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Travel bucket list idea:

Cruise the River Amazon

  • Iquitos, Loreto Region, Peru

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

Travel deep into the humid rainforest on a small expedition boat to explore the headwaters of the Peruvian Amazon, one of the most inaccessible areas on the planet.

Most expeditions start in Iquitos and take you to the wildlife-rich Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, sailing along broad, muddy rivers, the bottle-green forest stretching in every direction, scarlet macaws flying overhead and occasionally, pink river dolphins swimming alongside the ship.

Expert guides lead forays ashore in search of three-toed sloths, howler and capuchin monkeys, while flat-bottomed skiffs take you along the skinny, snaking waterways of this flooded landscape to look for caiman, turtles and piranhas.

There are frequent encounters with indigenous tribes, offering a fascinating cultural insight. Kayaking, piranha fishing and swimming in freshwater river pools are all on offer.

An intrepid spirit is essential for these adventurous expeditions, which tend to attract a well-travelled crowd.

Logistics

Price from: £Varies
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 4 days +

Getting there & doing it

Most cruises start with a road transfer from Iquitos, a couple of hours’ flight from Lima. The itinerary and activities available vary between low water and high water seasons but you’ll always see wildlife, meet local villagers, spot river dolphins and explore the river’s tributaries.

You can book cruise-only and make your own way to Iquitos, which may suit anyone planning independent travel around Peru alongside the cruise.

Alternatively, expedition companies often package up Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu for clients who want the convenience of seamless travel.

Aqua Expeditions operate two small, very high-end riverboats purpose-built for the Amazon, with expert guides and gourmet Peruvian food a feature.

When to do it

Low water season, from June to November, means fewer mosquitoes and more chances for jungle trekking.

In high water season, December to May, the landscape floods, so you’ll explore more by skiff. Humidity is a constant 80 percent year-round.

Who to go with: organised tours

2

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

4 Day Amazon River Luxury Cruise from Iquitos on the 'Delfin II'

  • Iquitos

4 Day Amazon River Luxury Cruise from Iquitos on the 'Delfin II'

Viator

Embark on the journey of a lifetime and cruise deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon aboard the luxurious Delfin II. Your four-day all-inclusive Amazon River cruise is packed with comfort, relaxation and adventure. Book now for this unique opportunity to see the best of this amazing region, including wildlife encounters and a visit to the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, a 5 -million-acre (2-million-hectare) piece of rainforest just waiting to be discovered.

Price $3,833

Min age 0

Rating 4.7 / 5 [10 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
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4 Day Amazon River Luxury Cruise from Iquitos on the 'Aria'

  • Iquitos

4 Day Amazon River Luxury Cruise from Iquitos on the 'Aria'

Viator

Explore the Amazon on this once-in-a-lifetime, four-day luxury river cruise. Your all-inclusive Amazon cruise is filled with fun, adventure and relaxation. See native wildlife and explore local villages while gliding through the world-famous Amazon Rainforest. Book this unique experience now!

Price $4,490

Min age 7

Rating 5 / 5 [10 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Who to go with: tour operators

1

Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Aqua Expeditions [Amazon]

  • Amazon, Peru

Aqua Expeditions [Amazon]

Specialists in offering intimate, small ship expeditions to distant parts of the world, featuring the highest standards of dining and accommodation. They operate two small, very high-end riverboats purpose-built for the Amazon, with expert guides and gourmet Peruvian food a feature. Min age 5.

Destination guides

2

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Peru

  • Peru

Peru

Destination guide

A land of spectacular deserts, high mountains and rainforests that teem with wildlife, Peru is also home to an array of dramatically situated pre-Colombian ruins, including Machu Picchu.

The Amazon

  • Amazon, Peru

Three tiny amazon milk frog on branch, Panda Bear Tree Frog

Destination guide

Earth’s largest and most spectacular tropical wilderness is a landscape of huge waterfalls tumbling off table-top mountains, vast, coloured rivers, and fragrant cloud forests. All filled with astonishing, endemic wildlife.

Round-ups

2

Round-ups that include this experience