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Stretching for more than 4,345 miles across Peru and Brazil, the Amazon is the longest river in the entire world, and is by far the largest in terms of total discharge. It also happens to wander through some of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet with stunning plant and wildlife that simply can't be found anywhere else on Earth. This makes it an amazing experience for adventure travelers looking to take a river cruise into a region that even to this day remains largely unexplored and untamed by humankind.
If you're ready to take an Amazon River cruise, these are the options that you'll want to consider before setting out. Each of them will provide you with an amazing experience that you won't soon forget and each is unique in its own right. The biggest challenge of the entire trip may be figuring out which one of these itineraries to take.
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Canada-based adventure travel company G Adventures has been operating in Peru for decades and has one of the best (not to mention most affordable) Amazon cruise options around. The company's seven-day Amazon Riverboat Adventure begins and ends in Lima but offers some outstanding opportunities for adventure in between.
The journey takes travelers up the Amazon starting in Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the world that can't be reached by road. From there, they board The Amatista, a riverboat with capacity for up to 28 passengers, for a whirlwind visit to Peru's spectacular Pacaya Samiria National Reserve where they'll spot river dolphins, sloths, and some of the most colorful birds on the planet.
Aqua Expeditions offers some of the most luxurious Amazon River cruise options with travelers boarding the spectacular Aria Amazon for 3, 4, and 7-night itineraries along this iconic waterway. The ship sets sail from Iquitos and travels north into the Peruvian Amazon, providing passengers with decidedly upscale Amazonian experience. In addition to the wonders of the rainforest, guests can also indulge in onboard jacuzzis, gourmet meals, interconnected family suites, and an almost unprecedented 1:1 crew to guest ratio.
Off the ship, you'll be able to embark on rainforest hikes, biking excursions, kayaking trips, and even fishing outings. If you love the idea of visiting the Amazon but are looking for a more pampered experience, this is definitely the trip for you.
Lindblad Expeditions has been a leader in adventure cruises for years and the company extends its expertise into the Amazon as well. Lindblad's Upper Amazon itinerary is one of the longest in the business, offering travelers 10 days to explore this intriguing part of the world. And while the journey does take visitors through the city of Iquitos, the trip actually begins in the nearby village of Nauta instead. There, passengers board the Delfin II and set off into the "Green Cathedral" in search of wildlife, river dolphins, and adventure.
As usual with Lindblad, the company offers its clients some unique opportunities throughout its journeys. In this case, travelers will get the chance to visit local villages and interact with the ribereños, the indigenous people who live along the Amazon. And since the company partners with National Geographic on all of its adventures, you know that any naturalists and photographers who are on board will be top notch.
Peru doesn't hold a monopoly on outstanding Amazon River cruises, as there are some other great options to be had in other parts of the South America, too. In fact, if you head over to Ecuador, you'll find Anakonda Amazon Cruises offering up four-, five-, and eight-day itineraries into a part of the rainforest that even fewer people get a chance to visit.
In this case, the trip begins in the city of Quito, with a quick flight to the Amazon town of Coca where a brief motorized canoe trip brings travelers to the luxury riverboat Anakonda. Over the course of the following days, they'll get the chance to visit Amazon villages, observe massive numbers of parrots as the approach the natural clay licks, and spot pink river dolphins while drifting along the legendary backwards of the Amazon. It is a charming, relaxed, and yet still adventurous escape into a seldom seen part of the world.
While not quite as immersed in the deep rainforest itself, Brazil is an amazing place to take in the stunning expanse of the Amazon in all its glory. By the time the might river crosses the border from Peru, it reaches points that are more than 50 miles in width, giving the impression that travelers are causing along a large lake or calm sea.
The Amazon Clipper Premium itineraries from Rainforest Cruises departs from Manus, the unofficial capital of the Amazon. Over the course of three, four, or six days, visitors are given the chance to explore the Brazilian side of the river, spotting dolphins, monkeys, and other wildlife while soaking up the sights and sounds of the river. Aboard the good ship Premium you'll find 16 comfortable and accommodating cabins, not to mention several lounges, a sundeck, and an onboard restaurant. In other words, it has everything you need to enjoy the Amazon in style.
Smithsonian Journeys prides itself on delivering some of the best historical and cultural tours to amazing places all over the globe, and the company's Amazon River Cruise itinerary is no different. Over the course of about 10 days, travelers will explore more than 500 miles of the Amazon while also wandering up the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers, as well as the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
The trip takes place aboard one of the newest riverboats in the Amazon, the modern and comfortable Zafiro. As with most of Smithsonian Journey itineraries, this excursion is a good mix of active and informative with plenty of downtime to enjoy as well. Highlights include spotting wildlife in the jungle and visits to local villages, providing an amazing overview of life in the Amazon Basin.
If you don't necessarily want to dedicate your entire visit to Peru to an Amazon cruise, but would still like to experience life on the waterway, consider the Pure Peru itinerary from Flash Pack. This action-packed trip is 11 days in length and will take you from the depths of the rainforest to the heights of the Andes, covering just about everything else in between.
But days three and four are dedicated to the Amazon itself, with travelers heading to the village of Puerto Maldonado and boarding a traditional Amazonian boat for an excursion up river. Flash Pack clients will then spend the night at an eco-lodge in the jungle and have the opportunity to explore it on foot too. Wildlife, colorful birds, and stunning flora will mark this short but sweet visit to the Amazon, most likely leaving you want to come back at a later date for more.