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The Great Amazon River Cruise

Explore the Wonders of the World's Largest Rain Forest on Our Peruvian Jungle Voyage
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Arrive in Peru's capital of Lima and overnight in the cosmopolitan Miraflores district near the coast.

Day 2: Lima / Iquitos / Embark Riverboat
See the highlights of Lima this morning, visiting the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, and the monastery and catacombs of Iglesia de San Francisco. We also tour the outstanding collection of pre-Columbian art at Museo Larco, where we'll enjoy lunch at the museum cafe. This afternoon we fly to Iquitos, a once-booming rubber town that is now one of the largest cities in the Amazon and can only be reached by air or water. Here, we'll board our sparkling new riverboat, La Estrella Amazonica. As we move out into the broad current of the Amazon, milky with silt, we enjoy our first dinner aboard. Later, head up to the open-air top deck for stargazing and storytelling with our local guides as we cruise slowly upstream, bound for the mighty river’s headwaters.

Day 3: Source of the Amazon River / Rio Ucayali
Wake to the sounds of the jungle, teeming with life. We reach the Rio Ucayali this morning, one of the Amazon’s largest source tributaries. Our first skiff excursion navigates the small waterways off the main river, where we are immersed in the verdant realm of the world’s largest rain forest. Venturing into the flooded marsh, we look for birds, monkeys and sloths and marvel at the giant water lilies. The pure white flowers, a foot in diameter, bloom at night, gracing the six-foot-wide spiny green platters on which they rest. At every turn, our naturalist guides reveal the secrets of the jungle, helping us to find wildlife where we would never see it on our own, given the amazing camouflage of so many masterfully adapted species.

Day 4: Río Ucayali / Pacaya Samiria Reserve
Day breaks over the origins of the planet’s mightiest river as we reach the vast Pacaya Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering 10,000 square miles at the headwaters of the Amazon. We take to the skiffs to explore the area, serenaded by a chorus of birds as we glide into this tangled realm of forest, rivers and lagoons. Our naturalist guides share both scientific information and local lore about the river's famous pink dolphins. Where dry ground exists, we go ashore for jungle 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.

Day 5: Rio Pacaya / Pacaya Samiria Reserve
This morning we head farther into Peru’s largest rain forest reserve, following the blackwater tributary of Sapote Creek. The water, while clear, is the color of dark tea, an effect of the tannins deposited by the rich vegetation along the banks. Our excursion boats grant deeper access to this vast wetland as we continue into Pacaya Samiria Reserve. At dusk, an exciting adventure awaits as we board skiffs and perhaps walk in the rain forest to experience its transformation 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: caimans, frogs, capybaras, opossums, common potoos and nighthawks are commonly spotted along the narrow creek’s banks.

Day 6: Río Pacaya / Pacaya Samiria Reserve
Once we reach the reserve’s second checkpoint, we hike around the ranger station to explore the igapó (seasonally flooded forest). As we walk this afternoon, we search for macaws, black-collared hawks, prehistoric hoatzin birds, capuchins and red howler monkeys, whose eerie call reverberates through the canopy for miles. We’ve begun 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. Pacaya Samiria Reserve also contains the largest variety of flora in Peru, including huge bromeliads and 22 species of orchids.

Day 7: Río Ucayali / Pacaya Samiria Reserve
Learn about the lives of the indigenous ribereño people as we visit a traditional village along the riverbanks. Strolling through the community gardens, we learn about the many varied uses of medicinal plants from the village shaman. We may have a chance to visit a school or join in a game of soccer while observing how our visitor dollars are helping to sustain a traditional way of life. 

Day 8: Yarapa River / Amazon River
Entering the Yarapa River this morning, a pristine tributary of the Amazon, we enjoy early morning birdwatching. Aboard ship later today, learn to make Peruvian dishes in a cooking class or take in a lecture on the open-air top deck. After dark, enjoy a final magical night aboard as we cruise peacefully back downstream, listening to the symphony of forest sounds from your private balcony.

Day 9: Iquitos / Lima / Home
Returning to civilization, our Amazon river tour concludes as we disembark in Iquitos this morning. A guided overview of this frontier city is included, followed by lunch. We'll visit Las Malvinas urban gardens, an environmental education project that involves and benefits approximately 1,000 students at Las Malvinas school, who learn to steward and use rain forest resources in sustainable ways. We'll also pass Belen Market, a sprawling collection of stalls covering 20 city blocks selling every conceivable local food, natural medicines and various goods. A day room is provided to relax and freshen up before our flight back to Lima late this afternoon, where we'll connect with overnight flights to the U.S or get ready for post-trip extensions to Machu Picchu or Lake Titicaca.

Please Note: This itinerary is meant to be a guideline.  Activities may vary at different times of year according to water level and conditions.

+ Interested in adding a few days to your trip? Click here to view our Extension Options.

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