Aqua Expeditions: Adventures on the Amazon & Sustainable Tourism
Peru: High-Water Itinerary (Dec-May)
Located in the northwest of South America, Peru is rich with history and culture across its captivating landscape. The Amazon rain forest comprises almost 60% of its national territory, yet Peru also encompasses the majestic Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, which was the largest state in pre-Columbian America, the vast Pampa Colorada with its mysterious Nazca Lines the towering canyons of the Colca River near Arequipa and Lake Titicaca where natives still live on floating islands made of reeds. In Peru, miles of Pacific beaches meet vast desert areas and the towering Andes Mountains where lush green cloud forests are home to an abundance of wildlife distinct from that of the Amazon. Peru is a country of 28 million people. Most speaking Spanish, one of many legacies brought to the Americas by Old World explorers like Christopher Columbus yet many Peruvians still speak Quechua, the language of our native Inca ancestors. The landscape is dotted with rural haciendas and elegant churches built by the Spaniards, who conquered this rugged land of mountains, rivers, and valleys in the 16th century. This is a land of small villages and outdoor markets where indigenous women gather in their rainbow-colored clothing topped by dark felt bowler hats to trade Peru’s vast array of potatoes for juicy corn. Start you journey in Lima with its rich history and headline-grabbing culinary scene, then continue on to a series of Bucket List experiences choosing from 7 night, 4 night or 3 night itineraries on the Amazon and then live your own “Celestine Prophecy” adventure to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Itinerary & Destination Background:
Aqua Expedition’s offers itineraries based on your length of stay and cruising either in High Water Season (Dec-May) or Low Water Season (June-Nov).
The Bottom Line: The Best Times to Visit Peru’s Amazon
- If seeing our glorious Amazon rainforest at its lushest and getting up close to lots of birds and mammals (and enjoying slightly cooler temperatures) sounds most attractive, then December to May might be your best choice.
- If jungle hikes and spotting exotic migratory birds perched on trees between flights across Amazonia appeals most to you, while still having the chance to see capuchin monkeys, kinkajou, and other mammals, and going on great fishing expeditions, you might be happier choosing the warmer, low water season.
You will be awed by the Amazon at whatever time of year you visit (as I have been!). Perhaps the best solution is to choose one season this year…and the other next! The highlighted 4-night Amazon River High-Water luxury cruise begins in the remote colonial city of Iquitos, Peru where you will be transported in exceptional comfort deep into the Amazon rainforest, along the Ucayali River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, as well as the four other rivers, each one rich in vibrant wildlife with thriving rainforests. Go piranha fishing, trek into the dense jungle in search of Amazon monkeys, three-toed sloths, crown headed hoatzin birds, toucans, macaws and giant water lilies. Come back to the comfort of your skiff to cruise up close to view Taricaya turtles and spectacled caimans in their natural habitat while pink dolphins, at play, challenge your photography skills. As the Aqua Amazon journeys towards the confluence of the Ucayali and the Marañon Rivers, considered the birthplace of the Amazon, learn from our experienced, English speaking naturalist guides about the diverse Amazon wildlife and birds of Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
Day 1: Arrival-Nauta-Embarkation-Maranon River
Arrive into Lima and then a 1 hour 25 minute journey to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Your Aqua Expedition's guides await you at Iquitos International Airport where you will be transferred to the Nauta Wharf. Enjoy a scenic one-and-a-half hour drive through the Peruvian countryside to the small village of Nauta. You will be traveling on the only road out of town to the end of the line, as it only goes as far as Nauta. The Aqua Amazon, your home for the next four nights, awaits you. Settle into your well appointed river facing suite as the vessel begins to move and thus begins one of life’s great adventures. Over the next four days, the Aqua Amazon sails along the largest tributaries of the Amazon River, as well as on the mighty Amazon itself, towards remote destinations visited by only a few of even the world’s most experienced travelers. Welcome Dinner- Toast your journey and your dinner companions with our sommelier-selected fine South American wines, the perfect accompaniment to the Amazonia-influenced cuisine of Aqua Expeditions Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant, Malabar, ranks among Lima’s best. Schiaffino’s healthy and innovative recipes incorporate the freshest local products – fruits, fish, spices – adding culinary adventure to our journeys. Don’t miss a nightcap on the Observation Deck to count constellations.
Day 2: Ucayali - Yanallpa- Dorado Rivers - Pacaya -Samiria National Reserve
Our sumptuous daily breakfast buffet offers a wide selection of traditional egg dishes, Peruvian specialties, homemade baked goods and fresh-squeezed juices, made from luscious tropical fruits you may never have tasted before. Board our excursion skiffs for your first adventure on the Yanallpa River. 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. Return to the Aqua Amazon Peruvian-inspired midday fare and enjoy a lecture about the Taricayas Turtle by Aqua’s naturalist guides as they recount the history of these adorable creatures along the Amazon, their near extinction and the recent efforts supported by Aqua Expeditions that are successfully growing the turtle population in the Pacaya-Samiria Nature Reserve. Take a magical evening skiff ride into the night journey on the Dorado River 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. Enjoy sundowners as you watch the magnificent sky turn from crimson to a blanket of stars. As you make our way back to the Aqua, our guides will point out caimans and frogs in the water, and fishing bats overhead. Return to the Aqua Amazon and Dinner at 8pm.
Day 3: Puinahua River – Hatum Posa Lake – Pacaya River
Rise early to cruise Hatum Posa Lake, a magnificent ox-bow lake. You will follow its shoreline, sure to surprise the many species of monkeys and birds, including terns, neo-tropic cormorants, egrets, herons, hawks, and our favorite horned screamers. From here we continue by skiff into other black water lakes linked to this huge lake in the flooded forest. Return to the Aqua Amazon for breakfast followed by a Jungle Walk Near Hatum Posa or a Village Visit. Walk into the jungle to meet native Amazonia people. With our guides as your interpreters, ask about subsistence farming in Amazonia and they will tell you how to cultivate these wild plants and trees. Here, deep in the primary rainforest, your guides identify for you the fruit trees and medicinal plants that comprise Amazonia’s natural pharmacy. Return to the Aqua Amazon for lunch and enjoy a lecture about the fish of the Amazon River. Learn about the 28 species of piranha swimming in the black waters of the Amazon and its tributaries, as well as the catfish, paiche fish that grow up to 12 feet long in these waters, and about how Aqua Expeditions provides fishing equipment and technical advice to Amazonia fishermen. In the late afternoon, our skiffs skim the Pacaya River, journeying from Ranger Station No. 1 toward Yanayacu Lake, where an abundance of wildlife hides in the deep rainforest. This time of day gives you the best chance to see the most activity among rainforest animals, including fluffy monk saki monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and the howler monkeys. As the sun sets, listen for the loud, ferocious-sounding warning signals made by howler monkeys, marking their territories. When night falls, you listen for the second movement of the Amazon rainforest symphony, as nocturnal animals send their piercing calls across the tree canopy. As we take the skiffs back to the Aqua Amazon, special spotlight torches help our naturalist guides to locate caimans, owls and capybara. Return to the Aqua Amazon and a sumptuous dinner from our Executive Chef.
Day 4: Puinahua – Pacaya Rivers and Carocurahuayte Lake
We take to the river as the sun rises to see and hear a treasure trove of wildlife, including parrots, macaws, toucans, and many kinds of monkeys—as well as some “surprise” species that you may never have seen before. We pack a luxurious “bag breakfast” for you, of homemade baked goods, light sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices and hot Peruvian coffee. This is also a popular pink dolphin feeding spot, so we won’t be the only ones enjoying our happy meal here. Return to the Aqua Amazon and begin sailing down river, toward Iquitos. Lunch is followed by a lecture about endangered Amazon wildlife. One of our naturalist guides will introduce the major threats to this magnificent but precarious eco-system we are exploring and describe some successful initiatives supported by Aqua Expeditions including camu camu tree planting and wildlife education for local youth. Travel by skiff to a fishing “hot spot” on Carocurahuayte Lake, where catching some of the more than 3,000 species of tropical fish that live in the Amazon Basin is assured. Guides know all the best tricks to lure piranhas, those small, mostly carnivorous fish with a big reputation for their vicious bite. After much success and fishing stories- return to the Aqua Amazon to sail downstream towards Iquitos through the night.
Day 5: Check-out – Disembark at Iquitos – City tour – Transfer to the Airport
Breakfast followed by a morning excursion. Dependent on the level of the river and weather and time permitting, we set off by skiff on this last opportunity to see how people live along the Amazon by visiting the lively riverside community of Belen, in Iquitos. Here, where the houses and shops actually float on the river during some months, visit the bustling food market that supports the entire Peruvian Amazon, where all the inhabitants of Amazonia sell and purchase their goods.
Disembarkation/Manatee Rescue Center/Transfer to the Airport
En route to Iquitos airport, your naturalist guides bring you to visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have rescued. Learn about this highly successful project, supported by Aqua Expeditions since its inception, and efforts to help these endearing mammals. See how the manatees are cared for, and prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat.
Note: All itineraries are subject to change, due to weather and other conditions. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.
This Journeys-Yacht & Travel Company sample itinerary for independent travel is provided merely as a glimpse of the type of customized travel experiences we create. We would be delighted in developing a travel program for you or a group based on your preferences.