Secrets of the Amazon
Arrive in Lima in the early evening on your international flight. After immigration and customs, rendezvous with your English-speaking driver and transfer to the new Westin towering 10 stories over San Isidro. Cool, stylish, and causing a buzz in the city with its modern interior, take in the vistas from your spacious room.
Tonight, head to the hottest new address in town where a young chef trained in European technique pumps out Peruvian modernist cuisine from the glass-walled kitchen with marvels like cold-poached tuna confit and octopus over purple corn charcoal. (Westin Lima)
Relax this morning and then transfer in the early afternoon to Lima’s airport for your departing flight to Iquitos. Land in the gateway to the northern Amazon, Peru’s largest jungle town and most important port city on the Amazon. The only way to Iquitos is via plane—or a weeklong river trip!
After collecting your luggage, rendezvous with Aqua Expeditions staff. Briefly tour this pulsating city with motorized rickshaws and tiled facades around its Plaza de Armas. Transfer to the Iquitos Wharf to board the luxurious M/V Aria, your “Home” for the next three nights. Set sail deep into the Amazon along its largest tributaries, as well as the mighty Amazon itself, one of the least visited places by even seasoned travelers.
Once en route, sit down to your welcome tasting dinner whose menu, along with all food, is overseen by one of Peru’s top chefs, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Schiaffino is an expert in fusing indigenous “jungle” ingredients with refined technique, paired along with fine wines from Chile & Argentina. Bienvenidos a la selva! Welcome to the jungle. (Aqua Expeditions)
Rise and shine early! Dig into breakfast with a wide choice of traditional breakfast egg dishes, plus Peruvian specialties like local chorizo (sausage), steamed tamales, and fresh-squeezed fruit juices like wild tomato.
Board the skiffs to catch your first glimpse of the majestic Amazon River, as the sun rises over this green world filled with wonderful wildlife. Travel from the Amazon through the Huaysi short-cut canal to explore the Tahuayo black water river. As you float down the Tahuayo, occasional fishermen paddle by in their dugout canoes with a cheerful wave. Keep your binoculars ready to spot a vast variety of wildlife: terns, orioles, blackbirds, black collared hawks, monkeys, and sloth share this wonderful environment with us. Arrive at Charo Lake and bait your hooks to try to catch one of Amazonia’s fearsome piranhas. As you fish, trained guides will also tell you the story of the lake and its inhabitants.
Return to the mother ship for air-conditioning, lunch, and perhaps a siesta as the vessel continues up the Amazon River.
In the afternoon, explore the Yacapana Islands, which locals call the “Iguana Islands,” because of the huge population of these reptiles. As the sun sets, observe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe pink freshwater dolphins, creatures that the Amazonian people believe turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages. After a champagne toast and sunset, the search begins for nocturnal animals like caimans, frogs, and bats. Feel like Indiana Jones yet?
After dark, return to the vessel and continue the journey upstream, toward the headwaters of the Amazon River, where the Ucayali, Marañon, and the Amazon Rivers merge. Sip a neon pink, pre-dinner Camu-Camu sour on the Upper Deck and look at the stars followed by a your nightly tasting menu with local fish like paiche or a nouveau version of the delicious Juanes, chicken and rice in banana leaves. (Aqua Expeditions)
Today, choose between two excursions: a Full-day excursion on the Yanayacu Creek to the Park Ranger Station No. 2 where there are howler, capuchin, and squirrel-sized monkeys. Catch a glimpse of pink and gray river dolphins along with a variety of birds. Deep in the jungle, learn first-hand about the important medical value of jungle plants and see the Kapok, the tallest trees in the Amazon Basin. Savor a generous picnic lunch at the Park Ranger Station before returning “home” to the ship.
Or, set off on a Guided Jungle Walk at Ranger Station No. 1 to learn about sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia. Visit one of the projects where villagers plant palms to obtain oil. Return to the Aqua for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon, head out to spot freshwater dolphins and a series of primates, from tamarins to howlers, dusky titi monkeys and pigmy marmoset monkeys. Watch for alligators and anacondas, and keep your binoculars at the ready, as you are likely to see more than 200 species of birds. In the evening, savor the last night together with dinner and a celebration with the whole crew. (Aqua Expeditions)
This morning, the M/V Aria skirts the edges of the vast Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. Rise early to view one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere: the sun rising over the birthplace of the Amazon River. Here—where the union of two major tributaries, the Ucayali and the Marañon, form the world’s greatest waterway.
After breakfast, travel by skiff to a native village where you can meet and interact with local children and villagers from this remote area of the world. Connect with them to understand first-hand their culture, traditions, and folklore. On the way back to the ship, navigate on a small connector canal between the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers for a chance to see the world’s largest aquatic plant, the giant water lilies.
Enjoy your last luncheon on board before disembarking in the port city of Nauta. Drive ninety kilometers back to Iquitos. Stop to visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon. See how the manatees are cared for and are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. You can ever feed these gentle creatures with a baby bottle!
Transfer to and check-in at Iquitos International Airport for your flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, connect to your outgoing international flight or your driver to transfer back into the city (depending upon your itinerary).
**Aqua Expeditions offers river cruises on the Amazon of 3, 4, and 7 nights on its two ships, M/V Aqua and M/V Aria. This is simply a suggested itinerary of their 3-day option, ideal for add-ons in Peru or from trips in Ecuador or Chile. Please contact us if you’d prefer the longer options for specific itineraries.