The Amazon rainforest gets its name from the mighty Amazon River, which winds its way from Peru to cut across South America. Luxury Amazon river cruises in Peru let you delve deep into the pristine rainforest of the upper Amazon river and discover the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which functions like a flooded forest. Spanning more than five million acres of flooded forest, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the largest, protected flooded forest in the world and one of Peru’s most remote rainforest areas. Explore this fragile ecosystem in northern Peru in style aboard a luxury cruise, with the chance to spot the rare pink river dolphin (not found in Peru’s southern Amazon), monkeys, caiman and a fascinating array of colorful birdlife.
The Best Luxury Amazon Cruises in Peru
The best luxury Amazon cruises are the small and intitmate vessels Delfin I, Delfin II, Delfin III and the Aria Amazon, run by Delfin Amazon Cruises and Aqua Expeditions respectively. Amazon river cruises start from three nights, with longer seven night trips avaialable on the Aria Amazon. Activities on board are on a shared basis with your fellow passengers, though you can also privately charter cruises in the Amazon if you’re looking for utmost exclusivity or traveling with a group. The Delfin I is ideal for VIP private charters, with just four rooms. Getting to the Amazon is surprisingly easy: cruises set sail from Iquitos, which has short, direct flights to Lima and – as of 2018 – Cusco.
Asides from wildlife watching in the Amazon, activities on board the top luxury Amazon cruises include boat rides, trail walks, swimming, kayaking, fishining and community visits. The wildlife and excursions on Delfin and Aqua are very comparable – the Delfin vessels additionally offer a treetop canopy walkway.
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Luxury Amazon Cruises with Delfin
Delfin I: The Delfin I Amazon Cruise is the most luxurious option offered by Delfin, with a total of just four cabins. There are two deluxe suites on the main deck kitted out with water whirlpools on their private terraces, and two master suites on the upper deck. The intimate size, with a maximum of eight passengers (or up to 12 if configured as triples with a futon bed which can be used by adults or children), makes it a great option for private charters for families and small groups of friends. In addition to kayaking offered on Delfin II and III, the Delfin I also has stand up paddle boarding as one of its optional activities. The Delfin I offers three night and four night journeys; seven nights are avaialable on request for private charter services only.
Delfin II: Luxury meets authenticity on the Delfin II. Slightly larger than the Delfin I, with 14 large guest suites accommodating up to 28 passengers, the vessel is kitted out with a massage room, observation area, lecture room and sundeck. The Delfin II is comrpised of 10 suites and 4 master suites with 90-degree wrap windows, There’s also an additional bunk-bed cabin, to accommodate an additional 2 children or 1 adult. The Delfin II occasionally runs special departures for guest lecture cruises. The Delfin II offers three night and four night journeys.
Delfin III: The largest of Aracari’s handpicked luxury Amazon cruises, and the largest run by Delfin Amazon Cruises, the Delfin III vessel is still a boutique experience with a total of 21 rooms, with capacity for 42 passengers. The advantage of being a slightly larger vessel means it has space for more facilities. On board you’ll find a gym, spa, indoor and outdoor top deck lounge and a small pool. The Delfin III offers three night and four night journeys.
Luxury Amazon Cruises with Aqua Expeditions
Aria Amazon: Offering a high level of luxury and comfort with a contemporary style, the Aria Amazon sleeps up to 32 guests in its sixteen design suites. Of these, there are two sets of interconnecting suites for families. The Aria includes a plush lounge, jacuzzi and exercise room. Acclaimed Lima chef Pedro Moguel Schiaffino shapes the gastronomic offering. The Aria occasionally offers special departures, for example with leading academics or chefs. The Aria Amazon offers three night, four night and seven night journeys.
14 Days / 13 Nights – View Itinerary
Gain authentic insight into Peru with our two-week Luxury meets Authenticity itinerary, visiting Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and taking a luxury Amazon cruise.
Wildlife Watching in the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest harbors 30% of all living species in the world. Luxury Amazon cruises take place in Peru’s northern Amazon where – unlike the jungle exploration experiences based at lodges in the south of the country – you might have the chance to spot rare pink Amazonian river dolphins. Other widlife typical of this area includes sting rays, manatees, giant otters, caiman, grey dolphins, howler monkeys, piranhas and, of course, many birds that call the Amazon home. In addition to spotting flora and fauna from aboard your luxury Amazon cruise, you’ll also get to go out exploring with your fellow passengers by hopping into small motorized skiffs for excursions to spot flora and fauna, accompanied by expert guides.
When to visit the Amazon: High and Low Water Seasons
The Amazon is a year-round destination with a high water and low water season for luxury Amazon cruises in northern Peru, following rainy season in the Andes (November-May) and dry season (June-October). During the rainy season, water levels rise in the Amazon, flooding 85% of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and make it only accessible by boat. As such, it is often referred to as the ‘forest of mirrors’. In the high water season, one advantage is that you can explore deeper by speedboat, with rivers and streams about seven meters (23 feet) higher than usual, making ever river, creek and lake naviagble. The flip side is that walks and hikes are limited at this time.
In the low water season (when it could still rain), the key difference is that trails and jungle paths now become accessible, allowing you to walk through the rainforest. Fishing is also easier – you’re practically guaranteed to catch piranha! Although lower river levels mean you’re further from some of the birds that enjoy the jungle canopy, you’ll instead likely have the chance to see dozens of species of migratory birds in flight – not possible in the flooded season.
Luxury Cruise Itineraries
The exact cruise itinerary will depend on the time of year you travel – high or low water season – and the duration of your trip. You will start by leaving behind the city of Iquitos and head up the Amazon River towards its source, where the Ucayali and Maranon rivers — two of Peru’s three mighty rivers — converge. Your cruise will then continue on the Ucayali and into the Pacaya and Samiria Rivers. Delfin offers three and four night itineraries on board the Delfin I, II and III. Aqua Aria offers three night, four night and seven night itineraries. Unless you privately charter an entire cruise, all the vessels have fixed departure dates for their itineraries.
Contact us today for availability and expert travel advice on choosing the best Amazon cruise as part of your tailormade trip to Peru.