The Best Amazon River Cruises: A Complete Guide
There is no better way to experience the Amazon river than by lodging directly upon its waters. Embark on a journey through the biodiverse Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, launching from Iquitos via the comfortable and Amazon river luxury cruises that we offer by Aqua Expeditions and Jungle Expeditions.
Start the booking process for this memorable and exotic experience by filling out this quick Traveler Form to get connected with one of our Travel Advisors today!
Table of Contents
When to Go
The good news is the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest is a year-round destination, with different departure dates for each cruise trip. Travelers only need to take the wet and the dry season into consideration when traveling to the Amazon. There is a 23 ft difference in water level between these two seasons, so river cruise itineraries will slightly vary and different animals can be spotted in each season. Humidity stays steady at around 80% throughout the year and temperatures range from 71F to 89F.
- High water season, December to May: During the high water season it rains around 20-25% more than during the low water season. Amazon rivers are higher, making them better accessible for boats and the Amazon rainforest is even more lush than usual. With the beginning of the rainfall, mating season also starts for many animals.
- Low water season, June to November: During the low water season travelers can expect fewer rain showers, however as the name Amazon Rainforest suggests, rain is always a probability. Usually it rains for 1-2 hours per day during this season resulting in the rivers carrying less water, exposing hiking trails that are normally flooded during the high water season. Animals come out to the riverbanks looking for food and water, making some easier to spot during this season.
How to Get There
Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is not reachable by car, making it only accessible by boat or plane. For most travelers, in order to embark on the multi-day journey aboard a Peruvian Amazon river cruise travelers need to come to Iquitos by plane via Peru’s capital, Lima. LATAM, the biggest airline in the region, offers daily flights and in just under 2 hours travelers comfortably arrive in the north of Peru. Depending on the cruise ship and itinerary, you will embark from either the port in Iquitos or in Nauta, a two-hour drive from Iquitos.
The Different Cruises Offered
The cruises offered within our packages are the best selection in Peru. We have hand-picked each of these cruises based on their incredible service, features, and comfort, so that you can focus on enjoying the perfect journey. The listed river cruises are all unique in their own way targeting all kinds of travelers. Consult with our Travel Advisors for more information regarding cabins and suites.
Aqua Expeditions offers two different river cruises:
About Aqua Nera by Aqua Expeditions
This particular cruise ship was designed by award-winning architects, Noor Design. The ship itself offers 20 spacious suites across two decks that are all equipped with air conditioning and windows from floor to ceiling, allowing all travelers to enjoy the stunning views throughout the whole trip. Eight out of the 20 rooms are able to be combined into four interconnecting suites, making this cruise ship the perfect option for families. With a capacity of 40 guests aboard, travelers will have the opportunity to meet others in the elegant social spaces.
The top deck of this floating hotel invites guests for a drink at their open-air bar, to socialize at the game room, or for some relaxation at the sun-deck and outdoor pool to unwind. Go down one floor for the boutique where you can buy specialty products or browse around the gallery with art from the Amazon. On the first floor, you will find the spa for some relaxation after a long day of exploring.
One thing that really separates this cruise ship from the rest would be the gourmet meals that are served every day from one of Peru’s finest chefs, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Chef Schiaffino is known for being one of the first chefs to put Peruvian cuisine on the global map as he was able to bring together regional flavors creating an authentic culinary experience. The restaurant is also equipped to accommodate special diets when notified in advance.
About Aria Amazon by Aqua Expeditions
The Aria Amazon cruise ship was custom-built specifically for the Amazon River as it is considered environmentally friendly due to its minimal impact on the river itself and the rainforest environment. This ship is equipped with 16 luxurious suites all with 180-degree panoramic windows so guests are able to embrace the beautiful views that Amazon has to offer day and night. All of the spacious rooms also include air conditioning to give travelers another level of comfort.
In the second-floor dining room, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino oversees the onboard menu and dining experience. Chef Schiaffino reflects the Amazon rainforest into each dish as fresh local ingredients are combined with Peruvian culinary traditions merging into a flavorful contemporary Amazonian cuisine. The crew is also able to accommodate all special diets when notified in advance.
After a day of exploration, the top deck offers a lounge and a bar to wind-down. It is the perfect spot to listen to the curious Amazon sounds and to spot some animals in the Amazon river banks nearby. For some extra relaxation, travelers can reserve a massage in the massage room and for active guests, there is an exercise room available.
** Please keep in mind that the Aria Amazon Cruise is currently only available for groups and charters**
Jungle Experiences offers two different river cruises:
About Zafiro by Jungle Experiences
Create unforgettable memories aboard the Zafiro cruise ship while exploring the Amazon river. This luxury river cruise ship can accommodate up to 40 passengers, making it an intimate travel experience. Passengers can choose between different types of suites that are all equipped with air conditioning and panoramic floor to ceiling windows. The suite that absolutely steals the show from all suites offerend not only on Zafiro, but all river cruises is the Zafiro Suite. The spacious Zafiro Suite has a large 180 degree panoramic floor to ceiling window giving a one of a kind perspective, it is also equipped with a private balcony and a jacuzzi-style bathtub.
Enjoy exquisite Amazon cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the second floor dining room. Gastronomy is an essential part when visiting Peru, and the kitchen staff is sure to showcase the biodiverse ingredients that the Amazon has to offer when creating dishes. All meals are made with native ingredients, giving travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves into the Amazon culture with authentic food. Their a la carte menu and buffet is also able to accommodate for special diets when notified before the cruise’s departure.
The top deck on the Zafiro Cruise features a cozy bar for some post excursion relaxation and an indoor lounge where onboard activities take place. To wind down, travelers can spend time at the open-air sundeck at the jacuzzi or book a spa treatment. For sport lovers the Zafiro is equipped with a gym on the top deck with panoramic views of the Amazon rainforest.
About La Perla by Jungle Experiences
Embark on an immersive experience aboard the La Perla river cruise. Travelers’ senses are awakened by the fresh Amazon air, beautiful sounds, and astounding greenery. All passengers are first transported to the ship via small skiff boats and then are welcomed with traditional music. With a limited number of cabins that are all air-conditioned and a capacity size of 30 passengers, the La Perla cruise is the perfect choice for travelers looking for an intimate and personalized experience.
The lower deck dining room and kitchen takes travelers on a culinary adventure with native flavors and contemporary specialities. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served buffet style and can accommodate for any special diets when notified in advance. The observation deck invites guests to relax on the ship’s hammocks or outdoor lounge after a long day of exploring. No matter where, this Amazon cruise gives travelers the opportunity to unwind and breathe any type of stress away.
The La Perla cruise ship offers extraordinary elegance and comfort for a memorable Amazon rainforest experience.
Itineraries and departure dates for each river cruise will differ on the length and season. Adaptations in itineraries may also occur to the daily weather, but not to worry as there are activities for all types of weather situations. Aboard all cruises include several highly educated naturalists guides who take small groups on to water skiffs for the daily activities. Not only do all staff members and guides aboard want to create a unique experience for their guests, but are also committed to bettering the lives of the people who live in the regions. Here are some activity possibilities:
On the water: Guests have the chance to see Amazon river dolphins and river elephants – the manatees – roam freely in the Amazon river. Piranhas and Paiches are swimming alongside them and during the dry season it is very likely to be able to see caimans and anacondas in the river banks. Kayaking, fishing and swimming in the Amazon river are all activity options.
On the land: Visitors have the opportunity to see Amazon animals, like sloths and all kinds of monkeys high up in the tree crowns. When taking a closer look Rainbow boas are often wrapped around a tree’s stem and the little stick insects are hiding between the leaves. Above in the air colorful birds such as the Jabiru and Macaw parrots can be admired. A Canopy walk allows travelers to get a special view from above at 85 feet, and visits to native villages give guests the chance to watch performances of sacred ceremonies and also learn about the local traditions.
What to Pack
The weather in the Amazon Rainforest is always hot, humid and wet, therefore to enjoy the Amazon experience to the fullest it is important to bring the right clothing. Here’s what we recommend to pack:
- Clothing. It is recommendable to bring clothing that is light, airy and made out of quick drying material. The clothes should be in light color.
- Long sleeved pants and shirts are best for land-excursions to be protected from the sun and mosquitos.
- On the boat shirts and shorts are fine.
- Bathing suit for swimming.
- Pro tip: Avoid black and yellow as mosquitos and other insects are attracted by them.
- Comfortable walking or hiking shoes for excursions and sandals or tennis shoes for the time on the boat.
- Pro tip: Pack high socks, to protect your ankles from mosquito bites. They should be compatible with hiking and rain boots.
- Insect repellent. You will want to carry it around with you at all times for extra protection against mosquitos.
- Sun protection.
- Rain protection.
- Light rain jacket and/or poncho.
- Rain Boots
- Personal items.
- Water-resistant day pack
- Reusable water bottle
Plan your River Cruise trip
Dive deep into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Iquitos to discover the incredible, mostly untouched, biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon Basin while enjoying one of the many luxurious Amazon cruises that we offer. If you are ready to embark on an adventure in the Amazon Rainforest contact our team of experts for a unique and personalized itinerary. Let us take the stress away that comes with planning a trip and receive benefits like personalized service, 24/7 in trip assistance, and expert tour guides when you book with us!
Pro tip: Amazon river cruises are in high demand and tend to sell out far in advance. Talk to a Travel Advisor to secure your spot on your desired dates for your cruise.