Beginning in the bustling jungle city of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, this 8-day luxury cruise experience aboard the classy Aria Amazon offers the ultimate in relaxation and exploration in the depths of the stunning scenery of the rainforest.
With the help of expert guides, spot unusual and exotic wildlife, meet and interact with indigenous tribes, and immerse yourself into the exciting world of Amazonia. A truly indulgent yet thoroughly rewarding cruise for those wanting luxurious adventure.
This itinerary runs from Friday-Friday but a Monday-Monday itinerary is possible, although it would involve a long layover on the Friday with no activities in the afternoon. Please note that the itinerary is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.
DAY 1: FRIDAY
Iquitos Airport - Amazon River
After a two hour afternoon flight from Lima to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon region, you arrive at Iquitos Airport. Your guides will welcome you and whisk you to the air-conditioned bus for your journey to the Amazon River. Depending on the season, you will either be transported to the nearby port in Iquitos (High Water, Dec - May) or the port of Nauta (Low Water, Jun - Nov) which will involve a 1.5 hr journey.
If you depart from Nauta, lunch will be served at the Aria's very own private Nauta Lounge port, or if departing from Iquitos, lunch will be served at a local restaurant. If your flight times mean a late arrival, you will be served a box lunch en route.
At 6:00 p.m. we board the vessel. From the moment you step aboard, the Aria Amazon’s atmosphere of low-key luxury is apparent. While settling into the handsomely-appointed, spacious suite, the vessel begins to move: it is the start of one of life's great adventures, to a place visited by only a few of even the most experienced travelers.
Stand on the Upper Deck to take in the view, as the Aria Amazon leaves Iquitos behind. Over the next three days, we sail the largest tributaries of the Amazon, as well as the mighty Amazon itself.
Before dinner, we perform a routine safety drill. Then repair to the air-conditioned lounge, to learn about life onboard, and for the first of the nightly briefings about your adventure to follow. The naturalist guides and cruise director introduce themselves and use video, photos, and maps to explain the details of your upcoming adventure.
This is the first chance to enjoy the boat's world-class cuisine, created by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant, Malabar, is one of the best in all of Lima. Schiaffino’s recipes, with their imaginative use of local products – fruit, fish, spices – make every meal a delightful adventure. (The menu always offers choices, including a vegetarian option.) Toast the beginning of your journey, with a glass of South American wine, perhaps.
After dinner, there is a chance to enjoy a nightcap on the Upper Deck, under the stars, before retiring.
DAY 2: SATURDAY
Amazon River/Yacapana Islands/Nauta Caño or Yanayacu Pucate River/Marañon River
Be up early to catch your first glimpse of the majestic Amazon River, as you watch the sun rise over this green world filled with wonderful wildlife. This initial contact with Amazonia is only a brief sampling of what the rest of your journey will hold.
In High Water season (Dec - May) aboard our comfortable skiffs, we set sail from the Amazon River to the Yarapa River. Keep your binoculars ready to spot tropical songbirds, black collared hawks and sloths. We’ll go fishing for Amazonia’s notoriously ferocious piranhas while our naturalist guides share stories of Lake Moringo. As the sun sets, we head off on an evening’s wildlife excursion with extraordinary stargazing on the black waters of Nauta Caño.
In Low Water season (Jun - Nov) we commence today’s adventures near the main entrance of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, cruising along Yanayacu Pucate in the comfort of our state-of-the-art skiffs. Kayak, canoe and swim in these unspoiled black waters, keeping eyes peeled for the Amazon’s legendary pink dolphins. In the afternoon, we will visit a remote village along the Marañon River to learn about traditional customs.
DAY 3: SUNDAY
Marañon Creek/Suspended Bridges/Yanayacu-Pucate or Samira River/Nauta Caño or Amazonian Natural Park
In High Water season, rise with the sun to explore a ‘lost river’ along the Marañon River. After breakfast, we will take a jungle walk, crossing suspended bridges and bushwhacking into the high ground forest. Later, swim, canoe or kayak in Yanayacu-Pucate River as we look for legendary pink river dolphins. Focus our hi- tech telescope on the night sky to identify the planets and constellations.
In Low Water season, we set off by skiffs for an excursion along the Samiria River with optional fishing. Listen carefully to our after lunch flora and fauna lecture, then venture out for a singularly thrilling jungle walk across suspended bridges deep into the high Amazon rainforest. On our return in the evening, enjoy the jungle symphony and extraordinary stargazing on local catamaran-like vessels along the "Enchanted Lake".
Day 4: MONDAY
Birthplace of the Amazon - Village Visit - Nauta Town
This morning, the Aria Amazon skirts the edge of the vast Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. We board the skiffs to view one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere: the sun rising over the birthplace of the Amazon River. Here two major tributaries, the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers merge to form the world’s greatest waterway, with nature is at its most dramatic: abundant birdsong coming from river banks populated by large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, sandpipers, five kinds of parakeets, the exotic short-tailed parrot, and dozens of other birds.
We continue to a local Indian village where you can interact with the hospitable native Indians. They are happy to share their culture, traditions, folklore and handicrafts. We may have the opportunity to learn about medicinal plants from a Shaman or local medicine teacher, whose knowledge of spiritual healing has been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial. Alternatively you may walk around with our naturalist guides to see how the boat's owners works with these communities to improve their natural resource management. You will also have the opportunity to shop for handicrafts directly from the artisans.
In the afternoon, we stop in Nauta where villagers from around Amazonia come to sell their harvest. Tonight you will meet the new passengers who have signed on for the four-night trip, as we start our journey together along the Marañon River.
DAY 5: TUESDAY
Yanallpa River/Dorado River or Ucayali River/Pacaya River
In High Water season (Dec - May) today we explore the black waters of the Yanallpa River by skiff, disembarking to walk deep into the Amazonian rain forest. Later, we board the skiffs again to cruise along the El Dorado River for a dusk excursion in search of exotic nocturnal wildlife.
In Low Water season (Jun - Nov) we board our skiffs and start the day like Amazon River dwellers, cruising along the Ucayali River. As these farmers and fishermen go about their business, we search for pink river dolphins in these pristine waters. Later in the day, we return to the skiffs, to ride along the black waters of the Pacaya River at dusk, searching for the mysterious wildlife that come out after dark.
DAY 6: WEDNESDAY
Pacaya River/Ucayali River/Tapiche River
The rewards of our early start today are plentiful, including a breakfast picnic accompanied by jungle symphony and fishing along the black waters of the Pacaya River. After lunch, we venture out by skiffs on the Ucayali River alongside the banana boats transporting their jungle products to the port of Requena, keeping an eye out for pink river dolphins.
DAY 7: THURSDAY
Clavero or Yarapa River/Village Visit or San Jose Flooded Forest
Choose to go jungle walking, canoeing, kayaking or swimming on the black water Yarapa or Clavero River in the morning.
In the afternoon in High Water season (Dec - May) we visit a remote Amazonia village, and in Low Water season (Jun - Nov) take a short jungle walk instead in the San Jose flooded forest to see the unforgettable giant water lilies.
This evening before dinner, we will gather to introduce you to some of the crew members whom you may not have met, working "behind the scenes" to ensure your countless exceptional experiences aboard the Aria Amazon.
DAY 8: FRIDAY
Iquitos or Nauta Disembarkation - Manatee Rescue Center - Airport
In the high water season (Dec-May), depending on the weather, we will tour the flood zone that borders the city of Iquitos and observe the houses and shops that actually float on the Itaya River for several months of the year. Then we will visit the traditional market of Bellavista Nanay, bordering the Nanay River, to see products from the Peruvian Amazon including exotic snacks like the Amazon Caterpillar. Called "Suri," these caterpillars live in the palm trees and are considered a very appetizing snack for Amazonia people, even in the city.
In the low water season (Jun-Nov) we will visit the local fresh market of Nauta Town with your guides who can identify the day’s catch by the fishermen of Amazonia and the region’s exotic fruits.
En route to Iquitos Airport we will visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from local people and fishermen. Biologists will give a presentation about the project and its efforts to help these helpless mammals. You will also see how the manatees are cared for and are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat.
Lunch or box lunch is included, depending on the exact departure flight time, which can vary. If there is time, we may also visit the San Juan craft market, and other local activities may be included according to the flight schedule.
Later, you will be transported to Iquitos Airport, where your guides will help you with check-in and stay with you until you have boarded your flight back to Lima.
- Please note that all cruise itineraries are subject to change due to seasonal weather conditions (and resultant variations in river and tributary water levels) affecting accessibility to locations. Thus navigation routes, times and excursions may need to be modified at the cruise captain’s discretion.
- Passengers should also be aware that animal sightings cannot be guaranteed due to the unpredictability of wildlife behavior.