Zafiro: 8-Day Cruise

8-Day Pacaya Samiria Cruise

This 7-night riverboat cruise gives lucky passengers a comprehensive Amazon experience and a true taste of what life in the rainforest is like.

Explore the Amazon, Marañón and Ucayali Rivers and discover the natural beauty of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve on this epic river adventure.


Please remember the itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.

Zafiro Cruise At Night

Iquitos - Embarkation - Amazon River

Our crew will be expecting your arrival at the airport to transfer you the short distance to the awaiting Zafiro riverboat in Iquitos. Aboard the Zafiro, you will be served by our qualified staff who will introduce you to your stylish suite.

While the Zafiro begins its initial navigation, you will enjoy the most fantastic panoramic views from the elegantly outfitted observation area located on our third deck. Our bartender will be waiting to serve you with an exotic cocktail made with regional fruits and pisco, the beloved national brandy liquor of Peru. Our vessels have an open policy, so you are welcome to learn about the navigation systems and spend time with the driving captain at any time.

Before dinner, participate in our routine safety drill and then head into the air-conditioned Indoor Lounge to meet the cruise director for your first briefing from our naturalist guides about the adventures ahead.

Welcome Dinner at 8:00 pm and your first chance to savor the Amazonia-influenced cuisine on board the Zafiro. After the welcome dinner we invite you to the Observation Deck where you can starwatch or relax with live music as performed by our band

Zafiro Side View

Amazon River - Amazon Birth Place - Piranha Creek - Nauta Creek - Maranon River

Board our comfortable excursion skiffs for your first adventure. Early birdwatching on the Amazon River (Low Water Season, Jun-Oct) or in the Yanayacu of Yucapana reserve (High Water Season, Nov-May). The reserve has about 17 black waters lakes, bountiful in wildlife and home of Ayacucho and San Juan native communities. Wherever we are, this morning we will observe monkeys, parrots, macaws and learn more about nature.

Breakfast. Our lavish daily buffet breakfast offers a wide selection of traditional dishes, Peruvian specialties, homemade baked goods and fresh-squeezed juices.

Amazon birth place expedition. After breakfast, the Zafiro skirts the edges of Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. Board our comfortable excursion skiffs for your expedition on the confluence where the Maranon and Ucayali Rivers join together forming the mighty Amazon River.

Nature here appears especially dramatic: birdsong accompanies your morning excursion as you glide past river banks inhabited by large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, and sandpipers, five kinds of parakeets, the exotic short-tailed parrot, and countless other colorful birds. We will explore the first river into the Pacaya and Samiria National Reserve named Piranha Creek, in searching of wildlife; this area is known as the parrot-parakeet paradise.

Return to the Zafiro at 11:30 followed by lunch, Peruvian inspired fare in our air-conditioning dining room, while we start to sail up the Maranon River.

Amazonian Philosophy Lecture. One of our naturalist guides will introduce you about the idiosyncrasy, beliefs and deep thoughts of the Amazonian people, such as the spirituality that is everywhere.

Late Afternoon excursions to Nauta Creek within Pacaya-Samiria Reserve which is known as the mirrored forest, which makes perfect sense as you gaze upon its glistening black water lagoons. Our naturalist guides use their eagle eyes to help you spot toucans, parrots and macaws overhead and iguanas, sloths and monkeys among the soaring trees. On the way back to the Zafiro, the glorious sunset is reflected in these glistening waters.

Return to the Zafiro. Perhaps sip a pisco sour on the observation deck with a live music concert from our local band followed by another Peruvian-inspired dinner.

Optional nocturnal boat ride to enjoy the night symphony and constellations, as well as search for caimans, tarantulas, boa constrictors and more.

zafiro amazon cruise itinerary

Yanayacu Of Pucate - Yanayaquillo - Creek Perdida - Tiger River - Nahuapa

Yanayacu of Pucate and Yanayaquillo exploration, followed by delicious breakfast aboard the skiffs. Early in the morning you will start cruising through the Yanayacu and Pucate Rivers, peeking into different creeks and lagoons. This is one of the best preserved and protected zones of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Your guide will use his expert eye to pinpoint all the biodiversity of this region. This is also a popular dolphin feeding spot so we won ´t be the only one enjoying our happy meal here.

Return to the Zafiro at 11:00 to enjoy a delicious lunch followed by heartwarming siesta. If you want to interact directly with the waters of the Amazon, go out on one of our kayaks. You will even have the opportunity to swim in the river along with the famous pink dolphins!

In the afternoon, enjoy a lecture about geographical orientation and the hydrography of rivers in our air-conditioned Indoor Lounge.

Perdida Creek Expedition. On this late afternoon excursion, you are going to have a skiff boat expedition into this beautiful creek, full of colorful birds, such us the paradise tanager, masked crimson tanager, woodpeckers, owls, scarlet crowned barbet and enjoy the great symphony they create.

Return to the Zafiro for dinner followed by a night excursion along the Tiger River to a place called Nahuapa. Tiger River is one of most important tributaries that flow into the Maranon River as hundreds of other smaller rivers flow into the Tiger River. We will explore one of those small rivers called Nahuapa to look for caimans, snakes, tarantulas, night monkeys, and nocturnal birds such as boat billed herons-great potoos and more.

Zafiro Jacuzzi

Maranon River - Samiria River - San Martin De Tipishca

Samiria River expedition. After breakfast our skiffs skim the Samiria River and its tributaries, where an abundance of wildlife hides in the deep rainforest, such as blue and yellow macaws, scarlet macaws, toucans, umbrella birds, monkeys, and river others, capybaras and more.

Return to the Zafiro at 11:00 followed by lunch.

Amazon lecture. Learn about where the Amazon name comes from, and flora and fauna that inhabit the region.

Village Visit. Meet the genuinely welcoming people of San Martin de Tipishca, a Kukama riverside community. Your naturalist guide acts as interpreter so that you may talk with them about their life along the Amazon. Of course, no one has to interpret these kids’ bright smiles and wide eyed curiosity about you. This visit also offers an excellent opportunity to buy easy to pack artisanal handicrafts, from painted coconut bowls to surprisingly chic seed bead jewelry. Tipishca Lake formed over 100 years ago by the Las Piedras River cutting through the neck of a sharp meander. Lake Tipishca harbors good fish stocks, including piranha and catfish. Bird life on the lake is plentiful, attracting many species which include blue and yellow macaws, grey-necked wood-rails, putrescent tiger-herons, wattle jacanas, amazon and pygmy kingfishers, green ibis, black –collared hawk, black capped mocking thrush and yellow-rumped caciques. You might also spot hoatzins, red capped cardinals, and ringed kingfishers.

Later, enjoy live music from our local band aboard the Zafiro followed by a splendid dinner.

zafiro amazon cruise

Maranon River/Pampa Creek - Shiriyacu - Nauta - Yucuruchi

Pampa creek expedition (High Water Season, Nov-May) or Maranon River exploration (Low Water Season, Jun-Oct). Before breakfast early birdwatching. We follow the shoreline, sure to surprise the many species of monkeys and birds, including terns, neo-tropic cormorants, egrets, herons, hawks, and our favorite horned screamers.

Return to the Zafiro followed by breakfast.

At 09:00 am, begins your expedition for fishing the famous piranhas found in the Shiriyacu stream, and walk into the jungle to meet a local healer to learn about medicinal plants from the Amazon and ancestral traditions that we have been losing. This experience will give us the opportunity to formulate questions to the healer and know a bit more about our former traditions.

Lunch at 12:00 am. Share a last meal with fellow passengers who have taken the four-night journey. Myths and legends Lecture. One of our naturalist guides will explain the origin of myths and legends from the animistic point of view.

Late Afternoon excursion. We navigate on a small connector canal between the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers, to admire the world’s largest aquatic plant, the giant water lilies, or Victoria Regias. Here, you become one of a very small number of people who have ever seen these plants bloom.

When the night falls, you will listen to the second movement of the Amazon rainforest symphony, as nocturnal animals send their piercing calls across the rainforest canopy. As we take the skiffs back to the Zafiro, special spotlight torches help our naturalist guides locate caimans, owls and capybaras.

Return to the Zafiro around 7:30 pm and enjoy a relaxing dinner with your table companions.

Jungle trekking

Ucayali, Yanallpa, Tapiche & Dorado Rivers – Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

Yanallpa River Expedition. After breakfast, within the vast Amazon flooded forest, cruise along an amazing black water stream, as your guides tell you about the rainforest. We explore what scientists call a “gallery forest,” because of its narrow vegetation that creates a tunnel of leaves. As we float through this tunnel, our naturalist guides help you to spot parrots, macaws, and fluffy monk saki monkeys in the trees along the riverbanks.

Tapiche River Exploration. On the way back to the Zafiro we are going to explore the Tapiche River system and begin our guided jungle walk to learn about medicinal plants, search for insects, snakes, birds and more. Here, deep in the primary rainforest, your guides identify for you the fruit trees and medicinal plants that comprise the Amazonia’s natural pharmacy.

Return to the Zafiro, followed by lunch. Dorado River Exploration and Night Excursion. At 4:00 pm, take a magical journey aboard the skiffs through the “Mirrored Forest” to see towering trees reflected in the black water river, while on the lookout for enchanting parrots, blue-yellow macaws, as well as the great variety of primates and sloths unperturbed by our presence. As we make our way back to the vessel, our guides point out caimans and frogs in the water, and fishing bats overhead.

Return to the Zafiro around 7:30 pm followed by a delicious dinner.

In the Low Water Season (Jun-Oct) there will be an optional night excursion into Zapote creek to search for nocturnal wildlife species of bats and boa constrictors and look for great pottos, tarantulas, kingkajos, night jars and opossums. 

Monkeying around

Ucayali, Yarapa & Amazonas Rivers - Panguana Zone 2

Expedition to the Yarapa River. We continue exploring the waterways by skiff, to where grey and pink freshwater dolphins swim and play around our boats. The people of Amazonia believe these very dolphins turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages during celebrations. On this excursion we will observe monkeys such as brown capuchin and saddle backed tamarin monkeys, birds such as fly catchers, trogons, wood peckers and more.

Return to the Zafiro at 12:00 pm, and begin sailing down river, toward Iquitos. Followed by lunch and siesta.

Cooking class experience at Panguana Zone 2. We will have our cooking class in a native home with your naturalist guide as interpreter. We will learn by first-hand about Amazon cuisine and obviouly taste it too!

Return to the Zafiro. Once we are back on board, the ship continues downstream, sailing toward Iquitos through the night. Briefing in the Indoor Lounge and recap of your itinerary and wildlife sightings at 7:00 pm.

Dinner and Crew Presentation. After dinner, your naturalist guides will introduce the crew members whom you may not have met, as they have been busy “behind the scenes” to create your seamless cruise experience

zafiro amazon cruise

Check Out – Disembark In Iquitos – Manatee Rescue Center

After early morning excursions you return to the Zafiro at 11:00 am, followed by an early lunch. Share a last lunch with your fellow passengers, before your onward journey.

After disembarkation we'll make our way to the airport, but en route we will visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have rescued. See how the manatees are cared for, and prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat.

Check-in at Iquitos International Airport at 4:30 pm. Your guides will assist you with the check-in and departure formalities until the time to board 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. 

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.


Geri Daniel loved her vacation with Rainforest Cruises.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on the cruise. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.
— Geri Daniel, Austin, TX
The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
We had a wonderful time. We were all impressed with the efficiency and organization of the trip from start to finish.
— Jeanette Johannson & Family, USA