Aqua Expeditions naturalists meet all guests at Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport (IQT) in the remote Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru. During high water season, from December to May, guests board the Aqua and the Aria in Iquitos, while from June to November, our guides will begin acquaint passengers with highlights of our luxury Amazon cruise itineraries on the scenic one-and-a-half hour drive through the Peruvian countryside to the village of Nauta for boarding.
Guests return to Iquitos at the end of Aqua Expeditions 4 and 7 night itineraries while our 3-night passengers disembark in Nauta then continue by road to Iquitos. The largest city in the Peruvian Amazon and the fifth largest city in Peru,
Iquitos is furthest inland port city in the world, some 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) upriver from the Atlantic Ocean and accessible only by river or air. This isolated town that was once a rich center of the rubber industry still retains the historic charms of 18th-century Moorish Spanish churches, rubber baron mansions now mostly abandoned and the so-called Iron Building designed by Gustave Eiffel, intended for the capital of Bolivia in the late 19th century but abandoned here en route up the Amazon.
At the end of every journey aboard the Aqua Amazon and the Aria Amazon, before we head for the airport, we visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees rescued from local people who mistakenly think this will be like taking care of a pet fish or puppy that can swim. Aqua Expeditions has been working with the Manatee Rescue Center from its inception six years ago. Thanks to our guests, we support all the educational programs of the Manatee Rescue Center, with a focus on raising awareness in local schools.
The biologists give Aqua Expedition guests a presentation in English about this pioneering project that operates in conjunction with experts at the Dallas World Aquarium, and share how their efforts are helping these endangered mammals. The brief presentation explains into how the manatees are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. The highlight is always the chance to feed and interact with these endearing creatures.
Time permitting, we also stop at the San Juan Amazonian Indian Market, for a last chance to shop for made-in-the-rain forest crafts and souvenirs.