Expert Review: Experiencing the Mighty Amazon River on the Aria Amazon
| Expert Advice
Not too long ago, I was fortunate to go on a river cruise on the Peruvian section of the Amazon River with the luxurious Aria Amazon of Aqua Expeditions. As it has been described in many international travel magazines, the Aria Amazon is truly at the top of luxury cruises currently on offer in Peru. Below I share my personal experience cruising the might Amazon River aboard the 4-Day Aria Amazon cruise.
The Aria Amazon Riverboat
The Aria, though designed in a very nice boutique style, does not really have a cruise-like feeling to it, like some other Amazon cruise boats have. In your comfortable cabin, it really just feels like you are floating on the Amazon River in a room of a very luxurious hotel. For example, the Spanish shower in my bathroom was one of the most powerful I have experienced so far. All private and common areas of the Aria have floor to ceiling windows, keeping you in touch with the outside world, while you are slowly sailing the mystical Amazon River. And with its 45 meters in length and 16 design suites, it is just the right size. Also, the food on board is excellent, as its cuisine is created by the famous Peruvian chef, Pedro Schiaffino, owner of one of the best restaurants in Lima, Malabar.
The Aria features a cozy dining room and spacious common area that is used for presentations or lectures, just to sit back and relax with a book in one of the many comfortable chairs, or to enjoy a freshly made tropical juice or cocktail with your travel companions.
All staff on board, including the expert guides, are great and ready to help out at any moment. Also, there were a lot of small details, which I noticed were picked up very well by other customers as well, such as different animals folded from towels on your bed every day, or a slide show of pictures taken during the excursions by one of the guides, to a sunset skiff ride with champagne and dried jungle fruits.
The 4-Day Itinerary
The 4-day cruise I did, offered a good balance between leisure time and activities. All excursions take place in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest protected flooded forest areas in Peru. The 4-day itinerary takes you down the Ucayali River which, when coming together with the Maranon River, form the might Amazon River. Typically, there are two or three excursions planned each day. The Aria has four eight-person skiffs, each with its own expert guide. The skiffs are comfortable and provide clear views of the scenery for all on board.
The skiffs enable you to go on the smaller tributaries of the Amazon in order to have better chances of spotting wildlife. They also allow you to visit some local villages and even have a swim with the pink dolphins, if you are lucky!
The 4-day itinerary, when permitted by the level of the water, also includes a jungle walk. This enables you to experience the rainforest from a different perspective. While it is probably a bit more difficult to see animals, the guides will be able to tell you more about the different plants and trees, and maybe show you how people in the rainforest find food or water. It will also allow you to enjoy more up close the fabulous variety of indigenous flora and fauna.
The expert guides, who all grew up in the Amazon region, are truly amazing and will help you spot the wildlife. As, despite the abundance of animals, they are not always that easy to find for our laymen’s eyes. Try for instance to spot the animal in the below picture...
Now, imagine doing this while your passing a wall of green trees and bushes on a moving boat! The guides are also more than happy to answer any questions you may have about their personal lives growing up in the Amazon Rainforest.
Though without a doubt slightly different for each cruise, I was able to see plenty of different animals, such as blue and gold macaws, grey and pink dolphins, squirrel monkeys, three-toed slots, caimans, lizards, etc., Sometimes high up in a tree, sometimes really close by.
Cruising the Peruvian section of the Amazon River on board of the Aria Amazon was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The boat and the cabins are just amazing and everyone on board works hard to make sure you have the best time possible. In fact, next time I would probably opt for a longer itinerary, as there is so much to see and experience. Nonetheless, I was able to take this trip off my bucket list with a great feeling, having been able to experience rainforest wildlife, the hospitality of the Amazon people, swim with the pink dolphins and having seen the birth place of the mighty Amazon River, all in one-trip!