The Ayapua (pronounced Ah-ya-Pooah) is perhaps the best way to get a glimpse into what life was like on a historical Amazon riverboat. It is one of the few remaining “Rubber Era” Amazon riverboats still intact, and is arguably the most elegant having been tastefully restored to her prior glory.
The Ayapua Cruiseship is a restored rubber-boom vessel, named after the Lago Ayapuá (Lake Ayapua) in the Brazilian Amazon. Ayapua boasts a long, proud history of Amazon River navigation. She was constructed in 1906 by a German company called R. Holtz, located in the port city of Hamburg. Tied to the side of a larger, ocean-going steamship, she was towed from Germany to South America, where she would begin a long and glorious career as both a cargo ship and passenger liner.
During her tenure as an Amazon Riverboat liner, she operated trade routes along the Purus, Japua, Jura, Putomayo and Yavari Rivers in Brazil and Peru.
One hundred years later, Ayapua was nearly lost when it fell into disrepair and was abandoned along a lonely stretch of Amazon River in the early 2000s. Fortunately, she was rescued and painstakingly restored to her current splendor. Unfortunately, the vessel is no longer operational, but the Ayapua has been made into a museum, located near the Casa Morey Hotel in Iquitos.
A visit to the Ayapua boat museum, one of Iquitos’ top attractions, allows travelers to relive the Victorian elegance of Amazon River navigation, exploring the decks of a remarkable boat that helped to generate the wealth, history and personality of this incredible region.
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