Explore the Wonders of the World's Largest Rain Forest on Our Peruvian Jungle Voyage
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Arrive in Lima, where our local representative meets you at the airport just outside customs. Transfer to our nearby hotel where we enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with our Expedition Leader. Our location, proximate to the airport, provides convenient access for tomorrow morning's flight to Iquitos.
Day 2: Lima / Iquitos / Nauta
Fly to Iquitos this morning, a once-booming rubber town that is now one of the largest cities in the Amazon and is accessible only by air or water. We transfer to Nauta, a small riverside town on the banks of the Marañon River whose name literally means the “end of the road,” where we board our deluxe riverboat Delfin II.
Cruising slowly upstream, bound for the Amazon headwaters, we enjoy panoramic views from the open-air top deck, sipping exotic cocktails made with regional fruits and Pisco, the beloved national brandy of Peru, as our Expedition Leaders provide an overview of the journey ahead.
Later, we disembark for a short skiff ride to Puerto Miguel, a riverside village where we'll meet residents whose indigenous culture has been a part of this region for centuries. At the thriving arts and crafts market, we have a chance to purchase items that support the community and empower women artisans. Sales indirectly help preserve local fauna, since income generated decreases the need for illegal hunting. We also visit a local school before heading out on our first jungle walk to search for sloths and monkeys.
Day 3: Amazon River / Yarapa River / Clavero Lagoon
Board excursion boats and head out for an introduction to the "river sea" that is the mighty Amazon. These legendary waters are thrumming with small boats coming to market, while the skies overhead are animated with a variety of birdlife. Our skiffs cruise upstream to reach the Yarapa River, a pristine tributary of the Amazon. Turning into the Yarapa's remote reaches, watch for colorful birds such as the plum-throated cotinga, and look for gray and pink dolphins swimming alongside our boat. Local lore teaches that dolphins turn into humans to steal handsome men or pretty women from their villages during celebrations.
On an afternoon excursion to Clavero Lagoon, we hope to observe several species of egrets, herons, hawks and long-legged neo-tropical cormorants fishing for their dinner. We will also explore other blackwater lagoons linked that are part of this huge lake, where wattled jacanas compete for food with spiders, grasshoppers and butterflies thriving along the grassy edges of freshwater swamps and marshes. Before making our way back to the ship, scan the riverbanks for spectacled caiman, frogs, owls and capybara, the world's largest rodent. After dark, savor a magical night on deck as we listen to the symphony of forest sounds, or enjoy it in solitude from your cabin's private balcony.
Day 4: Ucayali River / Sapuena Creek / Yanallpa / Dorado River
Wake to the sounds of the jungle, teeming with life, and join our expert naturalists for a dawn birding excursion on Sapuena Creek, a blackwater stream leading to a large lake. Watch for purple and azure gallinules and wattled jacanas along the lakeshore before returning to the ship for breakfast. Later this morning we visit Yanallpa to meet the ribereño
people who inhabit this remote region. Accompanied by guides who grew up along the river, this is a fascinating opportunity to learn about the everyday lives of the indigenous people during a village visit. Strolling through the community gardens, we learn from our guides about the abundant fruit trees and the many varied uses of medicinal plants. We may have a chance to visit a school or join in a game of soccer. The children enjoy singing songs for us and are especially excited to see their faces on digital cameras.
Returning to the skiffs, we navigate the small waterways off the main river for a further immersion in the verdant realm of the world's largest rain forest. On the Dorado River, our first stop inside the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, we search for birds such as snail kites, festive parrots, endangered scarlet macaws, olive-spotted hummingbirds, Amazonian parrotlets and wood creepers. Squirrel monkeys move in large, noisy troops overhead while iguanas laze in the sun. Gray and pink river dolphins rise gracefully from the water, and we have the opportunity to swim with them. At every turn, our guides reveal the secrets of the rain forest, helping us find wildlife where we would never see it on our own, given the amazing camouflage of so many masterfully adapted species. At the end of this day full of adventure, we return to our riverboat for dinner.
Day 5: Pacaya River / Zapote River
Day breaks as we reach the Pacaya River at the very heart of Peru's largest protected area, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. This vast flooded forest covers 10,000 square miles at the headwaters of the Amazon and is home to Peru's greatest concentration of wildlife. Early this morning we set out to explore this emerald realm of trees, vines, streams and lagoons. Overhead, look for macaws, black-collared hawks, prehistoric hoatzin birds, capuchins and red howler monkeys, whose eerie call reverberates through the canopy for miles. We begin to get a sense of the layered richness of the reserve's mixed habitats: its 85 lakes are home to 250 species of fish, while it protects 132 species of mammals, 150 reptile and amphibian species, and 450 different kinds of birds. The reserve also contains the largest variety of flora in Peru, including huge bromeliads and 22 species of orchids.
This afternoon, we explore the blackwater Zapote River by kayak. The water, while clear, is the color of dark tea, an effect of the tannins deposited by the rich vegetation along the banks. Along this small tributary we frequently observe a variety of monkeys including squirrel, monk saki and brown capuchin. Where dry ground exists, we go ashore for rain forest walks, keeping an eye out for a host of birds: large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, snowy egrets, horned screamers, tiger herons, short-tailed parrots, parakeets and perhaps the flashy scarlet macaw. We may even spy a three-toed sloth nestled in a cecropia tree. Keep an eye out for brightly colored poison dart frogs, tarantulas and many more intriguing small creatures along our path.
Day 6: Supay Cocha / Monkey Island / San Francisco
On a naturalist-guided skiff excursion, we cruise through Supay Cocha, a lagoon rich in fish and surrounded by rain forest. Watch for troops of squirrel monkeys and birdlife, including black- and white-tailed trogons and paradise tanagers. Continuing downriver, we visit Monkey Island, a nonprofit dedicated to saving orphaned monkeys that were traded in local markets. This island is home to seven different species of Peruvian monkeys, and we keep an eye out for these playful critters in the trees. This afternoon, visit the village of San Francisco where we meet local people who have called Amazonia their home for generations. We'll make a stop at a market offering arts and crafts made by women in the community, then search for nocturnal creatures on a night walk in the rain forest before returning to the Delfin II
Day 7: Marañon River / Pauachiro Creek / Yanayacu Pucate
This morning we begin cruising up the other main tributary of the Amazon, the Marañon River. Board skiffs for an excursion on Pauachiro Creek to observe sloths, iguanas and anteaters, as well as silverback, tamarillo and spider monkeys. We will also search for yellow-rumped caciques and egrets. Board kayaks and skiffs this afternoon to travel farther up the Rio Marañon to a virtually unvisited section of Pacaya Samiria, where the Yanayacu and Pucate rivers meet. The giant kapok and strangler fig trees along the river are home to a multitude of plants and animals, and we discuss the various mini-ecosystems with our naturalist guides.
Day 8: Amazon Natural Park—Canopy Walk / Tawampa Lake / Nauto Caño
Heading back downriver, we stop at Amazon Natural Park, with the only canopy walk in the area. Suspended 85 feet above the ground, the walkway extends a third of a mile through the rain forest, one of the longest canopy walks in the world. From the treetops, we get an excellent vantage point for observing wildlife and plants in the terra firma forest, including walking palms and trees festooned with epiphytes.
Continuing to Tawampa Lake, board canoes in search of the giant arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the world. We then cruise along the Nauto
Caño River, a small creek via which we explore marshes, side streams
and oxbows while searching for many different birds and three-toed sloths in the trees.
As the sun descends below the canopy, an exciting adventure awaits: a chance to witness the transformation of the rain forest by nightfall. An orchestra of sounds evolves as nocturnal creatures awaken, with crickets and night birds providing a percussive rhythm. In the darkness, our guides use spotlights to search for wildlife. Black caiman, frogs, capybara, opossum, common potoo, black-crowned night heron, pauraques, spectacled owls and nighthawks are commonly spotted along the banks, while fish bats swoop down to scoop fish from the water. Back aboard ship, prepare to bid farewell to the Amazon River on the open observation deck for one last stargazing opportunity.
Day 9: Nauta / Iquitos / Lima / Depart
We disembark in Nauta this morning and visit the Rescue & Rehabilitation Center for River Mammals en route to Iquitos. Here, biologists and volunteers care primarily for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from fishermen and locals who have captured them illegally. Scientists will discuss efforts to help these vulnerable mammals, including how they are prepared for re-introduction into their natural habitat. We'll have the chance to see baby manatees and interact with charming, docile adults, maybe even helping to feed them. Other animals are also cared for at the center, often rescued after being captured as pets. We fly together to Lima where a day room is provided to relax and freshen up before overnight flights home.
: This itinerary is meant as a guideline and can change due to weather conditions, internal flight schedules and river water levels. On some occasions these conditions may require us to deviate from our intended itinerary, in which case we will provide the best available alternative. And we'll make a great adventure of it!
Physical Rating: Easy