station No. 1 to Yanayacu Lake. In the late afternoon, our skiffs skim the Pacaya River, journeying from Ranger Station No. 1 toward Yanayacu Lake, where an abundance of wildlife hides in the deep rainforest. This time of day gives you the best chance to see the most activity among rainforest animals, including fluffy monk saki monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and the howler monkeys. As the sun sets, listen for the loud, ferocious-sounding warning signals made by howler monkeys, marking their territories.
When night falls, you listen for the second movement of the Amazon rainforest symphony, as nocturnal animals send their piercing calls across the tree canopy. As we take the skiffs back to the Aqua Amazon, special spotlight torches help our naturalist guides to locate caimans, owls and capybara.
Return to the Aqua Amazon and a sumptuous dinner from our Executive Chef.
Friday: PUINAHUA - PACAYA RIVERS AND CAROCURAHUAYTE LAKE
Pacaya Exploration and Breakfast Aboard the Skiffs. We take to the river as the sun rises to see and hear a treasure trove of wildlife, including parrots, macaws, toucans, and many kinds of monkeys—as well as some “surprise” species that you may never have seen before. We pack a luxurious “bag breakfast” for you, of homemade baked goods, light sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices and hot Peruvian coffee. This is also a popular dolphin feeding spot, so we won’t be the only ones enjoying our happy meal here.
Return to the Aqua Amazon and at this turning point, the Aqua Amazon begins sailing down river, toward Iquitos.
Lunch followed by a lecture about endangered Amazon wildlife in the air-conditioned lounge. One of our naturalist guides will introduce the major threats to this magnificent but precarious eco-system we are exploring and describe some successful initiatives supported by Aqua Expeditions including camu camu tree planting and wildlife education for local youth.
Carocurahuayte Lake/Fishing Trip. Travel by skiff to this splendid “hot spot” lake, where catching some of the more than 3,000 species of tropical fish that live in the Amazon Basin is assured. Guides know all the best tricks to lure piranhas, those small, mostly carnivorous fish with a big reputation for their vicious bite.
Return to the Aqua Amazon. Once we are back on board, the ship continues downstream, sailing toward Iquitos through the night.
Evening briefing in the Indoor Lounge. A Recap of Your Itinerary and Sightings including review of your Wildlife Checklist with our naturalist guides followed by dinner.
Crew Presentation. After dinner, your naturalist guides introduce the very important crew members whom you may not have met, as they have been busy “behind the scenes” to create your seamless Aqua Expeditions experience.
Saturday: CHECK OUT - DISEMBARK AT IQUITOS - CITY TOUR - TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT
Breakfast followed by a morning excursion. Dependent on the level of the river and weather and time permitting, we set off on this last opportunity to see how people live along the Amazon by visiting the lively riverside community of Belen, in Iquitos, by skiff. Here, where the houses and shops actually float on the river during some months, visit the bustling food market that supports the entire Peruvian Amazon, where all the inhabitants of Amazonia sell and purchase their goods.
Return to the Aqua Amazon for an early lunch at 11:40. Share a last lunch with 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.