We highly recommend our seven-night Amazon River Expedition Cruise where you may experience our most luxurious and comprehensive Amazon journey among the Amazon River’s three powerful tributaries: the Marañón, the Ucayali, and the Puinahua as well as several hidden black water lakes.
Enjoy a tour by skiff of the Yacapana Isles, the “Isles of the Iguana”. Meet the gray and pink freshwater dolphins of the Yarapa River. Visit Madgalena Village and her giant water lilies and meet the Cocama Indians of Puerto Prado. Travel down the Ucayali River spotting monkeys and learn about the Amazon River headwaters. Probe deep within the Nauta Caño within Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, known as the mirrored forest, fish for piranha in Charo Lake and learn about sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia.
High Water Itinerary
December - May
Friday: 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 Aria Amazon, your home for the next three nights, awaits you.
Embarkation and Check-in. Welcome to the low key luxury of the Aria 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 Aria leaves Iquitos behind.
Over the next seven days, the Aria 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 at 8 PM. 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.
Saturday: AMAZON - YANAYACU - YACAPANA - YARAPA
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.
Yacapana Isles Exploration. 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.
Locals call the Yacapana Isles the “the Isle of the Iguana” thanks to the great number of these reptiles, resembling tiny dinosaurs, which inhabit them. Amazonian beliefs state that if you touch an iguana, you will develop some of its characteristics and, as no one wants to look like one of them, these animals are well protected. We pass very close the islands, giving you an opportunity to take photos of the vibrant flora and fauna. Go fishing here too for the Amazon’s infamous piranhas with our naturalists.
Return to the Aria Amazon where you are met with icy cold towels and fresh squeezed camu camu juice await 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.
Expedition to the Yarapa River. We continue exploring the waterways by skiff, to where 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.
Return to the Aria Amazon at 7:30 PM where you can enjoy a camu-camu sour on the Observation Deck as the sun sets followed by a delicous dinner in the Aria Amazon's elegant dining room.
Sunday: UCAYALI - YANALLPA - DORADO RIVERS - PACAYA-SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
Breakfast and Flooded Forests of Yanallpa Excursion. Explore the Yanallpa Stream looking for wildlife such as the bald uakari monkey, squirrel monkeys, saddleback tamarin monkeys, sloths and other species. Walk among the rainforest trees that grow in these seasonally-flooded areas as our guides explain how this vegetation withstands the high water during these months.
Return to the Aria Amazon and Lunch, followed by a siesta.
Ucayali River Excursion to Watch Monkeys and Dolphins. On this late afternoon trip, we head off in search of freshwater Amazon dolphins, including the rare pink dolphins. Bring your binoculars to observe the many species of birds crisscrossing the Ucayali, among them the macaws stand out for their dramatic coloring. As the sun sets, watch for nocturnal wildlife on the Dorado River, especially the caimans that our guides have a native’s instinct for spotting. Often they are able to reach out into the black water to pick up one of these prehistoric reptiles for once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities.
Return to the Aria Amazon at 7:30 PM followed by dinner.
Monday: AMAZON BIRTHPLACE - VILLAGE VISIT - NAUTA CAÑO - IQUITOS
Breakfast and Birthplace of the Amazon. The Aria Amazon 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 of the Amazon, 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 this riverside community and with your naturalist guide as interpreter, 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 Aria 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.
Lunch at 11:40 AM. Share a last meal with fellow passengers who have taken the three-night journey.
Afternoon Excursion to Nauta Caño. We venture to Nauta Caño within Pacaya-Samiria Reserve which is known as the mirrored forest, which makes perfect sense as you gaze upon its glistening black water lagoons. Our naturalist guides use their eagle eyes to help you spot toucans, parrots and macaws overhead and iguanas. sloths and monkeys among the soaring trees. On the way back to the Aria Amazon, the glorious sunset is reflected in these glistening waters.
Return to the Aria Amazon at 6PM followed by dinner. Meet new passengers who come aboard for their four-night trip, as we start our journey along the Ucayali River.
Tuesday: MARAÑON RIVER - CHOROYACU - SAN PEDRO DE TIPISHCA - PACAYA-SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
Breakfast and Nature Expedition. 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 Aria Amazon and lunch.
Jungle Walk and 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 Aria Amazon at 7:30 followed by dinner.
Wednesday: TACSHA RIVER - PACAYA-SAMIRIA - SAN MARTIN DE TIPISHCA
Breakfast and Jungle Walk. Our naturalist guide leads your jungle walk while introducing you to some of the sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia. Visit one, where villagers plant palms to obtain oil. Go deeper still into the jungle, where you encounter more wildlife and learn about the Amazon’s natural pharmacy of medical plants. Wander under a canopy of kapok trees (ceiba pentandra), the tallest trees in the Amazon Basin.
Return to the Aria Amazon at noon followed by lunch and a siesta.
Monkey and Dolphin Expedition. On this late afternoon expedition, you are very likely 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.
As the sun sets and our searchlight comes on, keep your eyes out for caimans, tree boas, tarantulas, and frogs.
Return to the Aria Amazon and another delicious dinner in our elegant Aria dining room.
Thursday: YANAYAQUILLO - TAHUAYO - CHARO LAKE
Yanayaquillo 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 Aria Amazon at 11AM and begin sailing down river, toward Iquitos.
Lunch and Charo 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 Aria Amazon. Once we are back on board, the ship continues downstream, sailing toward Iquitos through the night.
Briefing in the Indoor Lounge and recap of your itinerary and wildlife sightings at 7 PM.
Dinner and 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.
Friday: CHECK OUT - DISEMBARK AT IQUITOS - CITY TOUR - TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT
Breakfast and Morning Excursion (dependent on the level of the river). 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 Aria at 11 AM followed by an early lunch. 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 PM. 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.