Image credit: Natural Habitat Adventures

Guests view gray river dolphins during a skiff excursion in Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

There is nothing quite like exploring the world’s largest and greatest rainforest than on a unique and intimate Amazon River cruise. Exploring one of the world’s largest tropical forest reserves on a once in a lifetime adventure can afford you the opportunity to see pink and gray river dolphins, troops of howler monkeys, elusive sloths, flocks of brilliant macaws and bright butterflies, all from a perspective that few on this planet get to experience.

Arguably the best place you can do this from is in the Peru, where you can cruise to the headwaters of the Amazon to explore World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-supported Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a 5-million-acre mosaic of pristine habitats, including flooded and dry forest that is home to some of the largest wildlife populations in the Amazon. In fact, the Pacaya-Samiria reserve is home to 15 species of primates!

The newly-built La Estrella Amazonica

The newly-built La Estrella Amazonica

And perhaps almost as important as the destination is how you can experience the rainforest, preferably in boutique luxury, comfort and style on a unique riverboat. La Estrella Amazonica, for example, is a new luxury riverboat (built in 2013), custom-designed for cruising this region of the Amazon and its tributaries. Air-conditioned throughout for maximum comfort, the 143-foot vessel accommodates just 30 guests in 15 spacious cabins, complete with full crew and expert local naturalist guides. Cabins are generously sized and have en suite bathrooms, private balconies with chairs and ample space for a cruise experience. Some of the cabins can be also converted to create two adjoining suites, ideal for families traveling together.

A stylish dining room features gleaming hardwood floors and picture windows so you don’t miss a bit of the passing view. There is also a covered open-air bar and observation deck atop the ship with 360-degree views; a lecture room with 55-inch LCD TV, home theater system (with movies available) small library and comfortable sofas for relaxing; and an on-board fitness room.

The beautiful outdoor open-air bar/lounge area on <em>La Estrella Amizonica</em>

The beautiful outdoor open-air bar/lounge area on La Estrella Amizonica

What else can you expect? Well, it’s hard to beat the largest reserve in Peru (and second largest in the entire Amazon basin). Side excursions from the riverboat include setting out by skiff or by kayak , into this emerald realm of trees, vines, streams and lagoons to explore the blackwater rivers. The water, while clear, is the color of dark tea, an effect of the tannins deposited by the rich vegetation along the banks. Along small tributaries you are likely to observe a variety of monkeys including squirrel, monk saki and brown capuchin.

This vast protected area at the very headwaters of the mighty river is replete with wildlife – you won’t find a more pristine rainforest experience on earth. During the trip you can also learn about the creative initiatives that WWF is working on to protect the Amazon. In addition, visit remote villages, meet the friendly “ribereños” who call the Amazon rain forest home, and learn about their traditional culture and way of life.

Guests kayaking in Pacaya Samiria Reserve

Guests kayaking in Pacaya-Samiria Reserve

Click here to learn more about this amazing Amazon river cruise adventure with Natural Habitat Adventures and WWF.