The adventurous, almost mysterious cruise departs from Iquitos, a Peruvian city only accessible by river or through four daily flights out of Lima, the capital. Boarding one of the luxurious vessels–Aria Amazon or Aqua Amazon—sets the tone for a precious and exciting experience. With 12 and 16 suites respectively and a capacity for about 30 passengers, these intimate boats were designed by Peruvian architect Jordi Puig with all the amenities of a luxury hotel: private suites, indoor Jacuzzi and a gourmet Peruvian restaurant led by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose restaurant Malabar in Lima ranks # 7 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
The decks are specially designed for relaxation, socializing with friends or enjoying a cocktail while one takes in the pristine, stunning scenery. The large glass windows on the suites offer magnificent views of the vast river and endless jungle. These exclusive three, four, or seven nights safaris allow travelers to enjoy the natural beauty of the Amazon rain-forest and, in particular, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a protected sanctuary that is home to pink dolphins, exotic monkeys, manatees and more than 300 different species of birds. Read more about travel.
It is also a unique opportunity to look for shy, reclusive animals like sloths or navigate the river´s tributaries in safe motorized boats to photograph alligators, piranhas and taricaya turtles in their natural habitat, as well as paiches (or pirarucú), one of the world’s largest freshwater fish.
Depending on the route, the tour includes guided visits to Cocama Indian villages to become acquainted with their culture and lifestyle. The Cocama are one of the many indigenous tribes that call the Peruvian Amazon, home. Travelers will also learn about the innovative conservation and sustainability projects that are changing the way we treat the vast Amazon forest reserve.
Aqua Expeditions river cruises are perfect for romantic getaways or family excursions. The company has been so successful with its novel idea that as of September 2014 another luxury cruise ship will navigate the waters of the historic Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia. The Aqua Mekong route will run from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The tours will include visits to remote Buddhist temples and the great Tonle Sap in Cambodia. From Park Hyatt Park, end of the route, it is possible to continue by bus to the ancient megalopolis of Angkor, declared a World Heritage Site. ■